Oregon Ballet Theatre has a new starting lineup of fresh faces this season, and OBT Exposed—the company's week of free public programming July 18-23 at Director Park—offers a sneak preview of the new hires (including three new principal dancers from China) and recent promotions.
The event is something of a comeback for the company, which used to do Exposed in downtown Portland's South Park Blocks until 2008, when funding fell short. This edition will serve as a warm-up for OBT's upcoming trip to Seoul to perform The Nutcracker, but more importantly, it will offer a backstage view of what it's actually like to be a dancer, as company members take class, rehearse and perform in an outdoor studio. (If you're anticipating bloody catfights and lesbian liplocks, you may want revise your expectations.)
The performance process will unfold daily; viewers are invited to bring a lunch and park themselves. The weekday schedule is class (9:30-10:45 am) and rehearsal (11 am-2 pm and 3-6 pm) Monday-Friday; free ballet classes for kids and adults of all skill levels are also offered throughout the week.
The Saturday, July 23, schedule is a little more involved: class, rehearsal and performances of excerpts from George Balanchine's Who Cares?, plus Trey McIntyre's Speak, James Kudelka's Almost Mozart and new choreography by retired OBT principal dancer Anne Mueller.
Not all the dancing will be live: OBT is also offering a free documentary screening on the life of one of ballet's most fascinating figures. Maria Tallchief: Conversation with Evelyn Cisneros profiles the New York City Ballet star who, during her '50s-era tenure with the company, was revered as much for her exotic, leggy beauty (the product of an Osage father and Scottish-Irish mother) as she was for her elegant performances, which inspired generations to come. The film includes rare footage of Tallchief dancing as well as speaking with former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Evelyn Cisneros. They should have plenty to talk about: Tallchief went from living on an Oklahoma reservation to joining the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to becoming NYCB's first prima ballerina, as well as one of choreographer George Balanchine's many wives.
GO: Director Park, 815 SW Park Ave. Various times July 18-23. The Maria Tallchief film screens 8 pm Thursday, July 21. Free. Info and schedule at obt.org.