Man/Woman at the Oregon Ballet Theatre

Five Dance Pieces Explore Gender Stereotypes, April 12th through 21st

by Sebastian Fortino
Share This Article


Program highlights the return of OBT Founding Artistic Director James Canfield, a world premiere by Darrell Grand Moultrie, and the Company’s very first work by world-famous Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián.

Oregon Ballet Theatre continues its record-shattering 2017-18 season with a thrilling dance performance that is also an intriguing journey into the unique experiences of men and women, and the societal expectations placed upon both. This evening of all-female and all-male works invites audiences to explore gender stereotypes in dance and life, and then brings both genders together with one of Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte’s most successful works. This delightful spring program follows previous OBT forays into our shared cultural dialogues on race (Impact, 2015), ageing (Beautiful Decay, 2016), and the environment (Terra, 2017.)


Choreographer: Michel Fokine Music: Camille Saint-Saëns

This four-minute masterpiece, with its tight focus on one female dancer, epitomizes the ethereal beauty and delicacy of the romantic era ballerina. Created in 1905 for Anna Pavlova, the work was inspired in part by Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Dying Swan.” Pavlova performed it more than 4,000 times as she toured the world, attracting countless new audiences to ballet. Her interpretation has influenced generations of ballerinas in Swan Lake.


Choreographer: Darell Grand Moultrie

World Premiere

Oregon Ballet Theatre welcomes Grand-Moultrie back for his second creation for the Company. His new work takes off as a continuation of his 2015 Instinctual Confidence, and will include the

Newmark Theatre entirety of the OBT male dancer roster. The piece both examines and celebrates maleness without conformity. Grand-Moutrie’s creation was awarded a significant grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for creating work that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement, and strengthening communities through art.


Choreographer: Nicolo Fonte Music: Johann Sebastian Bach

Resident Choreographer Fonte’s work features six dancers and three chairs interacting in a series of shifting moods, but always with an undercurrent of implicit human relationships. The irony is that while the work is explicitly gendered, it isn’t about gender at all: Fonte took his inspiration from the idea of the anima/animus and the dynamics of both male and female energies within every person—with the implication that a sense of fulfillment comes from a balance and uniting of these forces. The work received its Oregon Ballet Theatre premiere in 2009.


Choreographer: James Canfield

Oregon Ballet Theatre welcomes back its founding Artistic Director and the piece he originally created for the Company in 1990. In its first major revival in 18 years, the work hearkens back to a darker age with the feelings of helplessness, loss, and frustration felt during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The subdued and introspective ballet features seven men moving through abstract patterns against the backdrop of a dark stage. The dancers perform the seven-and-a- half minute work in complete silence.


Choreographer: Jiří Kylián Music: Steve Reich

An award winning artist of international renown, Kylián served as Artistic Director for Nederlands Dans Theatre for nearly a quarter century, and has choreographed 100 works to date, including the groundbreaking Falling Angels. This piece explores the female dancer’s drive for perfection. Steve Reich’s percussive score drives the dancers’ increasingly extreme and even frantic movements. This mesmerizing and occasionally humorous ballet demands intense athleticism from the eight women who make up its all-female cast.


Tickets, starting as low as $29, are available online at OregonBalletTheatre by phone at 503.222.5538, and in person at the Oregon Ballet Ticket Office, 0720 SW Bancroft St., Portland.

Tickets for groups of ten or more are also available, starting at $15. 


Oregon Ballet Theatre is committed to sharing our passion for the expressive power of ballet, inspiring an enduring appreciation of dance, and connecting in meaningful ways to our community through excellence in performance, training and educational programs. OBT is the largest professional ballet company in Oregon, employing nearly 200 people and attracting artists from around the globe with a reputation for excellence. The company is rooted in the traditions of classical ballet, with a repertoire that ranges from the great classics to premieres from some of the most exciting choreographic voices in the field today. Our mission is dedicated to the vitality of, and access to, world-class ballet performance and training in our region. Founded in 1989 by James Canfield, a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, OBT quickly developed a distinctive style and unique repertoire that grew to comprise over 80 ballets. From 2003-2012, under the direction of Christopher Stowell, OBT presented nearly 350 performances and added 51 ballets, including 20 world premieres, to its diverse body of work. In June 2013, we were delighted to name Kevin Irving as the company’s third Artistic Director. Irving brings over 25 years of experience performing with and managing world-renowned cultural organizations and dance companies, including The Göteborg Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and Compañia Nacional de Danza (Spain). His tenure has been marked by a commitment to collaborative partnerships with other Portland artists and organizations, including the Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County Library, Kenji Bunch, and Pink Martini. He has expanded the company’s classical repertoire – with the premieres of Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, August Bournonville’s Napoli, and Irving’s own update of Swan Lake while preserving OBT’s legacy and restoring major works such as James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet. At the same time, he continues to build a diverse body of work with world premieres from internationally acclaimed contemporary choreographers such as Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Nicolo Fonte, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and Helen Pickett.

OBT’s investment in the community extends far beyond our stages and studios, as we seek to enrich the community and invest in our art form. We provide ballet training to over 800 students through the OBT School, which attracts dancers from as far away as Spain and Japan, and through OBT2, our junior company, which brings professional level performance to underserved audiences throughout Portland.

Our robust Education Outreach programming impacts nearly 40,000 people annually, including thousands of K-12 youth across 21 school districts. Ongoing efforts to ensure equitable access include: scholarships to OBT School, field trip transportation for low income and Title 1 schools, and our Share the Wonder campaign, which provides thousands of tickets to our mainstage performances for those in need. 

Emily Parker and Avery Reiners of Thumbnail