A Backstage Dream

Making my way down the long dark hallway, I hear voices coming from everywhere. Booming voices, little chattering voices, a squeal of delight here and there, and just a tad of controlled angst from one isolated voice as curtain time nears.

I am backstage, at a rehearsal just before opening night of  “Dream”, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s first performance of the new season.  And I am in awe.

The elaborate costumes! The whirls of practice leaps! The whispers! The feet pawing at a box of stability ensuring rosin! The wide-eyed excitement from tiny dancer Cupid and lightning bugs and butterflies!

I don’t know much about dance except that I love to see it, and do it. Music flowing through a body, silence too: we don’t realize dance’s impact until we find ourselves shaking a leg at someone’s wedding or letting ourselves surrender to a drum in a village in Africa, or watching a professional dancer onstage move in ways we only wish we could.

Oh, how it can alter our mood, outlook on life and frame of reference to what is happiness. If only we would do it more often ourselves. But for now, our eyes can drink in the wonders of how our bodies are capable of expressing rhythm through the mastery of accomplished dancers.

Being backstage gives us a glimpse into the immense amount of work that goes into a performance.  What strikes me the most is seeing the people who are sweeping the floors: they are true dancers themselves, back and forth and back and forth, they sway as the live orchestra warms up. 

And the woman who is on duty calling the lights and curtains and stage entries…can she be more alert? Her gaze is steady and strong, coordinating so many moving parts and people and props and pulleys, yet she possesses a calm fortitude under immense pressure that is inspiring.

I wonder if being around the dancers influences a support staff’s dance. Perhaps we all should carry such grace into our daily lives.

I see a dancer, she must be new to the company, and she has the look of terror in her eyes.  But I watch her search the eyes of a principal dancer as she observes their every move. Her eyes soften and fear is replaced by confidence as she sees this seasoned dancer wink at her. And with that, she enters the stage, dances with her heart, and exits with elation.

Inspiring, energetic, passionate, and feverish.

This is Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Oregon Ballet Theatre Backstage

Prints For Prints Team Ethiopia 2013

We will soon embark upon our Ethiopia 2013 Prints For Prints project.  Today we gathered to do a test run on our printers, and all systems are GO!

Here are the members of the team with links to their websites:

Heather Binns

Steve Bloch

Joni Kabana

Bill Purcell

Constance Spurling


L-R: Heather Binns, Bill Purcell, Constance Spurling, Joni Kabana, Steve Bloch

(Photo by Ben Opsahl)

Oregon Ballet Theatre

The new brochure is out for Oregon Ballet Theatre!  All of these images were shot in the studio (minus the Nutcracker images) where we worked up a sweat on a hot summer’s day.

Gard Communications did the design work and I am truly stunned at the job they did.  And, oh how those dancers can leap.  Over and over and over again.

It was an honor to be able to work on this great assignment and watch with amazement how the dancers moved and personified facial expressions on command.


Seasonal Brochure

Seasonal Brochure

Fashion In Portland

In July, we completed a two-day shoot featuring nine of Oregon’s top designers and their latest pieces. It was a flurry of models, makeup artists, hair designers, creative directors, videography and many assistants running like mad.

Here is the spread in print for 1859 Magazine, including behind the scenes video interviews with each designer.  It was an honor to meet the designers and see their new designs!

For 1859 Magazine





The Tangles Of An Illicit Affair

The first time I saw her, I knew I could not resist her seductive force.

She stood alone, high on life, strong and poised, ready to brave the worst and the best that came her way.  Fiercely independent, she seemed to need no one, yet her invitation beckoned even the most jaded audience.

I moved slowly, hesitantly.  I could not believe this was my truth.  I already had one relationship that was loving and comforted my heat – how could I possibly deserve another? And how would I feel on that first morning after, when reality slams into my brain?  And what if they both needed me at the same time?  Was this fair?

Yet one foot followed the other, and head made room for heart, and soon I stood before her, weak in the soul.  I wanted her.  I had to have her.

I knew what she could bring to me – glorious sunsets, reckless nights, passing storms, songs I had never heard, and a star-filled existence.  My trepidation turned to full on lust and as she receded slightly, my intentions only became stronger.

Most people, once or twice in their lives, experience an illicit affair, even if only by wishes. Passions may not culminate, but the heart is stolen nonetheless by the imagination and possibilities.  If we are lucky, these affairs fuel our creativity and we produce our best art.  Muses are useful things, if only we can get over our puritan upbringing and permit ourselves to love humanity at its most raw and vigorous level.

So I brushed aside reason, and conjured more energy for my aim.

I didn’t sleep that night of my resolve, the wonder of it all just too intense.  I liked this feeling of being two persons in one.  Fractured, I felt whole.

The sun always rises, and when it did on that day of reconciliation, I was ready to explain myself to anyone who challenged my desires.  I was ready to proceed with this new splintered lifestyle.  Things which are just out of reach have fascinated me.  How close can one get before something is had?

Restraint can be a powerful platform from which we can move toward a cornucopia of good things.  As I laid down my final offer, vulnerable and pushing aside my fear, she seemed mine, for one hour.

Yet, the heart knows no boundaries and cannot play director for very long.  When word reached me that she had returned to her lover, I was stunned.  Had I waited too long?  Am I nothing but a catalyst for someone else’s reconciliation?

I sauntered around that day, and the next.  And yes, the next.  I almost had her.  If only I had…

She will live on in my soul, as a litmus test against others.  I don’t know if I will ever find myself in this same position.  I only hope my memory of her will fade.

As I retreat back home, I see my steady lover in a new light.  She knew I had wandered, yet here she was, with doors open and her soft breezy manner soliciting my hunger.

Once again, I was home safe.  But still so very hungry.

Winlock Road

My almost lover


SE 36th Ave. Home

My steady lover


UPDATE TO THIS POST: After one year, the owners who had pulled out of the sale of “my mistress” responded to my love letter that I had sent them, and said they were at last emotionally ready to let her go. Here is a view from the kitchen window:

Cabin View


Exhibit: The Market Workers at PushDot Studio

Once again, I will be able to stand in the middle of a room, look around and marvel at the intensity of many beautiful Ethiopian eyes all at once.

Ten images from my “Market Workers” series will be shown at PushDot Studio.  Join me for an opening reception this Friday, August 2 from 6-9pm as we raise a glass of cheer to those who might just be the hardest workers on earth.

All images were printed at PushDot Studio.  A very special thank you goes to Laura Domela, who, with her painter’s hand and master photographer’s skill, made the images sing with her magical post processing work.

One hundred forty-four subjects were photographed for this series, and each printed image is mounted on black sintra then framed without glass so that there is nothing between viewer and subject.

It has been exceptionally difficult to select which images are printed, as I dearly love each and every one.  In time, I hope to have all of them printed and floating about the world in celebration of the Ethiopian spirit.



Desta, 2012





Exhibit: The Art Of Photography 2013

My image “The House Maid” was selected to be in The Art Of Photography 2013 exhibit curated by Julia Dolan and will be exhibited online here.

This exhibit had 12,961 entries from 84 countries, and 201 pieces were chosen.  I am very happy that the image they selected represents the beautiful people of Ethiopia. This image was taken in a small village called Sheno, about an hour away from Addis Ababa.

The opening reception is October 12, 2013 in San Diego, and the show will run until November 17, 2013.


The House Maid


Copyright 2017 Joni Kabana. All rights reserved. Site by TD