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Program includes world premiere of John Clifford's "Tales from Mother Goose"



Louise Desmond, center, as the lead Matrushka Doll in 'Toyshop.'

The Portland Ballet will present the world premiere of John Clifford’s “Tales from Mother Goose” and his “The Enchanted Toyshop” Nov. 28 to 30 at Lincoln Hall on the Portland State University campus.

For the past 13 years, TPB, under the artistic direction of Nancy Davis, has presented a holiday production. This year’s program choreography was created by John Clifford specifically for TPB dancers. Clifford is a George Balanchine protégé and founder of Los Angeles Ballet. In partnership with the PSU Symphony, TPB dancers perform to live music at every performance.

“Tales from Mother Goose” began as music for piano four-hand by Maurice Ravel, and was eventually made into a ballet with five segments: “Sleeping Beauty,” “Tom Thumb,” “Empress of the Pagoda,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Fairy Garden.” In Clifford’s version, the ballet takes place in a young girl’s imagination as she dozes after reading a storybook. Clifford adds humor and technical challenge to the proceedings while ending the piece with his own imaginative twist.

“The Enchanted Toyshop,” formerly known by its French title “La Boutique Fantasque,” is TPB’s signature piece. With its fast-paced cavalcade of whimsical characters, Clifford’s ballet has all the charm of an animated fairy tale with scene after scene of delightful divertissements, or national dances, including the Tarantella, Can-Can, Matrushka and Cossack. Clifford has added additional characters to the original choreography by Leonide Massine, including the Blue Fairy, who embodies the joy of dance.

Lake Oswego dancers participating in the production include the family of Jose Pacheco and Dawn Thompson, including sons Sebastian and Joachin Pacheco. Thompson plays the American Mother in “Toyshop” and Jose is cast as the Russian Father in “Toyshop.” Sebastian, 12, dances the role a Toy Soldier in “Toyshop,” and a Tree in the “Princess and the Pagoda” section of “Mother Goose.” Joachin, 10, dances the role of a Lost Boy in “Toyshop” and a Chinese Servant in the “Princess and the Pagoda” segment of “Mother Goose.”

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Joachin Pacheco of Lake Oswego rehearses the dance with the Chinese Servants for Tales from Mother Goose.

It was mother Dawn Thompson’s love of dance that inspired the family to take up the art, too.

“I have danced since I was young and studied many styles and continue to do so today,” Thompson said. She would take Sebastian with her to dance classes when he was young.

“As long as he had Goldfish (crackers) to eat and something to play with I could get an hour and a half class in,” she said. “We started him in martial arts at about age 5 and ballet and tap soon after. Joaquin, his little brother, tagged along, too, to my classes and soon started to follow his brother to ballet and tap. I took classes in jazz and modern at TPB regularly, so once the men’s program started up, it was a no-brainer for me to try and get them in ASAP — knowing how wonderful the teachers were and how outstanding the school was compared to peers.”

“I like doing the shows,” Joachim said. “You get to act and do the stuff you’ve learned in class. It is fun to be a part of something.” He said the biggest challenge for him was incorporating new steps in the dance and that he was looking forward to friends and family watching him perform.

Sebastian agreed that performing was an exciting part of dancing. The family said the shows always sell out. “It’s neat to see all the seats full,” he said.

Other Lake Oswego dancers include Louise Desmond, Haily Oldham, Lily Rodgers and Roslyn Dai.

Desmond, 15, will dance several roles including the lead Matrushka Doll in “Toyshop” as well as the Can-Can and English Maid and then the role of a Courtier in the “Sleeping Beauty” segment of “Mother Goose.” She is a freshman at Riverdale High School and began her ballet training at age four at the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre. She has danced with TPB for seven years and performed in various roles in the productions.

Performances will be held at 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 28, 29 and 30 at Lincoln Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave., at Market St. in Portland. Tickets for the 1 p.m. Nov. 28 show are $5, all other performances are priced at $15 for youth, $35 for adults and $90 for a family, which includes admission for two youth and two adults, with additional youth priced at $10. Tickets can be purchased by calling the PSU box office at 503-725-3307 or online at pdx.edu/boxoffice/tickets. A limited number of Art Cards and Arts for All tickets are available. Call 503-452-8448 for information.

Contract Publishing

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