dance united – a great evening of great dancing

The word “wow!” just about covers it.  What an incredible evening of artistry and generosity on the part of 50 of the finest dancers in North America, the stagehands and administration of Keller Auditorium, all of whom donated their services.

I’ve read the phrase “they danced their hearts out” but until now, I’d never fully appreciated what that would look and feel like in-person.  From beginning to end, that’s what the near-capacity audience witnessed.

I’ve always been one of those people who has had a very visceral emotional response to dance, especially classical ballet, and that made for some very moving moments Friday night.  The OBT dancers more than held their own in some pretty heady company – they were dancing right alongside some of the best dancers from the most revered companies in the business.  They should be immensely proud of their showing Friday – I know that the crowd in attendance certainly was!

Some highlights:  The amazing virtuosity and hang-in-midair feats of the duo (Megan Fairchild and Daniel Ulbricht) from the New York City Ballet, who danced Ballanchine’s Tarantella with such joy and exuberance. OBT’s Almost Mozart, that brought such depth of emotion to a wonderfully evocative choreography – and with the amazing Alison Roper in great form after her maternity leave, no less!  The incredible discipline and beauty of the incomparable White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake by Ballet West’s Christiana Bennett and Christopher Ruud).  BodyVox with their amazing physicality in the haunting Falling for Grace.  And perhaps the most stunning work of the evening was by a pair from the Boston Ballet, who just blew the roof off the Keller with Zero Hour, set to the first movement of Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – most amazing fact?  The duo (Melissa Hough and James Whiteside) also choreographed the work!

The entire lineup was so well done that it took some work to pull out highlights, and I mean no disrespect to those I did not mention – all the dancers were artists of the highest caliber.

What ended up being the most moving to me was the sheer energy and intensity that these dancers brought to their performances.  They were honoring OBT by bringing their ‘A’ game, and seeing some of these superstars of the ballet world doing their best on behalf of our local ballet company (with a growing national and international reputation for excellence) really made my heart swell with pride for what Christopher Stowell and his company of dancers have been able to accomplish in such a short time here in Portland.  Bravo – and let’s see that $750,000 goal reached asap!

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