“Portland is a smallish city, and I really enjoy how quiet it is…the biggest noise pollution I hear is something that I think adds a lot of charm, the train whistles from the other side of the river. “
Madrid, Spain. Montreal, Canada. Gothenburg, Sweden. Brooklyn, New York. Oregon Ballet Theatre’s newly appointed artistic director Kevin Irving has had a highly cosmopolitan dance career based in many countries. He’s even been known to set choreography on dancers who didn’t speak a word of English (the lingua franca of the dance world), using gestures, inflections and “the language of dance” to get his point across.
Irving took his Oregon Ballet Theatre post in Portland last summer with his partner, choreographer Nicolo Fonte, whose works had already been featured in the company’s programming. Before that, the pair had spent six years in Brooklyn, “… just because we wanted to be there,” Irving admits — adding that all of his prior moves were made for professional reasons.
The move to Portland was uniquely multifaceted, pairing a great career opportunity for both Irving and Fonte with a chance to re-indulge tastes cultivated in Europe: bike commuting, the atmospheric charm of the train whistle and a generally “laid-back, sophisticated and livable” vibe of a small city. Enjoying these amenities every day, he relishes his new dance community and responsibilities all the more.
“Portland is lucky to have a company of the caliber of Oregon Ballet Theatre, as well as other really interesting dance groups, like BodyVox, and presenters like White Bird,” says Irving. “They ensure that there’s a lot of high quality dance [here] throughout the year. That said, we all need to pull more people into our dance orbit! It’s all about OBT and the potential I have to make a difference here.”
Oregon Ballet Theatre celebrates 25 years with OBT 25, October 11 – 18. Click here for tickets and showtimes.