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Irving adds artistic touch to OBT in July

Oregon Ballet Theatre has found its new artistic director, and Kevin Irving plans to be here as one of the city’s preeminent arts groups wraps up its season.

“Celebrating Balanchine” this weekend ends OBT’s tumultuous season, during which Christopher Stowell resigned as artistic director for many reasons, including direction and finances of the company.

Anne Mueller took over the reins as OBT artistic director during what has been described as an “exhaustive” international search for Stowell’s successor.

After making his mark as a dancer and artistic director of Sweden’s Goteborg Ballet, Irving has worked for the past six years as a consultant, as president and owner of Dance Masters Consulting, for notable companies Alvin Ailey (where he got his start in 1980), Aspen/Santa Fe Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and Juilliard Dance.

He’ll officially join the company July 15.

Ken Hick, OBT board chairman, says the company welcomes Irving and his partner, Nicolo Fonte, as “major additions” to the Portland community and cultural scene, citing

Irving for his “extraordinary success, experience, taste and skills.”

Mueller also sought the position of artistic director.

“We want to thank Anne Mueller for the exceptional work she has done,” Hick says. “OBT is indebted to her for her passion, creativity and inspiration during the transition. Her participation at OBT as a dancer and leader has been tremendously important in OBT’s success.”

Oregon Ballet Theatre also must hire an executive director, presumably before next season. Stowell and Mueller are each slated to be involved in next season’s program.

It opens with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Oct. 12 to 19), which includes the fiery “Le Corsaire Pas de Deux” and a Mueller world premiere, and includes “Bolero” (Feb. 22 to March 1, 2014) with “Almost Mozart” and “Liturgy” and a Stowell world premiere. Irving gets to put his stamp on the season with his own world premiere as part of “Bold Beginnings” (April 17 to 26, 2014) with “Adin” and “The Lost Dance.”

— Jason Vondersmith