BFan’s Top 5 Reasons to Come to Zorro!

From the daredevil imaginations of Ballet Fantastique‘s acclaimed producer-choreographers Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager comes ZORRO: The Ballet, re-telling the famed legend of the masked Diego de la Vega. There are numerous reasons why someone should come see the show, but this week we asked some of our company dancers what their top five reasons to come see Zorro are! Read on to see what they had to say…

photo: Stephanie Urso

photo: Stephanie Urso

Hannah, executive director, said: “People should come to see Zorro because:

  1. It’s a really fun show and it covers a huge range of space, time and styles.
  2. The dancers are having so much fun– we get to be Native Americans and Spanish aristocrat girls in Barcelona. We even get to be folk dancers in what’s now LA. There’s so much fun that we’re having with showing different styles as actresses.
  3. It’s super high energy and the music is absolutely amazing. These bands are just like nothing you’ve ever heard.
  4. It’s all original choreography,
  5. all-original music and true to BFan’s style as ballet like you’ve never seen it before!”

Leanne, a company dancer, said:

  1. “The live music.
  2. BFan is the first ballet company to ever do Zorro.
  3. The costumes are amazing.
  4. The dancing is very different and covers many different genres.
  5. It is a really high-intensity show.”

Ashley said:

  1. “It would appeal to both men and women.
  2. We are the first ballet company to ever do Zorro.
  3. The costumes are extraordinary.
  4. The music is going to be epic!
  5. It is our first show with Fabio!”

Justin said:

  1. “Top notch music that you can’t help but groove to!
  2. Premiere show for our new company dancers!
  3. We’re the first ballet company to ever be given rights to do Zorro!
  4. Another set of amazing and eye catching costumes from our team of costume designers/builders.
  5. Helping to keep our art alive, even when major and highly talented companies around the country are collapsing.”

Lydia, one of BFan’s newest company dancers, said:

  1. “I think it is interesting because this is the untold story of Zorro. I just always assumed Zorro was just there and I didn’t know the reasoning behind it all. This is like part one of Zorro!
  2. This is my first show with Ballet Fantastique!
  3. I think it is cool that there is a Zorro corporation and we’ve had permission to perform it. I think that’s kind of a big deal!
  4. It’s the first of its kind!
  5. I think it will appeal to a lot of different types of people just because it has a lot of different versatility!”

Krislyn said:

  1. “The music is super awesome. I’m so excited to work with Incendio again. They are an amazing group to work with. The music is all very precise and makes it a lot easier for us to dance to. I’m super excited about the electric violin!
  2. The story of Zorro is a little different than the typical Zorro tale, so I think it will be fun for people to hear this story.
  3. The costumes are super beautiful and a lot more different than we’ve ever done before. I’ll have wings on my costume!
  4. Again with the story, I think a lot of different kinds of people with like it!
  5. It’s not a classical ballet, it is more temporary, and it will be a lot of fun!”

ZORRO® The Ballet premieres October 18-20 at the Hult Center. Click here to get your tickets now!



All of our trusty interns at Ballet Fantastique’s summer soiree this past July!

When I first walked in the door for my interview at Ballet Fantastique, I met a man with orange pants, a big smile and no shoes. He politely led me upstairs after I removed my own sandals and I sat at a wooden table to wait for my other interviewer. When she appeared she shook my hand, nearly bursting with enthusiasm and kindness, also missing her shoes. I felt instantly comfortable in the studio, channeling my previous years of dance and feeling inspired by the amount of passion in the room. I knew it was where I was supposed to be.

Working with Andrew, Hannah, Donna, my fellow interns and the rest of the BFan family has been one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career thus far. I have had previous internship experience that was disorganized, confusing, frustrating and misleading, but Ballet Fantastique has always found a way to keep me busy and motivated. As an intern, I have a lot of different responsibilities, ranging from bi-weekly office hours doing administrative work, hitting the pavement and getting some face time with current and potential donors, to updating BFan followers on all social media platforms. Lately I have been primarily responsible for renewing corporate trade agreements for fabulous groups and services that supported BFan last season and have agreed to donate again, as well as negotiating advertising placements in our season programs.

