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The Portland Ballet Career Track dancers present iconic ballets and showcase their own choreography

COURTESY PHOTO: RACHEL SALISBURY - Elliana Kirk will perform in The Portland Ballets Up Close, which showcases the academys Career Track dancers.

The Portland Ballet (TPB) will present "Up Close," featuring George Balanchine's iconic "Concerto Barocco," August Bournonville's classic "Le Conservatoire" and "Plant Dreams Deep," a tapestry of new work choreographed by the Career Track dancers with Josie Moseley. The showcase is a rare chance to see the academy's superbly trained pre-professional Career Track dancers in an intimate setting, with only 80 seats available per show. Reserve your seats early.

The three concerts will take place June 7 and 8, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at TPB Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Hwy., Portland. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased online at theportlandballet.org or by calling 503-750-3157.

Launched in 2015, TPB's Career Track program offers well-trained advanced dancers with professional intent a setting that simulates a professional company experience. Students participate in an intense and personal learning environment with a rigorous schedule that requires about 25 to 30 hours of work a week. In addition to classes, rehearsals and performances, dancers receive supportive one-on-one evaluation and coaching in technique, performance skills and goal setting, as well as tools for auditioning, injury prevention, cross training and nutrition.

Inspiration for the individual works making up "Plant Dreams Deep" came after a long conversation between the dancers and Ellis Stemple, who spent nearly a year at Standing Rock and the standoff about granting access to the Dakota Access Pipeline on ancient tribal land. Circles, lines and key repetitive phrases seamlessly weave and tie together personal choreography that bring to life movements and stories shared by Stemple including Native American hand gestures, tales told by elders, and some of the fierce, even violent confrontations. Dancers who created pieces have their own voices, but with clarity, patience and generosity, they learned to give it to the others, and as everyone takes up each other's voices, they form a stronger harmony. Embodying Stemple's experience and the eventual end of the standoff, that union is underscored by tension as it's quietly turned on its side. A fracturing happens, and then a breaking off, first visually and then kineshetically. Dramatic moments seize attention, but it's the silent spaces in between that need to be heeded.

Founded in 2001, TPB is shaped by the vision, artistic experience and family-centered sensibility of the founding directors. Artistic Director Nancy Davis and Executive Director Jim Lane trained at the School of American Ballet and enjoyed distinguised professional careers in companies throughout the U.S. After retiring as principal dancers of the Los Angeles Ballet — where their partnership onstage led to a marriage and family off the stage — they moved to Portland, and founded The Portland Ballet.

— For The Review,

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