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Dancing on Ice
STEVEN McRAE Striving for Perfection DANCE IN TAIWAN History and Heritage JIRÍ JELINEK Confounding Stereotypes SCOTTISH BALLET Reinventing the Classics ^
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SUMMER 2010 Vol. XXXVIII No. 2 Date of issue May 2010
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Departments Dance Notes
COMMENTARIES View from Vancouver
by Kaija Pepper
by Holly Harris
by Linde Howe-Beck
by Michael Crabb
New York Report
by Robert Greskovic
San Francisco Update
by Allan Ulrich
by Anne-Marie Elmby
Letter from Britain
by Kathrine Sorely Walker
Dance in Australia
On the Web
by Jordan Beth Vincent
News from Norway
by Fredrik Rütter
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by Silvia Poletti
Notes from Spain
by Justine Bayod Espoz
by Marc Haegeman
Features Dancing on Ice Canadian gold medal champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir by Michael Crabb
Ballet, Boxing and Bono The unusual passions of bad boy turned dancer Jirí Jelinek by Michael Crabb
Steven McRae had star quality at 16 and still stands out today by Kathrine Sorley Walker
A Dancing Island Taiwan has a long history of theatre dance and is home to a rich and diverse dance scene by David Mead
Turning the Page The verve and vision of the early Darrell years have resurfaced, along with the radical twist of creativity that made Scottish Ballet different then, and outstandingly sharp and innovative now by Mary Brennan
On the Cover Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Photo: Myra Klarman
VANCOUVER: Ballet British Columbia (Griffin) SEATTLE: Whim W’Him (Gaynor) Pacific Northwest Ballet (Berardi) HOUSTON: Houston Ballet (Bale) CAROLINA: Parsons Dance (Tannenbaum) JAPAN: New National Dance Theatre (Bayod Espoz)
by Paul Citron
by Paula Citron and William Anthony
by Paul-James Dwyer and Peter DeVries
by Michael Crabb Summer 2010
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Photo: ÂŠ Skate Canada/Stephan Potopnyk
Dancing on Ice
Canadian gold medal champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir by Michael Crabb
fter dazzling gold medal wins at Vancouver’s Winter Olympics and at the World Championships in Torino a month later, ice dance super-champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are already being compared with such figure skating greats as Russia’s Ekaterina Gordeeva and the late Sergei Grinkov or Britain’s Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. The young Canadian couple — a couple on ice only, in case you were curious — are, however, the last to make such claims. “It’s a big compliment,” says Moir, “but I’m not sure we’re quite there yet.”
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir Photos: © Skate Canada/Stephan Potopnyk
“We tended to appreciate the actual skating, the transitions and the dancing elements” They are who they are and they do what they do — and they’re simply sensational. According to CTV publicists, more than seven million viewers watched the live feed from Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on the evening of February 22 as Virtue and Moir’s gold medal-winning scores were announced. It was an understandably emotional and ecstatic moment for the incredibly gifted skaters from London, Ontario, but was also a long-awaited moment of triumph for Canadian ice dance. The sport joined pairs and singles as an Olympic figure skating event in 1976, making Vancouver only the 10th occasion at which it had been contested in a Winter Games. Before Virtue and Moir’s victory, the only Canadians to take home Olympic ice dance medals had been Tracy Wilson and the late Robert McCall, who won bronze in Calgary in 1988, the same year Gordeeva and Grinkov won their first pairs gold. Virtue and Moir — at 20 and 22 respectively the youngest yet to win the event — were not just the first Canadian Olympic ice dance gold medallists, but also the first North Americans to top the podium in an event hitherto largely dominated by the Russians. By now, almost anyone with a glimmer of interest has read the touching accounts of how Moir’s aunt Carol, one of several Moirs on the coaching staff at Ilderton
Skating Club in a small community just northwest of London, had the instinct to pair the two on ice 13 years ago. Apparently they were so shy they hardly spoke to each other for the first couple of years. They just skated and, as Virtue recalls the evolution of the partnership, they never really made a conscious decision to be ice dancers rather than pairs skaters. “Because we started at such a young age, it somehow just happened to us,” she explains. “There was never a moment when we sat down and said ‘Let’s dance.’” Virtue, who stands five-foot-five, also points out that she’s on the tall side for a female skater. Moir, meanwhile, although an amazingly powerful skater, is not a huge guy. It was thus understandable that the pair gravitated naturally toward ice dance rather than the jumping, high lifting and throwing of pairs skating. “We tended to appreciate the actual skating, the transitions and the dancing elements,” says Virtue. Figure skating and dance go back a long way together. Although there are fundamental and obvious differences — the two athletic disciplines use a lot of different muscles for starters — skaters have looked to dance for aesthetic inspiration, choreographic ideas and even technical support, particularly in the use of the upper body. Boris Volkoff, the Russian-born dancer and choreographer often described as the “father of Canadian ballet,” was creating
ice routines for the Toronto Skating Club almost 80 years ago. Historically, the sport of ice dance in particular drew its inspiration from ballroom dance and even today many of its rules can be traced to those origins. Ballet dancers and choreographers — most of whom of course have trouble staying upright on ice — continue to work with skaters, helping them develop line and extension, partnering holds and lifts. And many skaters, including Virtue, have a long personal involvement with dance. “Skating,” she says, “has offered me many opportunities such as the Olympics and travelling, but I think ballet is what’s closest to my heart. If I weren’t skating, I’d be dancing off the ice for sure.” She started in “baby ballet” at age three at Jennifer Swan’s London studio. At age nine, she was accepted into the National Ballet School’s summer intensive, effectively a month-long audition for the fulltime residential programme. “The time I spent at the National Ballet School was probably one of the most stressful months in my entire life, even to this day, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done,” says Virtue. National Ballet School offered her a full-time place, but Virtue declined because by that time she and Moir had been skating together for two years. “As I explained, I already had a partner.” Artistic Director Mavis Staines, who’s extended an open invitation to Virtue to return for a VIP visit, says it’s probably just as well she and the school “decided not to get
married,” or else she might have not pursued her skating and thus missed the opportunity for Olympic gold. Virtue, however, did not let ballet glide out of her life. On the contrary, it has remained an abiding passion and through continued training has, by her own testimony, helped make her the outstanding ice dancer she is today. “It really complements figure skating and so much ice dance. Probably the most important things I took onto the ice from my ballet training are body awareness, knowing where my body is in space, feeling through movement and having that creative outlet while remaining strong through the core.” Virtue also credits early childhood ballet classes with teaching her about discipline, which is “something any athlete will tell you is crucial to success; that was ingrained into me at a very young age.” When Virtue was 15, she and Moir switched coaches and locations, from Kitchener-Waterloo-based Paul MacIntosh and Suzanne Killing to Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Michigan, about halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The latter city was where, after some searching around for a suitable studio, Virtue was able to continue dance classes with former longtime Martha Graham Dance Company member Peter Sparling. Whenever possible, she also makes the trip to Toronto to see the National Ballet. She’s a particular fan of Sonia Rodriguez, wife of multi-medal-winning Canadian figure skater Kurt Browning. “Sonia’s photos are plastered on my fridge,” Virtue confides. “Always when I see ballet, or any dance for that matter, I’m so envious. I try to think of ways I could bring that to the ice, but in fact it doesn’t translate all that well. There’s something you can’t capture on the ice.” Moir acknowledges the value of dance training, but says its importance for ice dance is something he’s really only come to accept fully in the last few years. “Tessa is the one with the dance resumé, that’s for sure. I was brought up more a hockey player. Really I don’t consider myself a dancer unless I’m with Tessa and then I feel a lot more comfortable. But I do find the dance training helps so much, feeling confident in your movement and natural as well.” “Scott’s studied dance out of necessity and not necessarily out of desire,” says Virtue, “but in fact he’s a natural dancer. He has it. He feels music. It just comes out of him.” As with other competitive figure skating events, ice dance has been continually enlivened — sometimes controversially — by the inherent tension between its aesthetic aspirations and sporting imperatives. Moir says he and Virtue scrutinize dance videos in the search for interesting moves. “We’ll watch something and think ‘that’s a really cool move’ then we take a look at the rules.” Those rules, put in place to distinguish the sport from pairs skating, can be frustrating for people like Virtue and Moir, who are eager to move ice dance forward. “There are so many things we’re not allowed to do,” laments Virtue. “Unfortunately, that inhibits creativity.” And what passes muster in the Olympics won’t necessarily do the same at the Worlds. In Torino this past March, Virtue and Moir modified the final lift in their original dance presentation when they heard it might be ruled illegal. For similar reasons, going into the Olympics, they’d had to modify their crowd-thrilling “goose” lift. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will doubtlessly be cutting loose creatively when they tour as part of the 2010 edition of Stars on Ice. Competitively they still have many years ahead of them if they choose to remain in the sport. Either way, they’re likely to remain the gold standard in ice dance for quite a while.
by Michael Crabb
ith a whirl of his cloak and a princely sweep of his arm, Jirí Jelinek, former principal dancer with Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet, strode confidently onto the stage of Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre on March 12 to make his debut appearance as a member of the National Ballet of Canada, partnering Xiao Nan Yu in Swan Lake. At the best of times, Prince Siegfried is hardly an ideal role in which to make a dazzling first impression and James Kudelka’s grimly eccentric 1999 version of Swan Lake does little to improve the odds. It’s also, one might surmise, somewhat daunting to step into a new company as an imported principal dancer, surely aware that envious eyes within its ambitious ranks will be scrutinizing your every move.
Cypress Hill and Faith No More. Fortunately, he now lives not far from Toronto’s main concert venue. Jelinek’s pugilistic interests began at age 12 with karate. He “flirted briefly” with aikido and moved on to kung fu before putting on the gloves for a bit of Thai boxing. Although he continues his rigorous gym workouts, Jelinek reluctantly abandoned boxing when the injuries he sustained threatened his dance career. As for ballet, it might never have entered his life if he had not been such a difficult child. He was born in Prague in 1977 and was brought up in a broken home where his mother worked all hours to feed him and his older brother and sister. “She worked three different jobs and we spent a lot of time on the street,” explains Jelinek. His mother put him in ballet school hoping it would teach her fight-prone boy some discipline and provide a vent for his super-abundant energy. The strategy was slow to work and, sadly, Jelinek’s mother died before it bore fruit. Jelinek survived several close calls with expulsion from the Czech capital’s Conservatory of Dance. “Every year, they were trying to get me out, but fortunately there were always a few teachers fighting for me.” He only got serious about a ballet career in his late teens when he managed to transfer to the school of the Hamburg Ballet for a final year of intensive training with distinguished Russian teacher Anatoli Nisnevitch. But he was again hauled on the carpet for bad behaviour, this time by company boss and celebrated choreographer John Neumeier. “Now we have a good relationship,” says Jelinek, who has since danced the role of Stanley Kowalski in Neumeier’s version of A Streetcar Named Desire as a guest of Hamburg Ballet. Jelinek began his professional career in Dresden, a brief and unproductive introduction from which he was rescued by Czech dance luminary Vlastimil Harapes, then ballet director at the National Theatre in Prague. Harapes hired Jelinek as a soloist. By age 21, in his second season, he was promoted to principal — a meteoric ascent Jelinek modestly attributes to the fact that he was the only man tall and strong enough to partner the company’s tallest ballerina. Jelinek soon accumulated an impressive repertoire in Prague, but, as he surveyed the broader ballet scene, saw that he risked becoming, as he puts it, “the one-eyed king among the blind.” If he wanted to dance in the major leagues, Jelinek determined he’d have to move on. He sent his resumé off in several directions including,
The unusual passions of bad boy turned dancer Jirí Jelinek
Although he’s performed most of the 19th-century classics, Jelinek has built his reputation on powerfully dramatic interpretations of the full-length Cranko ballets, a dimension of his talent Toronto audiences will have to wait to see until the National Ballet unveils a new production of Onegin later this June. Even so, while Jelinek’s March debut may have lacked some of the desired impact, it firmly established his credentials. He is tall and handsome. His stage presence is commanding yet unforced. His technique is comfortably secure and often impressive. He partners his ballerina with a combination of earnest attentiveness and muscular power. His acting is sincere and as unmannered as his dancing. These are all good things; certainly more than enough to explain why Artistic Director Karen Kain leapt at the unexpected opportunity to hire him. Kain first set eyes on Jelinek at a 2007 gala in Stuttgart. “I circled his name in the programme, thinking ahead to ask [Stuttgart Ballet artistic director] Reid Anderson if I could invite Jirí to guest here when we performed Onegin.” Kain was thinking in particular of a partner for the tall Xiao Nan Yu, who has not enjoyed the benefit of a steady cavalier since Rex Harrington’s retirement in 2004. Yet, before Kain’s invitation could be extended Jelinek’s application had jetéd the Atlantic and landed on her desk. It was not the only one from Stuttgart. Another of the renowned company’s leading men, Canadian Jason Reilly, after several very successful guest appearances with the National Ballet had decided he wanted to return permanently to his homeland. Kain was more than happy to accept two strong and versatile dancers, both noted for their exceptional partnering abilities. Such an exodus, however, would have left Anderson with a substantial hole in his senior male ranks. It was therefore negotiated that Reilly would join the National Ballet in July 2009 while Jelinek remained with Stuttgart Ballet until the end of the year. As events unfolded, Jelinek could have left sooner because Reilly had a change of heart and decided to stay in Stuttgart; but at least the arrangement assured Jelinek a final tour — to China — with his now former troupe. In a game of alliteration, Bono (U2), boxing and ballet might seem to share little beyond their first letters — except in Jelinek’s case. He tends to confound stereotypes. Where music is concerned the affable Jelinek has managed to see U2 three times and among other concert favourites names Sting, Eric Clapton, Beastie Boys, Xiao Nan Yu and Jirí Jelinek in Swan Lake Photo: Aleksandar Antonijevic
He is tall and handsome. His stage presence is commanding yet unforced. His technique is comfortably secure and often impressive. He partners his ballerina with a combination of earnest attentiveness and muscular power.
as it happened, the National Ballet of Canada, but settled on an offer from Reid Anderson. In 2001, Jelinek’s colleagues thought he was crazy to sacrifice a top-rank job in Prague for an entry-level corps position with Stuttgart Ballet; but he was smarter than them. Stuttgart may not be a particularly glamorous city, but its ballet company is among Europe’s most famous and internationally travelled. Anderson was soon casting Jelinek in featured roles, made him a demi-soloist within six months and promoted him to principal in 2004. He considers Mortimer in David Bintley’s Edward II to have been his breakthrough in Stuttgart. Apart from the male leads in Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew and Onegin — all of which are in the National Ballet’s repertoire — Jelinek danced a varied range of dramatic roles. He could change successfully from romantic hero to bad guy. “One day I’d be Romeo, the next Jack the Ripper,” he recalls with obvious satisfaction. The Ripper role in Lulu: A Monstre Tragedy came Jelinek’s way courtesy of Stuttgart resident choreographer and Zurich Ballet director designate Christian Spuck, one of several who’ve been drawn to his dramatic abilities. “He has a wonderful stage charisma, no technical limits, is musical and is very intelligent in the way he builds a character,” says Spuck. “I really loved working with him and will miss him. The National Ballet can feel very happy to have such a strong dancer in the company.” In such circumstances, Jelinek’s move to Toronto seems somewhat implausible. It’s at best a lateral move and could even be viewed as a relative step down. The National Ballet of Canada dances at a high international standard, but, unlike Stuttgart Ballet, rarely tours. Compared with Stuttgart, a hyper-creative and constantly busy company, there are fewer opportunities at the National Ballet for someone like Jelinek to get stage time. Why, then, did he do it? As he carefully explains, on reaching 30, Jelinek began thinking about his future. He had chronic leg problems — jumper’s knee syndrome — and had both operated on successfully in December 2007. Even so, he felt he “didn’t have time to waste.” Neither he nor his then Prague-based fiancée, Aneta, saw long-term futures for themselves in Germany. Jelinek could have returned to the Czech Republic, but the couple, who married last October, preferred the idea of a fresh start together in a new country, ideally an English-speaking one. Although his knowledge of the National Ballet was limited to favourable reports, Canada and Toronto held great appeal overall. Jelinek also has aspirations to become an actor and hopes he’ll now have the chance to perfect his functional yet still noticeably accented English. Jelinek is also hoping he’ll have time to resume a musical sideline that earned him the moniker “djbaletak” in Europe. (Google the name and you can sample some of his mixes online.) Then there’s the skydiving, a sport he tried out for the first time last summer. “There will be more of that for sure,” he says with a grin. But for the next few years, ballet will remain Jelinek’s primary focus and the stage a place where the experiences of his life, can be channelled into dramatically compelling performances. ^
Jirí Jelinek in Onegin Photo: Sian Richards
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Steven McRae had star quality at 16 and still stands out today
by 14 Kathrine Sorley Walker Dance International
n 2002, Britain’s Royal Academy of Dance staged its annual international Adeline Genée Competition in Sydney, and a 16-year-old Australian, Steven McRae, won the prestigious (and not always awarded) Gold Medal. Dame Antoinette Sibley commented: “You can always tell someone who’s going to be a star. They stand out in the end.” McRae himself said at the time that “just striving for perfection is the challenge of dancing ... having the Gold Medal is more valuable than any amount of money.” The following year he won the Prix de Lausanne, dancing the Corsaire solo and a surprising “free choice” offering of a virtuoso tap-dance number. The award included an immediate scholarship to the Royal Ballet School, where he benefited from teachers like Gary Norman and Christopher Powney. He joined the company at Covent Garden in 2004, and became a principal dancer in 2009.
