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.