My favorite part of being an intern with BFan is that there are never dull moments and always something new to learn. I had never generated a newsletter before, managed an email subscriber list, created a marketing plan, called persistently about a donation request or spoken comfortably with movers and shakers in the community before my experience with BFan. Planning events has been something new for me as well, such as the golf tournament, car wash, summer soiree and our upcoming fall gala.

The hardest part about being an intern has been learning to do something I’ve never done before without a template or set guidelines, taking ownership of that project, and standing by the finished project. Nonprofit work is difficult because you are surrounded by people who aren’t responsible for just one job, but several different tasks all at once. You have to learn how to multi-task, be flexible and willing to do things you may have never thought you’d be asked to do, or heck, even be in charge of. You just have to keep pushing to make yourself better and put out your best work.

I am currently a student at the University of Oregon set to graduate this December, majoring in Public Relations and Journalism. After graduation and my time with BFan ends, I aspire to move to California and make my way into the marketing world to do promotions for film. Until then, I can’t wait for you all to see what we have planned for this fall! I can’t wait!

Meet our Next New Company Dancer!

BFan is honored to be welcoming two fierce new company artists and incredibly talented teachers to our roster for the 13-14 NEW LEGENDS season. Fabio Simoes (from Portugal) and Lydia Rakov (from NYC) are powerful movers with lots of personality—you won’t want to miss their BFan debut in the ZORRO premiere. In the meantime, here’s more about Fabio…


BFan: Where are you from?

Fábio: I’m from Montijo, a city very close to the capital, Lisbon, PORTUGAL.

BFan: At which dance schools did you train before coming to BFan?

Fábio: I started my high level studies in National Conservatory Dance School (E.D.C.N.) in Lisbon, Portugal. I finished my education/formation in Performing Arts Research and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S.) in Brussels, Belgium.

BFan: Describe your perfect day.

Fábio: Starting my day by watching the sunrise, rehearse and train all day, pick up some friends and go to beach, watch the sunset while listening to some chill out songs. Then ending the day with a big dinner!

BFan: Proudest moment?

Fábio: When I won my first award, everybody went crazy!

BFan: Wildest dream?

Fábio: As a person who loves adrenaline and radical sports: definitely skydiving.

BFan: Indulgence?

Fábio: hmmmmm…. Maybe everything! (:

BFan: Inspiration?

Fábio: The environment that surrounds me (Life, people, thoughts, pictures, smells, feelings, etc)

BFan: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Fábio: No doubt – Dance! but girls too! haha

BFan: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Fábio: There’s a lot, but one of the unforgettable moments was in Miami at the International Ballet Festival of Miami. It was a dream come true. I was so proud to share the stage with the biggest companies from all over the globe.

Another one was in Serbia, at the International Festival of Choreographic Miniatures. All of the audience started screaming my name way before the judges even announced the winner.

Vortice Braga3MOD

BFan: Dream role?

Fábio: Good Question. I really don’t have… We make our dreams!

BFan: Lastly, why Ballet Fantastique?

Fábio: I Chose Ballet Fantastique because their concept is great! How they connect and use two styles ­– classical and contemporary­– its something that I was searching for and it really feeds me.
Ballet Fantastique has a work that really interests and motivates me, not only as a dancer and a character, but also as a person, too. It’s an energetic and creative company, and is not afraid to try new things!

Fabio Simoes graduated from the prestigious Escola de Danca do Conservatorio Nacional in Portugal with a Certificate of Dance. During his years at the Conservatorio, he performed in numerous classical ballets and studied extensively in the Vaganova Syllabus. Fabio was then invited to join the National Ballet Company of Portugal, where he danced in Swan Lake beside one of the most famous dancers in the world, Carlos Acosta. Fabio also studied at the Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels, where he was awarded the Gulbenkian scholarship and worked with such greats as the legendary William Forsythe. Fabio then joined the KamuSuna Ballet in Lisbon, dancing in the contemporary ballet Love The Earth, which toured internationally. Fabio is also a hip-hop performer, and was invited to dance as a Bboy in the 2011 National Championship of DJs in Portugal. Then, with Vortice Dance Company, Fabio also performed in the international tour of Drácula (a co-production with the Macedonian Opera & Ballet). Fabio performed in the opening of the European Capital of Culture, dancing a solo in front of 30,000 people in a performance that was broadcast live to TV audiences all over the world. In 2012, out of intense competition from 76 international choreographers, Fabio earned an almost unprecedented double honor at the Festival of Choreographic Miniatures in Belgrade, Serbia—1st Place Choreography as well as the Best Performer award. Fabio also performed in the ballet Your Majesties, which had its world premiere at the XVII International Ballet Festival of Miami. Recently, Mr. Simoes had the great honor of being an invited guest dancer in the Croatian National Ballet. Fabio joins BFan after an international audition search thanks to a generous grant from theJames F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.


