Valéria Ball’s life was tragically cut short in 2016, but the love of dance she shared lives on.

Eugene-based Ballet Fantastique will perform two of Ball’s works as it premieres “Arrivals: Rio” on New Year’s Eve at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene.

Ball grew up in Brazil, immigrated to America and started her own modern dance company in Roseburg, called Traduza. She was a dancer, a dance coach and the founder of an annual dance competition that raises about $70,000 each year for Battered Persons’ Advocacy.

She died at age 49 of brain cancer. Friends remembered her as a woman who celebrated life and encouraged others to do the same.

At her memorial service in 2016, loved ones honored her legacy by performing a dance she choreographed.

Ball’s legacy continues to live on. Ballet Fantastique has wrapped two of her works, “Amazon Awakenings” and “Walls,” into a new ballet called “Arrivals: Rio.” The ballet is inspired by a trip to South America, transporting the audience on a journey of color, sound and movement ranging from a Carnival celebration in Rio de Janeiro to an expression of the spirit of the rainforest.

Hannah Bontrager, co-choreographer and producer for Ballet Fantastique, said she first experienced these pieces in a performance 15 years ago, and they’ve lingered in her creative memory.

“We first worked with Valéria in 2005, and just fell in love with her incredible creative spirit and the way that she re-imagined what a dance performance needed to be,” Bontrager said.

Ball created immersive experiences for her audiences. “Walls” and “Amazon Awakenings” are very different from each other, but both are “vibrant and evocative and expressive and passionate,” like their creator, Bontrager said.

“That is so much who she was, and it weaves through her art. You just see it and feel it in the movement,” Bontrager said.

Recreating the pieces has not been easy. In fact, it took a bit of forensic work, she said.

Old VHS tapes of the 2005 performance were dug out, along with a Tupperware box of CDs containing the music. Bontrager said she used an app on her cellphone to try to figure out which music arrangement matched the VHS performance.

She used her cellphone to record as the VHS tape played, because it was difficult for the dancers to learn the moves using the older format.

The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of complexity. The performance has had to be postponed four times, Bontrager said.

In fact, this is Ballet Fantastique’s first time performing a new project since 2019, and Bontrager thinks the performance is just what’s needed this New Year’s Eve.

“There’s something really beautiful and needed about the project right now when we’re all just feeling so pent up and homebound,” Bontrager said.

The performance also features live music from the Eugene band Bossanaire and from musician Juan Luqui, who will play an Argentinian stringed instrument called a ronroco.

The New Year’s Eve performance begins at 8:30 p.m. A second, matinee performance will take place at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 2.

Tickets for the Dec. 31 performance start at $22, and the event is followed by a New Year’s Eve after party with live music, champagne and dancing.

Tickets for the Jan. 2 performance start at $12 and do not include an after party. Funding is available for educational groups to attend the Jan. 2 performance, and scholarships are available for students who can’t afford a ticket.

Tickets are available at hultcenter.org/events-tickets

The Gordon Hotel at 5th Street Market, across the street from the Hult Center, is offering room discounts to audience members attending the New Year’s Eve performance.

For those not wanting to travel, tickets can also be purchased for live stream or on-demand virtual presentations of the performance.

A portion of the cost for each ticket supports the Amazon Rainforest Conservancy.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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(1) comment

mworden

A beautiful person of great talent who died too young.

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