Artist of Ballet Fantastique, by Bob Williams

Eugene’s Emmy®-nominated Ballet Fantastique (BFan) announces its 2023–2024 Hult Center and touring performance season, with four unique dance theater concepts and immersive theatrical experiences for audiences of all ages.

Ballet Fantastique’s mother-daughter Resident Choreographer-Producer team, Donna Marisa and Hannah Bontrager, celebrate twenty years of Hult Center productions in Fall 2023 and have chosen a season that runs the gamut of the company’s most unique blockbusters: Nevermore, Stories of Edgar Allan Poe; Babes in Toyland: A Holiday Story; Cinderella: The Rock Opera; and Alice in Wonderland: Remix. Each is filled with the company’s innovative signatures: Bold and playful concepts, vibrant all-original choreography, and evocative cross-disciplinary collaborations.

The year’s scores are, as always, live music with accessible “listenability”—from Sergei Rachmaninoff to YouTube celebrity composers Peter Gundry and Lucas King (Nevermore), from 60s rock (Cinderella) to electro-swing (Alice), and live Big Band orchestra (Babes).

“I am thrilled for our upcoming 23-24 season, as it truly embodies everything that BFan excels at,” says Ballet Fantastique Principal Dancer Ashley Bontrager, who will be dancing her 13th season this year with the company. On Ballet Fantastique’s unique holiday performance, Babes in Toyland: A Holiday Story, Ashley continues, “I think what makes our production special is that it’s a vintage holiday story, but one you’ve maybe never heard of! We’ve added our signature ‘BFan spin’ to it, and paired it with Duke Ellington’s iconic Nutcracker score, played live by the Swing Shift Orchestra. The stage is set for a jazz-infused and comedic evening of fun for the whole family!” Ballet Fantastique’s Babes world premiere in 2018 was featured nationally in Pointe Magazine and sold out with a waiting list for tickets. It’s back by popular demand for 2023.

Recently promoted Company Artist Ana Brooks adds, “I’m excited to be a part of a wide variety of shows this season. There are so many types of characters to experience and bring to life! That’s the challenge I look forward to most.’” These intricate character roles especially come to life in BFan’s October performance of Nevermore: Stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which features five of Poe’s most haunting, brilliant, and disturbing works.

The season concludes in May 2023 with an audience favorite, Ballet Fantastique’s Alice in Wonderland which premiered back in 2018 and was huge success. The performance features a bold, splashy, and playful 70-minute ballet that crosses genres and defies expectations. Alice in Wonderland: Remix brings the vivid visions of Lewis Carroll to life, combining Ballet Fantastique’s dance theater with an electro-swing soundtrack and a steampunk twist. For the project, Ballet Fantastique commissioned the Eugene-based band High Step Society in their first-ever Hult Center collaboration; the band is now internationally renowned. Cirque du Soleil performer Raymond Silos, new BFan Resident Artist, stars as the White Rabbit.

“Our goal at Ballet Fantastique is to create these immersive experiences where people get lost and fall in love with the experience of live dance theater. We love what we do, and we’re ready to break ballet out of more boxes!” says Hannah. “The season is bold, fresh, charming, romantic, funny, and fun—and there’s something for everyone,” adds Hannah.


This article was provided courtesy of Ballet Fantastique.

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