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Archive for the ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Category

TPB Senior Profile: Ruby King

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

TPB is proud to present Ruby King, one of our seniors for the 2013/14 Curriculum year!

Ruby King, photo by Blaine Covert

Ruby King, photo by Blaine Covert

Ruby: what a wonderful name she has and what a wonderful performer she is! Ruby was with us when she was very young, decided to explore other interests and then returned to The Portland Ballet. She had a lot of catching up to do, but never let that discourage her and worked her way up to our Level 5. Ruby has always loved to perform, in fact she performs in each and every class, not just on stage. It is evident she is very expressive, loves ballet and loves the music. Ruby has been a demonstrator for one of Michelle Davis’s Pre-Ballet classes and is a natural born teacher. The little ones always seek her out and sit with her when we do our big holiday production rehearsals and the full cast is in one studio together. As Ruby embarks on her next exciting adventures all these great traits will go far. We wish her much success wherever her wonderful spirit moves her. - Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

Name, Age, Year in School?
Ruby King, 17, senior.

When did you start dancing?
I started taking ballet as a seven-year-old.

When did you start at TPB?
The same time I started taking ballet classes!

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
In terms of academics, I definitely have to plan ahead and stay organized; balancing ballet with a rigorous school schedule is not easy! I’m not the only one at school with a demanding extracurricular passion, so all of my friends understand that I have to put ballet first in the majority of situations. I’ve missed my share of Friday night football matches, but in the end I’d always rather be dancing in the studio.

Ruby King, photo by Blaine Covert

Ruby King, photo by Blaine Covert

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
My second love in life is fashion, if you’d like to call that a hobby? I’m always keeping up with couture and ready-to-wear collections throughout the year and I have a major weakness for beautiful shoes. I’d also consider myself quite the Francophile. I’ve been studying the French language for a long time, and don’t plan to stop until I’m fluent!

Influential master classes?
The first time I took John Clifford’s class was definitely a shock. I am so used to really filling out the music in class, so learning to express myself with limited counts has been something I’ve been working on!

Or teachers?
All of the teachers I’ve studied with at TPB have all given me something that has gone into creating my style! But I have especially enjoyed Elizabeth Guerin for her constant attention to the importance of upper body presentation, and Natasha Bar for the dramatic and expressive flare she adds to each combination. The drama of ballet is the thing I love most!

Ruby rehearsing 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' photo by Blaine Covert

Ruby rehearsing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Or SBI programs?
I’ve only participated in TPB’s SBI program, but it was always an enriching program. I adored dancing everyday!

Why do you dance?
It’s simply a matter of love and passion; and it’s one of the only ways I can express myself! Outside of the studio I’d consider myself a rather shy person, but as an artist, I live to tell stories without words. Ballet isn’t just something I choose to do, it’s literally become part of my identity. I’d be nothing without it! On a humorous note, many people at school identify me as the “ballet girl” who always wears high heels.

Favorite role or ballet danced?
For a role I’ve never danced, I’d have to say Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, especially Kenneth MacMillan’s version. What a dream! I also learned Can-Can for The Enchanted Toyshop this year– it’s such a lovely role! I love the drama and the coy nature to the dance, not to mention the absolutely stunning costumes.

Ruby (far right) as a Can-Can dancer in 'The Enchanted Toyshop,' photo by Blaine Covert

Ruby (far right) as a Can-Can dancer in ‘The Enchanted Toyshop,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
At the barre, I actually adore ronde de jambes, There is so much opportunity to create this beautiful fluidity with the legs, port de bras and head movement. My other favorite step would be bourées en pointe! I just get so caught up in the music and emotion that I get to create.

Favorite TPB moment?
The last time we did The Enchanted Toyshop, there was a rehearsal one Saturday that included all of the small children. I remember it started to snow outside and everyone gathered excitedly around the foggy windows. It was just such a lovely, small moment to see everyone possessed with  such wonder by the delicate snow flurries as Rossini’s absolutely gorgeous score played in the background.

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?
My favorite dancer, without a doubt, is Evgenia Obraztsova, who dances with the Bolshoi Ballet. She has lovely technique, but really stands out by putting emphasis on the importance of putting soul into dance. Technique can be memorable on its own, but the passion put into each role, to me at least, is what really sets the truly magnificent dancers apart from everyone else.

Plans for after graduation?
I plan to attend college, ideally in a large metropolitan area!

Pursue dance professionally?
While I do not plan to pursue ballet as a career, it will always be a part of who I am.

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
My ultimate goal is to work in the fashion industry. It’s quite a reach, but ideally I’d like to see myself working for Vogue magazine, either as a writer or with something in the Creative Department. But really, just to be involved with fashion or art would be more than wonderful!

Any advice for young TPB dancers?
Please put all of your love and your passion into this art form! Expression is so important, but so many dancers forget about it because they’re focusing so much on the steps. You have the opportunity to really inspire people, so make sure to put just as much passion and attention into every movement of the head, every breath of the arm. I promise you, people will remember you if you show them that this is what you really love!

Thanks Ruby! Best wishes for next year! Any comments, questions, encouragement for Ruby? Please leave them here! 

 

TPB Senior Profile: Samantha Baybado

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

TPB is proud to feature Samantha Baybado, one of our seniors for the 2013/14 Curriculum year!

