Oregon Ballet Theatre's 2017-18 season opener promises to be a crowd-pleaser.
Thomas Lauderdale, founder of the popular Portland band Pink Martini, and Hunter Noack, a classical pianist from Sunriver who's won the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition, will collaborate with the ballet on a new piece combining choreography with George Gershwin's classic "Rhapsody in Blue."
"It won't be the ballet with 'Rhapsody' and it won't be just them playing along - it will be a new creative experience," said the ballet's resident choreographer, Niccolo Fonte.
Lauderdale and Noack, who've each performed separately with the ballet before, will play a lesser-known, four-handed version of the piece while the dancers perform.
Lauderdale, who's played "Rhapsody" for 20 years, called it "really balletic."
"The way Hunter and I do it ... part of it's slower at different times, sections may be repeated in different ways," Lauderdale said, adding that he'll also do some improvisation.
"It's sort of a Thomas Lauderdale and Gershwin piece," Noack said.Thomas Lauderdale (left) and Hunter Noack perform the four-handed version of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" during the Oregon Ballet Theatre's 2017-18 season announcement Thursday evening. Jim Thomson
Here are other highlights of the ballet's 28th performance season, as announced by the ballet's artistic director, Kevin Irving, on Thursday.
George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker": The holiday classic returns; 10 of the performances will feature the Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra. Dec. 9-24, Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St.
"Alice (in wonderland)": This show will be the West Coast premiere of what Irving called a "giddy and delightful" ballet by former Washington Ballet artistic director Septime Webre, with enough scenery, costumes and special effects to rival a Broadway production. The cast will include more than 50 children. The Oregon Ballet Theatre orchestra will play at all performances. Feb. 24-March 3, 2018, Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St.
"Man/Woman": This show "takes a hard look at gender," Irving said. It features five works:
- Mikhail Fokine's 1905 classic "The Dying Swan," which Irving called a celebration of "the feminine ideal."
- A world premiere from New York choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, which features male dancers from the company and its school showcasing ideas and expressions of masculinity.
- A revival of founding artistic director James Canfield's "Drifted in a Deeper Land," an all-male work he created in response to the AIDS epidemic.
- The Oregon Ballet Theatre premiere of Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian's "Falling Angels," which Irving called a "funny, powerful, driven piece" for the company's women, danced to music by Steve Reich.
- Resident choreographer Niccolo Fonte's "Left Unsaid," which Irving called the one piece in the show that brings the two sexes together. "It is a very gendered piece without being about gender at all," he said. "The idea of the piece is the idea of being tethered or bound one human to another and how that tether can stretch and never break."
April 12-21, 2018, Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway.
"Closer": This intimate show features original choreography by Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers. May 23-June 3, 2018, BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave.
Season subscriptions are on sale; visit obt.org/subscribe or call 503-222-5538.
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