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.

The Odyssey: Meet the characters + costume inspiration!

MEET THE CHARACTERS OF THE ODYSSEY

ACCOMPANIED BY COSTUME INSPIRATION PHOTOS FROM OUR BFAN PINTEREST PAGE!

Odysseus Costume

ODYSSEUS (Danced by Fabio Simoes): Strong, courageous, noble, and thirsty for glory, Odysseus must fight a slew of angry Gods on his return trip from the years-long attack of Troy. King of Ithaca, Odysseus misses his Queen, Penelope, back home. Odysseus’s long journey back teaches him the value of patience and the dangers of pride.

 

 

Penelope CostumePENELOPE (Danced by Krislyn Willes): Odysseus’s wife and the Queen of Ithaca, Penelope is the ideal depiction of a perfect mother, wife, and Greek woman. She’s also the perfect match for Odysseus because she’s smart and witty. Penelope is faithful to her husband during his time away. Even though everyone is convinced Odysseus is dead and Penelope should remarry, she tries her best to keep the suitors at bay while she awaits her husband’s return. She uses the excuse of finishing Laertes’ funeral shroud and unraveling it every night to make them wait, because she knows that her husband will eventually return and her destiny will be fulfilled.

 

Athena CostumeATHENA (Danced by Jocelyn Wright): As goddess of wisdom and battle, Athena is confident, practical, clever, a master of disguises, and a great warrior. Athena naturally has a soft spot for the brave and wily Odysseus. She helps him out of many tough situations–including his shipwreck–and guides him back home. Athena is a guiding light for Odysseus and impacts the safety of his travel and takes an interest in Odysseus for the talents he already has and actively demonstrates. Although she reassures Odysseus during the battle with the suitors, she does not become fully involved, preferring instead to watch Odysseus fight and prevail on his own.

Hermes costume

 

Hermes (MERCURY in BFan’s telling; danced by Leanne Mizzoni): Messenger-god. Saves Odysseus from Calypso and is Zeus’s right hand.

 

 

 

Kalypso Costume

KALYPSO (Danced by Hannah Bontrager): The nymph and purveyor of Ogygia, the island where Odysseus is stranded at the start of the epic. Kalypso is an egocentric, dominating goddess who holds Odysseus captive for seven years in hopes of marrying him. When he resists and is liberated under orders from Zeus, Kalypso offers him immortality if he will stay. When he declines even that offer, Kalypso leads Odysseus to believe that letting him go is her idea, while it is not. While we may admire Kalypso’s spunk and wit, her possessive obsessions make her more trouble.

naussicacostume

NAUSICAA (Danced by: Ashley Bontrager): As the Princess of the Phaeacians, Nausicaa is the one who finds Odysseus when he shipwrecks on Scherias. She ensures that he is welcomed by her parents and helped after he gives his story. Also, Nausicca develops a huge crush on Odysseus and wants to marry him, which is unfortunate because Odysseus is already married. Oh well, better luck next time.

 

 

Cyclops Costume

 

Polyphemus (aka the CYCLOPS; danced by Justin Feimster/Lydia Rakov): Shortly after leaving Troy, Odysseus arrives on the island of Polyphemus, is a Cyclops and son of Poseidon. After he tries to capture Odysseus and his crew and eat them, Odysseus is able to trick and blind the Cyclops, enraging Poseidon and causing the explanation for Poseidon’s outrage and need for revenge toward Odysseus.

 

 

zeus costume

 

ZEUS (Danced by Justin Feimster): As the King of the Gods, Zeus is the mediated voice of Olympus and must ultimately decide whether Odysseus shall be permitted to return. He occasionally allows such help by Athena, for Odysseus’s {semi-}safe travel back home.

 

sirencostume

 

SIREN (Danced by Lydia Rakov): The Siren is a dangerous woman who lures men to their death with her voice. Odysseus becomes the first mortal who was lured by the Siren to live to tell the tale, because he has his men tie him to the mast as they sail by while he plugs his ears to drown out the luring voice.

 

circecostume

 

CIRCE (Danced by Hannah Bontrager): The witch of the sea, Circe is fierce. She transforms Odysseus’ men into swine. In the end Odysseus gets friendly with Circe (like really friendly), and the sea witch transforms his men back, gives them directions to the Underworld, and sends them on their way.

suitor costume

 

ANTINUOUS (Danced by Justin Feimster, with suitors Jim Ballard + Adam Haaga): The figurative leader and most obnoxious of Penelope’s suitors, ultimately plotting to have Telemachus killed. He is the first and most angrily killed when Odysseus takes his revenge.