Steven McRae as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet Photo: Bill Cooper Summer 2010 Dance International
In a packed career to date, McRae has displayed a versatility and technical mastery that has brought him success in choreographic styles ranging from Bournonville and Petipa to Wayne McGregor and Kim Brandstrup, by way of Ashton and MacMillan. Musical diversity has been equally extensive. When she first worked with him, Dame Monica Mason, the Royal Ballet’s artistic director, “was struck by how musical he was, and what a natural performer.” A young man with a tremendous appetite for theatre dance, he relishes the challenge of working on newly created ballets as well as learning famous roles. He has said that, “As long as I am dancing onstage and entertaining an audience I will be happy,” and that sense of identification with live theatre is clear in every performance he gives. There are no obvious theatre connections in his background. His parents, Phillip and Dianne, are certain that “the ballet gene” did not come from them. They have always, however, been supportive and appreciative of his choice of career. He was introduced to dance at the age of seven when he went with his older sister, Kelly, to her local lessons, and he was then regularly entered for the popular eisteddfod competitions that included all kinds of dancing. Jazz and tap appealed to him greatly, but as time went on he was successful in all the grade examinations of the Royal Academy of Dance and the Australian Cecchetti Society.
At 13, he transferred to Hilary Kaplan’s Alegria Dance Studios near Sydney’s Central Station, and this connection has been a vital factor in all he has done since. Kaplan had been a child prodigy in South Africa, both in ballet and Spanish dance, and completed her training in London at the Royal Ballet School. She danced with the South African companies PACT and CAPAB, became an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance and the Spanish Dance Society, and opened a school. However, in 1996 she moved to Australia with her husband and five daughters. There she met Archibald McKenzie, a Western Australian pianist, composer and musical director who had studied at the Royal Danish Conservatoire in Copenhagen, and they opened their school in Sydney in 1998. Their expressed dance beliefs included “an interpretation of the old French School of Auguste Vestris through Bournonville and the Cecchetti Method and the synthesis of the two in the teaching of Vaganova and Volkova.” Through them, McRae was surrounded by valuable influences. Apart from ballet teachers, there were excellent teachers in tap (Glenn Wood), jazz (Naticha Celio) and modern dance (Patrick HardingIrmer). Where tap was concerned, at the age of 15 he was taken to New York for a short time to perform with Dein Perry’s Tap Dogs but, despite being offered a contract, he chose to stay with ballet. He remembers all these teachers, and also his
musical education from McKenzie, with gratitude. Kaplan has said of her special student: “In addition to the physical attributes that are necessary to become a dancer, McRae has the determination and focus. And he has that amazing X factor, that charisma and charm, which pulls people in and makes them look at him.” Looking at McRae is inevitable — and it is certainly not merely the red-gold colour of his hair that draws one’s attention whenever he appears onstage. Even in the corps de ballet (and one of his first appearances with the Royal Ballet, he recalls, was as the peasant who leads on the pony in La Fille mal gardée) he was so completely involved in what was going on that he automatically added an extra dimension to the action. Striving for perfection has continued to be his goal, and it is apparent in his meticulous respect for dance, music and characterization. An open-minded delight in all challenges means that his versatility seems limitless. He is equally at home with buoyant and graceful Bournonville variations (here, the influence of Johan Kobborg is noticeable), with the pinpoint accuracy of Petipa classicism, with Ashton’s delicacy in a ballet-like Symphonic Variations and with MacMillan’s passionate fluency in Romeo and Juliet as with the contrasted (and sometimes physically distorted) contemporary styles of Wayne McGregor, Kim Brandstrup or any of the younger choreographers. With the Royal Ballet, standing in for injured principals gave him his initial important chances. In 2005, he went on unexpectedly in Symphonic Variations, relating perfectly to Ashton’s inspired classical choreography and the César Franck score in a role that required meticulous musicality and subtle changes of mood and tempo. Then, in October 2007, when Kobborg was injured, McRae danced his first leading role as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, partnering Alina Cojocaru. Jonathan Gray wrote in the Dancing Times of his interpretation that was “both fresh and spontaneous” and said that this was “combined with fabulous dancing that emphasised lightness, precision, smoothness of execution, dizzyingly fast turns and spins and impeccably neat footwork.” All these qualities have continued to mark his work — even after a dismaying injury to his left Achilles tendon kept him away from the theatre for 10 months. The accident was undeniably a challenge of a very different sort. Initially, he was devastated, and months of treatment and uncertainty back home in Australia were difficult; but during that time he felt that his whole perspective altered. Certainly he has returned not only with greater maturity, Steven McRae and Tamara Rojo in Chroma Photo: Johan Persson
but with implemented commitment, exciting technical brilliance and an unimpaired passion for performance. “Stepping onstage,” he has said, “is a little bit of a drug — it’s addictive ... the adrenaline kicks in and that’s an amazing feeling.” McRae has always been aware of dance activities beyond performance. When he was at the Royal Ballet School he had the experience of going with Gailene Stock to Palermo for a weekend of auditions, master classes and lecture-demonstrations. He enjoys outreach work with hopeful and talented young students, but it is also something he considers to be a proper acknowledgement of all the training help and guidance he has himself had from teachers, choreographers and fellow dancers. During his recovery time in Sydney, he taught classes for Kaplan, and loved it. Since then, in London, he has proved himself to be a fine teacher on occasional “stand-in” occasions; and in March 2009, he was on the panel of judges for the annual Young British Dancer of the Year Award. Recent appearances have meant not only warm appreciation from Covent Garden audiences, but also enthusiastic and astute praise from critics. About the leading role in Les Patineurs, created back in 1937 for Harold Turner, Mark Monahan wrote in the Daily Telegraph that McRae gave “a performance of unimprovable bravura. To Meyerbeer’s light but winning score, he fires off lightning-speed entrechats, full-blooded turns, and gravity-defying jumps while never sacrificing line for pyrotechnics — however much he dazzles, there’s also an easy linear grace to the shapes he makes.” I would agree with that. For my part, I would instance, for versatility, three very different performances. Kobborg, not as yet recognized as a choreographer, created in May 2009 at the Linbury Studio Theatre a miniature classical masterpiece in Les Lutins. Onstage music from Wieniawski and Bazzini was used for a long opening “conversation” between Charlie Siem as violinist (Henry Roche was the piano accompanist) and McRae as dancer. The choreography was not only technically virtuoso and intricate but also had a delightfully relaxed wit and sense of character. Clement Crisp, in Ballet Review, writes of McRae “responding to the violin and flinging bravura steps, born of the music, over the stage.” An entirely different mood invested Brandstrup’s Goldberg — The BrandstrupRojo Project, also at the Linbury, in September. This was a work of depth and reticence, couched in the choreographer’s fluent cinematic personal style, with a central triangular theme featuring Tamara Steven McRae in As One Photo: Bill Cooper
Rojo, Thomas Whitehead as her arrogant love-partner and McRae as a hesitant onlooker who longed for her love. Frequently sitting beside the pianist (Philip Gammon) like a page-turner with his back to the audience, McRae passively established character and emotion, occasionally taking the stage in eloquently despairing solos, and only at the end making contact with Rojo in a tentative, tender and unresolved duet. A third performance was an unusual and thought-provoking reading of Mercutio in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. Many excellent dancers have made the part enjoyable and, in the famous
death scene, moving. What McRae managed to do, unforgettably, was to establish with great clarity, at every moment of the action, the character of a young man relating with relish to every aspect of his life — the townspeople, the harlots, the wedding party, and his friends and enemies — and suddenly, with Tybalt’s fatal lunge, becoming aware that nothing at all was left except death. Undoubtedly he is a notable actor as well as a dancer. One role that he is ambitious to take is that of des Grieux in Manon, but there are certainly many others in the dramatic ballet repertoire on which he might rewardingly throw new light.
notes Alina Cojocaru Alina Cojocaru, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet in London, will appear as a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre in a performance of The Sleeping Beauty at the matinée on June 19, 2010, at the Metropolitan Opera House. Cojocaru is the recipient of numerous dance awards and citations including the Nijinsky Award and Benois de la Danse in 2004 for best female dancer and the medal of Cavalier of Romania in 2002 presented by Romania’s president Ion Iliescu. American Ballet Theatre’s 2010 season marks Cojocaru’s second guest appearance with the company. She previously performed Nikiya in La Bayadère in 2003.
Anna Karenina on Tour
The Japanese premiere of Boris Eifman’s ballet Anna Karenina took place at the New National Theatre in Tokyo, March 21. Anna Karenina was one of four Eifman’s ballets that were presented at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg during a festival, Another Dimension of Word, held March 1-4.
Céline Cassone, Drew Jacoby, Beatriz-Stix Brunell and Rubinald Pronk in Christopher Wheeldon’s Commedia Photo: Erin Baiano
Following the departure of Christopher Wheeldon, founding artistic director, Morphoses’ co-founder and Executive Director Lourdes Lopez has announced a new direction for the company, which will now be known simply as Morphoses. Morphoses became a robust platform for some of the most talented choreographers in contemporary ballet, enabling them to create work with a versatile company of dancers. “We see this as validation of the crucial role that Morphoses has taken on in the world of contemporary ballet and are therefore committed to building upon our success,” says Catherine Gildor, a member of the Board of Directors.
Crystal Costa Recognized Canadian Crystal Costa was awarded the People’s Choice Award by English National Ballet audiences throughout the autumn and Christmas seasons. Born in Vancouver, Costa trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, and has danced with Hong Kong Ballet as principal dancer. She joined the English National Ballet in 2007 as soloist, was promoted to ﬁrst soloist in 2008 and was nominated for the company’s Emerging Dancer award last year. Costa has also won the Peter Dwyer Award for Most Promising Dancer.
Crystal Costa and Young Jae Jung in English Summer National2010 Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty
Crystal Pite Leaves for Germany Crystal Pite and her dance company are temporarily relocating from British Columbia, Canada, to Germany. The choreographer was able to secure $776,000 of funding for her company from the city of Frankfurt and its regional government. The funds will keep her dancers employed for two years, and in honour of the new relationship, she has renamed her company Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM. RM is the acronym for Rhein-Main, the metropolitan government in Germany for the area that includes the city of Frankfurt. The company will be based in the Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm theatre through to 2012.
Matisse's Dance on Tour The painting Dance (1909-1910) by Henri Matisse was included in the exhibition Matisse to Malevich – Pioneers of modern art from the Hermitage. Dance is at the Hermitage Amsterdam, from April 1 to May 9, 2010. The iconic painting has never previously been displayed in the Netherlands. It comes from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and is rarely loaned out. This monumental painting, measuring 260 x 391 centimetres, is an important addition to the exhibition. Its innovative and unconventional design makes this a key work in Matisse’s oeuvre.
Marlon Dino Promoted to Principal First soloist Marlon Dino has been promoted to principal dancer with the Bavarian State Ballet. Born in Albania, Dino started his ballet studies in 1991 at the School of Choreography and Ballet in Tirana. In 1998, he continued his studies at the Geneva Dance Centre in Switzerland under the direction of David Allen. By January 2001, he was offered a contract with the Vienna State Opera and in 2002 had joined Bavarian State Ballet. Under Artistic Director Ivan Liska, he was promoted to soloist in 2005 and first soloist in 2007. ^
Simone Orlando Photo: David Cooper
Changing Careers Vancouver, Canada’s Simone Orlando will be participating in a career exploration project at the Stuttgart Ballet, under the direction of Artistic Director Reid Anderson. Best known to audiences as principal dancer of Ballet British Columbia, Orlando is currently making a transition from dancer to choreographer through her current role as artist-in-residence at Ballet British Columbia. With support from the Dancer Transition Resource Centre, Orlando is spending four weeks in Stuttgart, from May 17 to June 10, 2010, working with Anderson.
for BalletNOTES BC DANCE
DVD of the Year
The School of American Ballet has been awarded the National Medal of Arts. Peter Martins, chairman of faculty, received the medal from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House in February 2010. On March 10, Houston Ballet held a topping off ceremony to celebrate the completion of the steel structure for its new $53 million Centre for Dance, set to open in spring 2011. St. Petersburg will be hosting the XVIII Stars of the White Nights Music Festival May 21 to July 18, 2010. Go to www.mariinsky.ru for details.
Vaslav Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring
Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer's film project with producer Francois Duplet and Bel-Air Media — the reconstruction of the 1913 Rite of Spring and Firebird with Valery Gergiev conducting — was awarded DVD of the year at the BBC Music Magazine Awards on April 13, 2010.
Former Birmingham Royal Ballet principal Iain Mackay has returned to the company, after spending two years in Madrid with Angel Corella’s company. Christian Spuck has been appointed director of the Zurich Ballet, following the announcement of Heinz Spoerli’s retirement at the end of the 2010-2011 season. The Royal Ballet School is to host a conference called Ninette de Valois, Adventurous Traditionalist, in April 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the founder of the school and the two Royal Ballet companies. Jacob's Pillow will present the fourth annual Jacob's Pillow Dance Award to Bill T. Jones choreographer, co-founder and artisitic director of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, on June 19, 2010. Guillaume Côté and Zdenek Konvalina's collaborative new creation, Impermanence, premiered at the 73rd annual Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Florence, Italy, on May 16, 2010. Impermanence is a multimedia work that features an original score by Côté.
The Vancouver Ballet Society held its annual Spring Seminar at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, from March 7-13, 2010. Stephanie Saland, former ballerina with New York City Ballet, and Peter Quanz, choreographer, taught the 60 participants. The Seminar concluded with the presentation of $16,000 in scholarships.
European Capital of Culture The cosmopolitan city of Istanbul is celebrating its status as European Capital of Culture in 2010 with year-round events ranging from artist workshops to international competitions — including the second Istanbul International Ballet Competition, July 5-10. The competition, which has been accredited by the General Assembly of the International Federation of Ballet Competitions, aims to create opportunities on an international level for young dancers from around the world. The Istanbul Grand Prix winners will be awarded with 12,500 euros, a medal and a diploma. Kadir Okurer, the last competition’s winner, was ranked second in the Youth America Grand Prix in New York last year.
Eleonora Abbagnato and Benjamin Pech in Paris Opera Ballet’s Artifact Suite Photo: Sebastien Mathe
Danzainﬁera Danzainfiera, the world’s largest tradeshow and fair dedicated to dance was held in Florence’s Fortezza de Basso on February 25-28, 2010. Despite the global economic turndown, Danzainfiera closed with an increase of 20 percent in public attendance, a total of 240,000 visitors and 25,000 dancers who performed in four funpacked days of danceoffs, competition, auditions, free dance lessons from Frederic Olivieri and Lavinia Savignoni, and special guest performances. The 2010 fair was the largest ever, with more than 65,000 square metres of exhibition space, seven stages, two new pavilions, and hundreds of dance schools and troupes from across Italy and Europe. Auditions were also held for spots in Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. The fair concluded with a final performance by Eleonora Abbagnato, of the Paris Opéra Ballet, and dancers from some of Italy’s most prestigious theatres.
