BOWING OUT: Portlandâs dance community is still reeling from the news that Christopher Stowell, artistic director for the Oregon Ballet Theatre, will leave the company by Dec. 31. Stowell, hired in 2003 with a mission to expand OBTâs repertoire and shore up its classical holdings and technique, accomplished his mission admirably: mounting a production of Swan Lake, licensing Balanchine ballets, putting a Pacific Northwest spin on A Midsummer Nightâs Dream and staging work by some of this generationâs best contemporary ballet-makers, including Christopher Wheeldon. But now the companyâs board is calling for a new business model, which sounds to many like shorthand for limited budget and expectations. âOne thing I was clear about is that things that had been very important to me might have to become secondary or be reduced, and that was a project that wasnât inspiring,â Stowell says of his decision to leave. âSomeone has to be inspired to be successful.â What the company will look like after his departure is still in question. âA variety of repertory is important, but itâs only effective if youâre committed to it,â he cautions. âIf youâre doing something just to sell tickets or youâre trying to be hip, I donât think that works.â Until a replacement is found, OBT staffers Anne Mueller and Lisa Kipp will absorb Stowellâs artistic duties. Stowell, meanwhile, is still considering what his own future may hold. Heâs attending a conference of international dance leaders in London in January and considering choreographing, teaching and coaching as the opportunities arise. âA real balance in repertory and training is what satisfies dancers,â he says. âThey need that varietyâthey want to be getting better at all of it.â
YOUTHFUL DISCRETION: Portland has a new all-ages music venue, and itâs called Slabtown. Last week, the venerable garage-rock haven received approval from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to turn its back game room into a club for the under-21 set. Beginning mid-December, the venue will open its doorsâits rear doors, that is, which bypass the prohibited bar areaâto Portlandâs young punks, starting with a Sunday evening series called the Church of Rock ânâ Roll, which will feature bands, movie screenings, readings from musician autobiographies and, since thereâs no alcohol allowed, âthe administration of communion in the form of black coffee,â according to owner Doug Rogers.
FUTURE EATING: After fizzled rumors that celebrity chef Naomi Pomeroy was moving her famed prix-fixe restaurant Beast to new downtown digs, it looks like sheâs doubling down in Concordia. Along with St. Jack mixologist Kyle Webster, Pomeroy has applied for a liquor license for a new venture called Expatriate at 5424 NE 30th Avenue, directly across the street from Beast. Another prominent Portlander is branching out: On Dec. 3, Micah Camden of Little Big Burger opened the doors of his new high-end doughnut shop, Blue Star Donuts (1237 SW Washington St.) with free horchata-glazed doughnuts. The menu, which includes a fried chicken and honey-butter doughnut, shows prices at a hefty $2.50-$4.75 a doughnut.