• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Behind Zoot Suit Riot

Danielle Tolmie, Mark Tucker, Steve Perry, Reed Souther and Victoria Harvey. Photo by Jon Christopher Meyers.

Sarah Ebert may be a newcomer to choreographing for the Eugene Ballet Company, but she hasn’t shied away from the pace. “In modern dance, we take months to let things marinate — we explore, we play. But in ballet, the time limit is interesting. It’s fast, and it works, because the EBC dancers are willing to experiment,” Ebert says. 

Ebert’s creative efforts will premiere in EBC’s Zoot Suit Riot, co-choreographed by Ebert and EBC Artistic Director Toni Pimble, with Eugene’s stalwart ska-swing band, The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, playing live onstage.

“The music is big already,” Ebert says. “They’re swinging really hard. They have a lot of drive and push. And I’m curious how it will all come together.” 

In cross-pollinated projects like this one, Pimble has once again created an opportunity to develop new audiences for dance. “It’s always fun to look for fun and innovative things that set us apart,” she says. “It’s important for us to reach out to younger audience members.” 

Daddies’ front man since 1988, Steve Perry says he’s taken a fresh look at the band’s repertoire through working with Pimble. “Seeing how she’s interpreting the music is really interesting,” Perry says. “She’s adding something new to it.” 

Perry took dance lessons as a kid, and he’s always had affection for the medium. When it’s suggested that a potential hazard of Zoot Suit Riot may be audience members dancing in the aisles, Perry demurs, “We’re still a dance band, really.”

EBC and The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies present Zoot Suit Riot 7:30 pm Saturday, April 12, and 2 pm Sunday, April 13, at the Hult; $28-$53. Zoot Suit Dance Party to follow at 9:30 pm Saturday, April 12, in the Hult lobby.