'Swan Lake' made for some smooth sailing
by: COURTESY OF OREGON BALLET THEATRE, The first ballet that Artistic Director Christopher Stowell created for Oregon Ballet Theatre, “Adin,” sent dancers Karl Valkili and Anne Mueller soaring in 2004. It gets a reprise this weekend.

Christopher Stowell, who is the artistic director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, feels like he's had a wealth of time to rehearse the company's fall program. Unlike a year ago, nothing looms on the horizon the way the monumentally ambitious 'Swan Lake' did all last season.

The success of that brave undertaking continues to benefit the company, Stowell says.

His dancers are infused with a new confidence and audiences are still aglow, if the demand for tickets is any measure. The company says the sales of subscriptions and other tickets are up 40 percent.

'I sense a continuation of engagement from the people who are really passionate about OBT,' Stowell says. 'They're sure that everything we do is going to be good.'

The lighter workload has been helpful this fall as the company incorporates several new dancers, not all of whom are familiar faces from the apprentice ranks. Stowell says the integration process has been good for all involved.

'It's great to have new people in the company,' he says. 'You always learn from one another. There is no right or wrong way to dance well. It's a matter of getting to know people. With dancers, it happens really quickly.'

'The Four Temperaments' program, which will be accompanied by full orchestra, takes its name from an energetic George Balanchine piece that Stowell says feels just as modern as when it debuted in 1946.

Also on the program, which runs for two weekends, are 'Adin,' the first ballet Stowell created for the company, and Jerome Robbins' 'The Concert,' a lighthearted flight of fancy that imagines where the mind of a classical music concertgoer really goes.

'It really does wander all over the place,' Stowell says. 'It offers our dancers an opportunity to portray different characters.'

Stowell seems happy to hand out those kinds of opportunities these days, sounding proud of the artistic growth his small company has shown him.

'It's nice to see how people have grown and matured and found different sides of themselves,' he says. 'The company is learning things and getting to the heart of things faster than I expected.'

- Eric Bartels

7:30 p.m. SATURDAY, 2 p.m. SUNDAY, Oct. 14-15, Keller Auditorium, 222 S.W. Clay St., 503-222-5538, $10-$105; also available through Ticketmaster (503-790-2787), subject to service charges

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