BFan Academy Fall Session has Officially Started!

Last weekend, we kicked off our Academy Fall Session with an Open House Event at our studio! We had delicious snacks, offered example classes, held a raffle for BFan apparel, and there was even a surprise performance by our company dancers. Not only did we get to see our wonderful academy dancers after taking a short break for the summer, but we also were able to meet many new academy dancers that are joining us this week! 

Class with Ms. Hannah

Above: A special ballet class with Executive Director, Ms. Hannah!

Surprise Performance with Ms. Cari and Mr. Natanael

Above: Ms. Cari & Mr. Natanael during their surprise performance for our Open House guests!

Enrollment is still open at the Ballet Fantastique Academy. To enroll your dancer, visit our academy website.

Adult classes are also offered at the Ballet Fantastique Academy.  For more information, visit our academy website.

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ZORRO: The Ballet Recap

“This ballet was big, bold and beautiful” said Gwen Curran from The Register Guard. “The standing ovation at the end said it best: This is another hit for Ballet Fantastique.”

After long nights of rehearsal, hard work, and much needed volunteers, sponsors, and supporters, ZORRO: The Ballet was a wonderful success! With live music from the band Incendio, and violinist virtuoso Kim Angelis, Ballet Fantastique was able to create another dramatic, all-original ballet production!

Photo: Stephanie Urso

Photo: Stephanie Urso

Alex Notman, Arts Editor for Eugene Weekly, said, “The costumes and choreography were bright, innovative and fearless. All set against a music backdrop by the California-based Incendio Band, an exhilarating mix of Spanish guitar, violin and a dash of rock ‘n’ roll.”

You can read more about what she thought about Zorro here!

This past weekend was also the final days of our 2012 Oregon Ducks Liquid Lightning Football Helmet raffle valued at $1200! The drawing happened during the BFan cast party after the Sunday matinee. Congratulations Brandon Gray on being the raffle winner!

The Official 2012 Oregon Ducks Football Helmet was generously donated by Hydrographics Inc.

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We want to thank everyone who came to ZORRO: The Ballet and to those who contributed and helped make this production possible. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Excited to see more? Ballet Fantastique’s NEW LEGENDS season continues with Tales from the Floating World, a landmark contemporary ballet inspired by the powerful music of Portland Taiko, award-winning ensemble drummers. You won’t want to miss it!

photo: Reathel Geary

photo: Reathel Geary

You can still buy pro-rated, rest-of-season subscriptions! CLICK HERE!

You can get single Tales from the Floating World tickets here!

The Sounds of ZORRO® the Ballet!

Other than dramatic all-original choreography, witty storytelling, and playful dance theater, Ballet Fantastique is featuring live music at ZORRO® The Ballet premiere! BFan is so excited to be working with incredibly talented music artists, the LA-based Latin-fusion band Incendio and virtuoso violinist-composer Kim Angelis. In fact, we are so excited that we wanted to share a little bit of background with you about our special guest artists before attending the premiere!

Ballet Fantastique is happy to welcome back the LA-based Latin-fusion band Incendio (meaning “fire” in Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish). BFan last collaborated with them when the company toured to the Seattle area. Incendio just recently came across one of their many milestones: their eighth release– The Shape of Dreams.

Incendio

Incendio describes themselves as “instrumental world music.” Formed in 1999 by Jim Stubblefield, Jean-Pierre Durand and Liza Carbé, Incendio’s sound is a unique blend of classical, jazz, rock, flamenco, Celtic, and even bluegrass. Their music has been featured on The History Channel, A & E, Showtime and songs by its members have been used in video games like Far Cry 3 and popular movies like Bridesmaids. We are also excited to celebrate Incendio’s recent award for the 10th Annual Instrumental Album Vox Pop Winner!

BFan is also happy to be collaborating with the Astoria-based, virtuoso violinist-composer Kim Angelis! Performing her unique brand of gypsy-flamenco contemporary string music all across the world, it has been featured at the Olympics and World Cup gymnastics events, in film, and on television! She was also named the winner of the “ASCAP Plus” award… TWICE!

Kim Angelis

Kim’s music is built on a solid classical foundation, but the inspiration flows freely from the Romany Diaspora of Eastern Europe, Russia, and Spain. Her brilliant compositions showcase the beauty, power, and excitement of her playing.

The combination of these two incredibly talented musical artists are going to make ZORRO® the Ballet a premiere you won’t want to miss!

To purchase your tickets now, click here!

 

Special Student Outreach Matinee: Thursday, Oct. 17 at 10 am

$5 tickets for students made possible with support from the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Click here to register your students now!