Samantha Baybado, photo by Blaine Covert

Samantha Baybado, photo by Blaine Covert

Samantha has been such a lovely addition to our school. Everyone likes “Sam” as we call her; she’s a gem. Not only is Sam an accomplished ballet dancer but she also excels in Modern. Sam’s gorgeous shock of red hair really sets her apart, as well as her wonderful performing skills and ballon. (Ballon is the light, elastic quality in jumping.) In addition to Sam’s full load with school and Curriculum classes, she has assisted and demonstrated for our Levels 1 & 2 teacher, Patti Jones, for several years, and is a natural, doing a superb job. We will miss Sam enormously but wish her much success in life no matter where her passion leads her.   - Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

Sam in 'The Enchanted Toyshop,' photo by Blaine Covert

Sam in ‘The Enchanted Toyshop,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Name, Age, Year in School?
Samantha Baybado, 17-years-old, 12th grade.

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was three at a community center and then switched over to Contra Costa Ballet when I realized just how much I loved to dance.

When did you start at TPB?
I started with TPB when I was 14. It was the summer before 9th grade.

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
Being so busy with dance has helped me manage my time and that’s been a big help with school work, but at the same time it has made it pretty difficult to have a social life outside of dance. I always try to get as much school work done at school so I don’t have to worry about it when I’m at TPB taking class.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
I love photography. I’ve been taking pictures since I was about four-years-old. To be able to capture a moment and preserve it is magical. I’ve taken some classes and it has really opened up another world to me. Just like dance, photography is an art form that is another way to express yourself. I’ve always been involved in some form of art whether it be drawing, painting, or taking pictures.

Influential master classes? Or teachers?
Patti Jones has been a major influence for me. She has all these genius ways to make your body do what it’s supposed to do. I’ve been re-working my technique with her and it has made me a stronger dancer. Also, working as her demonstrator, I learn how to not only improve my technique, but to help teach it to younger dancers which is an incredibly valuable skill. Josie Moseley has also helped me grow as an artist over these past few years. It’s important for a ballet dancer to be able to move in ways that are outside that of classical technique. It is a different form of expression, modern dance, and by working with Josie, I feel like I can really show myself through my movement. It feels like second nature.

Samantha assisting Patti Jones, photo by Blaine Covert

Samantha assisting Patti Jones, photo by Blaine Covert

Or SBI programs?
One of the first summer programs I went to was with Oregon Ballet Theatre and I completely loved it. I felt like I was really learning and that I was improving my technique because the teachers had different ways of presenting information that made sense to me. It’s always good to get a different perspective. Everything was so focused on details and the movements are so clean and clear. They also have a lot of professional dancers teaching the students and taking class with them. I find it interesting to take class from someone I’ve seen perform onstage because then you can get an idea of how they think when they are dancing. You can learn also about performance quality by taking classes with professionals.

Why do you dance?
Dance is magic. For me, when I dance everything just feels right. No matter what’s happening, I can be having a bad day or be in a bad mood, but once I start to dance, it all gets better. I can’t explain it any better than that. Just whatever is going on in the “real world” seems to not matter anymore once I get into the studio. I can be me. It’s another world where music and movement are the guiding forces. Dancing has gotten me through some tough times. It’s like a good friend. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Favorite role or ballet danced?
I really loved dancing Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty with Lucas Pitts in the summer of 2011. It’s such an energetic piece with great music. For the same reasons, I enjoyed doing Little Swans in Swan Lake. They both take precision and musicality and are just plain fun to dance.

Samantha (center) in 'Swan Lake,' photo by Blaine Covert

Samantha (center) in ‘Swan Lake,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
I don’t think I have a preference as far as barre versus center but I do love to jump. At my studio in California, it was normal to do a minimum of half an hour of allegro each class. Most of that time was spent on medium and grand allegro. There’s just so many cool tricks that you can do with jumps. Sometimes I get jealous of all the fun things guys get to do in their variations. That’s part of the reason I try to take men’s class with Jason Davis as often as I can. Plus, you can get so much stronger and you need that stamina for performances. Also, with the more contemporary choreography that is becoming popular as of late, it isn’t uncommon for girls to be doing bigger jumps. We need to be able to keep up with the guys! (Too true!)

Favorite TPB moment?
I don’t think I can pin-point a specific moment, but I love the atmosphere of performance weeks. Spending time with your friends between shows, watching each other perform, the adrenaline of being onstage doing what you love… that’s when the best memories are made. I do have to say though, watching Marina DiCorcia dancing Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year from the wings was one of my favorite dance moments. There’s nothing like watching a friend perform and be so on like she was during those shows.

Plans for after graduation?
I want to audition for training programs and companies and then maybe online college if I dance. Either that or go to school and dance while studying something like physical therapy or nutrition. I definitely want to take a break from academic school for a while though.

Pursue dance professionally?
I would really love a chance to dance professionally. I’ve worked all my life with that goal and to get to this point now and to not try to pursue my passion just feels like it would be a waste. Whether it be ballet, contemporary, or modern, I want to get a chance to perform as a professional.

Samantha in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' photo by Blaine Covert

Samantha in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
I’d like to dance with Company C Contemporary Ballet. I grew up watching them and I fell in love with the way that they move. It’s such an amazing blend of modern and balletic movements. The Company C dancers are all so strong and they have to be with their repertoire. I’ve seen the dancers in pieces ranging from classical ballets to Twyla Tharp and David Parsons. I remember going to see one of their shows for my birthday and one of the pieces in it was called “boink!” It was the most hilarious piece I’d ever seen. I remember trying so hard not to laugh and at the end they all came out and posed with martini glasses. I would also like to teach dance. I’ve had some practice working with the younger kids and I really enjoy it. Being able to pass on what you know so that someone else can learn to love dance as much as you do is a real joy. Also, I’m super detail oriented when it comes to dance so being a ballet master or doing work with a company setting pieces is something I’d like to do.

