My Q and A in Friday’s Chronicle:
“San Francisco Ballet fans miss Christopher Stowell, who for 16 years was one of the finest male dancers in the company’s history. But though Stowell retired from the stage in 2001, he’s hardly disappeared. In 2003, Stowell made good on his ballet lineage – he’s the son of Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, founders of Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet – and became artistic director of Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland. He hasn’t shied from calling on his San Francisco connections, whether hiring San Francisco Ballet dancers, recruiting from the San Francisco Ballet School or tapping Ballet choreographers like Yuri Possokhov. His emphasis on contemporary classicism at OBT has brought the troupe accolades in festivals like the Kennedy Center’s “Ballet Across America” and New York’s “Fall for Dance.”
Last week, Stowell returned to the Bay Area to help out another troupe, Walnut Creek’s Diablo Ballet, which will dance excerpts from Stowell’s “All Eyes on You” as part of the company’s “An Evening on Broadway” program this weekend.
Q: Oregon Ballet Theatre has been generating a lot of buzz during your five years there.
A: We’re getting a lot of attention. It’s very satisfying.
Q: Ticket sales at OBT’s home performances are up 50 percent. What’s your strategy?
A: I try to surprise our audiences all the time about what ballet can be. The people who are afraid of a tutu find out that ballet can be contemporary; it’s not uptight. And the people who are scared of no tutu get dancing that is still classical and discover that the language of ballet can be so many interesting things. But it’s still ballet. If it reminds me of a music video, I’m not interested.”
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