From his stern religious upbringing, Arnold Spohr certainly understood pride to be potentially sinful, yet he rarely hesitated to express it fulsomely when the subject was the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the company to which he devoted his life. Spohr’s directorship of the prairie troupe, from 1958 to 1988, is considered its golden age, as much for his outstanding leadership as for the fact that it fortuitously coincided with a global “Ballet Boom,” largely triggered in 1961 by the sensational defection of Soviet superstar Rudolf Nureyev. Spohr and his able managerial staff took full advantage of the opportunity and from the mid1960s made the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Canada’s most widely recognizable cultural ambassador. Spohr’s death on April 12 symbolically ends an important chapter in the company’s history, indeed in the history of the performing arts in Canada. Within hours, the federal government responded with a ﬁtting statement from the Department of Canadian Heritage. “His creative vision and quest for excellence,” wrote Minister James Moore, “brought the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to new heights and positioned it on the international stage.” Flags at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa were ﬂown at half-mast.
There were a few matters about which Spohr, more than justiﬁably, felt a keen personal pride. By the 1980s, honours and accolades had become almost commonplace for him, but Spohr’s 1982 Dance Magazine Award brought particular satisfaction because it came from his peers. And although he was not the ﬁrst Canadian to receive it — Melissa Hayden preceded him — he was the ﬁrst to do so without leaving his homeland. Despite national and international honours, Spohr also felt privileged to be among the inaugural recipients of the Order of Manitoba. His pride in being a child of the prairie was part of his identity. Arnold Theodore Spohr was born in Rhein, Saskatchewan, December 26, 1923. His German immigrant father, a Lutheran preacher, moved his Latvian-born wife, their four sons and three daughters to Winnipeg in 1929. Spohr, the sixth born, enjoyed sports and also became an accomplished pianist. In 1942, his youngest sister, Erica, persuaded him to escort her to a performance by the touring Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Though smitten, it was two years before Spohr secretly began dance classes with English immigrants Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, founders of the ﬂedgling Winnipeg Ballet. It was not long before Spohr — tall, handsome and a strong partner — was a leading company member. With Ballet Premier in 1950, he also began to choreograph. There followed Intermède (1951), Children of Men (1953), E Minor (1958) and Hansel and Gretel (1960), but by then he’d answered his true calling. A 1954 ﬁre devastated the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s headquarters. Spohr left for London to study. He also partnered the great ballerina Alicia Markova there in a Christmas pantomime before returning to Winnipeg and a ballet company in crisis. Its then artistic director, Benjamin Harkarvy, quit only weeks before scheduled March 1958 performances. Spohr was asked to stage the shows, did so brilliantly and, despite his own misgivings and those of several board members, accepted the vacant post. Through extensive travels, observation
and study he set about learning every aspect of the business through what he called “the long dark tunnel” of the early years. Spohr built on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s established populist approach of programming easy-to-tour mixed bills that catered to a range of tastes. “For Arnold, audience was everything,” says current Royal Winnipeg Ballet chief, André Lewis. He programmed a distinctive repertoire, seeking out choreographers such as Canadians Brian Macdonald and Norbert Vesak, Argentine Oscar Araiz and American John Neumeier before they had become internationally known. He had an eagle eye and a sharp tongue and could be tough on dancers. Some called him a tyrant. But he was always there for them when they needed help and most understood that he was pushing them because he believed they had the capacity to meet his exacting standards. He also cultivated a unique spirit within the troupe. “Stick together, no matter what,” Spohr would famously instruct his dancers. He had a special gift for inspiring theatrically compelling performances. Writing in 1965, respected American critic Walter Terry proclaimed Spohr to be “one of the greatest ballet directors I have ever watched at work.” Spohr also developed the company’s school, adding a professional training division in 1970. Under former dancer David Moroni’s leadership, it fostered one of Canada’s ﬁnest ballerinas, Evelyn Hart, and later made it possible for Spohr to stage full-length classics. His inﬂuence extended beyond the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. From 1967 to 1981, Spohr headed the Banff Centre’s respected summer dance programme, a decade later helped Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers avert collapse and following his Royal Winnipeg Ballet retirement became increasingly involved, much to its beneﬁt, with Toronto’s Ballet Jörgen. When failing health limited Spohr’s ability to travel, he still continued to coach dancers privately in Winnipeg until just a few years ago. In spirit, if not always in body, Arnold Spohr was indomitable. Michael Crabb
Summer2010 2010 Dance DanceInternational International Summer
D A N C I N G
Legend Lin Dance Theatre in Song of Pensive Beholding Dance International Summer 2010
AND Taiwan has a long history of theatre dance and is home to a rich and diverse dance scene
by David Mead 23 Summer 2010
ne name and one company always spring immediately to mind when you start talking about dance in Taiwan: Lin Hwaimin and his acclaimed Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. Formed in 1973, Cloud Gate is undeniably the country’s best-known group. It enjoys a high proﬁle at home and especially overseas, where it has become the leading ambassador for Taiwanese culture and dance. Much has been written about the company, the ﬁnesse of its dancers and the unique nature of Lin’s fusion of ballet and modern dance with Asian aesthetics and movement forms resulting in dance that seems to come from within in a continuous ﬂow of energy. Works such as Bamboo Dream, Moon Water and Cursive, all of which draw heavily on tai-chi dao-yin, a particular circular form of tai-chi, are known worldwide, although this is only one aspect of his choreography. Many of his other creations deal with Taiwanese history, legends and social issues — Legacy, for example, tells the story of Chinese settlers arriving in Taiwan — while recently he has looked increasingly at using technology in performance, as in his latest creation, Listening to the River, which incorporates much video projection. Cloud Gate’s high proﬁle has led to it becoming almost synonymous with Taiwanese dance, and it is the rock on which much of today’s dance in Taiwan is built.
Many prominent dancers, choreographers and directors started their careers with the company. But Cloud Gate is only part of the picture. Taiwan has a long history of theatre dance and is home to a rich and diverse dance scene. When Lin received his prestigious Movimentos Award in 2009, he was praised by the jury for weaving Taiwanese themes and traditions into his dance rather than seeking to break loose fully from them. He is typical of many Taiwanese, who have a deep awareness of their own history and heritage. Tradition remains important for many dance-makers, and local universities still teach Taiwanese opera movement, Chinese and indigenous dance alongside ballet and contemporary techniques in their vocational programmes. The indigenous dance of Taiwan’s 14 aboriginal peoples is colourful, often circular in form and steeped in ritual. Leading the way in embracing ritual in theatre dance are Tsai Li-hua’s Taipei Folk Dance Theatre and the Formosa Indigenous Song and Dance Troupe, both of which are hugely popular at home and abroad. Although they use modern-day theatre techniques, productions are based on years of ﬁeld observations and discussions with tribal elders in an attempt to retain the ethnic characteristics and vitality of the dance and associated music. Chinese dance is not forgotten, and several important groups draw on it in their choreography, most notably Liu Fengshueh’s Neo-Classic Dance Company. But in Taiwan today it is contemporary or modern dance that leads the way. Indeed,
it has a long and distinguished history that signiﬁcantly predates Cloud Gate, with choreographers such as Tsai Jui-yueh experimenting with modernist styles as long ago as the 1930s. Lin Li-chen’s incorporation of Taiwanese themes, folk traditions and aesthetics has signiﬁcantly contributed to the popularity at home and in Europe of her Legend Lin Dance Theatre. The company’s repertoire is entirely devoted to large-scale dance dramas, often inspired by traditional Taiwanese religious rituals and ceremonial rites. Her latest work, Song of Pensive Beholding, explores the relationship between heaven, earth and man, as she transforms human desire, self-consciousness and fear into a myth about a convocation of eagles. Lin insists she does not deliberately emphasize local colour, but believes it cannot be escaped and that it is natural to represent in works things with which she has felt so familiar since childhood. Recent years have seen many younger dance-makers come to the fore. While some rue the lack of any perceived local ﬂavour in their work, cultures and traditions change, and today’s generation of Taiwanese choreographers are simply attempting to create something of their own; something, as they see it, for today. Leading the way is Bulareyaung Pagarlava, who originally came to prominence with Cloud Gate 2, but who now directs LAFA and Artists with his partner, Sheu Fang-yi. Formed only in 2007, the company already has the distinction of being invited to participate in a residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Centre in New Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan in Moon Water Photo: Liu Che
York, and has performed to critical acclaim at home, Jacob’s Pillow and the 2010 Vancouver Cultural Olympiad. Slight, modest, but with an enormous stage presence, Sheu, a former star at Cloud Gate and the Martha Graham Company, is undoubtedly the bestknown dancer in Taiwan. Lin Hwai-min was quite correct when he told me, “When she dances you don’t want to take your eyes off her. You don’t want to blink because you’re afraid you might miss something important.” Also making their mark are Cheng Tsung-lung and Huang-yi, both currently having great success independently and with Cloud Gate 2. Cheng’s 2009 multilayered and deeply atmospheric The Wall danced to Michael Gordon’s steely edged Weather One showed a world on the brink. Like Lin Hwai-min and many choreographers worldwide, Huang seeks ever more to experiment with technology, as in his recent creation Spin 2010, which included a constantly rotating boom used to create lighting effects and video projections that surrounded the audience. As elsewhere, an increasing number of young choreographers are leaning toward work that blurs the lines between music, drama and dance, or that reﬂects real-life experience. Most notable is Horse, a unique all-male group that picked up the prestigious Taishin Arts Award for the best performance across all the arts in 2007 after just three years of existence. One of the company members, Chou Shu-yi, recently sprung to individual prominence as winner of the inaugural online Global Dance Contest organized by Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, with  Ravel and Bolero, described by critic Judith Mackrell as “fresh, funny and very sophisticated.” Although ballet has a place in Taiwan it has never achieved the popularity it has in nearby Japan. Capital Ballet Taipei, formed in 1990 and the island’s leading company, survives by adopting a largely modern aesthetic. It further follows much of contemporary dance by presenting works inspired largely by local themes and created by Taiwanese choreographers. It certainly ﬁnds approval with critics; the company followed in the footsteps of Horse by picking up the 2008 Taishin Arts Award for Surround, a work exploring the links and tensions between personal and public space. Theatre dance in Taiwan is undoubtedly healthier and more diverse than it has ever been, but, despite the advances, most dancers and dance companies live on the edge. Lin and Cloud Gate have played a pivotal role in the wider development of dance and in ensuring that the days of the
arts as a whole not being fully respected or appreciated are past. He has had a major inﬂuence on training programmes for dancers and theatre professionals, and in 1998 established the Cloud Gate Dance School as a place where anyone, but especially children, could discover the joy of dance. Today, the school has 21 branches and more than 10,000 students. Cloud Gate 2 meanwhile seeks to broaden the audience for dance by presenting works by young, upcoming choreographers and via a large workshop programme. But while audiences are frequently good in Taipei, elsewhere companies frequently struggle to ﬁll the often huge theatres. In an attempt to increase the popularity of dance performances, Cloud Gate 2 stages an average of 70 performances a year, many of which are free, but the island is crying out for more small and mid-sized venues. Company and personal ﬁnances are a perennial concern. Lin Li-chen once commented that her company was doing professional-level performances with the resources of an amateur troupe. Finances mean that almost all Taiwan’s dance companies operate only part-time. Only Cloud Gate is able to offer full-time, 52weeks-a-year contracts. Other artists typically have to spend large amounts of time teaching in private classes or public education to support themselves. There is always a lack of long-term stability. Al-
though the government is a valuable source of funds, including for overseas touring, it is usually only on a project-byproject basis. Few companies receive much help from corporate sponsors. Even Cloud Gate, which is supported by the likes of Cathay Life Insurance, has to devote constant effort to fundraising. Apart from the proliferation of promising choreographers, the strength of Taiwanese dance must be the dancers themselves. Cloud Gate’s performers are far from alone in showing great strength and superb technique. Much of this is due to a national structured vocational training programme that runs from junior high school through university. It is no accident that Taiwanese dancers are regarded as being among the best and are much sought-after by foreign troupes. Dance in Taiwan has developed enormously over the past 20 years. It is, perhaps, no coincidence that this has coincided with newfound political and social freedoms. In terms of cultural richness, diversity and technical skill, the island’s companies are undoubtedly worthy of acclaim beyond their home shores. But with more and more groups and talented choreographers emerging, the struggle for audiences and sponsors, and the competition for survival, will only grow. However, if their passion and perseverance are any indication, more will surely emerge onto the world stage.
by Mary Brennan
The verve and vision of the early Darrell years have resurfaced, along with the radical twist of creativity that made Scottish Ballet different then, and outstandingly sharp and innovative now ast year, Scottish Ballet celebrated the company’s 40th anniversary in a joyful flurry of special events. A lavishly illustrated book provided a retrospective tribute, while a handsome exhibition of photographs and video travelled to several venues, and the company returned to international touring with performances in China before taking part in the Edinburgh International Festival dance programme. The anniversary highpoint came, however, when Artistic Director Ashley Page and his dancers took possession of a long-awaited new home — a purpose-built complex of vast airy studios and open-plan offices within the Tramway arts hub on Glasgow’s increasingly swish southside. That age-old rallying cry of “life begins at 40” has rarely sounded more appropriate. But as corks popped and visitors gaped at how light itself seemed to dance through every space at Tramway, those who had followed Scottish Ballet’s rollercoaster fortunes probably murmured to themselves “Life began the moment Ashley Page arrived in Glasgow.”
Claire Robertson, Adam Blyde and the company in Frederick Ashton’s Scènes De Ballet Photo: Andrew Ross
Erik Cavallari and Sophie Martin in Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo and Juliet Photo: Andrew Ross
Sadly, there’s nothing new or especially uncommon about the crises and doldrums that beset Scottish Ballet in the wake of founder-choreographer Peter Darrell’s death in 1987. Various companies worldwide have, in recent years, suddenly lost artistic momentum, a sense of future vision, with the loss of the patriarch — or matriarch — who not only dictated policy, but infused the ranks with a hunger for creative achievement. The achievement Darrell had in
mind when he relocated Western Theatre Ballet north of the border, from Bristol to Glasgow in 1969, embodied huge ideals: namely to give a country — Scotland — a national ballet company of its own. His unswerving belief that innovative dance, whether en pointe or off, could ﬂourish outside the London-centric scene had seen him walk away from a promising career in that milieu. When Darrell headed off to Bristol, some ob-
servers assumed that his joining forces with Western Theatre Ballet was just a phase he was going through — a kind of ballet parallel to the “angry young men” coming through on the British theatre scene. Twelve years later, his commitment to living and working in Scotland left many in the London coterie reacting as if he had fallen off the edge of the known world. But for Darrell and the loyal band of dancers who had followed him to a shabby L-shaped studio at Scottish Opera headquarters, the future had “opportunity” written large — even if funding and touring support were subject to awkward conditions in the small print. That ﬁrst decade in the company’s career now has an aura of brilliance and high endeavour that shimmers like a gilded mirage. Ballet for Scotland was delivered, with a twist of radical panache, both on well-teched main stages in cities and unsprung ﬂoors in wee halls in rural communities. Touring went global: not just into Europe but to Australia and New Zealand. Guest artists made a habit of returning — Rudolf Nureyev reprised James in La Sylphide on so many occasions, that the company gifted him the whole kilt and caboodle of Highland dress regalia ... although he still insisted on wearing his own turquoise tartan and velvet ensemble. Margot Fonteyn, too, forged very special bonds with Darrell and the dancers. Somewhere, in the company’s wardrobe, there still hangs the dress that was made for The Scarlet Pastorale, the Beardsley-inspired ballet that Darrell created on her in 1975. By the end of that heady ﬁrst decade, Scottish Ballet had established itself on the world stage, had become a much-loved strand in the nation’s cultural fabric and had also acquired a home of its own at 261 West Princes Street in Glasgow. If, in 1979, it seemed that things couldn’t get much better it soon became obvious that things could — and would — get much worse. The years prior to Darrell’s untimely death (aged just 58) had seen Thatcherite changes in the political climate spill over into arts provision across the United Kingdom. Funding initiatives went into reverse, priorities faltered — was classical ballet really what modern audiences wanted? Corporate management practices were suddenly being imported into the board rooms and studios of arts organizations, phrases like “bums on seats” and “more bang for your buck” sidled into the discussions and reports that now shaped cultural policies.