Any advice for young TPB dancers?
I would have to say that if dance is your passion, don’t let anything get in your way. There are going to be some roadblocks and you’re not always going to be happy with how things turn out but just keep at it. There is something out there for everyone, just don’t give up. There are going to be times when you’re going to be asked to do something different. Don’t let that throw you, just give it a chance. You are going to have to be open-minded about change because you never know when something might just work for you. This goes for different styles of dance as well. I used to hate modern. I would block out anything the teacher would say and I would shut down during those classes and by doing so, I missed out on some valuable lessons. But one day, I just decided to give it a shot. Now modern is one of my favorite classes and I feel like it has helped me grow as a dancer. Other styles of dance can work to improve your ballet technique. A dancer’s greatest tool is themselves. Make sure you take care of yourself because nothing is more devastating than getting injured and being told that you can’t dance. Cross-training is a factor that can really help when it comes to staying on top of your game. By cross-training, you strengthen your muscles outside of dance classes so they can better handle what you do during class. It can be doing barre in the pool, going to the gym, or taking Pilates classes. I didn’t start cross-training until recently and I wish I’d started sooner. I have found numerous advantages such as being able to find my center, hold a position better or longer, and also keeping up stamina for performing.

What wonderful advice, Samantha! We wish you only the best! Any comments, congratulations, questions for Sam? Leave them here!

 

TPB Senior Profile: Juliet Forman

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

TPB is proud to present Juliet Forman, one of our 2013/14 Curriculum Ballet seniors.

Juliet in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' photo by Blaine Covert

Juliet in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Juliet has been with The Portland Ballet since age three and to see her mature into such a lovely dancer and young adult is always so rewarding for me as one of her teachers and coaches. Juliet is proof that dancers are very, very smart, focused and ahead of the curve. She is graduating a year early and is applying to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the fall of 2014. Juliet has always been a hard worker and wonderful performer; standing out in a crowd for sure. Her love of ballet is evident. She also enjoys assisting me in rehearsal and mentoring a role in a ballet she has performed before with the younger dancers. Everyone at The Portland Ballet wishes her much success in the future and congratulations on all her achievements. - Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

Name, Age, Year in School?
Juliet Forman, 16, Senior.

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 3.

When did you start at TPB?
My first dance classes were at TPB, the year the school opened.

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
It has made trying to balance my time between school and dance very difficult. The time I spend dancing comes out of my sleep time, and prevents me from participating in school activities that I would otherwise enjoy doing, but to me it’s worth the sacrifice.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
I am a Student Leader at Outdoor School, where I spend a school week living with and teaching 6th graders in a camp environment. I also tutor, babysit, and am a Peer Mediator. I love working with children.

Influential master classes?
The class I took a few years ago from Jacques d’Amboise was very inspiring. I have also taken classes from NYCB principals Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild for the last few summers.

Juliet with Jacques d'Amboise, photo by Blaine Covert

Juliet with Jacques d’Amboise, photo by Blaine Covert

Or teachers?
Several of my teachers at the SBI program I have done for the last 6 years have been very influential, including Francine Kessler and Sophie Monat.

Or SBI programs?
For the last 6 summers, I have attended the Westside Ballet summer intensive in Santa Monica, California.

Why do you dance?
I dance because it has always been a part of who I am. I started so young that I simply cannot picture myself not going to classes and being a part of performances.

Favorite role or ballet danced?
My absolute favorite role I have danced was Can-Can in The Enchanted Toyshop/La Boutique Fantasque in 2010. I felt like the role was made for me, and wish I could dance it again and again.

Juliet as a Can-Can dancer in 'La Boutique Fantasque,' photo by Blaine Covert

Juliet as a Can-Can dancer in ‘The Enchanted Toyshop/La Boutique Fantasque,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
My favorite part of class is grand allegro and across-the-floor turning combinations.

Favorite TPB moment?
When I was younger, my parents would sometimes be late to picking me up from class, so I would help Heather Jackson clean the mirrors. (In hindsight, I probably just made more work for someone else, but I had a really good time.)

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?
I am really inspired by Marina DiCorcia’s dancing. I watch her in class when I get the chance and try to emulate her gracefulness.

Plans for after graduation?
I plan to go to a four-year college and study physics or engineering. I hope to get into MIT.

Pursue dance professionally?
I don’t intend to pursue dance professionally, but I plan to continue taking classes for many years to come.

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
In five years, I see myself either going into grad school to pursue my Ph.D. or else entering the work force as an engineer.

Any advice for young TPB dancers?
To pursue ballet, you have to be committed. Dance requires a lot of time, effort, and sacrifice, so you have to be passionate about it.

Thanks Juliet! We’re so proud of you! Any thoughts, questions or well-wishes for Juliet? Leave a comment!

 

TPB Senior Profile: Dori Pollard

Monday, November 18th, 2013

TPB is proud to present our second senior profiled for the 2013-14 Curriculum year, Dori Pollard! Read on for the full interview!

Dori Pollard in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' photo by Blaine Covert

Dori Pollard in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Dori is one of those people that is such a pleasure to teach. She always has a smile on her face and is a consistent hard worker. She has progressed beyond belief in the years she has been with us which is obvious when you see the roles she is dancing in our upcoming Holiday performances. Her exceptional attitude and work ethic will take her far in life and I personally will miss her when she is no longer a dancer at The Portland Ballet. Dori has been an inspiration to me as one of her teachers and coaches.
- Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

Name, Age, Year in School?
Dori Pollard, 18 years old, 12th grade.

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 4-years-old.

When did you start at TPB?
I started in 2009, when I was 13.

