Portland's Northwest Dance Project made the most of its first-ever venture outside the country.

Northwest Dance Project, the only U.S. ballet company to be invited, took home the coveted Audience Award at the recent 25th annual Hannover Choreographic Festival at the packed Hannover Opera House in Germany, one of the most prestigious dance festivals in Europe.

The performance was called 'State of Matter,' choreographed by British dance maker Ihsan Rustem. It was the largest and longest (15 minutes) piece of the competition, and it was debuted last fall.

'The piece is so beautiful and the company did an absolutely stunning job during both performances,' says Sarah Slipper, artistic director. 'It just proves what we know - this company is world-class.'

Northwest Dance Project partially funded the trip through an online fundraising campaign at

'The company kicked butt, frankly,' says Scott Lewis, executive director. 'There must have been 60 dancers from throughout Europe there and the company blended in perfectly; it was the first time I've seen them side-by-side next to world-class dancers and they held their own.'

The company is working on its 'Summer Splendors' show, featuring world premieres from Slipper, Carla Mann, Loni Landon and Lauren Edson. Landon and Edson are past winners of NWDP's 2010 Pretty Creatives international choreographic competition.

The show will be 6:30 p.m. June 9, 7:30 p.m. June 10 and 11, 4 p.m. June 12, 7:30 p.m. June 16, 7 and 9 p.m. June 17, and 7:30 p.m. June 18, at the Northwest Dance Project Studio and Performance Center, 833 N. Shaver St. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of show, and available at

- Jason Vondersmith

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