Company Dancer Resolutions!


As Ballet Fantastique dives head first into its 13-14 Hult Center concert season: NEW LEGENDS, we asked some of its company dancers to reflect on the past and to share their dance resolutions for this upcoming season! Read on to see what they had to say…

photo: Woden Photography

photo: Woden Photography

Hannah, executive director, said: “I usually have so many things on my brain, so I’m going to try to do a better job of letting myself be a dancer when I’m supposed to be a dancer and focusing on that.”




Photo: Woden Photography

Photo: Woden Photography


Ashley said: “My resolution would be to become more flexible.”





Photo: Woden Photography

Photo: Woden Photograghy

Caitlin said: “I want to really try and push my athleticism in performing. The part that I’m working on right now is really challenging endurance wise and athletically, and I want to be able to be the character that Donna and Hannah picked me to be!”



Photo: Woden Photography

Photo: Woden Photography

Leanne said: “For me, every year, it’s about trying to get better in every area of dance, not just one thing. Reflecting on last year, maybe being able to emote more emotion in my dancing, rather than being so technical.”



Photo: Woden Photography

Photo: Woden Photography



Krislyn, after thinking long and hard, said: “I want to become more buff in my arms!”





One of BFan’s newest company dancers, Lydia Rakov, said: “My resolution this season is to master this new style of ballet here at Ballet Fantastique. It is a much different style compared to where I was at previously.”

Meet Our New Company Dancer!

This week, Ballet Fantastique would like to introduce and welcome one of our new company dancers, Lydia Rakov!

Robert Olsen

Photo: Robert Olsen

BFan: Where are you from?

Lydia: I am from Montclair NJ, which is about 12 miles from NYC.

BFan: At which dance schools did you train before coming to BFan?

Lydia: I trained originally with Theatre Arts Dance America with ABT dancers Elaine Kudo and Buddy Balou. I attended various summer programs including ABT, American Academy of Ballet, The Juilliard School, and The Bolshoi Ballet. I lastly went to the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University.

BFan: Describe your perfect day.

Lydia: This is a hard one! OK—in my perfect day I would begin my day with a hike with all of the dogs I own, come home and rehearse for a brand new ballet for several hours (preferably one that I have helped create), and then dinner and games with friends. That would be an excellent day!

BFan: Proudest moment?

Lydia: Joining Ballet Fantastique! I am very proud and honored to be a part of such an inventive and creative company.
Before this, I would have to say that my proudest moment would have to be when I was singled out in the 2013 ACDFA competition for exemplary artistry.

BFan: Wildest dream?

Lydia: To own a farm.

BFan: Indulgence?

Lydia: Soft baked cookies. There is nothing better.

BFan: Inspiration?

Lydia: Dr. Seuss, Svetlana Zahkarova, and Sutie Madison.

BFan: Name one thing you couldn’t live without.

Lydia: Besides dance—definitely dogs!

BFan: Most unforgettable onstage moment?

Lydia: Well, we all have good unforgettable moments, and bad unforgettable moments! So here’s an example of each:

In my ballet school’s Nutcracker, due to our small company, we usually just performed the 2nd half of the ballet—the divertissements. Our Marizpan was a shepherdess, who herded the “sheep” (2,3, and 4 year olds) as they did their little dance. Marzipan dances around them, using a cane as a prop to help “herd,” and to protect the sheep from the “wolf” that would appear every so often. (This prop was very large, and difficult to maneuver gracefully.)