Outreach experience info sheet>>

Italy Tour Travel Journal Days 5-6 (Thursday/Friday)

We’re so sorry that this took us so long to post–Thursday and Friday of show week were absolutely FULL with final show preparations, and after leaving San Benedetto first thing Saturday morning, we had very little internet. What an incredible, formative experience this was!

Here’s how Thursday and Friday shook out:

THURSDAY

We start the day with our new favorite: cappuccino makes my job of re-editing the soundtrack, typing up cues, and burning new CDs MUCH more enjoyable. Antoinella and the amazing hotel staff at Hotel Paneta spoil us rotten, as has become their norm. Alberto’s brother, Antonio, is a total sweetheart and drives to the hotel just to help Donna and me load up our suitcases of sets and backdrops (brought all the way from the US, of course). The car is too small to hold both the suitcases AND us, so we we walk the sunny sidewalks to the Palariviera, a walk to which we’re becoming well-accustomed. Leanne comes along so that we can space the wedding scene from Act II with the students from the Prima Musa Scuola Professionale di Danza. The students, six girls age 9-12, are beautiful and wide-eyed. We do our best to set them at ease as we coordinate the scene we’ve each been working on for the past few weeks, albeit an ocean apart. Meanwhile, the other BFan dancers explore the city a bit and Adam enchants the little Italian kids at the hotel with his cat marionette on the patio (we’ll try to get our hands on his video to share–it’s absolutely adorable and a testament to the fact that art transcends spoken language).

After the wedding spacing rehearsal, Donna and Hannah set to work programming the lights. The LED system is very different from working with gels, which is what we typically use at most theaters in the States. On one hand, they’re faster, because everything is programmable digitally and requires very little manual maneuvering. BUT the colors are all super-saturated and “hard,” either RED-red, YELLOW-yellow, BLUE-blue (Smurf Blue, as Justin says), or GREEN-green…and of course we are doing a classical ballet, not a rock concert. Again, we’ve got the language barrier to deal with as well–so we do our best to set looks that will set the show off. We don’t want the dancers to have to stand around while we program looks, so my job is to keep jumping on stage to show what the lights look like on skin, then down to discuss. (At least I’m burning off the delicious pasta that keeps appearing at every meal–happy sigh…)

The rest of the BFan dancers arrive to take photos with the Academy students and then start to warm  up. We proceed with what was intended to be a cue-by-cue. But as is always the case in the performing arts world, things never go as planned. Chiefly: 1) The lights we had hoped we’d designed to look gorgeous on the dancers don’t look so hot. 2) The tech crew doesn’t know the show and they don’t speak our language, so cues are tricky. 3) We have dancers, but no stage manager, so no one can call the cues to help the tech guys know what’s supposed to happen when.

Solution time. Alberto is a gem and translates like crazy. Justin, who has a degree in theater production, steps in and helps to re-program lights to Donna’s satisfaction. And BFan’s dancers step up to the plate as we divvy up the show: Justin will call cues 1-3, Hannah 2-4, Alberto 5-8, Caitlin 12, Hannah again on 13-14, Krislyn on 15, Hannah on 16-17, Caitlin on 18, and so on. We can do this! We proceed to dress rehearsal like the honorary Italians we’re becoming–about 3 hours behind schedule. Act I runs pretty darn smoothly with our new game plan, but it’s all we can do to make it through this much of the show before we’re to be at the official sponsored dinner at the Excelsior. And we’re sweaty as all get-out. We run the six blocks back to the hotel, take the fastest showers possible, and try to look presentable. The dinner is delicious (of course) and we try to stay awake for all five courses…it’s going to be a long day tomorrow.

FRIDAY

There’s stress in the air—we really, really want to do our best and we’ve not yet had a chance to run the whole show. We head to the theater, warm up (it doesn’t take long in this heat), and leap into our dress rehearsal. The show runs quite well, but again takes longer than planned. Two hours til showtime! And it’s a 4-5 shower day. We race back to the hotel—getting good at this trek—to shower again, refresh hair and makeup, and put on our eyelashes. Then back to the theater. We discover that it’s getting dark and that the lights don’t work in one of the dressing rooms, so we all gather in one at the end of the hallway. The students who will open the show with their “Welcome, America!” suite are already there, in costume and ADORABLE. We’re floored that they’ve visited the Ballet Fantastique website, printed our photos and bios, and are begging for autographs and photos with us. I give the pep talk to the dancers that I’ve been prepping, and we’re ready and excited.

But we have to wait–Alberto explains that in Italy, shows say that they start at 8:30, but that really means 9:00.

