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Former PCC student named stage manager for Chicago's Joffrey Ballet
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – More than 12 years ago, Jessica Flores made a life-changing decision, jumping from studies in administrative justice to theater arts at Portland Community College. Now, this month, Flores made another jump and it has led to great things. She recently became the stage manager for the respected Joffrey Ballet in Chicago after six years as production manager for the Oregon Ballet. Flores, 31, joined the Oregon Ballet as the youngest production manager (25 years) in its history after working behind the scenes at PCC on the first lineup of shows held at the then new Sylvania Campus Performing Arts Center in 1995. Now, she takes her skills to the international level."It’s definitely the next step for me," said Flores, whose first production will be Joffrey’s trip to the Netherland’s Diaghilev Festival. "By making the move to Chicago, I am taking it to a much higher-tiered company. We’re doing a lot of international shows for the Joffrey Ballets 50th anniversary."The San Diego native and former resident of northwest Portland lived 14 years in Portland and was a Portland Community College student from 1992-95. She has fond memories of PCC as she helped put on the first-ever production in the new Performing Arts Center, built in 1995. The play, "Noises Off," offered Flores much of what attracted her to theater."My favorite memory is the opening of the new theater and working so hard to open that first show. I was the stage manager for the very first production and I was a part of 11 PCC productions altogether," Flores said. "I fell in love in Portland with theater and the opportunities it afforded. I learned a lot from PCC’s theater arts department, especially retired instructor Sue Parks-Hilden."Flores, who has worked on more than 35 Oregon Ballet performances, was in charge of all technical aspects of the productions at the Portland-based company, but in her new role she will focus on more specific areas such as working on ensuring the safety of the dancers."I enjoy the fact that by what I do affects the performance of the dancers and the audience can appreciate that," she said. "I’m helping to make art." At PCC, she explains she didn’t want to be a performer herself and naturally found technical stage work more fascinating."I gravitated to the backstage and wasn’t interested in glory," said Flores. "What I do contributes to the art itself and I don’t need to be on stage to know I helped out with that."Flores, whose parents were originally from Portland, came up from California to attend Portland State University. She was also completing her associate’s degree at PCC, when she was drawn into the world of theater arts."I took Introduction to Theater to round out my schedule," Flores recalls. "One day, the technical director said he needed more students in his technical theater class or it would be canceled. So, that sounded interesting and I tried it and fell in love."And now the future for Flores is bright as a spotlight."By making this move, I can now focus on what I really love which is the performance," she said.