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Arts & Culture

Eugene Ballet Stretches Into New Space

midtown_arts.jpeg
Karen Richards
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The Eugene Ballet moved to its new location at 16th and Pearl about two months ago. As KLCC’s Karen Richards reports, it’s artfully stretching into a place designed for its needs.

 

Eugene Ballet studios occupy the interior of two floors in the new Midtown Arts building. Condominiums form an L around them.

 

Artistic Director Toni Pimble said they can now serve the Ballet’s Company and up to 500 Academy students. “It is like night and day," said Pimble. "And it is day with brilliant sunshine, because it is absolutely fabulous. This is our forever home.”

 

The cramped former space was considered temporary for 13 years. Executive Director Josh Neckels said the professional dancers are stepping up, “They no longer can use the studio as a crutch," he told KLCC. "They now have to raise their level to match the studio they’re working in.” 

 

soreng_studio.jpeg
Credit Karen Richards
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This 3rd floor studio is slightly bigger than the stage at the Hult Center's Soreng Theater. A larger space down the hall mirrors the Silva Concert Hall. For the first time, the full company can rehearse and directors have room to stand back and assess. The ceilings are high to support the acoustics of music rehearsals.

Neckels said they’re getting floods of audition emails, partly due to the pandemic, but also because word is getting out about Eugene’s premiere facility.

The group built several custom features into the design. There's a library and a waiting area for students and families of the youth program, and two large storage rooms accommodate over 3,000 costumes for the professionals and the students' outfits. The ballet used to rent storage units in Springfield to hold the bins, and Pimble said she washed tutus in her bathtub. Now they can make, repair and wash costumes on site.

 

Offices for the Eugene Ballet as well as eight other arts organizations fill the first floor of the building, and Neckels said there’s a waiting list. About half of the 40 luxury condominiums have sold or are pending sale.

 

The Eugene Ballet is still short about $1.3 million in funding. Neckels said they’ll get there. They’ve been unable to have fundraisers or even give tours of the facility because of the pandemic.

 

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