Audiences remained ﬁercely loyal. Scottish Ballet danced on, but even its most devoted supporters would admit that the 1980s and 1990s saw the company struggling to maintain the energies — the repertoire, the proﬁle and the standards — of those early glory years. Good work still took to the stage. Educational and outreach programmes continued, business sponsors valued the place Scottish Ballet had in the public’s perception of “national treasures” and helped keep the repertoire aﬂoat. Even so, these decades were unpredictably checkered times, full of valiant “fresh starts” that dancers, audiences — critics, too — seized on with determined optimism. Maybe this time ... but somehow, the dots never quite joined up. Witchhunts were pointless and a blight on company morale. Times were ruthless all across the board and Scottish Ballet wasn’t the only arts organization to hover on the brink of extinction. Unlike some, Scottish Ballet not only survived it revived and now soars. Page wasn’t necessarily familiar with every chapter and verse of Scottish Ballet’s history when he became artistic di-
Above all, he didn’t treat Scottish Ballet as if it were his own company, existing only to do his choreographies. Or as a stop-gap on his career trajectory. For sure, what brought the company back up to speed would reﬂect well on him, but that’s not how it seems to play. And if you talk with any of the resident team who didn’t jump ship during the company’s hiccuping years — Page’s deputy, Paul Tyers being one — what percolates through their conversation is the happy thought that Scottish Ballet is back on track. That the verve and vision of the early Darrell years have resurfaced, along with the radical twist of creativity that made Scottish Ballet different then, and outstandingly sharp and innovative now. Any quibbles about the future character of the company — funders and fans alike had been much exercised over the opposing virtues of pointe-shoe classics versus off-pointe contemporary work — were totally wrong-footed when Page declared he would recruit from both camps. Since then, he has nurtured a thrillingly versatile group of some 40 or so dancers whose willingness to take their bodies
fore, however, when Page himself goes into the studio and creates new works on his dancers. The trio of full-length Christmas ballets — The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty — that he choreographed in collaboration with designer Antony McDonald, exempliﬁes the prowess, the witty yet edgy reinventing of classics that are hallmarks of the current house style. Updating Nutcracker to 1930s Germany, reconnecting the narrative to its darker origins in the Hoffmann fairy tale and ﬁtting clever new moves to the familiar Tchaikovsky score was a risky gambit that startled some traditionalists, but those who came in an open-minded spirit of curiosity — this was Page’s ﬁrst-ever stab at a full-length story ballet — were captivated. It looked sophisticated yet quirky, even mischievous. The choreography had a similar sparkle and humour allied to classical pointe work that — like so much of Page’s style — contrived to make intricate (and ﬁendishly demanding) dance look fresh, uncluttered, thrillingly dramatic and uplifting to watch. No other U.K. company had — or has yet — a Nutcracker like it.
With Ashley Page at the helm, Scottish Ballet is fulfilling all that Darrell ever worked for, and more. A small country — Scotland — has a national ballet company that is again world class. rector in 2002. But he did know what he was getting into. He recalls watching the company onstage, registering the effort yet knowing that something — like the seasoning in food — just wasn’t there. The solution he offered the board involved taking the company out of circulation, taking it back to basics behind closed doors and rebooting everything from standards of technique to a sense of purpose and identity. If the board blenched at the prospect of Scottish Ballet dipping off the public radar for months — Page refused to think short term or to settle for a cosmetic quick-ﬁx — they nonetheless offered him the job. What happened was a far-from-sentimental overhaul of personnel, repertoire and the protocols of daily class. Page had never directed a company before. But his own previous career as a principal dancer and adventurous choreographer at the Royal Ballet in London had equipped him with an understanding of what pushes dancers to realize their potential, make them hungry for challenges and prime them to deliver nothing but their personal best before an audience.
and their practice, out beyond their comfort zone has allowed Page to ﬁeld a repertoire that ranges from Balanchine to Trisha Brown, Petipa to Petronio, with work by William Forsythe, Krzysztof Pastor and Frederick Ashton all equally within the company stride. It’s a mix of styles and talismanic pieces that Page would sum up as “benchmarks” and “building blocks.” You might also describe it as a regime of tough love. Bringing Pat Neary in to teach Rubies was a baptism of ﬁre for some of the younger dancers, but it prepped them — physically and intellectually — for when she returned to initiate them into Apollo, Agon and Episodes. And it primed them to tackle Forsythe — who was so impressed by what he saw in class that he upped the ante in his Suite from Artifact to give Scottish Ballet its own, extended version. His work-within-work is a recent addition to the repertoire and to see it manifest onstage, like a bespoke showcase for the company, is special on several counts. This wealth of acquired methodology, of technical brio and ﬁne-tuned emotional intelligence really comes to the
And that was only the beginning. In 2008, the company’s programming won the U.K.’s Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Repertoire (Classical), an accolade that recognized not just the calibre of work performed, but Page’s dynamic choice of time-honoured pieces and new choreographies. There’s no resting on such laurels, however. Autumn 2010 is already sketched out: a triple bill with Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet, Page’s Fearful Symmetries and a new work by San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli (set to music by Uzbekistani composer Elena Kats Chernin). That delicious mélange of nouveau-riche vulgarity and exquisite romance that is the Page/McDonald Cinderella will come back again over Christmas while — paws and whiskers! — there’s a rumour that Spring 2011 will bring a distinctly different take on Alice in Wonderland. With Ashley Page at the helm, Scottish Ballet is fulﬁlling all that Darrell ever worked for, and more. A small country — Scotland — has a national ballet company that is again world class.
Another 'pointe' of View: The Life & Times of a Ballet Mom P. J. Parsons, DreamCatcher Publishing, 212 pp., $18.95 Cdn.
here is a chapter in Another ‘pointe’ of View: The Life & Times of a Ballet Mom called “If Only They Were Orphans.” It is the capsule comment of what this book is about. Patricia Parsons is the mother of an elite child — in this case, a ballet dancer — and this memoir is about her 10 years’ experience with Canada’s National Ballet School. The title refers to the fact that the National Ballet School would probably be a lot happier if its students didn’t have parents. In fact, Parsons did some research and discovered that the ﬁrst professional ballet schools, which were in 18th-century Russia, had only orphans in their student body. Parsons waxes and wanes on the subject of the National Ballet School. On one hand, the irritation and frustration
Dance DanceInternational International Summer Summer2010 2010
that she and her husband, Art, feel about the National Ballet School radiates off every page. It sometimes seems, however, that Parsons suddenly catches herself in full attack mode and that reminds her to say something good about the place. For people interested in an indepth look at the workings of a school for elite children, Parsons provides an insider, if biased, view. On the other hand, her book succeeds very well as a primer for parents of elite children in general. In that respect, she is very perceptive and articulate. The book is an interesting read because Parsons builds a compelling case that the National Ballet School renders parents both invisible and putupon. It is always a battle, it seems, to ﬁnd out information. The school never takes parents’ plans into consideration. Everyone at the National Ballet School appears to speak in a vague code. One has to remember, however, that Parsons is a tiger when it comes to her son. She is always on his side and his phone calls home — the good, bad and ugly — shape her viewpoint. We get a portrait, from her perspective, of iconic National Ballet School ﬁgures like Artistic Director Mavis Staines and head of junior school Carol Chadwick, because these are the people who hold the future of her son in their hands. At the end, Parsons ﬁnally concedes defeat in her attempt to ever truly understand the convoluted rationale behind the workings of this distinguished institution. Parsons and her husband ﬁrst discovered their only child, Ian’s, musical and dramatic talent when he was just a toddler. She became a “stage mom” when one of her students recommended Ian to an agent; he was soon a regular in the Halifax TV, movie, commercials and theatre community. At age seven, Ian became very interested in studying dance after being in a production of The Wiz-
ard of Oz, and it is to the Parsons’ immense credit that they neither held their child back nor tried to force him down a different road. Dance was certainly not on their radar. Art Parsons is a family doctor and Patricia is a university professor. One of the failings of this memoir is that there is no formal biography of Parsons. She alludes to the fact that she and her husband have written books together on health issues, for example, but never says what they are. If I’m reading this woman’s chronicle of being a “ballet mom,” I want to know who she is! As well, we hear about the adorable Ian at age three with his tumble of dark curls and then we follow his journey through various life-deﬁning moments, but there are no pictures of him, not even as the noble danseur he became (or a prince, as his mother calls him). A family portrait of the Parsons en famille would certainly have meant something to the reader at large. Parsons graduated from “stage mom” to “ballet mom” when she and Art turned Ian over to the National Ballet School when he was 11. Her recollection of this trauma is poignant indeed. Ian had a rocky ﬁrst year and was let go, with the proviso of auditioning again the following summer after honing his technique and focus. After his “reacceptance,” he was one of the few who made it through to the graduating class of 2007. From a parent’s point of view, waiting for the phone call to reveal whether a child is going to be “reaccepted” after the annual summer school audition is a hard go, and one must be sympathetic to that situation. For parents who love their children, many of the National Ballet School’s policies seem like cruel and unusual punishment. After each phone call from Ian, the Parsons had to listen, grit their teeth and obey their son’s injunction “to do nothing.” Each chapter begins with Parsons’ musings on topics that lead into various times in Ian’s life. She is a woman of strong opinion. She admits that she prefers the company of men to women, so her attitude to the pink tutu set is very severe. In fact, much detail is included about the innate prejudice against ballet boys in regional dance schools. When Ian is at the National Ballet School, Parsons describes bullying, not by Ian, but against Ian by his female academic classmates. The later part of each chapter refers directly to Ian’s progression, and, over the course of the book, Parsons builds a picture of a bright, thoughtful boy who grows into a conﬁdant, deter-
mined young man, the latter despite the National Ballet School’s penchant (according to Parsons) for robbing students of the joy of dance and feeding into their inferiority complex. The book ends with Ian being accepted to a coveted position as an apprentice with the National Ballet of Canada, which certainly conﬁrms his talent. And here is an irony. Parsons devotes a whole chapter to the National Ballet School’s career planning programme — much of it negative — and in particular to how Staines seemed to be steering Ian to Europe. Well, I did some sleuthing, and the young dancer is now a corps member with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, apparently because he wanted the European experience. The Parsons are inveterate travellers, particularly when it comes to following their son. Having a son working on the Riviera is not too shabby a prospect for Patricia and Art. Paula Citron
Rolf de Maré: Art Collector, Ballet Director, Museum Creator Erik Näslund, translated from Swedish by Roger Tanner, 615 pp., illus., $95 US
nyone with a serious interest in dance has heard of Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes, but the name Rolf de Maré and the Ballets Suédois may not ring as many bells. Erik Näslund offers a rich, intricate biography of the Swedish patron of the arts who founded and ran the Ballets Suédois (Swedish Ballet) for ﬁve years
(1920-1925) in Paris. It is a detailed study that reveals the complex patterns and incongruities of the several worlds that de Maré inhabited — as art collector and patron, ballet director, the founder of museums and a homosexual who refused to hide his orientation. Strangely, in the comprehensive scenes that Näslund presents of de Maré’s family, friends, colleagues and enemies, de Maré seems to disappear or at least to become translucent. For example, Näslund explains in detail the signiﬁcance of his aristocratic background and the source of his wealth (Nordic lumber), and paints a full portrait of his maternal grandmother who, as a powerful matriarchal ﬁgure and Sweden’s richest woman, amassed one of the country’s largest private art collections. Näslund writes in depth about de Maré’s mother, who abandoned her family to live with the man whom she felt was her true soul mate. We feel that we know more about the thoughts and motivations of Nils Dardel, a modernist painter and an aristocrat with no fortune who introduced de Maré to the world of modern art, than we know about Rolf. When in 1918, de Maré meets Jean Börlin, a Swedish dancer and the future lone choreographer of the Ballets Suédois, de Maré again seems to surrender the limelight. If de Maré comes across as bland with few thoughts of his own, it is perhaps because Näslund is implying something about the Swedish character that is vital to really understanding the heart of the Swedish Ballet. Although the Ballets Suédois was often compared (to its disadvantage) with the Ballets Russes, its reticent, self-effacing modesty was the polar opposite of the Russians’ extravagant, sensual ﬂamboyance. The poet Ricciotto Canudo described the Swedish dancers: “Their charm is slow. The blond heads of the dancers shine with lunar pallor, they move gently with none of the dark savage frenzy of the Slavs.” With a temperament and background quite unlike Diaghilev’s, de Maré assembled the decade’s most important painters, composers and poets, and provided a workshop in which they could experiment with the latest modernist movements, particularly cubism and futurism. Although no choreography remains — only the artefacts of costume, décor, score and text — de Maré had the vision and organizational skills to build an ar-
tistic ﬁre that burned intensely if brieﬂy. Börlin explained that, “The word ‘ballet’ does not cover what we are to create.” In addition to more traditional ballets and examples of Swedish folklore, he created a dansant, pantomimic language of movement that Parisian audiences and critics often had difﬁculty understanding. It was not ballet in the traditional sense, but a plastique drama or gestural painting harking back to the theatrical tradition of tableaux vivants, and anticipating later performance art and German Tanztheater, which incorporated simultaneity, stillness and silence, spoken text and a general disregard for the conventions of traditional ballet theatre. Without evidence, it’s hard to estimate whether Börlin really was a groundbreaking choreographer or a bright dancer operating within the bounds of a limited technique and from a self-limiting self-absorbed point of view. In any case, the descriptions of the performances resonate well with the impression left by today’s Scandinavian choreographers, who emphasize gentle irony, naïveté and an insistence on the underlying seriousness of the object of ridicule. Realizing that his fortune was fast disappearing, especially after a ﬁnancially disastrous tour of the United States, de Maré disbanded the company in 1925. He was certainly inﬂuenced by the feeling that, after the premiere of the revolutionary ballet Relache, he had gone as far as he could go. Born in 1888, de Maré spent the rest of his life as an art collector, dance ethnographer and ambassador of dance, until his passing in 1964. Perhaps his most concrete accomplishment was the establishment in 1933 in Paris of the world’s ﬁrst museum and research institute for dance. He closed Les Archives internationales de la danse in the late 1940s and donated parts of the collection to the French state. He brought the huge collection from the Swedish Ballet and the non-European collections to Stockholm to form the nucleus of the dance museum — Dansmuseet — which he opened in 1953 in the basement of the Royal Opera House. Näslund is currently the museum’s director. Näslund’s biography helps us see de Maré in his rightful place as a serious modernist and understand that, as we search for innovation, he was on the trail ahead of us and in many ways we are only catching up. William Anthony
Summer Summer2010 2010 Dance DanceInternational International
dance on DVD
Isadora Duncan 1877-1927 Une Sculpture Vivante
aris proved on Friday, November 19, 2009, that Isadora Duncan can still provoke a mob scene. The Musée Bourdelle staff at the front door, sometime after the ofﬁcial opening reception started at 5 p.m. for the exhibition Isadora Duncan 1877-1927 Une Sculpture Vivante, must have let down their guard. Admittance was by ticket only. However, uninvited guests soon stormed through the front doors of the museum, wandering through the sculpture garden, public rooms and Bourdelle’s own sculpture studio to view this major event of the Paris fall art season. An animated crowd packed the exhibition dedicated to Duncan, who was one of the main sources of inspiration for French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929). The exhibition displays seemed to please the gatecrashers: animated conversation, packed crowds and intense interest in the various displays reigned until the doors ﬁnally closed at nine. The displays included ﬁlm of Duncan and one of the Isadorables — her six main students — Lisa Duncan, who worked and lived in Paris long after Duncan had died in 1927, as well as
costumes, photographs, drawings, sculpture models and ﬁnished works, paintings, books, magazines, fabrics, letters and set designs by a list of the greatest artists of the period. Included in the exhibition were Edward Steichen, Arnold Genthe, Paul Poiret, Leon Bakst, Mario Fortuny, Baron Adolph de Meyer, Henri Matisse, Francis Picabia, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray, Maurice Denis, Auguste Rodin and John Singer Sargent. Bourdelle was the principal student of Auguste Rodin, himself a great admirer of Duncan and her work. The French have always cherished the memory of Isadora Duncan, unlike the Americans who seem to ﬁnd her an embarrassment. She lived, danced and taught students in Paris from 1905 to 1921, or for most of her world-famous career. Antoine Bourdelle carved promethean stone sculptures of her art and used Duncan’s art in myriad drawings, watercolours and terracottas. His massive frieze of Duncan and Nijinsky covers the 1912 facade of the Champs-Elysées Theatre in Paris. The number of private individuals, institutions and museums who donated to this exhibition is staggering, and is a clear indication of the French museum system’s healthy culture of collaboration and generous state funding. The exhibition catalogue, Isadora Duncan Une Sculpture Vivante (336 pages), published by Paris Musées, is one of the greatest
visual encyclopaedias of her art, life and work ever published. Essays (sadly only in French) include subjects as varied as costumes, Duncan as a liberated woman, Nijinsky and Isadora, the cult of the Antique, Parisian style in 1900, Bourdelle, Duncan as a choreographer and pioneer, the Ballets Russes, a detailed biography, and material on her brother Raymond Duncan, Loie Fuller, Ida Rubinstein, Ruth St. Denis and Lisa Duncan among others. Try to purchase a copy if at all possible; it is chock-full of images never before published or seen in public. This is the ﬁrst major exhibition dedicated to Duncan in decades, but sadly there are no plans to tour at time of writing. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the U.S.A., Isadora’s homeland, has never mounted a comparable exhibition to date. Paul-James Dwyer
Firebird and Other Legends with A Thousand Encores: The Ballets Russes in Australia Double DVD set www.australianballet.com, $34.95 AUD ($32.70 Cdn)
ormed in the early 1960s, the Australian Ballet boasts a tradition of deﬁning ballet for its home country. Even early on, the company found favour with such renowned dancers as Arova, Bruhn and Nureyev. In fact, Nureyev’s direction and performance of Don Quixote, performed with the Australian Ballet and set on ﬁlm, has been hailed as one of the best ﬁlm pro-
ductions of classical ballet ever made. It’s no surprise that the Australian Ballet continues to produce high quality DVDs of its performances — the company’s website offers a total of 13 for sale. The company’s latest release, Firebird and Other Legends with A Thousand Encores: The Ballets Russes in Australia Double DVD set, is a delightful record of the Australian Ballet’s 2009 Firebird and Other Legends season. The production was broadcast live on ABC TV, the country’s national public broadcaster and, as a testament to its popularity, was sandwiched in a time slot between programmes such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. The ﬁrst disc of the set is a celebration of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes’ performances of Mikhail Fokine’s Les Sylphides, Petrushka and The Firebird, with The Firebird set to a bold re-imagining of the Fokine original by Australia’s Graeme Murphy. A hall-of-famer (he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997), Murphy’s more recent interpretations of Tivoli and Swan Lake have won him much critical acclaim. His Firebird has likewise been very well received and appears to be well on the way to similar praises. Australian Ballet’s Fokine classic Les Sylphides, set to a musical score by Chopin, is every bit as magical and romantic as it was reported to be when ﬁrst introduced to Australians in 1913. The plotless, visual meditation on beauty asks little more of its audience than admiration of, and surrender to, the pleasure of form and line, and the exquisite lightness of the reverie of a romantic soul. Featuring Rachel Rawlins (whose beautiful pas de deux mesmerizes), Lana Jones, Yosvani Ramos and Leanne Stojmenov, Les Sylphides’ success is generated by the superb technical skill of the corps, who ﬂoat across the stage in perfect unison, as though on a cushion of air. The performance is ethereal, and offers a ﬁtting tribute to the transformative impact of Ballets Russes’ ﬁrst exhibition of the work in Australia almost a century ago. Petrushka, often upheld as Diaghilev’s greatest choreographic accomplishment, features Marc Cassidy as Petrouchka and Stojmenov as the ballerina, and is set to Stravinsky’s musical score. The artistic brilliance of Diaghilev’s composition is underscored by exceptional performances by not only Cassidy and Stojmenov, but also by Luke Ingham as the Moor and Colin Peasley as the Showman.
