Live the art…

With only two weeks to spare until the BFan season-opening, I’ve been kept incredibly busy. (To the left you can see some evidence: A stack of lists, including some lists about lists.) Please don’t mind the mess, though–it’s all a part of fitting together the necessary pieces to put on an amazing party.

(I’ve also been exposed to a ton of new experiences, such as making donation request calls. Terrifying at first, but overcoming the fear of rejection along with getting positive responses does wonders to make the process easier 🙂 )

In case you haven’t heard about the gala, or if you’re unsure of what to expect, here are some of the major highlights:
1. The gala opens our 2011-2012 season, so you can bet the entire BFan team will be there! The dancers will perform vignettes of the upcoming, giving attendees a taste of the original choreography and storylines to come.

2. Speaking of shows to come… the gala will immerse guests in an Arabian night! Bejeweled dancers, lush fabrics, and even some oriental rugs set the scene for an exotic getaway, in the spirit of January 2012’s Arabian Nights. Local Eugene band Mood Area 52 provides rich, mysterious sounds to draw listeners into an Arabian bazaar.

3. Prizes and silent auction goodies galore! A raffle, a silent basket auction, a live dessert auction… all those donation calls pay off when we give attendees the opportunity to purchase luxury items (or just a cupcake). Win a stay at the Oregon Coast, or maybe a deluxe spa treatment! Contributions support discounted tickets as well as scholarships for underprivileged kids to see future performances, as well as the dancers’ plane fare to perform in San Benedetto, Italy next summer!

4. Who could forget–the food! Executive Chef Rich Balajadia of the Bridge Bar and Grill prepares an exclusive menu (including some live cooking demonstrations), while Pyrenees Vineyards provides some of the best wine in the Northwest.

5. Tons of fun! This is a party, after all. Mingle with the entire BFan team–the dancers as well as the rest of us who help to make the magic happen–while having a glass of wine or a microbrew and indulging in exquisite art!

Last year's debut, Gatsby!

Tickets are already over 50% sold out! If you’re interested, go to the BFan events page to get yours (or pay $5 extra for tickets at the door). 7:30 pm on October 8th at the former Cafe Maroc in downtown Eugene! Fun, fabulous, and as always, fantastique! We’re all working incredibly hard to make this night a success 🙂

Thanks for reading!
–Intern Katie


What is the Vaganova Method?

“A single style, a single dance ‘handwriting,’ which manifests itself most clearly in the harmonious plasticity of movement and the expressiveness of the arms, in the responsive suppleness and at the same time the iron aplomb of the body, in the noble and natural placement of the head—and these are the distinctive traits of the ‘Vaganova school’.”

–Natalia Dudinskaya, former Vaganova student

Ballet Fantastique’s Professional Division classes follow the eight levels of the internationally renowned Vaganova Syllabus a notated and progressive training program that has produced some of the best dancers in the world, including Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and professional dancers in almost every company in the world. The Vaganova Method combined elements of the French romantic ballet’s lyricism and the Italian ballet’s athleticism to reform the old imperial method of teaching.

The Vaganova method is a method of teaching classical ballet that was developed by Agrippina Vaganova. Vaganova spent 30 years teaching ballet and throughout this time she developed a dance technique and a method of teaching this technique. There are various aspects that define the Vaganova method including the development of lower back strength and arm plasticity, and the requisite strength, flexibility and endurance for ballet. The Vaganova method of training focuses on the ability of the dancer to perform a classical pas de deux and concentrates on precision in a teacher’s instruction.

The Vaganova lessons are very well planned out because Vaganova did not believe in the improvisation of a teacher at a lesson. The method ensures that the dancers understand the reason behind every exercise. The Ballet Fantastique students don’t only learn how to master a step, but also how to perform it correctly and its purpose. Vaganova’s system strives to promote dancing with the whole body in order to acquire a combination of movement to widen the range of the dancer’s ability.

