Tag Archives: Blaine Truitt Covert

Ballet in do-si-do; Mueller flies high

Anne Mueller in Christopher Stowell's "Eyes on You" at Oregon Ballet Theatre. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert.Anne Mueller in Eyes on You. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

By Bob Hicks

“Oh, look!” Mr. Scatter said, glancing up from his program. “The music is by Wiwaldi and Corelli. You’ll like that.”

The Small Large Smelly Boy snickered. “Why do you always say ‘Wiwaldi’ for ‘Vivaldi‘?” he asked.

“Because sometimes you need to do things just for the fun of it.”

One works small life lessons into the conversation when one sees the opportunity.

Julia Rowe (foreground) and Olga Krochik in George Balanchine's "Square Dance." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert.When George Balanchine created Square Dance for New York City Ballet in 1957, he must have done it at least partly just for the fun of it. What a mashup! — the measured musical courtliness of two Baroque master composers, a stage filled with neoclassically trained ballet dancers, a small Baroque-style orchestra about the size and sonic configuration of an acoustic hillbilly band, and off in the corner, resplendent in Western shirt, bolo tie and cowboy hat, a 20th century American square-dance caller shouting out the do-si-do’s. It took a brilliant creative leap, on a much higher level than the whimsical substituting of a few “w”s for “v”s, to make these cross-century connections, and to make them seem so obvious after the fact: the balanced regularity of Baroque music and country-dance music; virtuoso turns on the 18th century violin and the 20th century fiddle; the stylized courtship patterns in both Baroque and modern country dance; the easy back-and-forth between high and popular art; the backward glance, from the modern ballet stage, to the more rudimentary yet charming forms of the art in Corelli’s and Vivaldi’s times. The incongruities work because, underneath, they really aren’t incongruous at all.

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Anne Mueller: Goodbye and hello

Anne Mueller with Jon Drake in Christopher Stowell's "Eyes on You," 2005. Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert.

By Bob Hicks

This afternoon’s top story comes from ace reporter Cole Porter, who broke the news ┬áthis way:

You’re the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,

You’re an O’Neill drama,

You’re Whistler’s mama!

You’re camembert.

In plainer English, Oregon Ballet Theatre announced today that principal dancer Anne Mueller, who has been with the company 15 years, will retire in May after OBT’s spring program, Song and Dance.

Anne Mueller and Lucas Threefoot in Trey McIntyre's "Speak." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert.The company also announced that Mueller, who has been preparing for her post-dancing career for several years, will remain at OBT as its artistic coordinator, following the behind-the-scenes lead of another fine dancer, Gavin Larsen, who retired from performing last year and joined the OBT School’s faculty.

Porter’s song You’re the Top (and Blaine Truitt Covert’s photo above of Mueller perched on Jon Drake’s shoulder, rising above the crowd in Christopher Stowell’s ballet Eyes on You) seems apropos for Mueller, whose ebullience onstage has helped make her one of OBT’s most popular performers.

Porter’s lyrics also include the line You’re the nose on the great Durante, which seems especially apt to describe Mueller’s carbonated comic spirit, which audiences will miss mightily. They’ll also miss, even if they aren’t fully aware of it, the hard-earned and impressive technical skills that have made Mueller a dancers’ dancer and allowed her to show off that personality so well.

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Here there be faeries: fantastic, isn’t it?

Lucas Threefoot as the Bluebird in Oregon Ballet Theatre's "The Sleeping Beauty." Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert

By Bob Hicks

“People must love fairy tales,” the fellow said, and then he laughed, in something that sounded like happy, faintly embarrassed resignation. “Me, too, I guess,” his laughter seemed to say.

The man and his companion were standing behind Mr. Scatter’s shoulders, in a Keller Auditorium crowded with people on their feet, most clapping loudly and a few even whistling and stomping and shouting out, during Saturday night’s curtain call for the final performance of Oregon Ballet Theatre‘s The Sleeping Beauty. Next to Mr. Scatter, the Small Large Smelly Boy, who is rapidly developing into an enthusiastic and discriminating follower of the ballet, had also risen to his feet, although as always he declined to clap: that would be too demonstrative.

Continue reading Here there be faeries: fantastic, isn’t it?

Missing the ballet: Looks like it was a barn burner

danceunited_finalbows

I’ve been out of town but eagerly scanning for news on Dance United, Friday night’s gala benefit to help Oregon Ballet Theatre dig out of its financial hole. According to these front-line reports from Culture Jock at Culture Shock and Barry Johnson at Portland Arts Watch, it was boffo — an absolute night to remember.

And, they report, it was announced at the gala that OBT’s emergency fund drive had hit $690,000 of its $750,000 goal, which makes it highly likely that it will have hit the goal and, if all goes well, more by its June 30 deadline. That’s excellent news — and everyone needs to understand that this is just the beginning, the even-ing of the keel so the tough, unending work can begin of raising enough money on a consistent basis to provide the economic stability and means for growth that this excellent artistic organization needs and deserves. There’ll be lots more news out of OBT in the months to come.

I know that dance writer Martha Ullman West, a charter Friend of Art Scatter, will have extensive coverage of the Dance United gala in Monday’s editions of The Oregonian. Look for it then in print and online at Oregon Live.

In the meantime, Friday night was spectacular, as Blaine Truitt Covert’s photo above, from the grand finale curtain call (that’s OBT artistic director Christopher Stowell in the center with the dancers) attests. Those are some happy faces!

Congratulations to all. Thanks to all the big-time companies from across North America that sent dancers to perform. And many happier days to come.