As tributes to both the indelible inﬂuence of the Ballets Russes and Fokine on ballet in Australia, and to the brilliance and innovative insight of Diaghilev’s vision for modern ballet a century ago, the Australian Ballet’s Les Sylphides and Petrouchka stand out as a superb documentation of the permanence of artistic genius. However, the highlight of the set is Murphy’s version of Firebird. Crafted in collaboration with creative associate and wife Janet Vernon, and boasting incredible set and costume design by Leon Krasenstein, the piece landmarks another stand-out triumph in Murphy’s already illustrious career. Excellent performances by Lana Jones as the Firebird and Kevin Jackson as Ivan Tsarevich highlight the piece, which also showcases the talents of Danielle Rowe as Tsarevna and Chengwu Guo as Kostchei. What makes Murphy’s Firebird singularly exceptional, however, is its artistic integrity. Murphy demonstrates not only a reverence for Fokine’s creative brilliance by maintaining the imagery and thematic expression of good versus evil foundational to the original work, but he also engenders the innovative, fresh approach to artistic interpretation characteristic of Diaghilev’s artistic ethos. With its Garden of Eden-like set, ﬁlled
with large cracked eggshells and evil creatures, Murphy’s Firebird resonates with the visual architecture reminiscent of the recent ﬁlm Avatar and productions of the remarkable Cirque du Soleil. What Murphy does so successfully is to transport these artistic abstractions to the ballet stage in a way that melds classical with neoclassical, contemporary with traditional. To add to the gift of this performance, the DVD set includes a second disc containing the A Thousand Encores documentary, which includes extensive footage of the company and a behindthe-scenes look at the step-by-step process undertaken as the company stages The Firebird. Part history of the Ballets Russes, part celebration of Diaghilev’s brilliance, this documentary also contains interviews with members of the original groundbreaking Ballets Russes company. With discussion of Murphy’s artistry and creative process, and referenced by the genesis of Fokine’s original composition, this disc presents an invaluable addition to what is one of the Australian Ballet’s greatest contributions yet to the volume of ballet work available for purchase. Peter DeVries
Summer2010 2010 Dance DanceInternational International Summer
CANADA’S ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM
CANADA’S ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET SCHOOL
THE CAMERON ACADEMY OF CLASSICAL DANCE
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division’s Teacher Training Program is a full-time, post-secondary intensive dance training program designed to enrich knowledge and provide the skills required for a career as a dance teacher. • Successful completion of the Teacher Training Program (TTP) leads to a Certificate of Graduation from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School - graduates enjoy 100% employment success within a variety of professional settings depending upon previous experience and training • Opportunities for examinations may lead to an Associate designation in the ISTD (Cecchetti branch) • The University of Winnipeg, Faculty of Education will recognize the work completed by graduates of the TTP allowing them to designate dance as a teachable minor within a B. ED from the University of Winnipeg The RWB School is recognized as a federal training centre and eligible with Canada Student Loans for those attending post-secondary programs. Phone: (204) 957-3467 • Fax: (204) 943-1994 email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Web: www.rwbschool.com
Founded in 1970, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division has become one of the most respected training institutions worldwide for talented students aspiring to become dance professionals.
Principal: Deborah Cameron A.R.A.D. R.A.D. R.T.S. D.I.P. Faculty: Registered Teachers R.A.D. Ballet: Pre-school to Solo Seal including Boys & Adults Performances - Festivals - Examinations - Lyrical - Jazz Summer School - August • 20295 - 73 A Ave., Langley, B.C. V2Y 1T9 • Phone: (604) 530-2106
THE PROFESSIONAL PROGRAM OF THE SCHOOL OF CONTEMPORARY DANCERS Co-directors: Odette Heyn-Penner and Faye Thomson • 4 year intensive professional contemporary dance performance program • Nationally renowned faculty and guest choreographers and teachers • Graduates performing professionally across Canada and internationally • Affiliation with the University of Winnipeg: BA (Hons) degree available • For more information website: www.schoolofcontemporarydancers.ca address: suite 104-211 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 3P2 telephone: (204) 452-1239 e-mail: email@example.com • The School gratefully acknowledges the support of: The Government of Canada - Canadian Heritage, The Manitoba Arts Council, The Winnipeg Arts Council and The Winnipeg Foundation
SHIAMAK DAVAR INTERNATIONAL (CANADA) INC. Artistic Director: Shiamak Davar Shiamak Davar is a world renowned, award winning Bollywood Choreographer, world-class Performer and Entertainment Designer. Dance Programs offered for Kids, Pre Teens, Adults and Seniors (Ages 4 to 74 years): 1. Shiamak’s Bollywood Jazz™ - the spice of Bollywood with the technique of Jazz 2. Shiamak’s Indo Jazz Dance Movement™ - fusion of Indian & contemporary dance 3. Shiamak’s Yoga - Inner Dance Movement combination of Yoga postures, breathing techniques and Indo Jazz dance movement 4. Shiamak’s Bollywood Workout - energizing cardio dance workout with Bollywood rhythms and dance moves Classes are conducted through the year. The Summer & Winter workshops culminate in the Summer Funk™ and Winter Funk™ showcases where every participating student performs and enjoys a professional performing arts experience. Vancouver 604 722 5724 • 604 924 9104 604 980 0195 • firstname.lastname@example.org Toronto & Ottawa 416 SHIAMAK • 416 825 0643 • email@example.com Calgary 403 9737340 • firstname.lastname@example.org www.shiamak.com
Ballet Academic Programme • Full-time, seven-level program designed to develop a versatile young artist with strong technique and the ability to be internationally competitive • Numerous performance opportunities, including with the world-renowned RWB Company • Integrated academic education at respected institutions providing graduates with university entrance requirements • Affordable, on-site residence facilities Aspirant Programme • Full-time, post-secondary intensive training program designed specifically for advance level classical ballet dancers making the transition from student to professional artist • Prepares dancers for upcoming auditions and provides them with performance opportunities • Frequent interaction with the RWB Company, including attending Company classes, working with guest teachers and choreographers, and the possibility of being cast in Company productions Phone: (204) 957-3467 • Fax: (204) 943-1994 email: email@example.com • Web: www.rwbschool.com
Principal: Cori Caulfield Senior Ballet Department Head: Isabel Yuan, R.A.D. Vocational Graded Examiner Home of B.C. Provincial Title Holders in Ballet, Modern/ Contemporary, Tap, Jazz and Stage A world class faculty of dedicated, expert instructors offering the highest quality training for all levels Ages 3 to adult in: • Ballet: R.A.D. Exam Preparation to Solo Seal and Cecchetti and Vaganova techniques • Jazz • Modern/Contemporary • Tap • Musical Theatre • Singing • Acting • Hip Hop • Choreography and Pedagogy Many performing opportunities including our annual full-scale production in June and regional competitions. General and Professional* Training Divisions and Performance Companies.* Annual Summer School *by audition and interview only 2813 Spring Street, Port Moody, B.C. V3H 4C6 Phone: (604) 469-9366 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTS UMBRELLA - School of Dance Artemis Gordon, L.I.S.T.D. (C.S.B.) Artistic Director Innovative, professional dance training that develops the whole dancer, stressing technical strength and artistic development. • International guest teachers and choreographers and professional faculty. • Beginner through advanced levels. Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Cecchetti Exam Preparation. Performance opportunities. • Professional Training Program and Dance Company by audition only. Partnership with half-day academic program. • Summer Dance Intensive • Post-secondary diploma offered jointly with Vancouver Community College 1286 Cartwright Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3R8 Phone: (604) 681-5268 • web: www.artsumbrella.com Canada’s Leading Visual & Performing Arts Institute for Young People
ESSENCE OF DANCE INC. Artistic Directors: Talia Kuhn & Sonja Jensen One of the most diverse studios in the Fraser Valley – specializing in • Russian Ballet (Vaganova and Cecchetti Exams) & Pointe • AIDT Jazz Exams, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Modern • Musical Theatre, Tap, Acro and Song & Dance Caters to students of all ages from 3 to Adult. 4 bright studios with sprung floors and high ceilings. Video viewing of classes. Year End Recital: May 22 & 23 @ the Bell Centre/ Tickets available @ the Bell Centre Auditions for our Poise Performing Youth Company: Saturday, June 6 Try out for our Mini, Junior, Intermediate or Senior groups Our SUMMER INTENSIVES offer classes for all ages. Guest instructors from Havana and Orlando Ballet Company! Ballet Intensive • Jazz Intensive - August 9-12 Once Upon a Princess Dance Camp - August 9-20 #4, 15578 - 24th Ave, South Surrey, BC V4A 2J4 #5, 2320 King George Hwy, South Surrey, BC V4A 2J4 Phone: (604)541-9498 e-mail: email@example.com • web: www.essenceofdance.ca
L.A. RUSSIAN SCHOOL OF BALLET Ballet - Vaganova, Cecchetti, Character Pre-School to Adults Small Classes Quality Programmes Performances, Festivals Summer school in July Director: Lucienne Anczykowski Coquitlam • Phone: (604) 931-3196
CAULFIELD SCHOOL OF DANCE
Classified ads and Teachers’ Directory information can be obtained by calling (604) 681-1525 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CANADA’S NATIONAL BALLET SCHOOL Mavis Staines, DHumL, Artistic Director & Co-CEO 400 Jarvis St., Toronto, ON M4Y 2G6 T: 416.964.3780 • F: 416.964.5133 email@example.com • www.nbs-enb.ca Established in 1959, Canada’s National Ballet School is a world leader in the training of professional ballet dancers and teachers. Dedicated to excellence, NBS staff are an international group of talented instructors who adhere to the highest standards in training and development of the students’ abilities. Professional Ballet Program: • Full-time dance training, academic education and residential care for students in Grades 6 through 12 • Full-time dance training for post-secondary students • Designed to take students from the earliest stage of intensive training through to the brink of a full-time career in dance Teacher Training Program: • Recognized as a hallmark of excellence • Prepares students for a successful dance teaching career • Various programs available: three year diploma, two year diploma or one year certificate for professional dancers, five year joint diploma/degree with two Canadian universities Also Available: • Associates Program: after school and weekend classes for children ages six to 17 years • Adult ballet • Professional Development for practising teachers • Studio to Stage Summer Intensive Programme NBS graduates are always in demand and can be found as dancers, choreographers, artistic directors, teachers and administrators in over 65 dance companies world-wide and even more schools around the globe. Admission by audition. Visit www.nbs-enb.ca for information and to register online.
Dance Books Second Hand & Out of Print Mail order: Suite #1608 - 25 Wood Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2P9 Tel: (416) 348-0896 Fax: (416) 348-0486 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.toronto.com/terpsichore
“Our academy’s goal is to share our passion for dance and to encourage our students to achieve personal excellence.” Artistic Director: Flora Pigeau R.A.D. Teacher’s Diploma Home of B.C. Provincial Winners in Ballet since 1987 & International Genée Finalist Many graduates are now Professional Dancers and Teachers We specialize in Royal Academy of Dance • Registered qualified and caring faculty of the R.A.D. • Excellent Pre-school Ballet program • R.A.D. Ballet Program from Pre-Primary to Solo Seal • Modern, Jazz, Lyrical, Stretch & Strength • Examinations, Festivals, Performances, Summer School #631–7789 134th Street, Surrey, B.C. V3W 9E9 Phone: (604) 594-2132 Fax: (604) 594-2124 Web: www.florapigeaudance.com
GOH BALLET ACADEMY Chan Hon Goh, Director Programmes offered: Junior School Programme ages 4-16 Pre-Professional Training Programme ages 9-11 Senior Professional Programme (Full Day & Half Day) Boys Classes & Mens Classes offered Training School of: • Prix de Lausanne First Prizewinner • USA International Jackson, • Varna International Ballet Competition • Genée International Competition • Grand Prix USA Study with world renowned professionals. Vaganova Method & R.A.D. Graded & Vocational examinations. Exceptional training & facilities, extensive performance opportunities, exposure to a variety of choreographic styles & repertoire. Scholarships available. 2345 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C. V5T 3C9 Phone: (604) 872-4014 e-mail: email@example.com • web: www.gohballet.com
NORTHWEST ACADEMY OF PERFORMING ARTS Formerly Kirkwood Academy of Performing Arts Directors: Keitha Campeau & Kelsey Milliken Ballet (R.A.D.) • Jazz • Hip Hop • Contemporary • Tap • Musical Theatre • Highland • Kinder dance • R.A.D. Children's & Vocational Graded examinations • Professional Half Day Academic/Dance Programme • Summer Workshop July 19-25, 2010 with guest instructors from London, Los Angeles & So You Think You Can Dance Canada • Summer sessions for pre-school/tiny-tots (ages 2-4) Come visit our new expanded studios @ 511 Columbia Street, New Westminster V3L 1B2 Phone: (604) 521-3255 • web: www.NAPAdance.com
L'ÉCOLE DE DANSE DE QUÉBEC Professional division: • High-school dance/academic programme in ballet and contemporary dance • Post-secondary level 3-year, full-time professional training programme in contemporary dance performance • Post-secondary level Preparatory programme • Summer Intensive open to all serious dance students, ages 12 and above • Recognized by Quebec’s ministries of Culture and Education • Admission by audition Contact: Lyne Binette, Director of the professional division firstname.lastname@example.org Recreational division: • Classes for all ages and all levels • Movement Introduction, Creative Dance, Ballet, Jazz Simonson, Modern, Hip Hop/Funky, Tap, Musical Comedy, Pilates, Strength & Stretch, etc. • Autumn and winter semesters • Intensive week-end workshops • Children’s and teen’s summer day camp, ages 5 to 17 • Recognized by both municipal and provincial governments Contact: Joëlle Turcotte, Director of the recreational division email@example.com L’École de danse de Québec 310, boul. Langelier, suite 214, Québec QC G1K 5N3 Phone: (418) 649-4715 Fax: (418) 649-4702 Web site: www.ecolededansedequebec.qc.ca
HARBOUR DANCE CENTRE: Downtown Vancouver Drop In and Progressive Workshops for Kids, Teens and Adults Ballet – Hip Hop – Jazz – Contemporary – Tap – Modern – Yoga – Body Conditioning – Burlesque – Musical Theatre – Singing – House – Street Jazz Locking – Popping Start any time Summer School Intensive (ages 14 to Adult) July 5 - 23 Junior Summer School (ages 10-16) July 19-30 Intensive Training Programme for 17 and older 2 Semesters Sept – Feb and March – June 2010 Audition July 18th, 4:30 pm 5 beautiful studios Workshops for Schools or Groups World Class Teachers On-going Musical Theatre Workshops Directors: Danielle Clifford and Pamela Rosa 3rd Fl 927 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 1L3 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.harbourdance.com Phone: (604) 684-9542
JOY OF MOVEMENT STUDIO ALL AGES - ALL LEVELS - ALL DISCIPLINES Director Susie Green - Recipient of the 2002 Dance Excellence Global Arts Award, Los Angeles, for outstanding contributions.
