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By Danielle Tolmie

This Saturday Eugene Ballet and the University of Oregon (UO) School of Music and Dance present their second annual collaborative performance of Interplay featuring American pianist Lara Downes, playing live on stage, in the world premiere of Variations on the Goldberg Variations.


What sets this show apart from the rest of our performances throughout the year? Our dancers work with different choreographers from the Eugene dance community, and they share the stage with a different group of artists. This year’s show features a variety of styles and genres that will surely inspire audience members, from classical to contemporary and neoclassical to modern.

Comprised of almost entirely new works, the show features work by Eugene Ballet Artistic Director Toni Pimble and Resident Choreographer Suzanne Haag, three UO faculty members (Sarah Ebert, Brad Garner, and Shannon Mockli), and a well-known pas de trois from the classical ballet repertoire.

What I love most about Interplay is how it our company is challenged to do something different. We don’t have an entire ballet to focus on. The pieces are short and sweet and then it’s on to the next one. This allows for a wide variety of dancers and styles to be featured. For example, Eugene Ballet’s Aspirant dancers are highlighted in Toni’s portion of Variations on the Goldberg Variations. Created on them earlier in the season, it’s been exciting to see these young artists push themselves in this highly technical and demanding piece. There are also five unique pas de deux featuring nine Eugene Ballet artists. Suzanne choreographed three for Variations on the Goldberg Variations, each with a completely different feeling and emotion.


Along with challenging and highlighting a various range of dancers, the show includes two pieces where EB shares the stage with UO students. Last season, I was in a work choreographed by Sarah Ebert, UO and Eugene Ballet Academy faculty. The dancers were a mix of Eugene Ballet, university students, and university faculty. We even spent the majority of our rehearsal time on campus. It was the first time in my 12 years with Eugene Ballet that I had this experience. There’s a different energy in the studio when there are so many new parts. Dancers get used to the same group of artists and choreographers, but in a performance like this we’re forced out of our comfort zones to experience a new way of doing things and a new perspective on our art form. It adds a level of excitement where we inspire one another to push the limits of what we thought was possible.

The second half of the performance features pianist Lara Downes playing live on stage with the dancers, making the interaction between the movement and the music even more remarkable. There’s always an added energy when we use live accompaniment, but when the musician is actually on stage they become part of the performance. The movement they embody as they perform is just as in tune with our movements as the dancers are with one another.

Don’t miss your chance to see this dynamic and diverse performance February 22 at 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm in the intimate Soreng Theater at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts. Click here for tickets!

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