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A local mother-daughter team is pushing the limits of ballet by finding inspiration in the most unlikely of places. For The Book of Esther, Ballet Fantastique’s Donna Bontrager and her daughter Hannah Bontrager go way, way back — to approximately 486 BC — for the finale of their 2013-2014 season. What better way to end the company’s “New Legends” series than with a story from one of the oldest existing works of literature: The Old Testament?

• A protest in response to a sexual assault case allegedly involving UO basketball players is being planned at noon Thursday, May 8, on the lawn behind Hendricks Hall on campus. Organized by the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence, http://wkly.ws/1qv.

• The Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will meet from 5:30 to 7:30 pm Thursday, May 8, at the Sloat Conference Room at the Atrium Building, 99 W. 10th Ave.  

As an environmental studies major at the UO I’ve gotten very used to discussing issues of injustice and land degradation through a scholarly/ objective lens; however, I had never drawn these connections back to myself and how they affect me as an Oregonian. Never would I have imagined that a trip out to interview a community affected by pesticide drift — a predominantly middle class, white conservative community in Gold Beach — would connect directly to the working-class Latino-immigrant farmer community I grew up with in the Rogue Valley.

Nothing makes art come alive like seeing it strut down the runway. Sunday, May 4, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art hosted St. Vincent de Paul’s Metamorphose Upcycling Design Challenge — in a nutshell, Eugene’s own Project Runway.

Once upon a time, orchestra halls were raucous places, bursting with chatty patrons who were eager to applaud — dare I say it — during a movement. Composers, such as Mozart and Brahms, saw an engaged, reactive audience as a sign of respect. Not until the 20th century did “concert etiquette” develop and audiences became staid, passive observers waiting to clap on cue. 

There is an exquisite pain that attends the process of becoming — like a balancing act, emotions teeter in delicate equilibrium, strung out on the wire of what was, what is and what might be. Emergence into one’s self is beautiful, but forever fraught with collapse and nullity. Such is the raw, tense vibrancy that buzzes through the music of Hers, a new Portland band that raises a trembling fist against the lonely wages of independence.

Stage names aren’t new — particularly in hip hop; James Todd Smith is LL Cool J, and Sean Combs is (once again) Puff Daddy. But lately it seems the well of rapper nom de plumes is creatively dry;  I’m looking at you Yung Turd and Mr. Muthaduckin’ eXquire. This brings us to Childish Gambino — a great name by any measure, mixing innocence and menace, like good hip hop should.

Any driverless car Google develops that successfully navigates city streets while avoiding jaywalkers, weaving bicyclists, distracted drivers and loose animals, is qualified to be president.

How can you tell if there’s a banjo player at your door? They can’t find the key, the knocking speeds up and they don’t know when to come in (ba-dum ching!).

With so many American schools cutting back their arts programs, nonprofit organizations play an increasingly larger role in showing young people the beauty of making music.

A strange species of magical realism pervades Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a darkly funny musical that mashes up a handful of our most familiar fairy tales into a salty stew of deviant psychology and romantic dissatisfaction. Keeping the outward trappings of the fables intact, Sondheim douses them with the realpolitik of reality.

GROSS DISREGARD

We first heard about Slab City more than 10 years ago from Mike, an alley neighbor in the Whit. Mike, a retired man of 60-something, had been wintering annually at Slab City for many seasons. Mike’s tales of a community of travelers enjoying free camping in the California desert near the Salton Sea intrigued us. A few months later, in November 2003, my husband, Dan, and I set out pulling “Big Al,” our 30-foot 1982 silver Avion trailer (Airstream’s lesser-known cousin), for a year’s trip around North America. Our curiosity dictated that our first stop was Slab City.

Bruce Biehl, the owner of Eugene Wine Cellars (EWC), once dreamed of being a cowboy. He became a winemaker instead. With a soft spot for European wine culture, influenced both by his travels and a brother who makes wine in southern France, Biehl brought the first “urban winery” to Eugene in 1999. It was a family effort, with Biehl siblings Beverly and Brad, which made EWC the first licensed winery within city limits.

Every once in a while, a bottle of wine — even a very good wine, from a reputable producer — breaks bad. Excuses abound, but reasons are harder to find.

I’m a 26-year-old lesbian 18 months out of an eight-year relationship. She was my first girlfriend. I do not want to be in another monogamous relationship. I want to have a couple of sex buddies or, preferably, a couple of friends with benefits. In the last 18 months, I have had three FWB “arrangements” with different girls. The problem is, about two or three months in, each girl developed serious like/love feelings and began talking about a future together and how they want to be with me exclusively.

Valleys aren’t the only places for making wine. While most of Oregon’s 450-some wineries are located in cooler, more temperate climes, central and Eastern Oregon are in on enology culture, too. For a treat on your next road trip east, drop by one of these wineries to get a taste of Oregon’s east side.

Eugene Wine Cellars

255 Madison St., 342-2600

May 23-26 Memorial Weekend Celebration, Sunday urban wine circuit  noon-6pm Saturday-Monday.

 

J. Scott Cellars 

520 Commercial St., Unit G, 514-5497

May 23-25 Memorial Weekend Celebration, music, food truck, guest wineries, 4-9pm Friday, 1-9pm Saturday, noon-6pm Sunday.

 

Noble Estate Vineyard & Winery

29210 Gimpl Hill Rd., 560 Commercial St. Suite S, 954-9870

The origins of wine are shrouded in the thick mists of pre-history. Still, largely due to the mystique of wine, historians, anthropologists and other scholars continue to delve into the mystery. Lately, they’ve been joined by geneticists exploring grape DNA. All fun stuff, but, for now, suffice it to say that once upon a time, long ago (probably some 3,000-plus years), in a land far away (probably Persia, aka Iran), someone (probably a woman, since almost all good aspects of civilization seem to have originated with women) discovered that wild-picked grapes, left alone, would release their juice, then ferment, and fermented grape juice tastes pretty good. 

Languid, elegiac, mournful and unexpectedly funny, Jim Jarmush’s Only Lovers Left Alive introduces us to the ancient Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), a pair of vampires who’ve been married so long they think nothing of living on opposite sides of the world.

Hang high in Colorado, Robert Redford, because we have another film festival worth digging into here in Eugene May 9-11. The Archaeology Channel is hosting its 11th International Film and Video Festival at The Shedd and just like the subjects depicted on screen, the festival is aging into something to behold, showcasing 18 films from around the globe. 

Music news & notes from down in the Willamette valley

Sniffing out what you shouldn’t miss in the arts this week.

New wrinkles have been raised about the razing of the old Eugene City Hall and the present proposal that would build anew. Architect Otto Poticha has offered to purchase an option on the old building and site. On the other hand, the city of Eugene and Lane County have announced a plan to swap part of the land where City Hall now stands for Lane County’s “butterfly lot.” 

It looks like another round of downtown area planning is needed to put these issues being raised together in the context of a broader downtown vision. The time is — if anything — overripe for reviewing and renewing that vision and for furthering its goals through all the major projects that are simmering downtown.