While in-person events have been sporadic and sometimes unpredictable since 2020, the Oregon Ballet Theater has reopened. For those who are enthusiastic about the arts, you are sure to enjoy an evening watching a ballet performance.
The Oregon Ballet Theater was founded in 1989 by James Canfield, after two competing Ballet companies were dissolved into one. Since its founding, old and classic performances have been presented as well as contemporary works by living artists. The current artistic director, appointed in 2013, is Kevin Irving. Prior to working for the Oregon Ballet Theater, he managed and performed with a few different European companies.
From its humble beginnings, the Oregon Ballet Theater has grown to employ almost 200 dancers and artists. Not to mention the many volunteers and individuals who donate to the theater. Volunteer opportunities include office and clerical work as well as helping with the actual performances.
In conjunction with the theater, a school is offered to provide instruction for students of dance. Pre-Ballet classes are offered for young children ages 3-6 with advancing classes available for different age groups. Adult classes are also available for those wishing to learn the basics or continue to progress in their dancing abilities.
Due to the pandemic, virtual classes are still being held for adults. Children have the option to be enrolled in either virtual or in-person classes and begin as young as 3 years old. When children progress to the point where they are a level 1 student they have the opportunity to participate in the Nutcracker. There is also an annual Spring performance which students may participate in.
Summer intensives are offered every year for 6, 4 or 2 weeks. Students have to audition for the intensive and will learn a variety of skills including, dancing techniques, dance history, nutrition and makeup design. The full day of classes and activities are sure to be a highlight of the summer for children wanting to refine their skills and tackle new challenges.
Performances are accompanied by live music, provided by the Ballet’s own orchestra. Over 40 members of the orchestra work to provide stunning and elaborate performances in conjunction with the dancers they are supporting. The current conductor is Niel DePonte. He has directed the orchestra for over 35 years. He was the head percussionist for the Oregon Symphony for over 40 years and continues to inspire patrons with his musical talents.
The Oregon Theater of Ballet partners with schools to provide dance training to students. This training builds the basics of balance, strength, coordination, spatial awareness and flexibility. The theater is happy to work with schools for varying lengths of time.
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