Eugene Ballet Opens 40th Anniversary Season with Stephen Mills’ Hamlet

Eugene Ballet’s 40th Anniversary Season opens with Hamlet, the first ballet created by Stephen Mills after becoming Artistic Director at Ballet Austin. Stephen Mills’ version of Shakespeare’s most famous play features modern sets, costumes inspired by Giorgio Armani, and an incredibly emotional score by American composer Philip Glass.

“My inspiration for putting Hamletin a contemporary setting is due to the fact that many of themes in the play—murder, betrayal, and more—are still very relevant themes in today’s society,” Mills said. “For me, Shakespeare’s Hamletis a perfect warning for a contemporary audience about the dangers of unchecked power and the ways in which lives of innocents can be forever changed.”

This is the first time Stephen Mills’ Hamletwill appear on the West Coast, premiered by Eugene Ballet. The work is considered Shakespeare’s most powerful and influential play in world literature.

“Stephen Mills dares to boldly represent Hamletin a contemporary setting of music, stage design, costuming and contemporary choreography,” Eugene Ballet Artist Director Toni Pimble said. “To see this work is to know that classical dance is very much alive, healthy, thought provoking and visually stunning.”

The role of Hamlet will be performed by Company Dancer Reed Souther, an Oregon native who has been with Eugene Ballet since 2010.

“To prepare for this role, I talked a lot with Stephen Mills and got insight from him about his vision for Hamlet,” Souther said. “I’ve also been listening to a Hamletaudio book read by Kenneth Branagh which helps sort through the emotions as there is more inflection.”

Ophelia will be danced by Company Dancer Vivien Farrell. In her second season as a Company Dancer, Vivien joined Eugene Ballet as an Aspirant in 2015.

“It has been an incredible experience working with Stephen Mills on his Hamlet,” Farrell said. “Dance has always felt like meditation, so it’s tricky trying to bring raw emotion into rehearsals and eventually in front of an audience. That level of stage acting is something I’ve always wanted to achieve and I’m so grateful for the challenge.”

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