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
I’m home schooled, so it doesn’t affect me as much in school as it would if I wasn’t home schooled, but my social life is definitely affected… especially my family events. I have missed many of those.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
When I am not dancing, I really like drawing and reading long sci-fi books.

Influential master classes?
All of my master classes have been influential, but whenever John Clifford teaches a master class, it really is the best.

Or teachers?
I really enjoy all of my teachers’ classes. It is too hard to pick just one. This last summer, I really liked Alison Ropers class. She was my favorite dancer growing up, so it was very special to be in a class of hers (and on top of it she was super nice!)

Dori Pollard, photo by Blaine Covert

Dori Pollard, photo by Blaine Covert

Or SBI programs?
I went to Ballet West in 2012; it was a great program. I made a lot of friends and the teachers were fantastic. When I went back this last summer, a lot of the teachers remembered me.

Why do you dance?
When I dance, all the pain that I’ve been feeling goes away. I can forget everything and just dance. I also just love to move across the floor, even if it’s just running.

Favorite role or ballet danced?
My favorite ballet was Don Quixote.  There was so much energy on stage- it was so much fun…but my favorite role is the shopkeeper’s wife in The Enchanted Toyshop. I would watch Maggie Rupp and Kelsey Trif dance in rehearsals when I first came to TPB. They were so amazing and beautiful. I can’t wait to perform this role. (And we can’t wait to see you!)

Dori in 'Don Quixote,' photo by Blaine Covert

Dori in ‘Don Quixote,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
During barre, I feel super strong but in the center, I can perform…and grand allegro, I can fly. I love all of class!

Favorite TPB moment?
When we have Jason Davis’ class, you have to be careful about what you ask him.  You may ask if the combination is on relevé (for non-dancers, this is up on the balls of your feet or higher with heels off the floor), and he will reply, “Now it is.”

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?
The TPB dancer I have always looked up to is Maggie Rupp. She is such a beautiful dancer and person. She can light up a room.

Plans for after graduation?
I think I will attend Ballet West in Utah again for their SBI. After that, I really want to find a dance company that is right for me, perhaps go to college, but I really want to dance.

Pursue dance professionally?
I would love to be a professional dancer. That would mean the world to me.

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
I hope that in five years I have found a company and am dancing, but I would really like to be a ballet teacher. Maybe someday I will start a ballet school of my own, but whatever I do, I would love to still be dancing.

Any advice for young TPB dancers?
Really work on your memory. The dancer who remembers the combination the fastest will definitely stand out. Also dance with the music; the counts are part of the combination.

——

Thanks so much Dori! You can see Dori perform her favorite role of Amelie, the Shopkeeper’s Wife, this Thanksgiving weekend! Buy your tickets today for The Portland Ballet’s holiday classic, The Enchanted Toyshop with Firebird

TPB Senior Profile: Marina Yabuki-DiCorcia

Thursday, October 31st, 2013
TPB is proud to present its first senior profiled for the 2013/14 Curriculum Year! Take it away, Marina Yabuki-DiCorcia!
Marina with Alex Castillo, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' photo by Blaine Covert

Marina DiCorcia with Alex Castillo in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ photo by Blaine Covert

From the moment I first laid eyes on Marina back in 2006, I knew there was something very special about her. She is soft spoken, a gentle spirit and stunningly beautiful. Marina is loved by all her peers and admired by all her teachers. Her hard work, focus and dedication over these past years has won her leading roles in our Holiday and Spring Concert performances and she has become one of The Portland Ballet’s strongest female dancers. In the past two years she has really discovered her artist voice on stage and is now unstoppable and has really grown as a performer. We will all miss Marina and wish her much success as she embarks on her new and exciting adventures.  – Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

Name, Age, Year in School?
Marina Yabuki-DiCorcia, 17-years-old. 12th grade at ACMA.

When did you start dancing?
When I was three.

When did you start at TPB?
In 2007, when I was 12.

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
It became really hard to juggle my academic work load and my ballet schedule especially in my junior year. Instead of thinking of ballet as another task to do, I see ballet as my time to refuel the energy that I used up doing school work.

I enjoy hanging out with non-dancer friends at school because they give me different perspectives. I also love my friends that dance because it’s really fun to be able to talk about your passion with somebody that understands and shares the same passion.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
Ceramics. I try to fit in at least one ceramics class per year. I really like how I can concentrate on one piece and take time to perfect it.

Influential teachers?
All of my teachers that I have right now have influenced me very much. Although my very first ballet teacher, Ms. Yamaguchi was the most influential since she introduced ballet to me. I had her for eight years, until I moved to America. Even though she was very strict and made me feel under pressure a lot, I learned so much from her. I am extremely grateful that I was able to experience that discipline in my elementary school years.

Marina DiCorcia, Masters Workshop 2012, photo by Blaine Covert

Marina DiCorcia, Masters Workshop 2012, photo by Blaine Covert

Or SBI programs?
TPB’s Masters Workshop was the most influential. I was in it for three years and all three were amazing learning experiences. I feel like I grow as a dancer the most during summer and it is probably because of Masters Workshop.

Why do you dance?
Because it’s really fun! Sometimes I get so caught up in technique that I forget to listen to the music and dance. However, when I do listen to the music and dance to it, I realize how fun dance is.

Favorite role or ballet danced?
Commander from The Enchanted Toyshop/La Boutique Fantasque is my favorite role because that was the role that allowed me to figure out how to perform on stage. Until then, I didn’t know how to perform and entertain the audience. After dancing Commander, I felt like I was enjoying ballet even more.

