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High Culture in the High Desert 

Eugene Ballet Company returns to Central Oregon

Don't expect a tragic psycho-thriller with lesbian sex scenes and self-inflicted stab wounds. The Eugene Ballet Company is bringing the classical version of "Swan Lake" to Bend, not the Black Swan interpretation.

Eugene Ballet is professional company based in the Valley made up of 21 dancers from across the nation. Its variation of "Swan Lake" is a mesmerizing classical performance with museum-worthy costumes and traditional choreography, bringing all of the drama of the classic ballet with none of the ecstasy-riddled dream sequences.

"The precision work is the highlight," said Jennifer Amy-Cordero, EBC's ballet mistress. "You're not just out there dancing, but you're also working hard, and you're having to portray a story with your body. That's what the dancers enjoy."

When I spoke with Amy-Cordero, an 18-year veteran of the company, she and the crew were on the road. The bus was rolling to Spokane, where the troupe would perform "Swan Lake," and then to Port Angeles two days later, where it would perform "All You Need is Love," a Beatles-inspired modern ballet.

"The ability to perform a completely different ballet shows that the company itself is very versatile," said Amy-Cordero. "We work with a very gifted group of dancers who are highly intelligent in their ability to switch between performances."

EBC is one of the few traveling ballet companies left in the Northwest. Many groups have found it difficult to support a touring schedule in a downtrodden economy, and find it's more financially reasonable to perform only in their hometowns. EBC has found a niche, dancing at smaller venues in towns that typically wouldn't have the opportunity to see a professional ballet. This year EBC will dance in rural venues from Nampa, Idaho, to Casper, Wyoming.

"The smallest place we've ever been is Elgin, Oregon," recalled Amy-Cordero. "The theater is so tiny, it's like a little jewel box theater, you put your foot at the wing and take one wide step and you're at center stage."

Amy-Cordero said that the performance in Elgin ended in a blackout when the lights maxed out the venue's fuses.

After performing in places like Elgin, the company's show on the full-size Bend High School stage will also be a relief. EBC will also perform "All You Need is Love" at Ridgefield High School in Redmond on Feb. 24.

"We thought it would be very suitable for our audience," said Lowie Boero, vice president of the Redmond Concert Association, which booked the show. "They dance to all Beatles music. It's upbeat."

"All You Need is Love" will be followed by the classical, old-school interpretation of "Swan Lake" in Bend.

"[In the film] the black swan that performs is a little scary—she's off the deep end a little bit," said Amy-Cordero. "It is an interesting take on that character. What it does is pinpoint good vs. evil, and that's the bottom line of the ballet."

All You Need is Love

Ridgefield High School, Redmond

2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24

Call 541-350-7222 for tickets

Swan Lake

Bend High School

7:30 p.m. March 1

Tickets available at bendticket.com

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