Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

2009 was a remarkable year for Oregon Ballet Theatre. While we're happy to put it behind us, I think we can all agree that this past year also saw some of our most triumphant, exciting and hopeful moments.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in every way, small or large, from near or far away, and here's to a most brilliant, beautiful and artistically exciting year (and decade) ahead!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Overheard, Part 2

More memorable one-liners:

Adrian to Mia, after bowing as the lead Spanish couple: "I think that was my best bow ever!"

One little angel, after asking who the Sugarplum Fairy was and being told it was Alison Roper: "Who's that?" Another angel replied, "It's John Alan's mom..."
(Alison's son John Alan is a Level 1 student in the school).

And yet another personal favorite: Candace, dashing from the wings towards the direction of her dressing room, moments before the snow scene was to begin: "I forgot to put on my trunks!!!!!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Overheard Backstage at the Keller

Some choice comments overheard these past weeks that I think represent Nutcracker 2009 very well:

Alison Roper, to Adrian Fry during barre one day during the middle of our five days-of-two-shows-each-day: "Maybe someone will deliver a four-pound box of chocolates to us today."

Ansa Deguchi, to Steven Houser, also during barre on one of those days: "I feel like old people".

And my favorite. Ashby Baldock, our stage manager, after her debut as Mother Ginger on Christmas Eve: "It was fun. And I even remembered when to lift up my skirt!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Year of the Headpiece

We're well past the tech rehearsal phase now, of course, and are in "the tunnel"-- 8 straight days of performances, including five days in a row with two shows each. The light at the end of the tunnel is Christmas Day, and then only two more days until a real rest.

2009 seems to be the Year of the Headpiece for Nutcracker. The costumes for our production were built in 1983 (with a few exceptions) and if you look closely, you can tell. Since there's certainly no money to rebuild them, this year our wardrobe department decided to at least make a few new things, including several heapieces. They're really beautiful, carefully made by Suzie Jenkins of our costume shop.
Here's Julia modelling one of the demisolo Flower headpieces. Up til now, the Flower demis have had no distinguishing marks, which seemed a shame because they do quite a bit of front-and-center dancing. Now they have these lovely tiara-flowers:

Also new this year is Dewdrop's headpiece. It's similar to the old one, just a little more streamlined and lighter-weight. Here it is, resting at Candace's makeup spot in the dressing room before she put it on for her performance tonight:

And last but not least, Sugarplum has new headgear as well. This is also similar to the old one, but more delicate and finely shaped. It has some little sparkly droplets, which are hard to see in this picture but are a beautiful touch. Here's Grace, modelling it for me before she did her hair for tonight's show:

So there you have it! Come see the Nutcracker for the high-wattage headpieces in addition to the high-octane dancing!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Act 1 Tech

What happens during an Act 1 tech rehearsal?

We basically run through party scene, battle scene, transition into the snow scene, stopping when necessary to fix spacing, musical, or technical issues. Then we do it again with a different cast. In Act 1 there are a lot of props, moving scenery, and children. All of those things require a good bit of organizing to ensure smooth performances.

The adult dancers don't actually dance much in Act 1, making it much less stressful than another rehearsal might be. By about 9 p.m., people were getting pretty relaxed while the children were getting notes onstage. The hallway that passes from backstage to the house is the only carpeted (warm) area to stretch out in this theater, so that's where we tend to congregate. Olga and Hahn were doing homework on their computers, Steven was drinking tea out of his "I Love Germany" mug, and Grace, Adrian, Martina and Javier were just shooting the breeze.

Two dress rehearsals tomorrow, another one Friday, and then we open!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hey, what happened to November?

Hi everyone. I know it's been a long time since I've updated, so I'll give you a quick run-down of what's been going on with me.

First, Uprising was an incredible success. It was such a great experience working with Horsefeathers and performing at Mississippi Studios. I can't wait to do it again (in a modified format) at the Wonder Ballroom on January 22, 2010. Tickets are available for purchase online, more info at

Second, I sprained my ankle the day after Thanksgiving. I was hiking in the gorge (on a paved trail non-the-less) and managed to sprain it pretty good. However, a little over a week has passed and with some time off, and lots of ice and physical therapy, it's feeling much better and I will be dancing opening weekend. This is the first time I've had an injury that has been this debilitating, so it was probably harder for me emotionally than physically, but I'm feeling pretty excited about how well it's healed, and I can't wait to get onstage this weekend.

Lastly, things are full steam ahead here at OBT. Not only are we rehearsing Nutcracker, but Emery LeCrone is here creating a new work for our Duets program in the spring. It's pretty interesting being able to see a Nutcracker rehearsal in one studio, and then walk over to the other studio and watch some incredibly exciting work be created. Once the piece is closer to completion I might try and put up a video of some of the work.

Thanks for reading!

Here are some pictures from Emery's rehearsal today:

Brian Simcoe and Anne Mueller

Emery watching Yuka Iino and Javier Ubell

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nutcracker 2009 Begins

We're all back now from our layoff and are into week two of Nutcracker rehearsals. Everyone always asks why we have to keep rehearsing Nut after so many years. Well... it doesn't matter how many years you've done it, it's still hard! And it still needs rehearsing. It could easily look tired or sloppy to the audience if we're not careful, vigilant, and keep it up to snuff.

Nutcracker is also the time of year when several dancers get to cut their teeth on some new, challenging roles, so for them it's certainly not a time to be complacent. Be sure to look for some young new faces out there this year. The irony is that we have the shortest rehearsal period of the season to get Nut up to speed--- only eleven days in the studio before starting tech rehearsals at the theater. That's not a lot of time, even for a veteran!

This is also the first year in many that we've not gone on our annual pilgrimage to Anchorage, Alaska over Thanksgiving weekend to do six performances of Nutcracker. It was lovely to have the long holiday weekend at home, but strange-- I couldn't remember the last time I had such an experience, nor what to do with it! All we could do was think about how it was our last chance to relax until December 27...