Under the artistic direction of Toni Pimble and managing director, Riley Grannan, this 20-member ensemble blends classical and contemporary works, along with educational programs seen by an audience of more than 75,000 in travels covering an average of 25,000 road miles annually. EBC is one of only two northwest companies on the roster of the Western States Arts Federation touring program which has, for the past six years, been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts dance company program.
Educational programs are also a focus of EBC activities, including affiliations with Young Audiences Inc. (over 50 performances annually), the Lincoln Center Project, the Washington State cultural enrichment program and Artist-In-Education programs promoted through local and regional arts councils.
The Company's repertoire includes many full length ballets ranging from classics from the romantic period, such as Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, to more contemporary pieces, such as Pimble's Alice In Wonderland, Children of the Raven, and Charles Bennett's Dracula. Many half-program pieces choreographed by Pimble and other well-known choreographers including Jessica Lang, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Lynda Martha, Bruce Marks, Charles Bennett and Vasilli Sulich. Recent collaborations include Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Pink Martini, Floydian Slips, and Curtis Salgado.
The company was founded in 1978. Originally the vision of Toni Pimble and Riley Grannan started as an ensemble presenting regular performing seasons at local high schools.
When the Hult Center opened in 1981, Eugene Ballet Company hired professional management to focus on artistic direction. Pimble and Grannan combined their talents with classic ballets resulting in more professional ballet productions. In the next few years there were cost overruns due to the expense of competing favorably with touring dance companies at the newly opened Performing Arts Center. In 1985, Eugene Ballet Company initiated an austerity program that included recycling repertoire and limited touring activity. Riley Grannan became the full-time managing director. With the help of community involvement, the following seven out of eight years resulted in budget surpluses.
An active touring program, recognized by the United States Information Agency International Arts America touring roster, included a tour to Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Syria, Tunisia, and Jordan in the summer of 1995. Other international tours have included two tours to Taiwan, sponsored by Arts Formosa, the first undertaken by a northwest arts organization. This tour was highlighted by sold-out performances at the 2,500-seat National Theatre in Taipei, one of the world's finest new theaters. Additionally, EBC performed in six other cities in Taiwan.
The EBC presented over 100 performances and educational services in 36 states and Canada during the 1995/96 performing Season. That same year, the EBC was honored with the Oregon Governor's Arts Award, the first ever for a dance company.
Toni Pimble, artistic director, was born in England, and studied at Elmhurst Ballet School and the Royal Academy of Dance in London. Her professional experience includes dancing in three German ballet companies.
Since becoming Artistic Director of Eugene Ballet Company in 1978, Ms. Pimble has choreographed over 40 original works for the company. Both Dance Magazine and Pointe Magazine have featured Ms. Pimble's leadership as an Artistic Director and choreographer.
Ms. Pimble has collaborated with composers and various artists. Through the Meet the Composer project, she was commissioned to create a new work for Atlanta Ballet in collaboration with Emmy-award winning composer James Oliverio, titled Common Ground. Her provocative work Silk and Steel was a collaboration with artist Steve Oshatz. Inspired by visual artist Helen Hardin, Ms. Pimble created the contemporary work The Skinwalkers. Ms. Pimble also choreographed Two's Company for New York City Ballet as part of its Diamond Project.
Ms. Pimble has created two original ballets for Oregon Festival of American Music, two original works for the Oregon Bach Festival, and collaborated with guest artist Curtis Salgado on The Bluesman. Her recent works for the Eugene Ballet are Slipstream, Jitterbug, Jive & Jazz, Concerto for Seven Dancers and Divertimento.
Ms. Pimble's work has been performed by Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Omaha, Washington Ballet, Nevada Dance Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Kansas City Ballet, State Ballet of Rhode Island, and Dance Galaxy, among others.
Under Ms. Pimble's leadership, the Eugene Ballet Company has toured to 32 states and internationally. Her work has been presented as part of a United States Information Agency tour by Eugene Ballet Company, visiting India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Syria, Jordan and Tunisia. In 1994, Ms. Pimble became the Artistic Director of Ballet Idaho when Eugene Ballet Company and Ballet Idaho created an alliance to produce joint seasons combining artistic resources; however, this alliance was dissolved in 2008 ending what was a 14 year pioneering effort in multi-state performing arts collaborations.
The Eugene Ballet operates the Eugene Ballet Academy in a refurbished building converted into studios and offices in 2006, The Midtown Arts Center, which provides office space for other non-profit arts organizations at reduced rates in order to foster and strengthen local and regional culture.
- Eugene Ballet official website
- Hult Center for the Performing Arts
- Eugene Ballet official myspace page