Oregon Ballet Theatre Soloist Candace Bouchard is Also a Savvy Businesswoman

Candace Bouchard as Dewdrop in The Nutcracker. Photo by Blaine Covert, Courtesy OBT.

Portland's popular Wonder Ballroom, an indie music club, was packed wall to wall. A sea of hipster 20-somethings crowded in for the headline act: the locally famous band Horse Feathers and half a dozen Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers, united for the night under the name Uprising. High-energy choreography embodied the stirring lyrics, making this untraditional collaboration feel perfectly natural.

Uprising, the brainchild of OBT soloist Candace Bouchard, was born in 2009 when, facing a midseason layoff due to budget cuts, Bouchard decided to start her own project. Since high school, and while training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Ballet Academy East, the St. Louis native held side jobs to feel connected to the non-dance world. While bartending in Portland, she discovered she loved sharing her world with people her own age. “Friends I met came to the ballet and said, 'I can't believe I never did this!' so I knew it was just getting them in the door the first time," she says. With more perspective on what they were looking for, she knew familiar spots and popular bands would be a big draw.


Bouchard in Uprising. Photo by Roslyn Barnfield, Courtesy Bouchard.

Uprising (which has been re-created five times) seems to have given a huge boost to OBT's audience development. As the project's mastermind, Bouchard took on multiple roles—producer, choreographer, marketing agent—and says OBT's marketing staff helped her write her first press release. She soon took a job as director of special programs at a residential artists' cooperative, and spent the next year and a half working approximately 20 hours a week in public relations: “I was really just thrown into the fire, and I loved it—connecting with the media, growing the organization into something people knew about."

By 2013, turnover in OBT's leadership left key administrative positions empty, and the board of trustees asked Bouchard to help on their marketing committee. When they asked her to stay on, she became marketing coordinator, writing copy for OBT's ads, working with box office reps on special offers and coordinating media interviews—all while being a prominent soloist dancer frequently featured in the press (signature roles include Dewdrop in The Nutcracker, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Apollo). “Her sensibility in promoting our work was spot-on, because she absorbs our messaging in the most organic way: through her own dancing," says Kevin Irving, OBT's artistic director.

Bouchard, 31, has been thinking about her future both on and off the stage. “Would I be able to stop dancing and feel like I've done everything the way I wanted?" she asks. She recently resigned from her marketing position, eager to have more time to discover who she is as an artist. “I want to get more into my dancer's brain and body," she says. But with firsthand insight on how to make ballet accessible to today's audiences, she still sees more than a notable ballet career in her future. She's already planning an Uprising show for later this year.

FUN FACTS

Secret stash: "I always have a book in my bag—always. It's like my security blanket. What if I have to stand in a long line at the post office?"

Dream Role: "When I was younger, there were three I had to do before I died: Vertiginous, Dances at a Gathering and Juliet. It's changed now, because I love being choreographed on."

Hidden talent: "I can still make a great cocktail!"

Good luck charm: "I have this little stuffed dog that one of my teachers at BAE gave me. He said to always trust myself. It's always with me in the theater."

News
Stella Abrera in Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons. Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Yesterday, Kaatsbaan, the Tivoli, NY-based cultural park for dance, announced that Stella Abrera will join the organization as its new artistic director, effective January 1, 2020. This news come just weeks after we learned that Abrera will be taking her final bow with American Ballet Theatre in June.

Keep reading... Show less
Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Francesca Hayward (center) in Cats (courtesy NBCUniversal)

Get excited, Jellicle fans: It's almost time meow!

We're about a month out from the release of the new movie version of Cats. To mark the occasion, the film's team has dropped another dance-filled trailer. The vid offers further peeks at Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography—and at the "digital fur technology"-enhanced versions of the celebrities (dance-world and, uh, world-world) involved, from Taylor Swift to Francesca Hayward.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Rock School
From left: Sarah Lapointe, Derek Dunn and Jeanette Kakareka. Courtesy The Rock School

For more than five decades, The Rock School for Dance Education has been launching young dancers into professional ballet careers around the globe. Boasting distinguished alumni such as Beckanne Sisk, Michaela DePrince and Taylor Stanley, the Philadelphia-based institution has garnered a well-deserved reputation for pairing rigorous training with a tight-knit, welcoming community. Their summer intensives are no different, with a wealth of prestigious faculty members, many of whom are Rock School alums currently dancing at companies around the world.

What inspires busy pros to keep returning to their alma mater? We talked to three of The Rock School's buzziest alums about why they make it a priority to come back and teach:

Keep reading... Show less