PRO ARTÉ CENTRE Serious Programmes for Serious Students 6 studios, 3 classrooms, 4 music rooms, fitness gym and rehab room On-site academics Grade 5 & up • Half Day academic/dance Classical Ballet • Half Day academic/dance Contemporary & Jazz After Traditional School Programmes: • Intensive Classical Ballet • Intensive Contemporary & Jazz • Musical Theatre & Stage Programme I.S.T.D. & R.A.D. Examinations; International Competitions, Career Guidance 440 Hendry Ave, North Vancouver, BC Phone: (604) 984-2783 web: www.proarte.ca • email: email@example.com
QUINTE BALLET SCHOOL OF CANADA John Ottmann, Artistic Director Professional dance training for students 10 - 19 Professional Programme by audition only • Ontario Ministry of Education Academics • Graduate Performance • Performances of The Nutcracker • Spring Showcase • Annual Four Week Summer Dance and Quinte Programme • Cecchetti syllabus examinations General Division Programme open to students 4 - 104 (ballet exams available – R.A.D.) 196 Palmer Road, Belleville, ON K8P 4E1 Phone: 613.962.9274 or toll free: 1.866.962.9274 Fax: 613.962.9275 • e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.quinteballetschool.com
THE RICHMOND ACADEMY OF DANCE Producing Canada’s Most Exciting Young Professionals • Home to B.C. Provincial Winners in Ballet and Musical Theatre since 1989. • R.A.D. Solo Seal, London Genée Award, Prix de Lausanne finalists and graduates dancing with world-renowned companies • Complete Recreational and Internationally Recognized Professional Programs. • Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre - Voice - ALL LEVELS • Vaganova Technique, all R.A.D. Examinations • Professional Half-Day Dance/Academic and Full Evening & Graduate Programs, Pilates Studio, Body Conditioning • Experiential Anatomy for Dancers • Train with Fully Registered, highly qualified teachers whose performance careers span the world’s leading companies. 7860 River Road, Richmond, B.C. V6X 1X7 Phone: (604) 278-7816 • Fax: (604) 277-5775 web: www.richmondacademyofdance.com email: email@example.com
FLORA PIGEAU DANCE ACADEMY
THE SCHOOL OF DANCE Director: Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D. Professional Programme in Ballet. An 8-year training course with internationally renowned teaching staff. Professional Performance Training in Modern Dance directed by Sylvie Desrosiers BAV. A three-year, full-time post-secondary programme for intermediate and advanced level dancers. Teacher Training Programme. Acceptance into professional programmes is by audition only. Summer School programmes available. Leisure programmes for all ages. 200 Crichton Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1M 1W2 Phone: (613) 238-7838 • Fax: (613) 238-7839 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.theschoolofdance.ca
SPOTLIGHT DANCE CENTRE ANNA WYMAN SCHOOL OF DANCE ARTS (Established 1970) Anna Wyman, Artistic Director • Ballet: Classical Ballet Technique and R.A.D. (Royal Academy of Dancing - Exams) • Junior and Senior Professional Training Programmes: (By audition only - Training includes Classical Ballet, Repertoire and Pointe, Choreography/Improvisation, Contemporary, Jazz & Flamenco) • General Classes: Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, & Hip Hop • Adult/Teen Ballet: Tap, Jazz & Flamenco • Boys Only class 1457 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, B.C., V7T 1B8 Phone: (604) 926-6535 • Fax: (604) 926-6912 web: www.annawyman.com • email: email@example.com
Director – Jane Wace Ballet (R.A.D.) • Jazz • Tap • Stage • Modern Musical Theatre • Hip Hop • Voice • Piano Exceptional training pre-school to young adult. R.A.D. examination preparation pre-primary to advanced levels. Home of B.C. Provincial winners since 2000. Regional & Provincial competitions. Various performance opportunities. Beautiful facility with 4 studios. 6637 Hastings St., Burnaby, B.C. V5B 1S1 Phone: (604) 299-6111 web: www.spotlightdancecentre.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
VISIONS DANCE COMPANY (by audition) CANADA’S INTERNATIONAL YOUTH COMPANY has performed to 500,000 students in 14 countries. Four world fairs and United Nations Conference in Beijing, China - Global platform of youth issues peace and human rights. Two Intensive Training Programmes for Semi & Professional Dancers Beginner to Advanced Training in: MODERN, BALLET, JAZZ, LYRICAL, TAP, SONG AND DANCE, HIP HOP, BOYS ONLY CLASSES, YOGA FOR DANCERS, ORFF MUSIC, PILATES MAT 2789 McBride Ave., Crescent Beach, Surrey, B.C. V4A 3G3 Phone: (604) 535-0330 • Fax: (604) 535-8075 e-mail: email@example.com
by Kaija Pepper
he Vancouver Cultural Olympiad took place alongside the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, featuring more than 600 performances by artists from Canada and the world between January 22 and March 21. The dance shows I attended were well sold and enthusiastically received, including the Olympiad’s opening event, Alberta Ballet’s The Fiddle and the Drum (reviewed in the Spring 2010 issue of Dance International). Quebec’s brilliant Marie Chouinard was represented twice: first in a mixed bill at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre shared between the Toronto-based National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet called Dance Canada Dance. The bill opened with Chouinard’s witty and effervescent 24 Preludes by Chopin — created in 1999 for her own modern dance company — performed by the National Ballet. Edward Connell’s live playing of the Preludes set a romantic soundscape against which this dance of fluttering hands, odd undulations and humorous partnering created a very different, yet somehow compatible, vision. The National Ballet’s performance was heaven, with all 17 dancers — costumed by Liz Vandal in brief, transparent black tunics and, for the men, shorts, with spiky black hair — giving rigorous, yet warm and sometimes playful, performances.
The Royal Winnipeg’s contribution to Dance Canada Dance gave the dancers a chance to shed the straitjacket of schoolroom steps that was their lot in Moulin Rouge, the story ballet they have recently been presenting. Vanessa Lawson and Alexander Gamayunov, along with others, were dynamic in both Itzik Galili’s Hikarizatto (2004) and Mark Godden’s As Above, So Below (created on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 2001, and danced here with two guest principal dancers from the National: Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stanczyk). The Galili piece was the kind of high-octane closer that audiences love, and the company roared through all 18 minutes of the work’s powerhouse moves. The second Chouinard piece was at the smaller Playhouse Theatre: the premiere by her own company of The Golden Mean (Live), a provocative 80minute oddity. The 12 dancers are again costumed by Vandal with a look which is primal, yet also a little sleazy. The main choreographic motif is the use of the mouth, which hangs gently open or stretches into a grimace; sometimes it emits squeaks or roars, cries or laughter. A tangled duet has the foot of one dancer in the mouth of the other. Some of the hijinks involve political references, such as when the dancers don
oversized cardboard masks of Stephen Harper, forming a chorus line of our thinly smiling prime minister. I won’t speculate on what it all adds up to, but it certainly isn’t a representation of the Golden Mean. If that mathematical formula for ensuring pleasing proportions in art and architecture was in evidence in this wild piece — which includes a ramp that extends into the auditorium and audience members sitting in the wings — I didn’t see it myself. But I did see a lot of fascinating and mysterious movement and went home happy. Another Canadian in the Olympiad, and also at the Playhouse, was Vancouver’s Crystal Pite, whose company Kidd Pivot has become Kidd Pivott Frankfurt RM for at least the next two years, thanks to a generous German co-production agreement. Dark Matters (2009) begins with a short act that is a masterly tale of murder and mayhem. It stars a small wooden puppet manipulated by five shrouded figures who, in the second act, are revealed as Canadians Eric Beauchesne and Yannick Matthon, plus Americans Peter Chu, Cindy Salgado and Jermaine Spivey. The longer second act also has a shadow figure, revealed at the very end as Pite herself. She enters into an intimate duet with Chu that was a revelation of open, vulnerable chest and arms (Chu), and delicate feet and hands (Pite). A very different sort of standout performance came from the Kirov Ballet’s Uliana Lopatkina, who appeared on a mixed bill at the historic Orpheum Theatre with conductor and violist Yuri Bashmet. Lopatkina’s performance in Alberto Alonso’s melodramatic 1967 Carmen Suite, to Rodion Shchedrin’s Bizet-inspired score, was a leggy, voluptuous delight, especially next to Bashmet’s brooding, precise rendition of the music, played by his crack chamber orchestra, the Moscow Soloists. Yet another virtuosic performance came from Cloud Gate Theatre of Taiwan in Moon Water. Choreographer Lin Hwai-min, also the company’s artistic director, created this meditative, tai chiinspired ballet in 1998, and though the slow pace, blunt feet and organic, spiky hands are no longer the surprise they once were, it’s still a fine creation. Toward the end, the Queen Elizabeth stage flooded with water, in which the dozen or so slender, impossibly graceful dancers rolled and splashed, creating long arcs of water that glittered like silver. The show deserved gold, as did so many others from artists who brought a welcome dose of culture and ideas to the Olympics.
Sandrine Lafond, Carla Maruca and Isabelle Poirier in Marie Chouinard’s 24 Preludes by Chopin Photo: Marie Chouinard
s Vancouver welcomed the world during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, both major Prairie ballet companies were showcased during the artistically vibrant 2010 Cultural Olympiad. The arts-packed festival, held from January 22 until March 21 in conjunction with the Games, celebrated the best in Canadian and international talent for a global audience. Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet shared a double bill with the National Ballet at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 13-14, marking the first time in more than 20 years that the two historic companies have appeared together on the same stage. The gala programme Dance Canada Dance included Israeli-born choreographer Itzik Galili’s hyperkinetic Hikarizatto, last performed by the company in May 2009, as well as Mark Godden’s As Above, So Below, a visceral exploration of relationships featuring National Ballet principal dancers Sonia Rodriguez and Piotr Stanczyk. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s 70th anniversary season continued with Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s classic Swan Lake, with Tchaikovsky’s romantic score performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, March 10-14. The company first performed the white ballet in 1987 with its three subsequent productions staged by Galina Yordanova. The celebratory season ended with a remount of the enormously popular fairy tale, Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story, including a Richard Rodgers score arranged and performed live by Winnipeg’s premier jazz musician, Ron Paley, April 28 to May 2, 2010. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet ensemble will perform Peter Quanz’s In Tandem at Ottawa’s biennial 2010 Canada Dance Festival on June 7, sharing a double bill with dancers from the National Ballet. The company showcases the work again at Quebec’s Saint Sauveur Arts Festival, July 29 and August 2, with the programme also featuring excerpts from Shawn Hounsell’s Alice in Wonderland that will be included as part of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s upcoming season. Alberta Ballet recently unveiled the title of Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître’s new contemporary, semi-abstract ballet, Love Lies Bleeding (formerly ELTON). Inspired by 15 songs composed by legendary British pop star Elton John and Bernie Taupin, the semi-biographical work takes its viewers on a “journey through a series of theatrically dynamic tableaux, into the wild and powerful world of pop music superstardom.” Illustration from Love Lies Bleeding performed by the Alberta Ballet
Grand-Maître has spent the last year creating both the libretto and soundtrack, as well as assembling a five-member design team and choreographing the two-hour production that blends Bob Fosse jazz influences with classical ballet technique and beyond. The cutting-edge ballet has captured worldwide attention and premiered at Calgary’s Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, May 6-8 before heading to Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, May 11-12. John and his partner, Canadian filmmaker David Furnish, attended the Calgary opening. Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers brought together two of Canada’s contemporary dance royalty, Peter Bingham and Marc Boivin, for double bill, Bingham & Boivin, at the Rachel Browne Theatre, March 18-20. The 90-minute production featured Boivin’s powerful solo Impact that deals with “connections between people and of the magnitude of their influence on one another,” as well as Bingham’s elegantly crafted quartet Slip inspired by the music of J. S. Bach. Bingham co-founded Vancouver’s EDAM dance company in 1982 and has been its sole artistic director since 1989. The 58-year-old choreographer pioneered contact improvisation in Canada and is
regarded as one of its most influential teachers in the country. Ruth Cansfield Dance offered a sneak peek at founding Artistic Director/Choreographer Ruth Cansfield’s Stanza during its newest production Vision in Dance, from March 4 to 6, 2010 at Winnipeg’s Park Theatre. Described as a “celebration of collective ideas,” the full-length quartet is being developed over a two-year period and will be performed by the School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s recent graduates Peter Hessel and Sarah McQueston, as well as first-year company dancer Aimee Rushton. Cansfield established the organization in 1995, making it Winnipeg’s longestrunning independent contemporary dance company. On April 12, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet lost its legendary former Artistic Director Dr. Arnold Spohr at the age of 86. The Canadian dance giant helmed the company from 1958 to 1988, with his unshakeable vision transforming the ballet troupe known for its “Prairie freshness” to an internationally renowned company on the world stage. Spohr was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 and was named a Companion in 2003. In 2000, he was awarded the Order of Manitoba.
by Holly Harris
by Linde Howe-Beck
arely showing more than an annual Nutcracker, Montreal is anything but a classical ballet city. While there’s a faithful audience for any form of contemporary ballet or modern dance, Montreal dance lovers seem content to ignore the classics. So it was not surprising that few diehards turned out for the Guangzhou Ballet’s delightful La Sylphide at Place des Arts’ 3,000-seat hall, Salle WilfridPelletier, February 18-20. Nevertheless, most seats were full, which must have pleased Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, which presented the 100-member Chinese company. The Guangzhou troupe is China’s youngest ballet company. Only 16 years old, it tours frequently in Europe, North America and Australia, garnering awards and presenting a repertoire loaded with Western classics. Its La Sylphide was a pleasure of dazzling footwork in the delicate, conservative manner of the Romantic ballet era as reconstructed by French choreographer Pierre Lacotte, who devotes himself to restoring the forgotten repertoire of the 19th century. He recreated La Sylphide for the Paris Opera in 1972 after Filippo Taglioni. The fastidious Chinese dancers brought immense care and clarity to every movement — effervescent and countable beats, unusual jumps, bounces big and small, lacy mime that enhanced the action without weighing it
down. The company was so good that it was easy to imagine that, instead of the exquisite, tiny, 21st-century Fu Shu, Maria Taglioni herself had returned to dance the role she created in 1832. Two local contemporary dance companies showed new works in January and February. Dominique Porte’s Ulysse, nous et les sirènes, for her company, Système D, was an intriguing series of tableaux loosely based on the story of the Olympian hero Ulysses. The always riveting Marc Boivin played the title role opposite Heather Mah, Victoria May and Porte as sirens, who did their best to distract him with the help of two onstage singers. A black-and-white production — white floor, curtains and costume for Boivin with his relaxed, curling limbs, and black dresses for the women — was stripped to essentials allowing movement details to mimic ocean movements with intervals of surges and calms. The choreography made good use of unison action at first, breaking into duos and trios as it built into primitive moments of turbulent lifts and improvised-looking entanglements. Danièle Desnoyers’ Dévorer le ciel (Devour the Sky) for her 20-year-old group, Le Carré des Lombes, at Salle Pierre Mercure January 14-16, departed from the music-dance balance that held the choreographer’s interest for many years in favour of a return to pure and dominant movement.
