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Gresham-Barlow Web Academy student dances with stars

John Clifford, a renowned ballet choreographer, says folks should keep an eye out for Lucas Pitts, 15, a sophomore at Gresham-Barlow Web Academy.by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: BLAINE TRUITT COVERT -  Lucas Pitts, center, is a Gresham-Barlow Web Academy sophomore and the poster boy for the Portland Ballet's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream.' Pitts will dance as both Puck and Hermes in the Nov. 23-25 production at Portland State University.

“He is someone to definitely watch for in the future,” Clifford says, noting Pitts will dance as both Puck and Hermes in the Portland Ballet’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which Clifford choreographs.

The company’s production is produced in collaboration with the Portland State University Symphony Orchestra, which features Ken Selden, who’s also conducted the Mt. Hood Pops Orchestra in East County.

“In casting the role of Puck, it is necessary to find a performer who, as we say, can ‘own the stage,’ ” Clifford adds. “Star power, charisma — whatever you wish to call it — cannot be taught. Lucas has this ability.”

Pitts has previously danced at Portland Metro Arts, School of Oregon Ballet Theatre and da Vinci Arts Middle School. He has danced with the Portland Ballet for past two years, and says he’s excited for his dual roles in the show, which runs from Friday to Sunday, Nov. 23-25, at Portland State University.

“It’s really fun to perform, and Puck is kind of a trickster-jokester,” he says of the Shakespearean character in the famous farce. “There’s a lot of dancing, and I also get to act.”

He danced as Puck in last year’s production as well.

“Now that I performed it once, I can really play around with it and take it to the next level,” he says.

While he sticks to the steps he’s been taught, there’s room for his own creativity in the role, he adds.

“The faces I make and the little things I do are all improvisation.”

Couldn’t sit still

Pitts says he was virtually born to dance and has studied ballet since he was 5.

“When I was little, my parents played music, and they could see me jumping around,” he says. “So my mom enrolled me in a ballet class, and it just stuck.”

He says he practices three hours a day from Tuesday through Saturday, and relishes taking on the extra role of Hermes in this production.

“It’s challenging learning a new role and learning new steps,” he says, noting the Greek messenger god Hermes is also a trickster and jokester like Puck. Interestingly, Pitts says he has virtually no stage fright.

“I am actually more uncomfortable in the studio than I am on the stage,” he says. “On the stage there’s all these people watching me, and I just kind of let go and it’s in the moment. It’s easier to let go on stage because that’s when it’s actually happening and it’s your last chance to really perform it.”

Pitts says this show should appeal to veteran fans of ballet as well as newcomers to the art form’s audience.

“It’s a really good show for kids because it’s short, about an hour, and filled with fun and laughter.”

He also says he’s looking forward to the feeling of satisfaction that comes when he’s been part of a job well done.

“It’s a really happy moment after the final curtain because as a group we can be proud of what we’ve created after months of hard work and dedication.”




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