 

 

 

The Odyssey: The Ballet premieres Feb. 27 – Mar. 1 at the Hult Center! Make sure to get your tickets before they’re all gone by clicking on the button below!

Odyssey Ticket Button

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.

The Summer Soirée at Domain Meriwether Winery

 My name is Candace Chin, I am the Media Intern at BFanA few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Ballet Fantastique’s annual summer soirée! Although I was technically working, I was still able to enjoy all the delightful amenities.

The venue was absolutely breathtaking. We were surrounded by hills of trees with a lovely view of the sunset hanging to our right. The hors d’oeuvres for the night were provided by KNIO Personal Chefs. I was manning the information table so I wasn’t able to try all of the hors d’oeuvres, but the ones that I did were both filling and flavorful. My favorite was the pulled pork crustini with the marion blackberry grenache BBQ sauce. Doesn’t that sound absolutely delicious? The wine and Champaign did not disappoint either. I would attempt to describe them to you, but I don’t think my pallet for wine is refined enough nor would my words do them any justice.

The entertainment for the night was none other than our lovely ballet Fantastique dancers, accompanied by the smooth jazz tunes of Shelley and Cal James. They performed a few numbers, such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Wild Thing”, from the company’s most recent performance of Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet set in 1964. Everyone loved it and seemed to be having a very enjoyable night. But how can you not when you have delectable food and drink, wonderful entertainment and lively company. Honestly I can say it was hands down one of the highlights for my summer. If you missed out on this summer’s soiree, I hope you can join in next year and experience the fun for yourself.

 

 

 

Our Cinderella Tour Experience!

Dearest BFan fanatics,

Last weekend was one of the best whirlwinds of my life. Touring Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet to three towns in three days was intense, but well worth the exhaustion. I feel that the whirlwind began when James Fuller, a company member with Ballet Austin, arrived in Eugene to learn the role of the Prince. James was such a trooper! Learning such a demanding role in less than one week is no easy feat, and a special thanks must go to his incessant smile. There was literally not a single moment in which Mr. Fuller had a straight face, let alone a frown.

 

James Fuller as Prince Charming and Alanna Fisher as Cindy (Photo: Yin Yi)

Last Thursday we had our first run through of the show with the band since our performances at the Hult back in May. I felt, that considering James had just learned his part, and we were all a bit frazzled, that the run went swimmingly. There is something truly magical about performing to live music, and I personally feel that it allows me to throw away my inhibitions and just get into character. After rehearsing with Shelley and Cal and their band, I felt ready to tackle three towns in three days.

First stop: Florence, Oregon! We arrived in Florence knowing the environment- we had performed Beatrix Potter at the Florence Event Center during the holiday season. We marked through all of the pieces, warmed up, and became situated with the stage. We had such a receptive audience! Nothing makes me happier than the laughter of an audience while portraying a comedic character. Thanks for laughing, Florence!

The ride back to Eugene that evening seemed to last forever. We were all exhausted, and could barely keep our eyes open by the time we arrived home. The BFan dancers and crew quickly fell asleep and recuperated as much as possible before our warm-up class at 9am the next day. I’m not going to lie, I could hardly move during that class. I can’t attest for everyone, but I think that the majority of the BFan dancers were hurting that morning. Our bodies were tired. After class, we packed up, grabbed a cup ‘o’ jo, and headed to our second stop: Noti!

Noti was certainly a smaller venue, but with a lot of heart! Everyone there was so immensely friendly. They provided us with delicious fresh fruit, snacks full of protein, and ice cold bottles of water. This was also the sweatiest show of the weekend! It was about 100ºF outside. We performed in a gymnasium, which had our marley floor laid out (thanks to many of the BFan boyfriends). We had to accomodate ourselves to the new layout, which surprisingly took no time at all. I literally saw Ballet Fantastique become a versatile touring company right before my eyes! Noti also provided us with a delicious bbq chicken feast! I would use the word “taste-tastic” when describing that meal! Thanks for your hospitality, Noti!