Marina DiCorcia as Commander in 'La Boutique Fantasque,' photo by Blaine Covert

Marina DiCorcia as Commander in ‘La Boutique Fantasque,’ photo by Blaine Covert

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
I like center more then barre. But it’s tricky, because I need to have a really good barre in order to have a good center. I love to jump, especially when I can jump extra high without being exhausted. Turning is very exciting until I lose control because I turned too much. Adagio is another favorite because it’s slow and I have time to try to look pretty.

Favorite TPB moment?
Right after a performance when everybody is complimenting each other on how well everybody did.

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?
My TPB dancer is Rusne Kuzmickas. I absolutely loved the way she danced and wished I could dance like that. My favorite professional dancer is Miyako Yoshida. She was a principal at the Royal Ballet. She is very musical and every step is so precise. I can tell that she studies the music and each step in great detail.

Plans for after graduation?
I am going to apply to both colleges and dance schools and see what happens.

Pursue dance professionally?
I would love to. I think it’s a great life experience.

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
I want to be able to support myself and have a good plan for my future. But I also want to keep dancing and still improve.

Any advice for young TPB dancers?
Every single combination you do, try to be better than you were during the last combination.
Also, don’t forget to dance to the music!

——

Thanks Marina! You can see Marina perform this Thanksgiving Weekend in John Clifford’s Holiday Classic, ‘The Enchanted Toyshop’ with ‘Firebird.’ Click here to buy your tickets today!

BARRE TALK: Performance Nerves

Friday, June 7th, 2013
With nerves getting nervier as final in-studio rehearsals, the dress and…public performances! of A Midsummer Night’s Dream approach, we asked TPB Artistic Director Nancy Davis about stage fright, what it feels like and how to control it.

When I was dancing, I definitely had a feeling of nerves before a performance especially a premiere, opening of a new season, new role or a new partner. But it was nothing like the fear that inhibited a friend in a major company who couldn’t leave the corps for soloist or principal roles because she was “paralyzed with fear” and could not perform without shaking like a leaf!

Yes, Midsummer is set in a forest but we certainly don’t want any TPB dancers “shaking like a leaf” before going on stage.

Dame Margot Fonteyn was famously terrified before almost every performance in her illustrious and very long career. Her secret? She learned to use the fear, to control it like an arrow that propelled her on to the stage and actually brought out the best in her.

Fortunately, I never experienced that depth of fear but I do know that a slight case of nerves creates an adrenaline rush that can enhance your performance. To handle my going-on-stage nerves, I’d think of something or someone that had a calming affect on me…

Once, before entering the stage on my partner’s shoulder in the lengthy and meaty Balanchine ballet, La Source, I thought of a dog I had at that time that I really loved.

Another time, before a very difficult step in John Clifford’s Firebird, I thought of Jim who was my boyfriend then. :) Often, I’d say a little prayer in the wings before going on…

But my nerves always disappeared when I got out on stage, “met” the audience and became transported by the joy of performing. Today, I watch TPB dancers on stage with such pride and pleasure as I see that they, too, are feeling that indescribable joy!

Merde! for Midsummer.

John Clifford's Sitar Concerto 1975

John Clifford’s Sitar Concerto 1975

TPB Senior Profile: Alexandra Pitman

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

This weekend’s performances of Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes mark our final goodbye to TPB’s 2012-13 seniors, including the last senior to be profiled, Alexandra Pitman. We are so proud of you all!

Alexandra Pitman

Alexandra in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Alexandra has been a welcomed addition to the TPB family. Her positive, outgoing spirit, hard work and dedication has been a nice addition to the program. I really enjoyed mentoring Alexandra this year for her high senior project. It gave me a chance to get to know her better as a new student to the school. – Jason Davis

Alexandra Pitman is new to our school and Youth Company this year but has acclimated so quickly to TPB it is like she has been with us for years. From the moment we laid eyes on her in our Curriculum Placement Audition last fall, we knew she would be a great addition to our program. Alexandra is a model student in every way and is extremely well liked by all her peers and TPB faculty. She is a natural performer and lovely dancer and has been an absolute pleasure to work with this year. We wish her much success in the next chapter of her life! – Nancy Davis

We’ll let you in on a secret: all of us at TPB simultaneously love and dread our Spring Concert. Each year brings an exciting repertoire; one could argue that the Spring Concert best showcases the versatility of our dancers. The mixed bill usually has a contemporary piece, a classical piece- sometimes a very classical piece like this year’s Pas de Quatre- and there is almost always a work from The Balanchine Trust. All pieces are ones that usually only professional companies perform. And each year, we’re proud to see how strong our dancers have grown, how solid their technique has become. We daydream about their futures.

But mostly, our eyes follow the seniors. The dancers we know won’t be in class or on stage with us next year. Maybe we’ll be lucky to see them occasionally in Open Class or maybe they’ll be able to attend a future Masters Workshop. But it will never be the same. There are tears backstage and in our own eyes watching them. This weekend marks the end of TPB’s season and the final performances of our Spring Concert at PCC Sylvania. Bring tissue!

Alexandra rehearsing the role of Athena in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Alexandra rehearsing the role of Athena in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Name, Age, Year in School?

Alexandra Pitman, 18, Senior in High School.

When did you start dancing?

When I was about six-years-old.

When did you start at TPB?

This was my first year! (And we’re going to miss you!)

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?

Being a dancer makes it really hard to do social things and keep up with friends outside of ballet. Even though I missed out on a lot of after-school activities, I don’t regret it. I have had so many great memories in the studio and have made a lot of lifetime friends through it. Most of the best times I have ever had have been at ballet.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?

I don’t have too many because I haven’t really explored much other than dance, but I do love being creative and making collages.

Influential master classes?