Opening with a dancer silhouetted against the vast illuminated backdrop of a cloudy sky, the work exploded in paint box colours as dancers kicked, played and jerked with the furious fun of a schoolyard. This sense of play reoccurred intermittently between periods of loneliness and joylessness. This was an emotionally dark work despite occasional playfulness and hints of humour: its message was that life is suffering. It is to her credit, as an experienced innovator, that Desnoyers presented such a good-looking work with such a grim message. After years of reading favourable comments about Gina Gibney Dance, I was disappointed with the New York company’s latest work, View Partially Obstructed, shown at the Agora de la Danse, February 25-27, 2010. Gibney is a choreographer with a social conscience and her company has a double objective — to create humanistic works and to give voice to those in need. View Partially Obstructed was an attractively danced and staged production in which beautiful geometric shapes were projected on multiple dancer-manipulated screens. In the main, dancing took place between, inside or behind structures made from this ever-changing landscape, raising questions as to what was actually real — or, conversely, unreal. With little change in dynamics — the flow was soft and the stretch long until, bewilderingly, the end that suggested violence — the hour-long piece stretched its welcome. After continuing past several possible endings, the gently caring world of View switched into jumpy video mode, which, having upstaged the dance with invention, quickly annihilated the work’s previous idea-desperate utopia. Canada now joins countries like Sweden, Germany and Belgium with its own international centre for research and creation in dance and connected arts, thanks to funding from the Quebec government. Directed by Benoît Lachambre and André Malacket, artistic director and general director of company Par B.L.eux respectively, the centre will open in the summer of 2011 in a bucolic natural setting in Sutton, an hour south of Montreal. It is expected to cost $3.8 million. Known as a Centre International de Recherche et de Création en danse et en arts connexés, it will be a place where artists meet, reflect, create and give workshops. It will also encourage cultural exchanges between Canadian artists and those from abroad. Gina Gibney Dance’s View Partially Obstructed Photo: Anja Hitzenberger
part from regular visits by Canadian troupes, many of the world’s most illustrious companies, from the Kirov Ballet to Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, have graced the huge stage of Southam Hall. Meanwhile the National Arts Centre’s smaller venues have offered a platform to some of the most intriguing and innovative dance and physical theatre from around the world. Not uncommonly, the National Arts Centre works in collaboration with presenters in Montreal. If you’re negotiating with a company from Europe, for example, you can cut a much better deal if one batch of trans-Atlantic airline tickets essentially covers two tour stops. And, to the inestimable advantage of Montreal dance audiences, the city has multiple presenters. For the 2010-2011 season, Clothilde Cardinal and Pierre Des Marais, artistic co-directors of Danse Danse, are offering subscribers an irresistible cornucopia comprising a mix of leading Canadian and foreign troupes. The Toronto-based National Ballet of Canada will be returning to Quebec after several years’ absence with a programme featuring its large-cast version of Montrealer Marie Chouinard’s 24 Preludes by Chopin and Vancouverite Crystal Pite’s Emergence, the big hit of the National Ballet’s bold, March 2009 “Innovations” programme in Toronto. The series will contrast the polished sleekness of BJM Dance Montreal — the trendy new trade name of Les Ballets Jazz — to the spellbinding, austere beauty of Japan’s Sankai Juku. British choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance will also be making its Montreal debut; and so the Danse Danse goes on. Since 1997, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal has meanwhile been offering a subscription series that combines its own performances with those of visiting troupes. In 2010-2011, the latter will include Alicia Alonso’s legendary National Ballet of Cuba in Giselle as well as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet with its crowd-pleasing Moulin Rouge. Now consider the situation in Toronto. It has been years since either the Royal Winnipeg Ballet or Les Grands appeared in the city. As for high-profile foreign troupes, were it not for Toronto’s Luminato festival, which since its 2007 launch has presented Mark Morris and Netherlands Dance Theatre, conditions would amount to a famine. Beyond the worthy but diminished contemporary dance presenting activity of Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre and DanceWorks, the landscape would be notably sparse. The 2010-2011 season announced on February 8 by Artistic Director Karen
Kain is typically impressive. Apart from lavish full-length story ballets such as Don Quixote and Cinderella, it is co-producing a family friendly work — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon — with Britain’s Royal Ballet. Wheeldon is not the only contemporary international A-list choreographer contributing to the season. In what must surely be considered a coup, Kain has secured the premiere Canadian productions of Wayne McGregor’s dazzling Chroma and former Bolshoi Ballet Artistic Director Alexei Ratmansky’s Russian Seasons. Revivals of works by Balanchine, Tharp and Béjart plus the inevitable Nutcracker complete a hometown season that offers audiences an extraordinary range of styles, historic and contemporary. In total it amounts to 76 performances, substantially more shows than Danse Danse and Les Grands offerings combined. So what else could Toronto audiences possibly want? The Kirov Ballet perhaps? Not likely! Not, at least, without some stiff opposition from the National Ballet. When the company was informed in January that its former hometown venue, the 3,200-seat Sony Centre — currently undergoing major renovations — would play host to the touring Kirov Ballet in March 2011, National Ballet honchos were deeply vexed. Behind the scenes, they used all the political muscle they could pump, either to block the Kirov or exact compensation for the presumed loss in box-office revenue it would suffer if the visit went ahead. Their concern was understandable since the Kirov’s engagement would have run smack up against the National Ballet’s triple bill featuring
Illustration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — to be performed by the Royal Ballet in the National Ballet of Canada’s upcoming 2010-2011 season
Ratmansky and a brace of Balanchines. Not confident of the outcome, the National Ballet did what it could to soften the impact by shifting the affected mixed programme so it would not be in direct competition with the Russians. Even so, the backroom wrangling involving high-ups from even as far away as the National Arts Centre, continued well into March. It will do no good, however. Both the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Grands are itching to return to the Toronto market and a smartly renovated Sony Centre, with dates to fill and a mandate to offer a broad spectrum of performing arts, can be expected to do what it can to make that possible. It may also, as in the past, try to find ways to present some of the large international touring troupes on more than a sporadic basis. If such companies can perform in Ottawa and Montreal, why not in Toronto, too? Interestingly, I have not heard anyone at Les Grands arguing that Places des Arts should have refused Danse Danse’s request to book its largest theatre to present the National Ballet in Montreal this October — a week before Les Grands unveils the company premiere of a full-length work by German choreographer Christian Spuck. Could it possibly be that the folks at Les Grands embrace the notion that the more choice audiences have, the more excited they will become about dance and the more tickets they will buy? What a revolutionary thought.
by Michael Crabb
or the Brooklyn Academy of Music appearances in February, Morris chose three strongly contrasting works. The programme amounted to a succinct crazy quilt of dance theatre. Behemoth dates from 1990, when the dancer and choreographer was still relocated in Brussels, Belgium, and is that rare thing for Morris and his much expressed passion for music: a dance with no musical accompaniment. Looky, which dates from 2007 and hadn’t yet been seen locally, is set to Kyle Gann’s Studies for Disklavier (think a player piano with a mind and impetus all its own). Finally, the Brooklyn Academy of Music bill concluded with Socrates, Morris’ most recent take on Erik Satie’s Socrate, which was having its world premier during this run, and had previously been choreographed in 1983 by Morris as The Death of Socrates, when he worked only with the music’s final segment.
Behemoth and Looky were performed back-to-back, without an intermission. The former takes as a 15-dancer study, more or less in the shadows of a raw and set-less stage, all artfully lighted by Michael Chybowski. Its simple, dancewear-like costuming (by Christine Van Loon) is arrayed in combinations of three different colours: forest green, old gold and black. All the dancers wear little badges, as if lapel pins, in the form of a mirror in the mode of a mosaic tile. The mirrors keep refracting the stage light and throwing their glinting flecks of light around the stage and the auditorium as the eight women and seven men arrange and rearrange themselves like so many pieces in a puzzle. Both the stillness and the intermittent blackouts separating some sections from others lead one to feel a musical momentum even though the dance is presented without musical accompaniment.
Looky, as light and witty as Behemoth is dark-toned and austere, takes the bill to a place of charm and amusement. Those familiar with Morris’ work and history will notice that the costuming for the cast of 18 is picked up from previous Morris dances, as formerly created by six different costume designers. The “world” of Looky is a place through which pedestrians pass on a guided tour or a sightseeing visit. The fact that their costuming suggests everything from sleepwear to day and evening wear gives the gathering and its indicated situations a surreal edge. With its duly spotlit, playerless player-piano, and its somewhat surprising production of music, Looky takes shape as a trip both literally, with regard to a visit to a gallery, for example, and figuratively, as lighthearted hallucination. For Socrates, the approximately 30minute work that Morris noted he’s been working on for about a year, the choreographer chose Satie’s tenor-and-piano version of the 1918 score. One inspiration for Morris’ dance sprang from Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates, which the choreographer describes as “the most beautiful painting” in New
by Robert Greskovic York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. From this shiny, chill, neoclassical tableau made up of gesticulating men clad in draped tunics of russets, greys, blues and golds, Morris and his costume designer, Martin Pakledinaz, took inspiration for the limb, and sometimes torso-baringgarments that suggest classical Greece with a contemporary lightness. Chybowski’s lighting, in concert with backdrop expanses of brightness and darkness, tell, in Morris’ view, of the phenomenon of an eclipse. Sung in tones that are conversational, narrative and meditative by the clearvoiced Jean-Paul Fouchécourt, Morris’ Socrates follows Satie’s three-part structure: “Portrait du Socrate,” “Bords de L’Ilissus” and “Mort de Socrate.” While neither cast nor direction aims toward specific characterization with regard to one or another of his dancers’ playing either Socrates or the disciples evoked in the songs’ texts (from Plato) or of the mythological figures (the satyrs Silenusor Marsyas, for example), the dance presents a fresh, antique world. Its youth-
ful men and women (David’s painting consists of only male figures, as did Morris’ 1983 Death of Socrates), course through the dance in three delicate dimensions. Variously, their travels and statuesque postures seem born, full measure, from the music’s often delicate pulse. This is especially pronounced in the dance’s second segment, which evokes a barefoot walk along the banks of a crystalline river. Likewise, the individuals pass in and through the glowingly lighted space as linked groupings like so many bas-relief friezes. Or, they gesture as if in fleetingly declamatory mute oration. One hand gesture in particular dominates the final Death of Socrates segment. Though Morris gives the gesture, an open-handed one in which the raised index finger dominates, to any number of his dancers, it would seem to have sprung from that of David’s Socrates, who raises his left hand from his seated position on his bed in this fashion. This specific arrangement of hand and fingers, which Morris “puts” in his dancers’ right hands,
Rita Donahue (left), Sam Black (top), Maile Okamura (right) Lauren Grant (bottom) and Noah Vinson (centre) in Mark Morris’ Socrates Photo: Stephanie Berger
says any number of things: the personal pronoun, “I,” for example, or it indicates the number “1.” In what would become standard ballet pantomime, as it evolved into the 19th century, A.D., this B.C. gesture reveals here an air, simultaneously antique, nouveau and somewhat immediately contemporary. (Torsioned differently, in 19th-century ballet pantomimic terms, this “I” or “1” can alternately mean “if” or “but.”) When he was not yet finished with his dance, Morris told me that it was “about Plato’s relationship to Socrates! It’s not the story of Socrates, it’s about how Socrates affected the people that he was jailed for influencing, and it’s also a beautiful dance.” I had no idea just how beautiful Socrates would be until I saw it take the stage. When it did, it brought with it much of the artistic, philosophical and humane lineage that the world has long attached to the name of Socrates. Morris’ Socrates presents a grave and grand and glimmering vision of humankind, all in the form of a dance for the ages.
T by Allan Ulrich
he San Francisco Ballet launched its 2010 season with a landmark celebration; this year marks the 25th anniversary of Helgi Tomasson’s artistic directorship. Few men or women have run a major ballet organization in our time for so long and with so much success. Few have so blurred the distinction between a regional and national company, a categorization that remains a bugaboo of the American dance scene. And few directors have so extended our idea of what’s going on out there in classical dance. In reality, Tomasson’s monument was the 2008 New Works Festival, when 10 dances were unveiled. So, the company didn’t go overboard with the festivities on January 21, 2010, when a one-time gala at the War Memorial Opera House sufficed to nail this silver anniversary. The material was all familiar; the dancing ranged from respectable to glorious (except for an ill-prepared Agon Pas de Deux). But, in the area of repertoire, Tomasson may have overplayed his hand, appropriating 10 of the 16 numbers on the programme for his own choreography. The evening crept to the three-hour mark and Tomasson, who in the past has always has risen to gala occasions, simply kept everyone in the seats too long. Fortunately, he revived some of his very finest dances. The excerpt from 7 for Eight united Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun and PierreFrançois Vilanoba for a tender exchange. Concerto Grosso, Tomasson’s terrific party piece for five fearless men, made a welcome return. And his forgotten Robbinsesque Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers looked so spirited in the performance by Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Kara-petyan that Tomasson will take it on tour to Copenhagen’s Tivoli Theatre this summer. Two works entered the repertoire during the first half of the season. February 9 brought Christopher Wheeldon’s latest commission, Ghosts. Despite a couple of striking small ensembles, this isn’t the strongest we have seen from him, but it was certainly produced on a major scale. There’s a new orchestral score ordered up from rock musician C. F. Kip Winger. There’s a dominant hanging and mobile sculpture by Laura Jellinek, which resembled a prehistoric bird in flight. Mark Zapone’s filmy costumes suggest evanescence. There’s also something creepy about the dead returning from the afterlife. But although the 12 bodies swaying in unison, flowing from wing to wing, dropping to the floor, propped on their knees, rolling across the stage, melting into a conga line or inching their way through space like ravenous worms look striking enough, they prepare us for a revelation that does not arrive. You admire Wheeldon’s craft without ever divining his message. When the crowd clears, Pascal Molat in Michel Fokine’s Petrouchka Photo: © Erik Tomasson
Ghosts delivers its best. Tiit Helimets, Brett Bauer and Sofiane Sylve, adroitly contrasted in temperament, are bound in a kind of unholy, No Exit trinity, memorable for the chain of extended arms. No Wheeldon creation for San Francisco Ballet seems quite complete without a duet for Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith. In this one, Tan’s feet barely skim the floor, as Smith grips her by the waist and totes her on his back before the pair, so magnificently in the moment, retreats into the shadows. One left Ghosts feeling that it might yield its secrets on further viewings. Later in the season, Tomasson paid homage to the centenary of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with the company’s first performances of Michel Fokine’s Petrouchka, the 1911 classic that reawakened memories of previous local stagings by the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and the Oakland Ballet. This was an odd addition to the repertoire for Tomasson; the San Francisco Ballet has not, in three artistic generations, concerned itself with the Diaghilev era. Oakland carried the torch proudly. On March 2, a generation weaned on Petipa-derived narratives and neoclassical abstractions awoke to the lingering glories of this vintage species of dance theatre. This unique gift from a distant era in dance showcased a remarkably alert and flexible performance from Pascal Molat,
whose lovelorn puppet traded on his theatricality and limitless technical bravado. Clara Blanco’s doll arrived with a heart of purest porcelain. One can only hope that, after this success, Tomasson will look into additional Ballets Russes revivals. Still, the San Francisco Ballet, despite lingering injuries, is looking remarkably fine these days. A programme of familiar Balanchine revivals shone light on newer members of the team. A revival of Theme and Variations found Cuban import Taras Domitro filling Igor Youskevitch’s shoes with uncommon gallantry. In his debut season, Brazil’s Vitor Luiz has made his buoyant presence felt throughout the repertoire. Although she can be emotionally remote to the point of implacability, Sofiane Sylve’s combination of hauteur and flexibility serves her well in assignments like the Karin von Aroldingen part in Stravinsky Violin Concerto. The case of Canadian Frances Chung is instructive. The company’s newest principal was spotted in the corps in the February 11 performance of Theme and Variations; 10 days later, she took on the ballerina role. When Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company bowed in the Bay Area on January 22 at Stanford University’s Memorial Auditorium, one had no inkling that the choreographer was on the verge of announcing his departure from the project he co-founded three years ago with former New York City Ballet princi-
pal dancer Lourdes Lopez. The overloaded touring programme brought us some lively and distinctive choreography and superior production values, but one could sympathize with the vexations of working constantly with a pick-up company. Wheeldon’s contributions to the tour included a reprise of Continuum, the brilliant, Ligeti-inspired abstraction originally made for San Francisco in 2002, and a striking new piece, Rhapsody Fantaisie, set to parts of Rachmaninoff’s Suites for Two Pianos. The lead couple, Andrew Crawford and Alison Roper (on loan from Oregon Ballet Theatre), all garbed in Francisco Costa’s startling scarlet costumes, traces a bittersweet narrative, while their colleagues’ ferocious unisons seem to evoke a primitive society. The piece teems with invention. Wheeldon also introduced us to Alexei Ratmansky’s early and delectable Bolero. The Russian choreographer shuns the tawdry erotic riffs conventionally inspired by Ravel’s perpetual motion crescendo. In his essay for six dancers, all with numbers blazoned on their jerseys, Ratmansky builds solid structures in which canons and contrapuntal forays reinforce the choreographer’s formal experiment. American Ballet Theatre’s Kristi Boone led the team and the experience was unexpectedly compelling. We have probably not heard the last from Morphoses. It’s Lopez’s company now.
by Anne-Marie Elmby
or the Danish ballet enthusiasts who know their Bournonville and eagerly watch for every new casting, February offered a great opportunity to see the former Balanchine ballerina Merrill Ashley in the mime role of Madge in La Sylphide. She had already restaged Balanchine’s Symphony in C, billed with La Sylphide. She had performed the role once before, when the former Sylphide and Madge of the Royal Danish Ballet, Sorella Englund, staged the work for the Boston Ballet in 2005. The renewed alliance with Englund gave Ashley — who came directly from having performed Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty in
New York, so far her only other mime role — a chance to refine her portrayal with more insight and detail in Copenhagen. In her 31-year career with New York City Ballet, Ashley was known for her musicality and technical capacity to dance the “undanceable.” When asked about her approach to the acting roles that she was not trained to do, she explained, “I think in some ways they are very related, because while there is no literal story in many Balanchine ballets, there is definitely a mood and emotions, and you have to convey that without using your face, but by using your body.”
