In 1917, the legendary French ballet troop Ballets Russes performed in Portland. A hundred years later, The Portland Ballet is commemorating the anniversary with a special tribute to Ballets Russes — and two Beaverton high school seniors are featured prominently in the production.
TPB's spring concert is this weekend, and will celebrate Ballets Russes with Michel Fokine's "Les Sylphides," which the troupe performed in Portland in 1917, and Tom Gold's "Festival Russe," a contemporary piece honoring Ballets Russes.
The concert also will feature "Who Cares," with choreography by George Balanchine and music by George Gershwin, and "Abandon All Plans," a contemporary work by Portland choreographer Lane Hunter.
Evan Lindsay, a senior at Beaverton's Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, is cast as the "Finale Man" in "Festival Russes," and also will be featured in "Who Cares?"
Lindsay put a lot of thought into preparing for his roles.
"The most challenging part is perfecting the movement itself outside of rehearsals," he said. "You have to take the time to get into the character, study the character, taking your own time to say, maybe if I modify this a little, this step will be easier. It's a process."
Lindsay will be joined onstage by Henry Winslow, who moved to the Portland area from Bellingham, Wash., so he could work with The Portland Ballet. He lives with a host family in Beaverton.
Winslow is cast in "Les Sylphides," which is says is reminiscent of a "dream-like state," as well as in "Who Cares?" which he calls a "jazz-filled, fun time."
"My role in 'Who Cares?' versus 'Le Sylphides,' there's a very different attitude to them, and a different character you're presenting," he said.
Winslow and Lindsay will split the lead male role in "Embraceable You," a segment of "Who Cares?" that focuses on a romantic relationship.
"'Embraceable You' will be something the audience connects with a lot," Lindsay said. "It's a love scene with two dancers dancing together. At times the female is playing a little bit coy, a little hard to get, but it's a dance about embracing each other, as the title suggests."
Lindsay, who has been dancing since he entered Beaverton Arts and Communication Magnet Academy in sixth grade, will head to Columbus, Ohio, next year to train with the BalletMet. He credits The Portland Ballet, or TPB, with helping him get to the point of dancing professionally.
"All of these instructors have years of experience as professional dancers," he said. "They bring that experience to the TPB community. I've never had an experience when a teacher said 'no' to helping a student grow."
Winslow will be studying contemporary dance at the Boston Conservatory next year. A dancer since age 4 or 5, he said he was drawn to the art because of "how freeing it can be" — and how rewarding.
"There's a lot of culture, a lot of history around ballet ... especially this year, it's been a lot of hard work that's really paying off," Winslow said. "It's a really satisfying feeling to go into the studio every day and work hard, and this year I've been able to get a lot out of that."