One year, we brought the ballet to the local elementary schools. I happened to be Marzipan in this particular show, and I was having a hard time gathering all of the sheep—they were so excited about the show, they decided to abandon their line backstage! I was running around trying to catch them all, and I finally reigned them all in right before we went on. We walked out onstage and prepped in our starting positions when I realized I had forgotten the cane. Both hands hold the cane the whole time, and I had no set arms! However, I smiled and pretended it was supposed to be that way and made up arms the whole way through. I have no idea how good the rest of the piece looked—I was so preoccupied with my lack of a prop!

This past June, I had the pleasure to work with a Freejazz company in Pittsburgh, PA. With the director, I helped create a role in the company’s first ballet. The audience had no idea what to expect, and on opening night I led them through a fantastical journey in which dreams and reality converge and contract from one another. Something like this has not ever really been done before, and it was met with great acclaim and appreciation. Knowing that I helped create something completely new and unseen was a truly unforgettable experience.

Roses are Red

Photo: Roses are Red

BFan: Dream role?

Lydia: Odette/Odile from Swan Lake.

BFan: Lastly, why Ballet Fantastique?

Lydia: I chose Ballet Fantastique because I firmly believe in their concept—creating contemporary dance from a basis in classical movement. At heart I am a classical ballerina through and through, but my natural dance style is that of a much more contemporary nature. I have always been searching for a company that is interested in this convergence of the two styles. I also love that BFan is creative, not afraid to try new things, and is interested in what each person has to offer.

Mike Cooper

Photo: Mike Cooper

Lydia Rakov is from northern New Jersey/New York City, where she trained with Elaine Kudo at Theatre Arts Dance America. She has spent summers studying with American Ballet Theatre, American Academy of Ballet, The Juilliard School, and The Bolshoi Ballet, as well as a spending a year with the Rochester City Ballet and their affiliated school. She graduated from the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University with a degree in both ballet and jazz, under the direction of Jason McDole, Dana Arey, Kiesha Lalama, Susan Stowe and Doug Benz. Lydia also danced with Pittsburgh’s freejazz company The Pillow Project, where she created and performed the role of The Green Swan, which explored the distorted line between classical and contemporary ballet. Lydia has also performed other soloist roles including the Dew Drop in the Lake Erie Ballet’s Nutcracker and as a soloist in the national 2013 ACDFA competition. In addition, she danced the role of the lead ballerina in the 2013 film Roses Are Red, which was submitted to the L.A. Film Festival and will appear in the October 2013 issue of Dance Spirit magazine. Lydia has taught ballet, jazz, and improvisational freejazz. She has worked as an assistant choreographer/rehearsal director for the Montclair High School Dance Company, as well as the CDC dancers at Point Park University. Her choreography has been performed nationally at the 2013 ACDFA competition.

Camille’s Kirov Summer!

Our focus here on the BFan blog is usually on the company, but we also think it’s important to share about the next generation of young artists that study at BFan’s training school, The Academy of Ballet Fantastique.

And…we’re especially proud to share this snapshot of one of them.

BFan directors Donna and Hannah coaching Camille in her solo for the Pride & Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet premiere at the Ballet Fantastique studios with live band Gerry Rempel Jazz Syndicate and guest Argentinian professional dancer Ernesto Lea Place.

BFan directors Donna and Hannah coaching Camille in her solo for the Pride & Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet premiere at the Ballet Fantastique studios with live band Gerry Rempel Jazz Syndicate and guest Argentinian professional dancer Ernesto Lea Place.
Photo credit: Stephanie Urso Photography

This week, I interviewed Camille Morgenstern, an Academy of Ballet Fantastique Vaganova Syllabus Level V Professional Division student. Camille has been training with BFan since the age of 4 (she just turned 16) and is a junior apprentice with the Ballet Fantastique company. In the Q&A below, she describes her Summer Intensive at the world-class ballet training institution, The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC!

One of the top programs internationally, even auditioning and being accepted into the Summer Intensive is a big deal for a dancer…and Camille just learned that she is one of a handful of students in the world who have been invited to join the Kirov’s year-round training program (!!!).

She has decided that she won’t be accepting her invitation this year–she plans to stay home, continue pursuing a full IB diploma at North Eugene High School, and of course, continue her pre-professional training with us here at BFan.  We are SO PROUD of her for earning this honor with her talent and dedication!

