Eugene Ballet to the Rescue

A small town’s Nutcracker show will go on with borrowed sets and costumes

Eugene Ballet Company recently stepped up to rescue a small northern California ballet company’s annual production of The Nutcracker, which was canceled after last year’s lethal Camp Fire.

Earlier in January, EBC sent leotards, dance shoes, costumes, sets and props to tiny Northern California Ballet, based in Paradise, California, a town that was largely destroyed in the Camp Fire that started Nov. 8. The wildfire, which killed about 85 people, also engulfed NCB’s small studio. 

Paradise native Marilyn Brady, now a resident of Eugene, says the postponed Nutcracker will be held Jan. 18 through 20 at the State Theatre in the neighboring town of Oroville. Paradise Performing Arts Center survived the blaze but couldn’t schedule NCB’s January performance. 

A dancer herself, Brady speaks warmly of EBC, which has had a special relationship with NCB for years.

“As long as I can remember, starting ballet when I was 10, and I’m now 24, NCB’s artistic director always hires EBC dancers to perform the principal roles as well as teach,” Brady says.

Since 2002, Eugene Ballet has sent nearly 20 dancers to work as guest artists and instructors with dancers at NCB, says Jennifer Martin, EBC principal dancer and associate artistic director. Many stayed with host families in houses that are no longer standing. 

Paradise resident Heather Rae Bingham Pete is hosting a GoFundMe fundraiser to help NCB, “Small Ballet Studio Destroyed in Paradise Fire.” In one month, 22 people have helped raise $2,107 out of a $15,000 goal. According to the GoFundMe, most of the dancers, along with the director, also lost their homes and belongings.

“Your NCB Oroville family is here for you all,” a donor writes on the GoFundMe page.