Antonio Anacan

Crowd-sourced Choreography

Ever wanted to be a choreographer? #instaballet lets the audience determine the dance.

Story, video and photos by GARY FERRINGTON

As the 2013 Eugene Ballet Company season was ending, Suzanne Haag, Antonio Anacan and other EBC dancers gathered at Brails’ Espresso! (a favorite hang out for dancers near their Midtown Arts Center rehearsal studio) and began brainstorming how to stay artistically active during the off-season. We could share an open ballet rehearsal with an audience during a Lane Arts Council First Friday ArtWalk, one suggested. Been done, another replied. They wanted to do something new and different, something that would grab the interest of younger people accustomed to instant information and sharing art and ideas over the Internet.

An audience member suggests a dance sequence to #instaballet dancers Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag. Photo: #instaballet.

An audience member suggests a dance sequence to #instaballet dancers Antonio Anacan and Suzanne Haag. Photo: #instaballet.

A few weeks later, the product of that brainstorming session, #instaballet, appeared at the June edition of Eugene’s monthly First Friday ArtWalk. Created by Haag and Anacan, #instaballet hosts audience-choreographed dance workshops throughout late spring and summer during the ArtWalks. This Friday, August 7, marks its twelfth session of audience-choreographed ballet from 5-8 pm at Eugene’s Oregon Contemporary Theatre in Eugene.  Think of it as crowdsourced choreography, but at these sessions, #instaballet wants the public to contribute moves, not money.

As a seasonal pick-up company, #instaballet strives to provide off-season jobs for professional ballet dancers in the spring and summer — and to keep the community interested in the Eugene Ballet Company (EBC). Most professional US ballet companies don’t perform off season and #instaballet hopes to keep its regional audiences invested in ballet year round. The ensemble’s goal is to enrich audience knowledge and appreciation of classical ballet by engaging participants in the creative process of choreography. Executive Director Haag hopes that this audience/dancer interaction results in “a more educated, artistically literate community,” she told ArtsWatch in an email interview. “Our events are free and the final performance is a gift from the public to the public.” A video introduction to #instaballet is available on YouTube.

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