If you don't like Oregon Ballet Theater's Exposed program, you could lob some pricey heirloom tomatoes at the dancers—the Farmers Market is conveniently located one block from the performance tent. But should you?
"Um, no," says OBT Artistic Director Christopher Stowell.
And why not? Because Stowell's experimenting this year: Instead of having OBT dancers create work for the Choreographers Institute, a showcase that usually happens mid-season, he's rescheduling the program and throwing Manhattanites into the mix. New York City Ballet soloist Tom Gold and indie choreographer Pam Tanowitz will set new dances on OBT apprentices and pre-professional students, guided by two conditions from Stowell: use music by an American composer and focus more on process than product. It's about demystifying ballet for audiences.
"I still have people asking me, 'How do they know to do the same steps at the same time?'" Stowell says.
His answer is front-row seats to the sweaty creative process.
Here's how it works: The dancers take classes and rehearse in the Park Blocks; viewers come and go as they please. What both dancers and viewers should find, according to Tanowitz, is two radically different works. "Tom lives in the classical ballet world. I don't," she says bluntly. Her plan is to play with ballet's main instrument of torture—pointe shoes—to see how they tweak her modern vocabulary and the classical dancers' minds. What comes from Gold, in Spain at press time, will just be a surprise.
OBT Exposed also offers a screening of a ballet-themed film, most likely the deliciously bitchy The Turning Point (the 1977 Herb Ross film starring Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft and an unknown dancer named Mikhail Baryshnikov [who will be here soon as part of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's Time-Based Art Festival, page 33]). And principal dancers Alison Roper and Ronnie Underwood will teach a beginning ballet class for adults (requiring comfy clothes and chutzpah), then perform the pas de deux from A Midsummer Night's Dream . Bring a nice bouquet and skip the tomatoes.