Wendy Whelan

The official “seasons” of the big arts groups have pretty much ended (not quite: Center Stage, for example, still has two playing at the Armory), but that doesn’t mean any slackening on my art calendar. Oh no. In fact, maybe there’s more than ever. So, even though I may have taken a little breather this weekend, that meant I missed a bunch of things that I would liked to have seen and heard. And that will be case all summer, whether I’m siesta-ing or not.

I did make it to Dance United, though, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s end-of-the-season benefit, at tidy 90 minutes of dancing (actually, part of that was clapping) by ballet stars from around the country and thanks to the Dutch Ballet, the world. I’m not going to “review” it, because that wasn’t the spirit of the thing, which was more small bites than full meal. (Martha Ullman West had a few observations about it all in The Oregonian this morning, if you want to have a look.) I do have a few thoughts, though.

1. I’d watch Wendy Whelan, the New York City Ballet prima, walk across the street. She’s so light and supple, she’d probably just drift across. She and Adrian Danchig-Waring danced the grand pas de deux from Balanchine’s Chaconne, so sweetly and gracefully that the dance’s devilish little rhythms seemed natural as breathing. Or crossing the street.

2. I also loved Dana Genshaft and Garen Scribner’s account of Christopher Wheeldon’s pas de deux from Ghosts, so sinuous and sexy, which is how I’ve found the San Francisco Ballet in other encounters. I wish ballet companies still toured extensively, so we could see an evening of SF Ballet pieces. Maybe an exchange could be worked out?

3. And speaking of sexy, the Joffrey Ballet has built its reputation on sexy, as longtime OBT fans know from founding artistic director James Canfield. The Joffrey’s Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili gave Yuri Possokhov’s Bells a fabulously athletic and sensuous reading, that had the fans in my section wishing there was more to come.

4. We could go on in this vein, but I’ll close with the highlight of the evening (even with the presence of Whelan, which is close to taking darshan for a dance fan): The Artur Sultanov-Alison Roper pas de deux from Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved, which also happened to be the last performance by Sultanov, who is retiring. The Sutlanov/Roper combination has been a primary pleasure of OBT the last few years, and we will miss their duos. But Roper remains, and one thing that was apparent during the evening? Roper as a dance artist fits just fine in Whelan or anyone else’s company.

Finally, what West said: I hope the evening was successful financially for OBT.


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