Ballet Fantastique of Eugene, Oregon hosted its annual summer lawn party at Domaine Meriwether Winery in Veneta (right next door to the grounds for the Oregon Country Fair) on a pleasant Thursday evening, August 8, 2013.
The soiree is a meet-and-greet for supporters, with wine from the winery, or juice or water, and "light hors d'oeuvres" of craft cheeses, fruits, bread bits, humus and other dips, provided by Kallen Korin (board member) and volunteers. Guests were addressed by directors Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager with comments on the company's recent trip to Italy to perform, and introduction of the exciting new season of edgy ballet that features three original works, all with live accompaniment. Two dances from previous works were performed on the grass, something of a challenge for dancers used to an environment engineered to accommodate dancing; there's a bit of difference between a flat stage covered with marley dance floor and an uneven ground covered with tufts of grass. A romantic pas de deux was followed by a ladies trio, and while there may have been an awkward second or two in the performances, overall the execution was graceful and well-received, something of an accomplishment considering performance conditions. Live music was provided by the Gerry Rempel Jazz Syndicate (click here for performance at Saturday Market) as a bass, drum, and guitar trio, with jazz standards and original pieces composed for "Pride and Prejudice: A Parisian Jazz Ballet" from last season, for which the Syndicate provided the original, live accompaniment (click here for sample of score).
In the 2013-14 season, each of the new ballets will be performed three times; Thursday and Friday evening at 7:30, and a Sunday matinee at 2:30, all at the Hult Center in Eugene.
The first work of the season is "Zorro: The Ballet," with live accompaniment from Incendio, a latin-fusion band from L.A. who bring "gypsy-inspired" original material to the piece, with Kim Angelis, virtuoso violinist-composer. "Zorro: The Ballet" will be performed Oct. 18-19, 2013 at 7:30, Oct. 20 at 2:30.
"Tales from the Floating World" is a collaboration with Portland Taiko drum ensemble supporting dances that evoke "ancient Asian legends of samurai adventure, romance, and the supernatural." It will be performed Feb. 7-8, 2014 at 7:30, and Feb. 9 at 2:30.
The last piece in the 2013-14 season is "the book of esther; a rock gospel ballet." The award-winning UO Gospel Singers provide "a score of live rock and gospel music spanning the past two centuries" to illuminate the Old Testament story Esther, rich with intrigue, vengeance, and redemption. Esther is an orphan, taken in as a virtual daughter by Mordecai, whose story begins with a Cinderella-esque elevation to Queen, and develops to operatic-level melodrama of conspiracy to destroy the Jews, which turns fatally against the conspirator, and marks the beginning of the celebration of Purim, when Esther saved the Jews from annihilation.