Most of the BFan crew left for Portland that evening after the Noti show around 9pm so that we wouldn’t be stiff from a morning car-ride right before the Sunday show. We had some very hospitable friends and family in Portland who were willing to house us for the evening. Arriving at Lincoln Hall on Sunday morning was fantastic! We had an enormous amount of space in the dressing room backstage, and the theater was just beautiful in general. I felt quite relaxed and ready to give it my all that day. However, about two hours before the show, I became jittery. I think it was just the thought of performing in my hometown, where I had no idea who might be out in the audience. After the first couple of pieces though, I realized that it didn’t matter who was out there- I’m dancin’ ’cause I love it! In the end, the Portland show was amazing! The viewers seemed to really enjoy the performance, and everyone was incredibly receptive!

Whew! What an experience! Now, I sit in my room up in Portland, writing this blogpost, still recuperating from the tour, and thinking to myself, “Where will BFan go next?!”
Love,
Amelia (a.k.a. Meelz)

Different Takes on a Classic Fairy Tale

This is an exciting summer at Ballet Fantastique. We have multiple performances, camps, classes and more! One of our most anticipated events is our up and coming tour of Cinderella: A Rock Opera Ballet. We are touring to Florence and Portland (click for tickets) this August for a weekend of performances and entertainment! To get in the mood for the resurfacing of our show, let’s take a look at the history of Cinderella and different ways it has been adapted on the stage.

First off, there are the origins of the story itself. Diverse renditions of Cinderella exist. Records of a story resembling Cinderella have surfaced all the way back to the 9th Century A.D. in China, but the most well-known version comes from author Charles Perrault in the 17th Century. Perrault’s story was then adapted by the Brothers Grimm, leading up to the popular Disney film version.

The classical ballet version of Cinderella was originally performed in Vienna, Italy in 1813 (along with multiple other productions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries). One of these is Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, originally performed as a film in 1957 starring Julie Andrews (photo above), which was then later adapted for the stage. Other modern Cinderella ballets include British choreographer Matthew Bourne’s, taking place in London during the Second World War, and Rudolf Nureyev’s rendition, set in the 1930’s Hollywood scene. Christian Louboutin’s even jumped on the Cinderella bandwagon with his recent creation of high-class Cinderella slippers.

Versions of the fairy tale are enjoyed by audiences who love unique and entertaining content, but also the familiarity of a childhood favorite.  Ballet Fantastique’s rendition is quite exceptional in that it uses live on-stage music and all-original choreography. This 1960’s rock opera version includes all your favorite hits (performed live), beautiful ballerinas, and character developments you’ll have to see to believe. A recent review on the show featured in The Register Guard states “Ballet Fantastique not only danced outside the box, it threw the box away.” If you’re in the Florence or Portland area, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to experience this great performance!

A Creative Social Media Outlet: Perfect for the Arts!

It’s a known fact that social media is taking over the online world. Ballet Fantastique (BFan) prides itself on its vast social media presence by using FacebookTwitterFlickr and more! Now a new site has been added to the BFan social media family. This site is known as Pinterest.

Pinterest is a virtual pin board. At first glance, it appears to be a site consisting of only pictures without content. But the site is unique; you can find great recipes, craft and wedding ideas, and our favorite: behind the scenes insight into BFan’s creative imagination. By clicking on the photos provided on the Ballet Fantastique boards, Pinterest users can view different artisitic content that sparks the directors’, choreographers’ and dancers’ interests! Some of our boards include:

1. “Cirque Inspiration”- A board dedicated to our upcoming fall show: Cirque de la Lune. It depicts photos of circus scenes in/of the 1930s. Very quirky and daring!

2. “Healthy, Delicious Ballerina Food”- This board gives the viewer different healthy recipes-my stomach’s rumbling thinking about it.

3. “Our Dancers”- This board celebrates the talented dancers of the Ballet Fantastique Company.

Other boards of ours include ballerina hairdo ideas, famous dancers and BFan performance content. Links to performance tickets and programs are also available on our Pinterest boards. What a great way for a creative company to interact with its audience! The performing arts are about visuals over words. This unique tool gives us at BFan the opportunity to show you other ways a ballet company can perform.

Wanting to emerge into the life of a ballerina? Or just interested in getting delicious recipes and crafty ideas? Dive into Pinterest and follow our boards! They continue to grow as we continue to grow as a company, and your support directly helps us do that.