Aligned with OBT’s mission to share, inspire, and connect with the community in meaningful ways through excellence in performance and training, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Education and Community Engagement (ECE) department created summer programming that gave new students access to the magic of ballet and other dance forms. Partnering with schools and local organizations, the incredible ECE team of teaching artists, under the leadership of Sarah Ward-Brown, has been BUSY this summer hosting an array of free summer workshops throughout Portland! Here are the highlights:


This July we kicked off a residency with David Douglas School District’s Summer School. OBT teaching artists taught beginning ballet and creative dance to more than 70 rising third graders over the course of a month, at four different elementary schools, including Gilbert Park, Lincoln Park, Menlo Park, and West Powellhurst. One class included an Olympics-themed week complete with a dancing obstacle course and finished with arts and crafts.

Storytelling Through Dance was a week-long camp that served over 50 students and ran for four weeks at da Vinci Arts Middle School in NE Portland. Each day included beginning ballet, creative movement, choreography, and culturally specific dance from around the world. Kindergarten through fifth grade students tried their toes in Folkloric Ballet, traditional Nepali dance, Afro-Brazilian dance and Hula. Each class celebrated the diversity of people and cultures that make up dance.

Lisa Chang | Hula Halau ‘Ohana Holo’oko’a: “Sarah Ward-Brown and the other OBT teachers were a delight to work with as we shared hula and the Hawaiian culture with the OBT/PPS Summer Program.  All of the children were well behaved and such a joy to teach.  I looked forward to returning to teach new kids every week and giving them a Hawaiian cultural experience.”
Jamie Minkus | Afro-Brazilian Dance: “It was so great working with Sarah and OBT to give the K-5 graders Afro-Brazilian movement.  I was able to give the kids the space to emotionally connect with folklore movement, and they soared!

Prajwal Vajracharya  | Dance Mandal: “I very much enjoyed teaching students classical Nepalese dance, Charya Nritya. It requires much concentration and discipline to learn this dance. The students loved Hand Mudras—magical hand and feet movements that facilitate the flow of energy that connect the body. It was enjoyable to share dance of Nepal.”

Sarah shares, “It was wonderful to be in the community sharing the voices of other forms of dance.”  In addition to dance, da Vinci School was humming with other Portland-area arts organizations.  OBT students got to peak in on play rehearsal, wonder about buckets of dye, and ask other students about their art work.

High School students worked to choreograph, produce, and film their own dance video in a two week Beyond Ballet workshop at Grant High School in NE Portland. Guided by OBT Production Department members, students received hands-on experience learning the technical aspects of stage production, including stage management, sound engineering, costuming, lighting, and filming.

This summer OBT continued its partnership with PHAME to create a ballet video project!  Virtual classes occurred throughout the summer and concluded with an in-person filming session at the park. The film, entitled Emerging features original choreography by the students and original music by OBT musician Western-Li Summerton. It is inspired by the energy and color we all share through spring and summer seasons and the hope of emerging out of a disruptive 18 months – stronger and more unified. Watch for the release of Emergence later this year!

These amazing programs marked the first time OBT’s ECE staff was able to see students in person since last year. “It was fabulous to feel their energy and see their faces. As a teacher it was very exciting and fulfilling to be in-person,” Sarah states, “A huge thank you to Portland Public Schools, David Douglas Schools District, and PHAME for allowing us to share the magic of dance with its students.”

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