My first class with John Clifford. I was caught off-guard when all the combinations were so quick and precise. It was a way I have never danced before, but I quickly began to enjoy the Balanchine technique and loved taking class from him.

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Or teachers?

My favorite teacher would have to be Susan Zadoff (My former ballet teacher at the Eugene Ballet Academy). She really inspired me to be a dancer and never gave up one me. I loved everything she said and always took it to heart. Once she said, “It’s not about the final picture, it’s about the journey it takes to get there.”

Or SBI programs?

I really enjoyed going to the Joffrey in New York; I had the best Russian teacher who worked with me a lot and gave me corrections that have stuck with me ever since.

Why do you dance?

It’s more that I have to dance! Without it, I don’t feel myself. It has become such a big part of who I am and it is a way to escape the real world and just be free. There is no greater feeling in the world then when you set foot on the stage and perform in front of an audience, and hear the applause after a dance you have worked so hard on and put so many hours in. Dance really allows me to freely express my emotions and my inner most thoughts.

Favorite role or ballet danced?

I love performing Don Quixote, because it is very playful and fun, and you get to do a lot of acting. 

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?

My favorite part of class is center when we go across the floor and get to really dance and express ourselves. I also love petite allegro because it is sharp and quick and always fun to do.

Favorite TPB moment?

There are a lot of small funny ones, but I definitely love pas class with Zach because we have come a long way since the beginning of the year.

Alexandra with Lucas Pitts in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Alexandra with Lucas Pitts in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?

I love everyone at TPB, and as for a favorite professional dancer I would have to say Misty Copeland. My favorite company is Alonzo King Lines Ballet.

Plans for after graduation?

Hopefully get into the trainee program I auditioned for at Alonzo King Lines Ballet, otherwise I will keep pursuing dance and get a college education in Oregon.

Pursue dance professionally?

Hopefully someday!

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?

In a contemporary ballet company, somewhere in a big city.

Any advice for young TPB dancers?

Don’t let yourself get jealous of other dancers. Comparing yourself to other dancers or wishing you were like them does nothing for you. Instead, if you see something you like, let that motivate you to work harder. You must focus on yourself and work your hardest with what you are given, and most importantly, keep a positive mind set!

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To see Alexandra perform, come to her final performance of Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes tonight at PCC Sylvania. Good luck next year, Alexandra! Merde!

TPB Senior Profile: Caroline Yamada

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
TPB is proud to present Caroline Yamada, one of our senior dancers of the 2012/13 Curriculum year.

 

The Portland Ballet;Masters Workshop Performance

Caroline Yamada in ‘Une Danse Schubert’, photo by Blaine Covert

Caroline has been such a lovely addition and breath of fresh air here at TPB. She joined our Masters Program last summer and then continued on with us in the fall after attending OBT for many years. Caroline has a delicate, but also energetic look to her dancing and she was wonderful as one of the Moths in our holiday production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Her brother, Tatsuya, was a student at our school for several years so her family is no stranger to us. I always love having siblings at our school and we seem to be a magnet for them- even twins! Caroline is not only quick on her feet but is a quick learner, always has a lovely disposition and way about her, and is very well liked at TPB. She has been such a pleasure to teach. I wish her the best in her new endeavors in the fall. Whatever Caroline ends up doing, she is destined for success!  - Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

I have really enjoyed teaching Caroline. She is a hard working, dedicated, and caring dancer. Caroline is an excellent example for students of all ages. I have enjoyed watching her grow and develop over the last two seasons.  It is a joy to work with students of her talent and work ethic.  – Jason Davis, Academy Principal

 

TPB’s Curriculum program begins with Pre-Ballet, ages 7 to 8. And though it is exciting to watch our young students grow through the ranks and graduate, that is not always a privilege we are granted. Students find other diversifying interests, especially as their technique classes demand more time from them, growing from two days a week to four or five or six. And though we are sad to see those students go, we wish them well on all their adventures.

 

But sometimes, as bittersweet as it is, we meet a dancer for only one or two years as an advanced student. We have the privilege of assisting their final years of study, fine-tuning their technique and performance skills. And we become attached- just as if they have been here at TPB all along, as a tiny student in Pre-Ballet.

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Caroline as a Moth in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, photo by Carol Isaak

Name, Age, Year in School?
Caroline Yamada, 18, Senior in high school

 

When did you start dancing?
5-years-old. I was dancing around my living room and my grandma just put me in a ballet class.

 

When did you start at TPB?
This is my first year at TPB and my first time being a part of the youth company.

 

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
Before going to a school (ACMA) that incorporates dance into the curriculum, I had a hard time keeping up with my school friends and homework. The work load became super overwhelming: I’d come home late from dance every day but have to stay up even later to get good grades- otherwise I wouldn’t be able to take dance anymore! The friends I have now dance with me every day and I’m grateful because it’s what brought us closer. I use to say “sorry, I have dance” to friends who don’t dance with me. Dance always comes first.

 

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
Ehh… I don’t really do anything else besides dance.

 

Influential master classes?
Trey McIntyre taught a master class at OBT in 2012. My favorite part of the class was the choreography he gave at the end. He just made it up on the spot and it was amazing to see how fast he went- and the choreography was amazing!

 

Caroline with Josie Moseley

Caroline with Josie Moseley, photo by Blaine Covert

Or teachers?
For ballet, Jason Davis because he help change my mindset on my dancing. I can’t constantly be negative about my own technique; I need to stay more positive about it.
For modern, Josie Moseley because she is the reason I want to be a modern dancer. Without her help, I wouldn’t be able to achieve as much as I have today in my modern technique.

