ArtsBeat

Meet two dancers invigorating Boise’s dance community

Evan Stevens, 21, right, rehearses with Yurek Hansen for Idaho Dance Theatre’s Fall Concert on Nov. 6-8. Stevens started dancing just a few years ago and is one of Boise’s most interesting “movers.”
Evan Stevens, 21, right, rehearses with Yurek Hansen for Idaho Dance Theatre’s Fall Concert on Nov. 6-8. Stevens started dancing just a few years ago and is one of Boise’s most interesting “movers.” kgreen@idahostatesman.com

It’s a big weekend for Boise dance with Ballet Idaho and Idaho Dance Theatre both launching their seasons with diverse programs of contemporary choreography.

THE NATURAL

Dancer Evan Stevens is built for speed. He moves from deep within his center, twisting, bending and spinning his body into a variety of shapes that seem to come out of nowhere.

Idaho Dance Theatre artistic director Marla Hansen plucked Stevens, a 21-year-old theater major, out of one of her classes. He made his professional debut with IDT in 2014 and is now back for a second season in IDT’s Fall Concert on Nov. 6-8. In the past year, he’s also performed with Boise Dance Co-op, Project Flux and Lauren Edson’s LED.

Stevens took to dance quickly.

I’ve always been a fidgety person. I never stay in the same place very long.

Dancer Evan Stevens

He started dancing at 17 at the suggestion of a theater director in Germany, where his father served in the military — but he wasn’t planning on becoming a dancer. But he didn’t take his first class until he and his mom moved to Idaho in 2010 to take care of his grandmother.

“I’m a very physical actor, but I was blocky and forced,” Stevens says. “I needed to get it under control, and it’s worked. Dance, in general, has helped my acting.”

For this concert, Stevens worked with three choreographers — Yurek Hansen, Jason Hartley and Marla Hansen — and is learning from each, he says.

“Yurek’s very unique style is different from Jason’s groove, and Marla’s technical work is a real challenge for me,” Stevens says. “What I really like is feeling the energy of the room, when it’s organic with no mental decision of where to go.”

THE INTELLECTUAL

Whether it’s a comic performance or a riveting contemporary ballet, Daniel Ojeda creates with intensity. In the past five years at Ballet Idaho, he has grown as a performer and as a choreographer. In February, he created his breakthrough piece “This Mortal’s Mosaic,” an athletic exploration of human experience from hilarity to tragedy.

Now, Ojeda is creating a new work for Ballet Idaho’s season opening NewDance Up Close that has a very different feel.

“My aim with every piece is to do something different than what I’ve done before,” Ojeda says.

Ojeda, 24, grew up in Queens, N.Y. He started doing musical theater at 6, but “I didn’t like hearing the sound of my own voice,” he says. So, he switched to dance at 12, studying first at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, then the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York at 14, and the professional division of Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet. That’s where Ballet Idaho Artistic Director Peter Anastos found him in 2010.

“The very first thing we did when I got here was NewDance (then called Innovations),” Ojeda says. “So, I did my first piece, and it was my first piece, but Peter saw something in me, and I kept at it.”

Ojeda’s 30-minute “Viewers Like You,” a wry apocalyptic-ish contemporary ballet, will fill the second half of the program of NewDance on Nov. 6-7 and Nov. 13-14. The piece is a collaboration between Ojeda and Boise band Thick Business, who will play live.

Boise band Thick Business inspired Daniel Ojeda’s groove. His ballet is set in the 1975, just as the world is about to end.

“Dance is a live art form,” Ojeda says. “It’s different every night and will never be in a museum under glass. It’s incredibly unstable and ephemeral, and so are we.”

OTHER ARTS EVENTS

▪  Renowned fiction writer Denis Johnson joined the Boise State faculty as a guest professor this semester. You can get to know this National Book Award winner, poet, essayist and playwright at an installment of the MFA Reading Series at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at the BSU Student Union, 1700 W. University Dr. Free.

▪  Jennifer Drake and the Serenata Orchestra are back for another fun-filled season. This group is fueled by music director Drake’s wacky sense of humor. This program features Elgar’s “Enigma Variations.” Elgar loved puzzles, so Drake will play a game of Clue during the performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at Timberline High School, 701 E. Boise Ave., Boise. Suggested donation is $10 general, $5 students and seniors. BoiseSerenata.com.

Go see the dancers

IDT Fall Concert: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 6-7; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, Student Union Building, Boise State University. $20-$30 general, $10 students. IdahoDanceTheatre.org.

NewDance, Up Close: 8 p.m. Nov. 6-7 and 13-14; 2 p.m. Nov. 14, Esther Simplot Performing Arts Annex, 501 S. 8th St., Boise. $20 and $25. 343-0556, ext. 220; BalletIdaho.org.

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