The gorgeous red curtains finally open at 9:15 to thunderous applause as the students begin their opening pieces. Backstage, things are a little crazy because there’s a connection problem with the projector, which makes us nervous about our silent film presentation (which opens the show and features Italian subtitles to help our audience understand Shakespeare’s twisty plot). Frederico is dictating button-pressing like mad while he holds the cords together manually and we all cross our fingers and toes. Relief: the film miraculously plays without a hitch. Scene 1 begins with already shouts of “bravo” from our warm audience (what else could we expect from this breathtakingly hospitable city?), and before we know it, Act I is already over. We’re pouring sweat and dash up the flights of stairs to change for Act II. Preston finds me a bazillion ibuprofen (you should see the silly pantomime he does to help the Italian student understand what he’s asking to borrow) because the raked stage sure hurts your joints every time the adrenaline wears off. And…Act II is suddenly here and gone, too. We’re so sticky that the rose petals that conclude the show are plastered to everyone! We take our curtain calls and sign more autographs, then get to the work of packing up our myriad set and backdrop pieces. Justin watches over the folding of the backdrops with our Italian volunteers and I traverse the theater for left-behind programs so that I can bring them home for our wonderful donors and sponsors (these programs are GORGEOUS–Alberto and Adrianna have done an incredible job). It’s 11 pm by the time we limp back to the hotel, exhausted and SO happy.

And the hotel has a midnight “snack” (read: feast) for us.

We love Italy.

Now hiring male dancer for the 2013-2014 season!

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Attention male dancers! Ballet Fantastique is on a national audition search for a male company dancer for the 2013-2014 season. Please pass the information along! More info

ballet fantastique contemporary chamber company (in gorgeous eugene, oregon)

30+ WEEKS OF PAID WORK 2013–2014 SEASON + TOURING

ALL-ORIGINAL CONTEMPORARY BALLET REPERTOIRE

choreographer-producers donna marisa + hannah bontrager

2013–2014 season includes—subject to some change:

zorro (original score)

as you like it: a wild west ballet

tales from a floating world (live japanese taiko drumming)

Contract includes three new contemporary ballet premieres each season, plus touring. Competitive pay by the week and benefits, including shoes, massage assistance, and full physical therapy. Also available: additional opportunities for paid outreach and teaching work.

Competitive applicants will have strong classical ballet and contemporary vocabularies, and confidence with soloist and pas de deux work. Applicants must be a US citizen (or hold a green card or work permit), and are preferably 5’9” and up. Audition by DVD or in person (contact us for more details).

Additional skills of interest (desired but not requisite): Choreography, arts education, arts administration, dance instruction (ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, pas de deux, and/or hip-hop).

Backstage with Hannah: Casanova is coming…

Well, we’re in the throes of Casanova (T minus 8 days to opening night).  And ohmygoodness, this is FUN.

As a dancer and co-choreographer/producer, I’m feeling beautifully steeped in this decadent era (18th-century Venice).  It’s just so full.  

Casanova

The words: In the process of creating this new ballet, Donna and I have been reading biographies of Giacomo Casanova—as well as his own writings, of course.  (Aside: Cad, yes—as mum says, “sometimes I feel like I need to take a shower after I read this stuff!”—but the man was a charming and intelligent writer.  In fact, some of his lines were just so good that they inspired us to add a bit of narration in the “voice of Casanova” to the ballet, threading through his misadventures.)  We’ve been reading about Venetian customs and Carnival, and dear friend and history buff Genna Speer also insisted that I read a slim little novel by Georgette Heyer, Powder and Patchto pick up on some playful period details (highly recommended to our more serious audience members).

The music: We’ve been listening to endless concerti, both from composers we already knew and loved (e.g., the prolific Venetian Vivaldi is of course key to our ballet), and from those we were less familiar with, like Jean-Philippe Rameau.  Underpinning every decision was to choose music that would sound familiar, that would resonate, but that wouldn’t sound too familiar.  THERE IS NO RITZ CARLTON ELEVATOR MUSIC IN THIS BALLET.  A bit of my favorite discoveries: We stumbled in a You Tube search across this AWESOME version of his “Rondeau des Indes Galantes” by the Louvre Symphony Orchestra with authentic period instruments (WATCH—it rocks).  And some darn beautiful stuff that won’t make it into this ballet (e.g., the piano duo Anderson and Roe’s haunting arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Sento in seno ch’in pioggia di lagrime”/”A rain of tears“—if you haven’t listened to it yet, do), but that we’re filing away for a later project.  Even now, with our ballet score long-chosen, I’m listening to baroque music incessantly (e.g., literally right now), since I’m a snob about having perfect intermission music.  In short, the music from this era and from our Casanova score alike are so gorgeous that I can’t stop listening.  You just can’t get sick of it.  The downside is that this is our one ballet this season without live music, but the upside is that it would be a little hard to get the Louvre Orchestra or four harpsichords on stage at the Soreng; the experience we’re building is a total immersion in how stunningly lovely—and genius—music was during this time.