 

Or SBI programs?
I’ve only been to Oregon Ballet Theatre’s SBI but it’s always been a good experience. It’s where I got the basis of my training and will be forever thankful for all the years I spent training there.

 

Why do you dance?
Because it’s a way to inspire people through movement. I love all the different shapes I can make with just my body whether I’m just stretching or dancing repertory. It’s not something an ordinary person can do, so I find dancers special. Dancers give a voice to movement.

 

Favorite role or ballet danced?
I really love Serenade. I think it’s a beautiful ballet and luckily I got to perform it last year as the corps. I also got to learn Titania in A Midsummer’s Night Dream this year which was a lot of fun!

 

Caroline rehearsing the role of Titania in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Caroline rehearsing the role of Titania in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, photo by Blaine Covert

 

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
I love jumping!! Mostly petite allegro, but it’s fun to jump high in grand allegro.

 

Favorite TPB moment?
There are a lot of moments at TPB I’d love to share! But I really enjoy my moments with Lucas Pitts in pas class.

 

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?
I’m in love with Shen Wei’s company at the moment! I took a class from one of his dancers and the movement felt really good. I love his pieces and choreography so hopefully it’s something I can be a part of as I pursue a career in dance.

 

Plans for after graduation?
I want to go college and get a BFA in dance. Hopefully somewhere in the big city!

 

Pursue dance professionally?
Absolutely! I didn’t switch to an art school my junior year for nothing.

 

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?
Hopefully a modern company. I would love to be in Shen Wei’s or Mark Morris’s company.

 

Any advice for young TPB dancers?
STAY POSITIVE! You are your own worse enemy but working past all the negativity and seeing the positive side of mistakes will help you improve so much faster. All the “I can’t do it” is in your head. Changing your mindset to “I can do it” will make a world of a difference.
____

 

The time went by too fast Caroline! We’ll miss you next year! Don’t forget to leave your comments for Caroline, wishing her well!

 

TPB Senior Profile: Michael Jurica

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

We’ll say it again and again. We’ll write it, announce it, post it, print it, press release it: Our dancers are amazing and we are all so proud of them. And Michael Jurica is at the top of our list.

michael

Where do I begin…Michael is one of those people who brightens the room he is in. He has such a wonderful smile and polite manners and always sincerely wants to know how a person is doing. It has been such a pleasure working with Michael over the past 2 years. Because of his great focus and wonderful abilities (and good teachers and coaches at TPB) he has progressed so much. He is a natural performer and was a stand out in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as one of the “Rustics” and in his new part in the 2nd act divertissement this past year where he also showed off his great partnering skills. I know his future will be bright just like that wonderful smile of his and everyone at TPB wishes him much success in his new endeavors after he graduates in June. - Nancy Davis

Michael is a model student.  He is a very hard working and dedicated to learning. His work ethic has been an example to the younger students. The level of improvement and the growth in his dancing is a direct result of his desire and character. I have really enjoyed being one of Michael’s teachers as I am fortunate to teach him at ACMA as well as TPB.  - Jason Davis

If you follow this blog, you know that we have been interviewing and profiling each of our 2012/13 seniors. And each interview has revealed just a little more of a dancer’s life: what compels them to dance, what they do besides dance, how they got into the field. However, we’re also aware with each profile, we’re just barely scraping the surface of what really lies beneath. But one thing we know for certain- Michael Jurica is made of some incredible stuff and we have been honored to have him at our company and academy.

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Michael Jurica (center) with Jason Davis teaching

Name, Age, Year in school?

Michael Jurica, 18, Senior in High school

When did you start dancing?
I started dancing in the sixth grade; there was a free ballroom class for boys because they had so many extra girls.

When did you start at TPB?
I went to the SBI at TPB in 2011 because multiple students from TPB who go to ACMA encouraged me to try the program. Following the SBI, I joined the year round program.

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?
Although it is true that juggling dance and school can be difficult, I have always managed to get my schoolwork done on time. If anything, dance has taught me to be more efficient and productive with my time. As for my social life, I have made all the friends I could ask for at dance. And I am also fortunate enough to get to spend lots of quality time with all the people I have become friends with.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?
In addition to being a dancer, I am a visual artist. I started in middle school and continue to take classes now. I paint, draw and have worked with various sculpture media.

Influential master classes?
One of my most influential master classes was with Sean Rollofson, a member of PNB. He was a friend of my prior ballet teacher, Casey Davenport. This was really inspiring because prior to that class, I had never met or danced with a professional dancer. He was very encouraging during the whole class, gave a lot of unique exercises, and was part of the reason I decided I wanted to become a male ballet dancer.

Influential teacher?
All of my teachers have really shaped me as a dancer but the one who has affected me the most as a teacher would be Jason Davis. He is the teacher who teaches me the most at both ACMA and TPB; he teaches my mens technique, and my pas de deux class. He is always pushing me to do more, and always making sure I work my hardest.

Influential SBI?
A very influential SBI for me was my intensive at the Nashville Ballet. It was my first intensive away from TPB. It was a very unique experience for me; Besides new teachers and students, and I also got to work with several professional ballet dancers.

Why do you dance?
Dance is my body’s way for expressing my passion for music through movement and emotion. I have a deep respect for music and since I cannot play any instruments, I connect to the songs through my dancing. I also really appreciate that dance transcends both artistry and athletics. It is one of the few forms of expression that integrates so much athleticism.

Favorite role or ballet danced?
Since I have only been part of a ballet studio since last year, I have only ever done one ballet: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It has been a wonderful experience both years. My favorite part would be the role I had this past Thanksgiving: Castor. It was an exciting role that I really enjoyed.

michael_castor

Michael as Castor in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?
I think my favorite part of class would have to be jumps, grand allegro in particular. I enjoy grand allegro the most because it gives me the time to jump as high as I can and it typically includes my favorite steps.