The Vaganova method is considered to be very clean, with precise movements that express clean lines yet softness underneath. Even though Ballet Fantastique’s Vaganova-trained dancers are very strong and clean, they are still able to perform softly and beautifully on stage without robotic stiffness. For more information about classes at Ballet Fantastique, click here!

Ballet Fantastique Opens Season with LA-based Band: Incendio

Ballet Fantastique opens its 2011–2012 season with powerful bravura, when the LA-based band Incendio plays its Latin, Middle Eastern, jazz fusion live with ballet for the first time. The sounds of Incendio’s sweeping, passionate music meet the skill and daring of Ballet Fantastique dancers in a celebration of brilliant live music and dance.

So who is Incendio?

Incendio is a renowned Latin guitar world fusion group from LA that travels all over the country to intrigue audiences with their musical talent. The band is made up of five members: Bryan Brock, Nicole Falzone, Jean-Pierre Durand, Liza Carbe and Jim Stubblefield. These self-motivated musicians have grasped their own future and created their own success without the help of a record company.

The band started in 1999 and has made huge steps forward since. They have managed to take a music form that is fairly rare these days—instrumental Spanish guitar—to new and unexpected levels. Not only has the group had seven international CD releases and recorded an extremely well-known, live DVD, “Dia y Noche,” but they have also self-booked tours over 170 dates per year.

Ballet Fantastique is so excited to be partnering with this band because they offer so much in regards to musical diversity. Although they stick to the romantic playing of the traditional Spanish guitar, their concerts balance rock-style enthusiasm and energy with technical sophistication. Incendio’s music is truly an enticing fusion, which allows the band to stand out from others in its genre and will allow the ballerinas to provide visual pieces that are uncommon in traditional ballet.

The band’s newest CD, “Viheula,” has been getting awesome reviews and even some radio play in Europe and Scandinavia. Because the band is a self-booking and self-promoting small business that produces and records its own CD’s and manages its own tours, they are always in need of sponsors. Sponsors receive premiums such as unreleased video footage, advanced copies of new CD’s, signed posters, free tickets to concerts and much more. Independent music survives because of people like that support Incendio and other musicians like them.

Ballet Fantastique cannot wait to perform with this amazing band, and we know our audience will thoroughly enjoy and appreciate every second of Incendio’s music. We hope everyone is just as excited as we are!

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Ballet Fantastique unveils 2011-2012 season!

At last, the announcement of BFan’s upcoming season–DARING! In celebration of 11 years of innovative, enthralling performances. No one else does ballet quite like us 🙂

Now for the details on our Hult Center performances!

(Photo: Bob Williams)

Saturday, October 22nd at 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 23rd at 2:30 pm
Ballet Fantastique opens its 2011–2012 season with powerful bravura, when
the LA-based band Incendio plays its Latin, Middle Eastern, jazz fusion live with
ballet for the first time. Richly-textured, all-original choreography by mother-
daughter co-producers Donna and Hannah Bontrager shows off the critically-
acclaimed dancers of Ballet Fantastique’s chamber company. The sounds
of Incendio’s sweeping, passionate music meet the skill and daring of Ballet
Fantastique dancers in a celebration of brilliant live music and dance.

(Photo: Woden Photography)

Arabian Nights
Saturday, January 28th at 7:30 pm
“By telling these tales I might save myself…” Be transported through the eyes of the beautiful storyteller Scheherazade with this daring, exotic, and mysterious ballet. Inspired by the ancient treasury 1,001 Arabian Nights, choreographers Donna and Hannah Bontrager weave tales of adventure, truth, fantastic imagination, justice, and faith with their original choreography. With the ancient power of story, this all-new Ballet Fantastique production sweeps through Persia, Arabia, and India. Its lavish costuming and fantastic choreography will enthrall you.

(Photo: Woden Photography)

Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet
Saturday, May 12th at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 13th at 2:30 pm
Ballet Fantastique’s daring, all-original, rock and roll version of the Cinderella story is unstoppable! This ballet, set in the 1960’s to live soul-warming music by Satin Love lead singers Shelley and Cal James and their band, will rock to the nostalgic songs of The Supremes, The Ronettes, The Temptations, The Beatles, and more. Mother-daughter choreographers and producers Donna and Hannah Bontrager will bring it on with ballet like you’ve never seen it before.

