PDX Contemporary Ballet:
The Road from Scandal to Success
From the basement of a church under the cloud of a scandal, to the BodyVox Theater for its upcoming season, there is one local dance company that has seen a lot of positive change and growth in its short history.
Circle back to August of 2015, when the local area dance scene was reeling from the scandal surrounding “Moxie” – a ballet company that sprung boldly from seemingly nowhere, made great promises, then disappeared just as quickly with thousands of dollars owed to loan companies, landlords, and prospective students. The Moxie company dancers were left forgotten in the dust, but a few of them banded together and found a temporary rehearsal home in a church basement. Together they decided to call themselves PDX Contemporary Ballet (or PDXCB for short).
That company persevered, and now – five years later – they have announced another new season and will perform two of their shows in the BodyVox Theater. Quite a heady journey from such humble beginnings.
PDX Contemporary Ballet has managed to produce highly polished and professional shows each season, despite having no paid staff of any kind. Artistic Director Briley Neugebauer says “The amount of love and passion in this company is incredible. We have a hard working board and dedicated volunteers that make it all possible. We have all been a part of this same journey: Experiencing dance in a new context – a context based on positivity. It’s been a very inspirational time.”
But there is more to this company than beautifully executed shows and cutting edge choreography. From the moment of inception, this company embraced key values and developed a vision that would come to define it as an “exception to the rule,” particularly in the world of ballet.
First and foremost, PDXCB welcomes dancers of all healthy body types and empowers them for who they are. Neugebauer emphasizes that "Dance doesn’t have to be about being or creating the ‘right image’ on stage. Instead I prefer to see truth, and truth starts with accepting and proclaiming one’s own expression through one’s own body." Company members are likewise challenged to see beyond what is visually expected of ballet by placing it in a contemporary context. The company crosses these dance styles by giving the pointe shoe a new language beyond its traditional vocabulary.
It comes as no surprise, then, that this is not your grandmother’s ballet. On the contrary, every show in the past has premiered new choreography. And if the performances don’t challenge viewers’ expectations about ballet, the company offers to refund their ticket. (An offer that has never been taken up, as it turns out.)
Finally, to make dance accessible to all members of the local community, the company is dedicated to keeping ticket prices affordable. Every opening night is called “Community Friday”, where all tickets are just $15. And in this upcoming season, the company will give back to the community that has supported it with $20 tickets for regular shows.
With that, PDX CB welcomes everyone in the Portland and surrounding area to come enjoy ballet like you’ve never known it could be.
P.S.! The company is excited to begin its 5th year, and as a way to celebrate, this season travels back in time and revisits some of the works that have been performed along the way. In this way, creating a “live performance documentary” of the company’s history. Their 2019-2020 season can be viewed online at pdxcb.com, and a more detailed press release can be found at http://www.pdxcb.com/for-the-press-2