Camille is an A+ student in school, a hard-working ballet student and a critically-acclaimed performer who has participated in dozens of company productions (including tours to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (and to a BFan performance in Seattle), and is humble, witty, and gracious.  We wanted to share a snapshot of her incredible summer experience with you.

I grabbed her in between classes during a recent eight-hour training day at the BFan studios in downtown Eugene.

ME: So what would you do on a typical day?

CAMILLE: Classes started every day at the Kirov and ran from 9:45 to 12:45 p.m. Then we had lunch. After that, we had a classroom class from about 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. It was either Russian history, history of ballet, or special topics, which was like about health and stuff…a lot like our intensives here at BFan.

Then we would have either “Relax and Recharge,” or Pilates from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m., and on Wednesdays, we would have an acting class. From 5-6 p.m., we would take either Character or Contemporary.

ME: What did you like most about the Kirov summer intensive?

CAMILLE: I guess it would be learning Variations, which was fun, or my Character class. Although it was hard at first, once I got used to it, it was pretty fun. I also enjoyed going places on the weekends because we could take the Metro and go with friends.

ME: Where did you go on the weekends?

CAMILLE: We would go to the amazing art museum in DC, the National Gallery of Art, and the Air and Space museum. We also went to Union Station and Georgetown to see all of the monuments.

ME: What was the most challenging part of the summer intensive?

CAMILLE: Well, surprisingly, it wasn’t the ballet, but it was actually the Character class that was a bit challenging. I was lucky that I’ve had Character at BFan (a lot of other schools don’t offer it), but the Character teacher at Kirov was really intense, so I was freaked out by the material and pace of this class at first. The acting class was pretty difficult for me as well.

ME: Do you think Ballet Fantastique well prepared you?

CAMILLE: Definitely! I would also add that it was really helpful that I knew all of the steps and what they were called and how they should be done, whereas some of my friends struggled and were confused by a few of them.

ME: Do you have any funny stories that you’d like to share?

CAMILLE: Haha, well, we stayed in the dorms at Trinity College, and every morning there would be a shuttle that would take us to the Kirov, running between 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. I wear contacts, and one morning they got stuck in the drain in the bathroom, so I they had to call somebody to get them out. While we retrieved them, my roommate had closed our dorm room door behind her and so we were locked out of our room. We had to wait for somebody to come and get us. Then I missed my shuttle so I had to take the last shuttle to the Kirov. That was just my Bad Day, and it was pretty funny!

INTERN’S NOTEBOOK: Taylor Jernagan


All of the hard-working interns at BFan’s annual summer soiree!

I began my journey as an intern with Ballet Fantastique this summer. Ballet Fantastique was a company that I had never heard of before, but the internship opportunity sounded intriguing. When first starting at Ballet Fantastique, I was in awe of the ballet dancers and the beauty of the company. I didn’t realize that there was so much behind the scenes work that was happening to keep the company rolling smoothly.

This internship is also my first experience with a non-profit organization. It has shown me how much goes into running a non-profit and how hard everyone works that is a part of Ballet Fantastique.

As an intern, I almost didn’t expect that there would be so much to do right away! But there are so many projects going on all the time. It has been great to be given a project and trusted with working on it and finishing it on my own. Yet at the same time, it has also been challenging to be assigned as a leader on a project that involves aspects of PR, event planning, or even BFan that I’m not yet familiar with. Everything has been such a learning experience and it has been easy and hard–all rolled into one.

My favorite part of the internship so far has been setting up and helping plan the Summer Soirée at Domaine Meriwether. I love helping make an event a fun, memorable experience for all of the guests. I am looking forward to the upcoming events that I will be helping plan and set up for Ballet Fantastique. The fall gala (stay posted for more details!) is going to be an extremely fun event to be a part of. I’m excited to learn more about the event planning aspects of public relations.

Some of the other projects I’ve worked on have included:

  • Organizing and mailing out rewards for all of our Italy Kickstarter backers
  • Contacting and making partnerships with community groups for our upcoming ARTreach program
  • Folding and stuffing countless season brochures
  • Posting on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites to gain a larger following on social media

So far, Ballet Fantastique has given me projects that are completely new to me and I am learning more and more each day I am there. This internship opportunity is going to be great for my future and I look forward to what else is in store at Ballet Fantastique.