KEEPING THE BALLET TORCH BURNING
Many little kids dream of becoming dancers, or, more specifically, ballerinas. I for one spent hours creating dance moves that resembled a flamingo more than a swan. But what for me would be a one-time performance is a tangible goal for the dancers at Ballet Fantastique.
|Hannah Bontrager. Photo: Jared Mills
The academy, which opened in 2000, is the first nonprofit professional dance training school in Eugene. Executive director Hannah Bontrager is proud that Ballet Fantastique was the only Eugene ballet company invited to perform in the Umpqua Dance Festival in Roseburg at 7 pm on Friday, May 4. “Ballet Fantastique and other performing community dance groups hope to support high-caliber arts in rural communities like Roseburg,” Bontrager says.
Bontrager choreographed the feature dances with contributions from Ballet Fantastique dancers in the professional dancer development program. “It is very rare for young professional dancers to have the opportunity to choreograph and perform part of a professional dance number, so this is a big deal for the girls,” says Bontrager.
The company dancers will be performing two pieces at the festival. One part is a more contemporary pointe piece. The second part of the performance is a solo series, “Spanish Inspiration,” which includes excerpts from Don Quixote.
Because of a commitment to keep ballet alive for young dancers in the Northwest, Ballet Fantastique is also working with two local elementary schools. Teachers at at Harris and Moffitt elementary schools and Ballet Fantastique are creating a program exploring academic subjects through the art of dance.
According to Bontrager, “Children don’t learn as much when they just see something in front of them as they do when they get in and take a closer look.” This nontraditional classroom approach provides students with the opportunity to draw connections between various subjects and build sophisticated and creative learning styles. “Instead of reading about a tornado, kids dance a tornado,” Bontrager says.
And she’d like to expand the program to other schools; those interested can contact her at email@example.com or 306-8977. To purchase tickets for the Umpqua Dance Festival, go to www.umdp.net— Deanna Uutela
HOT POTS IN PDX
We’ve got potters, yes we do … we’ve got potters and we’re sending ’em to you. For you, read big beautiful city of Portland, where Eugene represents at the Oregon Potters Association Ceramic Showcase 2007. We’re sending 25 area artists to the Oregon Convention Center Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6, where hundreds of ceramicists strut their tactile stuff.
|Cow Pastoral Tureen by Mary Briggs
Isn’t clay the best material? It’s cool and smooth, gritty and labile, fun to throw around. Of course, our artists do more than smack down some slabs and add a bit of color. Potter Mary Briggs says in her artist’s statement, “Nature is my current teacher.” But Briggs also slings around historically grounded words about the Barbizon School (pretty, pretty cows in pretty, pretty French landscapes) and the color palette of Tuscany and Provence. Coming at the dragged-out grey end of the rainy season, that sounds decadent. One of her show pieces, the Cow Pastoral Tureen, glowing a pale yellow like Provencal villages, combines a faux-naïve painting with a tongue-in-cheek cow handle.
Among the Eugeneans is also Tracie Mei-Lin Manso, who began her clay career in middle school in Brazil and who works with the local clay co-op Club Mud. She does build from slabs and uses wax, she says, to do something similar to batik. Now she’s creating clay stamps and using the bisque-fired patterns to imprint her functional tableware with “unique decorative patterns and designs.”
If you’re hanging out in Stumptown this weekend, pop on a MAX to the Convention Center and get in some clay face time at the adult and children “clay play areas” before you wander around to see who else in our fair hamlet has made the leap to the big leagues. More info: www.ceramicshowcase.com — Suzi Steffen