And of course, our Open Barre series:

(credit: 5d-Creative)
* Incendio Open Barre: Wednesday, October 12 from 6:30-8 pm
* Arabian Nights Open Barre: Wednesday, January 18 from 6:30-8 pm
* Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet Open Barre: Wednesday, Wednesday, May 2 from 6:30-8 pm

Performances and Open Barre aside… we have a Peter Rabbit tea party, a mother-daughter winery tour, and more!
Information on our entire season, including where to purchase tickets and register for events, available here.

Looking forward to seeing you this season!

What’s New at BFan!

ABOVE PHOTO: Backstage at last year’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Hello everyone!

While it’s been a long while since we’ve posted, we haven’t been twiddling our thumbs! Thanks so much for your patience with us and here’s the latest news from behind the scenes at Ballet Fantastique…

In the studio:

  • We’re gettin’ ready for our third tour to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival! On June 13, BFan dancers Amelia, Krislyn, Leanne, Ash, and Hannah (with Justin, one of our favorite dude dancers, and Matthew Fuller, acclaimed violinist) will be presenting our “Pirates & Gypsies” show for opening night of OSF’s Pirates of Penzance. We’re creating a spicy, energetic and fun set for this show, comprised of both existing Ballet Fantastique original repertoire (the Gypsy violin trio with Matt from Red Violin and the Folk Dance, to name just two), and a few new pieces created just for this program and inspired by Penzance. It’s fun to hear that we already have a few die-hard BFan fans planning to head down to enjoy us and the OSF in Ashland. Join us if you can! The show is Saturday, June 11 at 7:15 pm and thanks to OSF’s wonderful Green Show series, it’s free!


PHOTO: Dancers Ashley and Amelia were up for auction!




Under our belt:
One of our goals (one we hope is a no-brainer!) is to produce fundraisers that are actually really fun to be a part of. We were busy in May with the following two:

  • We raised $1,400 at our 2nd Annual Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction at The Bridge Bar & Grill last week, and we had a BLAST! Ten talented and fascinating young men and women volunteered their time and took the risk to be auctioned off. We had music from DJ Redd Fox (who definitely got us all dancing), and enjoyed Evan’s (of Bartender Wars fame) delicious sangria. All of the proceeds we raised go to BFan’s nonprofit work in the community.

PHOTO: Rich, insanely talented Executive Chef at The Bridge, is auctioned off in spite of initial apprehension.

  • Another annual fundraiser that was a real treat: Our first annual Mother’s Day Limo Wineries Tour. Since we pretty much work seven days a week, fellow dancer Leanne and I planned to be excited just by virtue of the fact that we got to relax as “work.” BUT OH MY GOSH, THIS WAS AWESOME! Sunshine Limo swept us (and some of our mommas) up from City Center for Dance. After mimosas, we drove through a magical (albeit rainy) Eugene wine country to an amazing tour at King Estate. We were privileged to try a number of special reserve wines–not part of a normal flight–and then had a special tour to the King Estate Tower, which was closed for the day to everyone else. From there, we voyaged on to Sweet Cheeks (a favorite of Ash-Han-Leanne), and had some tasty cheese, another wine flight, and really dug the live music. The view was spectacular and the company magical. This is a don’t miss for next year, folks…and from the dancers’ perspective, it gave us a chance to bond more with some of our audience members and make new friends.

PHOTO: The Limo Wine Tours crew enjoys the view at King Estate

In the wings:

  • The dancers will laugh that the state of the oversize white board on the wall in my office is an indication of how crazy Hannah is lately, and it’s pretty full! We’re prepping next season (still hush-hush, but coming soon!) and The Academy of Ballet Fantastique’s Summer Dreamworks intensives (click here). We promise to keep you posted with updates on all.

Lots of love!