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Shannon Bryan

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Posted: August 20, 2014

Portland Ballet dancers take to the streets: 20 stunning photos you have to see

Written by: Shannon Bryan

The photos are gorgeous.

And no, they’re not Photoshopped.

The Discover Portland Ballet series – 20 images shot in Portland by photographer Jonathan Reece over the course of the last year – showcases some of Portland’s most iconic locations and introduces us to Portland Ballet’s talented company of dancers.

Maybe you’ve seen a few of the photos, some of which were shared on Portland Ballet’s Facebook page over the last several months. Hopefully you paused to appreciate them – the striking match up of those Portland places we know so well (Monument Square, the Eastern Prom, Exchange Street, North Street Park) with a ballet dancer caught mid-leap or posing gracefully in the foreground. And maybe – for a moment – you saw that place in a new light or wondered who that dancer was.

That moment of wonder is part of this project’s purpose.

“It was kind of one of those ‘how can we get people to learn more about Portland Ballet and get to learn more about their city as well,'” said Melissa Lin, Portland Ballet board president. “We really wanted to put these dancers – who moved from different parts of the country – we wanted to show them in iconic locations in Portland.”

“We are extremely lucky as a small city to have a full and well-versed professional ballet company,” she said. These images serve as a reminder.

They’re also an example of what creative collaboration can accomplish.

“Jon, with his photographic background, was really great in setting up composition and understanding how light can really hit it home. Between Jen Jones (dancer) and Nell Shipman (artistic director and choreographer), they’re thinking about how to showcase each of the dancers’ best talents and do it in a way that’s beautiful and connects to the scenery,” said Lin. “That’s something they do all the time, piecing together choreography, knowing exactly what costume to outfit the dancer in, what jump she does effortlessly. All those aspects come together.”

Each shoot took anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to set up, sometimes in the snow or the cold, often at dawn, said Lin. “The best part is the dancers were happy and willing to do the same move again and again.”

All to get that perfect shot and create what Portland Ballet calls, “a passionate ode to both its city and the performing arts.”

For a better peek at the shoots, check out the Behind the Scenes Discover Portland Ballet video.

 All images by photographer Jonathan Reece and used with permission. For more of his work:

Summer in the City

Here is your chance to view the complete Discover Portland Ballet series in person and mingle with photographer Jonathan Reece and the dancers of Portland Ballet Company. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from Old Port Sea Grill.
WHEN: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 21
WHERE: U.S. Custom House, 300 Fore Street, Portland
HOW MUCH: $100

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