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Giants - A Supersized Evening of Dance

Oregon Ballet Theatre presents GIANTS an evening of iconic works by master choreographers George Balanchine and William Forsythe, and a world premiere from Nicolo Fonte.

Presented by September 19, 2016

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Oregon Ballet Theatre opens its 2016-2017 “season of giants” with a bill that invites audiences to delight in the evolving vitality of the art form, featuring breakout works by George Balanchine and William Forsythe, and a world premiere by newly named Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte. The program by turns romantic, brazen, and riveting is a feast for the senses, and a showcase for the rigorous technique of the OBT dancers who astonish with a perfect mix of artistry and athleticism. Giants runs October 8-15th at the Keller Auditorium with a Blue Ribbon Performance night on October 13th during which the company invites audiences to experience ballet in a new way. Bring a group of six or more to the show and enjoy a free intermission party complete with themed photo booths, ballet trivia, snacks, and PBR Tall Boys. Casual dress is encouraged!

“Ballet is woman” Balanchine famously proclaimed, and Serenade – the work that launched his career in America – is the quintessential expression of that statement. OBT is thrilled to return this masterpiece to the Keller stage for the first time since 2003. While there are echoes of the past in the overall look of the ballet – patterns of women dancing in long skirts reminiscent of Giselle or La Sylphide, and music by  Tchaikovsky a frequent collaborator of Petipa’s – this work clearly points to the future. There are no sets, no plot, and the corps de ballets does not merely serve as an ornamental backdrop to the principal dancers. There is a new and exciting fluidity. Serenade is a romantic rush of dance propelled by Tchaikovsky’s irresistible Serenade for Strings – which will be performed by the OBT Orchestra!

Next on the program is the OBT premiere of William Forsythe’s groundbreaking In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. An instant classic, Middle electrified the dance world during its premiere at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1987, just 4 years after Balanchine’s death.  The work – all sharp, quick flashes of hyper extended lines – pushes Balanchine’s neoclassical style to the limit and indeed, in the years since its premiere has become the cornerstone of post neo-classical dance, performed by companies all over the globe. Six women and three men prowl the stage exploring space, at times sizing each other up, challenging each other to see what the body can achieve. The audience is not performed to but drawn in with the choreography facing all directions. Thom Willems’ crashing electronic score completes the mesmerizing experience of ballet progressing from the 20th to the 21st Century.

Following these two master works, OBT moves the conversation forward with a world premiere Giants Before Us by Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte. Well-known to Portland audiences for a stunning roster of ballets including Bolero, Petrouchka, Never Stop Falling (In Love), and last season’s full length Beautiful Decay, Fonte is recognized throughout the world for his daring and original approach to dance, equally comfortable with classical and contemporary dance forms. His new ballet Giants Before Us is powered by the poetic athleticism of the male dancers of OBT and the virtuoso composition of Franz Liszt. Liszt’s dazzling piano performances created a sensation among audiences of his day. The adulation came to be known as Lisztomania. Fittingly Portland’s own piano sensation and winner of the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, Hunter Noack will provide accompaniment. 

Taken together Oregon Ballet Theatre’s fall program offers audiences a rare opportunity to see the trajectory of 20th and 21st century ballet in one evening.  “Putting this program together has been a delight,” says OBT Artistic Director Kevin Irving. “Our audacity is to place such incredibly impactful and stylistically different works side by side in one evening.  That Oregon Ballet Theatre has a roster of dancers able to pull off such a feat is a testament to the depth and artistry of Portland’s own talent. ”

OCT. 8-15, 2016