See the rounded shape of Alanna's arm in this shot from Giovanni Bruni's pas de deux with Paulina (Casanova has just swooped in and is plotting his next move.)

See the rounded shape of Alanna’s arm in this shot from Giovanni Bruni’s pas de deux with Paulina (Casanova has just swooped in and is plotting his next move.)  Photo: Steph Urso Photography

The movement: We’ve been studying baroque dance steps and watching authentic re-stagings of early ballet movement (recommended: Le Roi Danse).  We’ve enlisted the help of a number of experienced fencers for our dance-duel scenes with single rapier.  (Yes, I have BRUISES—this stuff is hard.)  Donna and I are fiercely committed to challenging the company to have exquisitely nuanced musicality and especially arms and hands, and she’s making explicit decisions about some of the aesthetics, for example, there is very little traditional elongee in Casanova (where the dancer extends his/her arm, palm down); instead, she’s having us invert all of these shapes with palms up in a more traditional baroque style.  There are cabrioles up the wazoo (this step was a big deal back then), and we don’t use as much epaulement with our feet, though there’s lots with our upper body.  The movement has twist and is all about arms, so as a dancer, my body is LOVING it.

Ok, so we probably can't get this kind of height, bu the idea is what we're going for...

Ok, so we probably can’t get this kind of height, bu the idea is what we’re going for…

The costumes/set: Then, there’s the costumes…we’ve been studying fashion of the time (see our Casanova Pinterest page to peruse the designers’ inspiration board).  The costumes are maybe the most gorgeous we’ve ever created (see a sneak peek on our Facebook page)—they are  a contemporary spin on “baroque.”  So, for example, we have these drop-dead cascading lace sleeves that fall from the elbow, but instead of connecting at the shoulder, they’re independent pieces that start at the women’s biceps so that we have more free movement.  Then the skirts are built on a basic tutu from our professional costumer in LA, Primadonna, which we decided to do in ivory as if it’s a petticoat.  Onto these tutu bases, demi-“bustles” are being overlaid, each woman’s slightly different, to get the dramatic curve out at the waist but without a floor-length skirt to get in the way of our dancing.  We’ve been on the hunt in Springfield antique stores for the perfect jewels for Casanova’s women, making our Casanova (Elijah Labay) practice in his wig to make sure that his new ponytail doesn’t get taken off in any of our lifts, and using our hair extensions that were the beehives for Cinderella to build the ladies’ hair higher in a style evocative of baroque, but again, still danceable.  All I can say is bless Allison Ditson, Rita Perini Vance, Katie Liane, and Beth Scott for their incredible, incredible artistry.

In sum, we’ve got gold paint on our hands (furniture that had to get taken up a notch), baroque music in our ears, and Casanova on our mind…

See you next weekend!

CASANOVA TICKETS/INFO

Male Dancer Auditions

ballet fantastique male dancer audition flyer

Photo: Mikael Krummel and Greg Burns

Job opening: Male contemporary ballet dancer for Ballet Fantastique

Ballet Fantastique Contemporary Chamber Company is hiring a male soloist dancer beginning as early as January 2013 and as late as July 2013 (start date negotiable) for a full contract of 30 weeks of paid work including three new contemporary ballet premieres plus national/international touring as scheduled, with competitive pay by the week and benefits, including shoe allowance, physical therapy and massage assistance.  Contract also includes additional opportunities for paid outreach and teaching work.

We seek a new company member with talent, strength, artistic voice, a great work ethic and sense of humor, personality, and an insatiable appetite for what’s next.  Competitive applicants will have strong classical and contemporary vocabularies, and confidence with pas de deux work.  Applicants must be a US citizen (or hold a green card or work permit), and are preferably 5’9” and up.

Additional skills of interest (desired but not requisite): Choreography, arts education, arts administration, dance instruction (ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, pas de deux, and/or hip-hop).

More information/full audition requirements

Please send DVD, resume and photos to:

Hannah Bontrager, Executive Director

Ballet Fantastique | 960 Oak | Eugene, OR 97401

or email info@balletfantastique.org

Feel free to pass this post/opportunity along!  Thanks a million.