OBT unleashes a season of ‘giants’

Oregon Ballet Theatre unleashes 2016-17 SeasonOregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) recently revealed its 2016-17 Season lineup, which is audacious in scope as it traces the evolution of ballet through iconic works from the giants of the field, including Petipa, Balanchine, Forsythe and Duato. The season includes world premieres by Helen Pickett and Nicolo Fonte, OBT’s newly named resident choreographer. In addition, OBT will extend its Nutcracker run and the OBT Orchestra will be performing with the company for three programs.


OBT’s fall repertory program begins with George Balanchine’s celebrated Serenade. This was the first work that Balanchine created in America and forever established his legacy of neoclassical choreography infused with the romance and rigor of old Russia. Serenade is set to Tchaikovsky’s sweeping “Serenade for Strings”, which will be performed live by the OBT Orchestra at every performance. Next on the program is the OBT premiere of William Forsythe’s groundbreaking In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. Created for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1987, In The Middle pushes Balanchine’s neoclassical style to the limit and indeed became an instant classic and the cornerstone of post neoclassical dance upon its premiere. Thom Willem’s powerful score sends electronic shudders throughout the piece as dancers prowl the stage. The evening closes with a world premiere and the title work for this program, Giants, by Fonte.


Well-known to Portland audiences for a stunning roster of works including Bolero, Left Unsaid, Petrouchka and last season’s exciting collaboration with Pink Martini, Never Stop Falling (In Love), Fonte is recognized throughout the world as a choreographer equally comfortable with classical and contemporary dance forms. He has worked with companies as varied as The Dutch National Ballet, The Australian Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and BalletX. OBT looks forward to mining his richly varied talent for years to come.


OBT’s thrilling “season of giants” continues with one of the company’s most ambitious projects yet – a unique adaptation of Swan Lake. While remaining true to the pure classicism of the Petipa/Ivanov original, Artistic Director Kevin Irving weaves in nuances that are sure to connect audiences more deeply with the story, reinvigorating the traditional narrative ballet from the inside out. This adaptation goes beyond the established Odette/Odile fantasy to focus on the prince, a young awkward figure ignored and left to his own devises until he is drawn into a web of illusion designed to hasten his passage to adulthood. This incredible work is set off by Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, which will be performed live by the OBT Orchestra.


The season closes with TERRA, a mixed repertory program that welcomes the spring and light back into our lives with double helpings of works by Nacho Duato and Helen Pickett. From Duato, the company adds an important piece to its repertory, Jardí Tancat. Jardí was Duato’s very first ballet and catapulted him to fame. Also on the bill is Duato’s El Naranjo, a gorgeous pas de deux from the longer work Gnawa, which Duato is allowing to be performed on its own for the very first time. From Pickett, OBT brings Petal back. This wonderfully colorful ballet was an instant success with Portland audiences at its Portland premiere in 2014. The evening closes with a world premiere from Pickett, yet to be named.


Overall, OBT’s 2016-17 Season traces the evolution of dance, including significant, even iconic, works of the classical, neoclassical, post neoclassical and contemporary ballet styles – and it looks to a future of ballet that is inclusive of all of these styles.


Irving points out, “With this ‘season of giants’, OBT simultaneously exalts the significance of American choreography – which can be traced from Balanchine’s Serenade through Forsythe, Pickett and Fonte  – and the continuing appeal of our classical traditions.”


For further information, visit www.obt.org.


Photo: Emily Parker being lifted by (left to right) Adam Hartley, Avery Reiners and Brian Simcoe in rehearsal for the company premiere of Nicolo Fonte’s Beautiful Decay, running April 14-23, 2016. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.