Eugene Ballet Company

Eugene Ballet preview: dance of the mountain king

Company's new full-length 'Peer Gynt' ballet transforms drama into dance

By GARY FERRINGTON

When Eugene Ballet  artistic director Toni Pimble decided to stage Peer Gynt, she faced a daunting challenge: transforming poetry into dance. The company had already proven it could dream big when it comes to creating major new works for the professional stage. Last season’s The Snow Queen featured an original score by Portland composer Kenji Bunch. But now, Pimble had to find a way to tell Henrik Ibsen’s classic verse story of a young Norwegian farm lad and prodigal son whose careless and reckless life harms those who love him and ultimately himself — all without words.

Eugene Ballet premieres new full-length ‘Peer Gynt’ ballet. Photo: Eugene Ballet Company.

Over the last two years, Pimble created new choreography and even costumes herself. Her company also crafted original projected visual art and collaborated with its musical partner OrchestraNext  to fashion a live score, set to the famous music of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. On April 14-15, the company closes its season at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts with its new full-length original ballet. “It is an emotional work of love, intrigue, loss, despair and redemption,” Pimble observes.

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DanceWatch Weekly: Move it, own it

Dance doesn’t just belong to the young or skinny or white or “trained” or "educated” or able-bodied. Claim it. Shape it. Make it your own.

Because it’s Valentine’s day/week, and love is in the air, I thought I would reflect on loving relationships in regards to dance, more specifically my evolving relationship with dance, with our bodies, why I think we should all dance, and how I think dancing can change the world. I have big ideas, I know.

Remember when you were a kid and you would be talking away and suddenly a word would pop out that sounded really strange like it was from another planet, and then you would repeat it over and over and over again (much to the chagrin of your parents), until it completely lost its meaning, and became an amorphous sound? Well, that’s kind of what’s happened to dance for me since I started writing DanceWatch. But this isn’t a bad thing, I promise. Let me explain.

Because I spend so much time looking at, thinking about, reading about, writing about, dance, and dancing myself, all of the boundaries that I once upon a time created to define dance have been blown apart to form a new, much more inclusive definition. I so narrowly defined dance that I almost defined myself right out of it. I highly recommend immersing yourself in something you don’t understand, to understand it.

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