Pre-Mothers Day Sale $75 Off Purchase of $750 or More*

Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) Artistic Director Danielle Rowe has announced exciting additions to the company’s dancer roster effective with the 2023/24 season opening this fall with the highly anticipated return of Christopher Stowell’s Swan Lake. As the company welcomes these new artists it also bids a fond farewell to two veteran dancers Makino Hayashi and Christopher Kaiser, who are both embarking on bright new chapters in their dance careers.

It is my great pleasure to welcome four incredibly talented dancers to OBT,said Rowe. These dynamic artists each bring a depth of classical and contemporary performance experience reflecting the hallmark of OBT’s demanding repertory.”

John-Paul Simoens joins OBT as a soloist. Simoens grew up in Los Angeles where he began studying ballet at the age of seven. In 2012, he was a semi-finalist in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne ballet competition where he received a scholarship to attend the San Francisco Ballet School. In 2014, he became an apprentice with the company.

Simoens went on to dance with San Francisco Ballet for nine seasons during which time he appeared in principal roles in many ballets including Helgi Tómasson’s Don Quixote, Concerto Grosso, and The Fifth Season; Jerome Robbin’s Fancy Free and The Cage; Val Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House; Benjamin Millipied’s The Chairman Dances; Arthur Pita’s Bjork Ballet; Yuka Oishi’s Bolero; and Liam Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries.

Simoens also had the privilege of participating in the creative development of new works by renowned choreographers such as Christopher Wheeldon, William Forsythe, Cathy Marston, and Oregon Ballet Theatre’s very own, Danielle Rowe.

Lauren Flower Benjamin Simoens Ruby Mae Lefebvre

Joining OBT as company artists are Lauren Flower and Benjamin Simoens. Flower arrives from San Diego where she was a soloist with Golden State Ballet. A multi-talented artist, she simultaneously held the role of resident choreographer with The Rosin Box Project. Her work has also been performed by Ballet Arizona and Boston Ballet.

Simoens (brother of John-Paul Simoens!) earned a degree in dance from The Juilliard School before joining Milwaukee Ballet in 2019 where he was featured in works by Darrell Grand Moultrie, Aleix Mañé, and Danielle Rowe. He also made guest appearances in project-based works with both SFDanceworks in San Francisco, California, and Chamber Dance Project in Washington, D.C.

Finally, following two seasons with OBT2, Portland native and OBT School alumna Ruby Mae Lefebvre has been promoted to apprentice with the company. Lefebvre most recently appeared in OBT School’s annual performance where she wowed the sold-out Newmark Theatre audience with her performance as Swanhilda in Coppélia.

While welcoming these talented dancers, Rowe extended her gratitude and well wishes to retiring artists Christopher Kaiser and Makino Hayashi who were both honored at the season’s closing performances of Made in Portland. Kaiser, who gave OBT audiences chills in his performance of Dracula, was accepted to the prestigious MFA program at the University of Washington’s Department of Dance. He will begin in the fall. Hayashi, whose work The Rose premiered during the Made in Portland program, will now devote all her time to her choreographic career. She already has a new commission with OBT next season in June 2024 on the next installment of Made in Portland.


This article was provided courtesy of Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Follow Us

Subscribe For Updates & Giveaways!

Stay up to date with exciting original content, upcoming performances, and giveaways unique to your community and beyond!