Favorite TPB moment?
All the conversations that the boys and I have had in the dressing room.

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?
Currently, my favorite dancers are Taras Domitro and Jeffrey Cirio. I think they are an excellent example of male dancing at its finest. They are a balance of technique and flare. Some of my favorite companies are SFB, PNB, NYCB, and LA dance project.

Plans for after graduation?/ Pursue dance professionally?
After I graduate high school I would like to go to college to get a B.F.A. in Dance. I would then like to go join a professional dance company.

Dream job- where do you see yourself in five, ten years?
My dream job is to be part of any one of the companies I listed above. Those are the places I would most like to dance. I see myself dancing for a smaller company in five years, graduated from college and ten years is a long time from now, a number of things could have changed; it is hard to look that far ahead.

Advice for young TPB dancers?
Don’t be afraid to fail, you can’t be good at everything on your first try, but if you continue
to work hard you will make the improvements.

TPB Senior Profile: Hope Garcia

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Though we are sad to see them go, TPB knows that our seniors must leave, must move forward. We also know that Hope Garcia will accomplish all she sets out to do…and more!

Hope Garcia in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Hope Garcia is one of those people that is so altruistic and caring she’s the one you want on the lifeboat with you in an emergency. She’s well liked and the entire staff at TPB can count on her whether it’s in class, rehearsal or performance to give it her all. She has been an absolute pleasure to teach over the years and she will be a success in life in whatever she choses to do after ballet, because of her focus, discipline and intelligence. I wish Hope the best and will miss her next year! - Nancy Davis, Artistic Director

Hope Garcia has been a smart student- a wonderful role model at TPB for other students. – Jason and Michelle Davis

When describing the training a dancer must undertake, the phrase ‘work hard’ is invariably attached. And we understand that in its most abstract sense as their audience. We know that hours of rehearsals, classes, long hours went into the brief few minutes on stage. But remember: dancing is not all there is in these students’ lives. There is also homework, studying, tests- everything an average high school student endures and more. Ballet students make sacrifices that often go unnoticed. Catching and riding a bus for more than an hour to get to ballet classes. Finishing homework in between rehearsals. Running into the studio coming straight from school with no break, no downtime. This type of dedication is what Hope Garcia displayed during her time at The Portland Ballet. We are honored to present Hope, our third senior to be profiled for 2012/13.

Name, Age, Year in School?

Hope Garcia, 17, senior at Camas High School in Camas, Washington

When did you start dancing?

Age 3

When did you start at TPB?

After dancing for years in Vancouver, Washington, I started the TPB curriculum program in 2009, when I was a high school freshman. But I did two TPB summer intensives previously, in July 2008 and 2009. 

How has being a dance student affected your school life? Social life?

It’s definitely forced me to become more organized. I’ve never felt like I’ve had to give up more challenging academics because of dance, but I have certainly become a master in time management and multi-tasking. In terms of my social life, it’s hard to have a “normal” high school experience as a ballet student, but if it’s something I really want to do, I’ll push through exhaustion after class or rehearsal and hurry to meet my friends.

What are your other hobbies besides dance?

Hanging out and doing activities with my youth group at Columbia Presbyterian Church and/or my friends from school.

Influential master classes?

The classes with John Clifford are always high-energy and lots of fun. It’s always challenging.

Or teachers?

Deanna Seay was one of my favorites from the 2010 Masters’ Workshop. She was soft-spoken but exacting; she expected a lot from her students.

Hope with Deanna Seay

Or SBI programs?

I went to an intensive in Spain in August 2009, run by Angel Corella and I was completely star-struck! But I think TPB’s SBI programs also had a huge impact on me; they’re what convinced me to audition for the year-round program.

Why do you dance?

Dance has been a big part of my life from a very young age. It’s not only influenced me in terms of dance technique but also in other spheres. Ballet has taught me to welcome feedback and corrections in my life, as well as to set the “barre” high for myself, both in and out of the studio.

Favorite role or ballet danced?

I never performed this role but I loved learning the “Somebody Loves Me” section from Who Cares? during a Masters’ Workshop. I also loved dancing as a Fairy for the past two Midsummers.

Hope as a Fairy in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Favorite part of class? Barre? Center? Do you love to jump or turn or both? Adagio?

I think dancing en pointe is my favorite part of ballet. Though it’s more work and pain than dancing in slippers, pointework is where I feel most at home, with its combination of elegance and strength.

Favorite TPB moment?

It’s not a moment, exactly, but I love the camaraderie of a production weekend at the theater.

Do you have a favorite dancer- friend at TPB or professional dancer? Any favorite ballet companies?

Yuan Yuan Tan at the San Francisco Ballet is lovely. But I am also a big fan of Misty Copeland and many of the other dancers at American Ballet Theatre.

Plans for after graduation?

Attend college and major in chemistry, with a minor in dance and women’s studies.

Pursue dance professionally?

I plan to dance in college but I have no set plans to dance after that. However, I will always be an enthusiastic audience member and advocate for the ballet and dance community.

Dream job- where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years?

I want to become a doctor; but I’m not yet sure about my concentration. A pediatrician or an OB/GYN in a local clinic or practice would be cool but I think being a resident podiatrist for a dance company would be awesome, too. The human body is so fascinating and multi-faceted, I think it will be difficult to choose.

Any advice for young TPB dancers?

Enjoy dancing, both your own and that of others.

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Best advice we’ve heard in a long time, Hope! And best of luck to you next year and beyond!



         
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