Ballet to break your heart: Getting inspired by the best

Well, Arabian Nights is just around the corner, and as one might surmise based on the fact that we haven’t posted in about a month, things have been pretty darn busy and crazy!  As is typical, we’ve got last-minute choreography to polish, bits of the story to weave together, costumes and jewelry and turban designs floating everywhere at home and in the loft of City Center for Dance (Artistic Director Donna Marisa Bontrager is doing a MIRACULOUS job of keeping our team of six costumers organized, with invaluable assistance from our lovely Eryn McNamara), backdrops set to arrive from across the country, and –if it wasn’t 4 am as I write this–I’d wager to say that set pieces (we’ve got lanterns, a dais, an awesome palanquin, tents–you name it!) were being erected as I type.  (Background secret: we’re being somewhat inspired in our Arabian Nights sets by Leon Bakst’s famous design for the ballet Scheharazade.  Thank heaven for Ida and Ken on our board and Joe Hoff for saying “YES, we can make that happen!” when we come up with some pretty ambitious ideas!).

We are so excited, nervous, and honored that we have just a few tickets left for this show–we’re almost sold out, and it’s still two weeks away.  (With the normal ticket-buying crowd in Eugene, folks are typically like me and wait until the last minute, but not so with this one.  We don’t know what’s going on, but we love it!!!)  In fact, since my job description usually includes Queen Marketer, I almost don’t know what to do with myself!  We’re only putting up 50 posters (norm: close to 200), sending out a handful of postcards (norm: 2,500 or more), and my sleepless nights and midnight lists are now comprised conspicuously of details related to our special outreach show for local schoolkids, tech schedules, and a million other things…that are NOT marketing.

But this expected attendance also means that we know our audience is as excited about this all-new ballet as we are, and the pressure’s on!  Arabian Nights ventures into dramatic new territory for Ballet Fantastique—literally.  Heretofore, we’ve made many forays into drama (our Red Violin series with violinist Matt Fuller, our “Love Lost” suite, St. Margaret’s Tears with Incendio, etc. etc.), but our full-length works have always been comedies.  I can say as a dancer, choreographer, and producer, that we’re living up to the season theme of DARING in challenging ourselves and our audience with a full-length dramatic work.  And we’re excited!

If you know anything about ballet dancers, it’s that we continuously engage in the masochistic practice of watching the best of the best of the best.  YouTube and social media where our ballet friends across the country and the world share videos of these world-famous dancers makes it easy to find these folks, and one can’t help but be inspired.  And holy cow, I hit the jackpot this morning.  So, in the name of getting inspired by some dramatic performances by one of my personal current favorite dancers, Polina Semionova, here is some dramatic ballet you HAVE to see:

  1. Polina in La Bayadere
  2. Polina in Manon (this is for BFan ballerina Leanne Mizzoni–Manon’s one of her favorites and now you know why)
  3. Polina is even expressive when you can’t see her face in this rehearsal video (this is something we need to remember as dancers).  We will not say anything about her coach, Mr. Malakhov’s, outfit.  🙂

Oh my heavens, she just mesmerizes you.

In Arabian Nights, we will aspire to do the same.

To the dance,


NOTE: We do still have student outreach matinee tickets available for the Thursday, January 26 at 10 am show, so please contact us if you’d like to come!


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