As Portland Mayor Sam Adams put it during a pre-show presentation, “What a difference a year makes.” He was referring to the 12 months between the 2009 Dance United concert, a fundraiser for the financially struggling
, internally fractious Oregon Ballet Theatre
, and the 2010 edition
, which marked the company's 20th anniversary and a seasonal balance inching toward the black.
Bank of America Oregon CEO Roger Hinshaw was also on hand to present OBT with a $10,000 gift, which in my case briefly mitigated the pain of being their customer.
Like the first Dance United
, this concert featured dancers from the U.S. and abroad. The intermission-free program moved briskly (so briskly, in fact, that a stagehand got his moment in the spotlight as he was clearing props between performances). The order was classical-contemporary-classical-contemporary, starting with OBT's excerpt from Yuri Possokhov's sparkling version of Raymonda,
which appears on the company's summer program this weekend.
Next up was the evening's biggest hit: Joffrey Ballet dancers Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluasvilli performing Gerald Arpino's Sea Shadow.
Jaiani, with her supple torso and liquid port de bras, particularly excelled in this aquatic duo as she lay atop her partner's back, making languid swimming strokes.
Miami City Ballet
's Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado danced Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux
. Penteado shone in the solo sections, with crisply executed beats and air tours and weightless landings.
presented Hans Van Manen's Two
, a slippery duet and not just because it was dressed in Lycra. There were sudden stops, lingering holds and meaningful glances exchanged, but the piece didn't linger in the memory.
The pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon
, danced by San Francisco Ballet
's Muriel Maffre and Damian Smith, was another story. Maffre (whose performances are one of the things I miss about living in San Francisco), is a strong, elegant and nuanced mover; she was mesmerizing in the partnering intricacies of this piece.
The Australian Ballet
dispatched a fresh-faced couple to dance the Act III pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty
; OBT, which debuts its own version of the full-length ballet this fall, offered a gracious but somewhat shaky Alison Roper in the ballet's Rose Adagio. The night concluded with an OBT ensemble dancing an excerpt from Nicolo Fonte's athletic and dramatic (how could it be otherwise?) Bolero
, which the company also stages this weekend.
GO: Oregon Ballet Theatre performs its summer program this weekend at the Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay St., 222-5538. 7:30 pm Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, June 4-6.