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Taking Flight: An Interview with Madeline Bez

The chance to dance with a company in a foreign country is rare, especially China. For Madeline Bez, it’s an opportunity to grow professionally and artistically—that is, when she can get there. We reached out to see how she’s doing, how she’s preparing for the transition, and what advice she has for new company and aspirant dancers.

Madeline came to Eugene Ballet in 2018 by way of Georgia Dance Theatre. She began dancing while residing in Phoenix, Arizona, prior to her year in Georgia, and then moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to pursue a professional education in ballet.

“When I was dancing in Georgia I knew that I wanted to find a company that was larger and provided more performance opportunities. I found Eugene Ballet provided these things…[f]or a company that is still not huge, they had a season lined up that featured renowned choreographers, full length classical ballets, new creations being made by the company’s own resident choreographer, and many performances that included live orchestration,” Madeline explained. In her two seasons with EB as an aspirant dancer (dancer in training), Madeline has danced a variety of roles and characters including Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, a Tall Swan in Swan Lake, and Clara’s Mother and Princess Wei Lo in The Nutcracker.

Now, maintaining physical strength and technique is imperative and doesn’t stop for a pandemic. Madeline shared how she is staying active and creative during shelter-in-place orders.

“Throughout the shelter in place and ongoing quarantine I have found a few different ways to maintain strength and technique. Currently, I am lucky enough to have access to Eugene Ballet’s facilities for class every day. I’m able to participate in live-streamed classes, and in order to continue pushing myself, I’m trying to take two ballet classes a day,” she noted. “Before I had access to the studios I found that the best way for me to stay motivated and inspired was to take class outside. This allowed me to work on maintaining a level of endurance, but dancing on concrete was an added challenge and as my classes were dependent on the weather, it wasn’t the most reliable. Between taking classes and finding my own workout routine I’m hoping to come out of this feeling stronger and ready to jump back into everything!”

“To stay creative during this time, I’ve been reading, listening to more music, and have started painting. I’m also trying to keep engaged and inspired with ballet by using online resources to watch productions that different companies across the world are putting out. These are companies that I’d probably never be able watch in person so it’s really cool to see their work.”

As Madeline waits out the pandemic, she’s no stranger to dancing internationally, having danced with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. But traveling to China will be her first time outside of North America, and getting off this continent and to the next has been challenging. Preparing for the transition, Madeline has been organizing everything for her visa application, though it has come to a standstill. A variety of documents must be notarized and certified by different state departments and embassies, many closed at this time.

Asked about her motivation to dance abroad and in China, she replied, “I have always enjoyed traveling internationally for recreation and hoped that one day my passion for doing so would align with my passion for dance. Of all the places to end up, I was not expecting China! A choreographer that I have worked with in the past invited me to dance for a ballet company in Harbin, China. I’m a bit nervous traveling to such a faraway place, but I am excited at the opportunity for a new adventure.”

Madeline’s goal is to continue to develop her artistry and range of versatility, as Harbin Ballet’s repertoire is similar to Eugene Ballet’s, but with a stronger emphasis on neoclassical work. Madeline added that the new position allows her to continue to push her body further outside of her comfort zone to see what she can achieve.

With all the possibilities that may come with dancing in China, we asked Madeline what she is looking forward to the most. “New experiences and being entirely submersed in an arts culture that I have yet to experience. I’m also looking forward to new performance opportunities, meeting new people, touring with the company, and seeing where ballet takes me,” she said.

As she transitions from EB and new dancers and aspirants join the company, Madeline offered this advice: “Keep an open mind and find joy in the process. It can sometimes seem like a lot when you are on the road, but I feel that those are the performances that mean the most to people. The ballet community in Eugene may not be large but the arts and culture here are strong and Eugene Ballet creates an impact on all it touches.”

It’s bittersweet as aspirant dancers complete their training and move on. Madeline, thank you for your beautiful performances with Eugene Ballet. We wish you the best in your new adventures and your continued growth as a dancer and an artist.

Follow Madeline’s journey on Instagram @madeline_bez

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