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The Portland Ballet Thanksgiving Tradition: ‘The Enchanted Toyshop’

[October 23, 2023]

Dates: Nov. 25-26, 2023

Times: 1 and 4 p.m.

Where: Lincoln Performance Hall at Portland State University, 1620 SW Park at Market, Portland, OR

Tickets: $10-$40

Runtime: About one hour (including one intermission)

Information: theportlandballet.org or 503-452-8448 ext. 106


Ballet dancers onstage.
The Portland Ballet will celebrate the 20th anniversary of “The Enchanted Toyshop” on Thanksgiving weekend. Photo by Blaine Truitt Covert.


The Portland Ballet revives its holiday tradition, "The Enchanted Toyshop," for Thanksgiving weekend this year. The magic begins when two children are left behind in a toyshop, and the Blue Fairy brings to life a parade of dancing dolls to entertain the guests. Pinocchio, playing cards and poodles are all part of the fast-paced fun.


“These performances of 'The Enchanted Toyshop' on Thanksgiving Weekend are a celebration of the return of live music for the production after four years and mark the 20th anniversary of the ballet’s creation in 2003,” said Artistic Director Nancy Davis. “We are thrilled to resume our partnership with Ken Selden and the Portland State University Orchestra.”


Choreographed specifically for The Portland Ballet by John Clifford, "Toyshop" (formerly known by its French title "La Boutique Fantasque") showcases various skill levels and international dance styles. Since its premiere in 2003, "Toyshop" has become TPB's signature showpiece.


Lauren Lane, a founding student at the academy who went on to dance professionally with the Saint Louis Ballet, will reprise her role as Amelie, which she first performed as a student in 2006 and 2007. Lane, who is now the company’s Associate Artistic Director, performed in the original production of "Toyshop" in 2003 as a Can Can doll.


Nick Le-Jurica, a former student who graduated from Juilliard in New York City and danced professionally with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company in Salt Lake City, will also perform in the production. Le-Jurica, who is now the company’s Director of Community Engagement, performed the Tarantella in "Toyshop" as a student.


Clifford, an artistic advisor for The Portland Ballet who regularly works with its students, reorganized and added characters to the 1919 ballet that was originally choreographed by Léonide Massine and premiered by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. A Balanchine protégé and founder of Los Angeles Ballet, Clifford stages Balanchine ballets and sets his own choreography for companies around the world.

“I have a lot of humor in it,” Clifford said. “The dancing is very sophisticated. There are about five or six roles that are high level."


The show “offers comedy and pathos, fantasy and romance,” dance critic Martha Ullman West wrote for Oregon ArtsWatch, “a thoroughly satisfactory happily-ever-after-ending, and a lot of dancing.”

 

What's your take on Turkey Day? Too much pressure or essential event? Let us know.

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