The roles in La Sylphide have continuously inspired dancers to make a variety of interpretations and many make up their own story as a source of inspiration. Madge is now called a fortune teller in the programme, instead of a witch as she was previously. Ashley’s Madge sprung from an understanding of her personality as a woman who had a free spirit and who did not want to conform to society’s rules and regulations. The choice to be her own person made her an outcast. Yet there was resentment. Some embedded, personal history made her hyper-sensitive to James’ rejection when she was considered a bad
Alina Cojocaru and Mads Blangstrup in John Neumeier’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Photo: Costin Radu
omen at the wedding. She was hurt and wanted revenge. The final moments, where Madge celebrates her successful vengeance on James through the death of his Sylphide icon, showed Ashley’s whole appearance change within seconds with her recognition of the emptiness of revenge and fatal loss of her adversary. John Neumeier’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream from 1977 has been in the Danish repertoire at intervals and remains a delight for an audience and a challenge for a new generation of dancers with its both sensual and humorous variety of roles. Shakespeare lets his three groups of characters speak in different metrical idioms. Neumeier characterizes them by different choreographic styles, but for him the music is always the basic inspiration for choreographing. Therefore, he also uses three music genres to distinguish the characters and their spheres. Mendelsohn’s orchestral music accompanies the lovers and underscores the Biedermeier period staging and overall classical ballet style, which still allows individually characterizing steps. György Ligeti’s electronic soundscapes float around in a supernatural, misty-green forest dream world with fairies in silvery unitards performing stylized acrobatic movements. The rustics, who deliver their farcical performance of the classical tragedy Pyramus and Thisbe with a mixture of pantomime and slapstick at the ducal wedding, are accompanied by an orchestrion
wheeled around on the stage while playing popular versions of classical opera. The ballet opens on the splendid preparations for the wedding of the aristocratic Hippolyta and Theseus. With a streak of genius, Neumeier lets the prenuptial couple and the fairy royalty Titania and Oberon be portrayed by the same dancers. This idea sustains his personal adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, which turns the nightly fairy world into a representation of the individuals’ subconscious yearnings and basic instincts. On the opening night, the principal couple was danced by Royal Ballet principal Alina Cojocaru as guest and Danish dancer Mads Blangstrup. As Hippolyta/Titania, she demonstrated her dramatic span from an insecure Biedermeier juvenile on the threshold of matrimony through a dream, where her suppressed sexuality flared up in an ecstatic love encounter, to the mature young woman who woke up on the morning of her wedding to a commitment to love in all its aspects. As her partner, Blangstrup easily managed the challenging lifts and acrobatic feats, whether he had Cojocaru’s lithe physique slung around his torso or she was sitting enthroned high over his head, balancing on his strong arms. Christopher Rickert shone in the double role of Philostrate, master of ceremonies at the palace, and the agile, cavorting Puck, whose mischief causes a comedy of errors
for the four young lovers. As Lysander, Gregory Dean displayed youthful affection in the pas de deux with his sweetheart Helena, danced by the poetically adorable Amy Watson. Jodie Thomas was both touching and funny as the lovesick, nearsighted Hermia who lost her glasses in the misty forest while chasing and literally clinging onto Ulrik Birkkjær’s evasive, bold, upright officer Demetrius. His struggle between common courtesy and getting Hermia off his back so he could pursue Helena was highly amusing to watch. Puck’s mix-up made both men run after the alarmed Hermia, and only Oberon’s physical reprimand forced the grinning teaser to put things right. The seven rustics were priceless. Never before has Jean-Lucien Massot revealed such comical talent. As Bottom, who is conjured into an ass, he was drolly dazed by the manifestation of Titania’s corporeal desire under the influence of Puck’s passion flower. In the performance of the “tragedy” at the wedding celebration, Massot was so full of himself as the “hero” that he barely noticed his mistress-in-distress, danced in red pointe shoes by a fervent Thomas Lund stumbling over his long dress and braids. Philostrate left the flower of love on the floor as the night approached with the mysterious and sensually laden atmosphere of Oberon and Titania’s ultimate reconciliation. Harmony was restored.
Northwest Dance horseshoe to place
his year, English National Ballet is celebrating a 60th anniversary. During its long history, it has not only had a name change (from London Festival Ballet) but also 10 different directorship eras. Nevertheless, it has always maintained some essential characteristics: a wide repertoire rather than a domination by individual choreographers, a dependence on international principals — often appearing regularly as guest artists — and touring commitments both in the United Kingdom and overseas. The first two of these policies were obvious from the beginning. The company, founded by Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin who were re-establishing themselves in the United Kingdom after years in the U.S.A., was closely linked to postDiaghilev Ballets Russes ballets and dancers. Principals included Tatiana Riabouchinska, David Lichine and Nathalie Krassovska; productions were predominantly revivals of Fokine and Massine ballets. The second director (after Dolin), however, was the outstanding young British dancer John Gilpin (his directorial inexperience compensated for by the presence of the administrative founder Dr. Julian Braunsweg). New choreographers were encouraged and guest artists such as Eva Evdokimova, Elisabetta Terabust, Patrice Bart, Peter Schaufuss and Patrick Armand came from abroad. A much-loved partnership was established between Galina Samsova and André Prokovsky. Among later artistic directors, three made especially interesting contributions. Beryl Grey was a director par excellence. Combining experience as a great international prima ballerina and as an executive with Arts Educational Schools, Grey also had the charisma to reach out to the media and the public. She chose programmes imaginatively, balancing past and present and risking unusual revivals such as Massine’s Parade, Tudor’s Echoing of Trumpets and Fokine’s The Golden Cockerel. She involved Nureyev, who first presented a production of The Sleeping Beauty and later choreographed his own version of Romeo and Juliet. The director who decided on the name
title role was brilliantly danced by Daria Klimentova, with a delightful Gerda in Crystal Costa. The second programme was the company’s Giselle, an excellent production by the late Mary Skeaping acquired by Beryl Grey during her tenure as director. On opening night the leading roles were well taken by Erina Takahashi and Dmitri Gruzdyev, and it was given with a vigorously athletic short work, Men Y Men (music Rachmaninov), devised by Eagling to show off a group of male dancers. Principal artists of the moment, apart from Klimentova, the charming and sensitive Takahashi and the versatile Gruzdyev, include Elena Glurdjidze (full by Kathrine Sorley Walker of vitality as the Gypsy Girl in The Snow Queen change, and also launched English Na- and authoritative as Myrtha in Giselle), tional Ballet School, was Peter Arionel Vargas and Begoña Cao; and at Schaufuss. The new name was not very the Royal Albert Hall next summer, accurate and was slightly misleading. Al- when guest artist Polina Semionova from though based in London, the company Berlin State Opera Ballet dances Odettewas far more international than national; Odile, she will be partnered by a young and although appearing at the London man who only recently graduated from Coliseum it had no links with the simi- the Royal Ballet School, Vadim larly named English National Opera. Muntagirov — an almost unprecedented The third special activity by a director leap from ballet student to star! Publicity occurred when Derek Deane instigated is also being given to a young British the very popular arena presentations of ballerina with the company, Lauretta ballets like Romeo and Juliet and Swan Summerscales. The annual Critics’ Circle Dance Lake at the Royal Albert Hall. They continue, and always help financially as well Awards for 2009 took place in January at the Royal Opera House. There are many as encouraging new audiences. Now Wayne Eagling is the director. categories in this Oscar-style event, and The company is in fine shape (although often the winners are surprising. I was it has just lost its valuable top partner- delighted that the De Valois Award for ship of Thomas Edur and Agnes Oaks Outstanding Achievement went to Alexwho have gone home to Estonia), but ander Grant, once a brilliant character money for the arts is tight and this inevi- dancer with Sadler’s Wells Ballet and tably restricts new productions. One later an artistic director of the National welcome event, probably in December, Ballet of Canada. Best female dancer of will be the replacement of the current the year was Leanne Benjamin, currently Nutcracker, too garishly designed by a versatile principal of the Royal Ballet, Gerald Scarfe, by an Eagling production while Melissa Hamilton and Sergei set in Edwardian England by Peter Polunin, from the same company, were Farmer. The recent season at the Coli- awarded Outstanding Female and Male seum offered Michael Corder’s The Snow Performance (Classical) respectively. Queen — a full evening work, attrac- Best male dancer was Paul Liburd of tively designed by Mark Bailey, that has Scottish Ballet, and Amy Hollingsworth many felicitous choreographic ideas but and Thomasin Gülgec Outstanding Fecould do with considerable pruning. The male and Male Performance (Modern). Daria Klimentova in English National Ballet’s The Snow Queen Photo: Patrick Baldwin
The definitions “classical” and “modern” are now distinctly arguable, and this was underlined by the award for classical choreography going to Wayne McGregor’s Infra — in no way a “classical” work, but he is, of course, resident choreographer of the “classical” Royal Ballet. Christopher Bruce’s delightful Hush took the “modern” choreographic award. Jonathan Watkins, a new, young Royal Ballet choreographer at Covent Garden, staged As One in February. Born in Yorkshire, Watkins graduated from the Royal Ballet School and joined the company in 2003. A talent for composition was apparent in his school days and at studio theatre performances and As One is admirably controlled, using the large stage resources to good effect and deploying principal dancers and an ensemble in expressive choreography that interestingly blends classical and modern movement. A commissioned and welltailored score by Graham Fitkin was linked to mood and character changes and the action cleverly reflected episodes in modern youthful life: parties, work pressures and home life. For Laura Morera and Edward Watson there was a duet titled Channel Surfing in which he was the couch-potato television addict and she was the nagging and demanding partner; while Steven McRae had a fast-paced solo, Blinkered Living, that combined virtuoso dancing with hand actions that mimed computer keyboards and text messaging against a background suggestive of stock exchange prices or airline departures. The title was represented by an ensemble group finale. Two memorable former Sadler’s Wells Ballet dancers have recently died, both of whom had successfully moved into other careers. Moyra Fraser, whose special talent was for comedy in roles such as Josephine in A Wedding Bouquet, left the company early to make a distinctive contribution to “Little Revues” and was in her element in television roles like the snobbish sister in As Time Goes By. In ballet, Margaret Dale brought exquisite precision and musicality to Swanilda in Coppélia, to the Finger Fairy variation of The Sleeping Beauty or the Bluebird pas de deux; but from 1957 she became an admired television producer of ballets, among them the de Valois works The Rake’s Progress and Checkmate, as well as Coppélia. Dale also produced a number of ballet documentaries for the BBC and later chaired the department of dance at York University in Toronto.
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rom the duelling stages in Two-Faced Bastard to Tense Dave’s revolving chambers of psychosis. Chunky Move has made a name for itself presenting cutting-edge contemporary dance theatre and testing the relationship between performer and audience. After several international tours, the company brought its awardwinning Mortal Engine back to Melbourne, allowing audiences a second chance to experience this large-scale technology-meets-dance production. Mortal Engine is aesthetically different from much of the company’s previous repertoire with the notable exception of Glow, the 2006 solo that was the starting point for this work. It explores the limits, ambitions, vulnerabilities and rhythms of human beings, yet is framed within an almost impenetrable web of technology. Chunky Move Artistic Director Gideon Obarzanek, together with artistic collaborators Frieder Weiss, Robin Fox and Ben Frost, have created what is arguably the company’s most fascinating work to date, presenting a visual representation of the “noise” of abstract movement. At times, Mortal Engine feels like a Rorschach test come to life: a fantastical, teeming, frothing blackand-white sea of sound and light. Shadows are sparked to animation by live movement cues, lasers arc around outstretched arms to segment the theatre into green chambers and digital confetti falls, like snowflakes, from prone forms. The individuality of each dancer is drowned in shifting images and illusions, each movement inextricably linked to Frost’s sweeping sound design or Weiss’ interactive images. Faced with this wall of sound and movement, it was impossible to deny what Obarzanek refers to as the “visceral pull” of Mortal Engine. It was nice to see this old crowd-pleaser back in Melbourne, especially after the disappointment of Chunky’s last work, Black Marrow, in late 2009. Southern Hemisphere autumn is dance season in Melbourne and the Australian Ballet began its 2010 programme with the highly anticipated Graeme Murphy ballet The Silver Rose. Even before the opening, Australian audiences seemed to hold a kind of proprietary attitude toward this ballet, because, although it was commissioned in 2005 for the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich, the creative team of Murphy, creative associate Janet Vernon, set and costume designer Roger Kirk and composer Carl Vine are all Australian.
by Jordan Beth Vincent The Silver Rose is loosely based on Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s 1911 libretto for Der Rosenkavalier. Murphy’s ballet follows the story of the aging Marschallin (portrayed on opening night by Principal Artist Lucinda Dunn), who fears that her handsome young lover, Octavian (Ty KingWall), will find a younger woman. Unfortunately for Marschallin, Octavian discovers Sophie (Juliet Burnett), and, although her father pushes for an advantageous marriage with the esteemed Baron Ochs (Andrew Killian), the two are immediately smitten. Murphy does his best to navigate through this convoluted narrative, combining slapstick humour with dramatic dance. His choreography is challenging for the dancers and interesting for the audience, featuring a great deal of innovative partnering work and off-balance movements designed to highlight the technical skill of the company. Nothing draws the crowds in like one of Murphy’s ballets, and his ability to faithfully translate human emotion through movement has earned him legions of followers. After the performance, Australian Ballet Artistic Director David McAllister announced that Murphy had accepted a commission to create a new full-length
ballet on the company in 2011, and the audience response to this news was deafening. Both 2009 and 2010 are centenary years for the birth of two of Australia’s most important dance figures, Sir Robert Helpmann and Dame Peggy van Praagh. Helpmann was known worldwide for his performances with Pavlova, VicWells Ballet and Royal Ballet, and as co-choreographer and dancer in The Red Shoes (1948). Dame Peggy van Praagh was a highly influential dance advocate in Australia, moving from the United Kingdom in the late 1950s to oversee the transition of the Borovansky Ballet into the federally funded Australian Ballet. Helpmann and van Praagh were joint artistic directors of the company from 1965 to 1974, with van Praagh as sole director from 1960 until 1962 and in 1978, and Helpmann as sole director in 1975. Helpmann’s contribution to Australian dance has been celebrated in an exhibition aptly entitled Bobby Dazzler! and van Praagh will be honoured later in the year with a tribute performance by the Australian Ballet. In March, the Chooky Dancers from Elcho Island performed Ngurrumilmarrmiriyu, or Wrong Skin, at the Malthouse Theatre. Elcho Island is located off the coast of Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory, and is a place plagued by poor economic conditions and widespread drug and alcohol abuse. This group of young indigenous dancers began a creative collaboration with theatre director Nigel Jamieson to develop a full-length work based loosely on Romeo and Juliet. Ngurrumilmarrmiriyu follows the tale of a young couple from the same moiety, or clan, who meet at an open-air disco. The Yolngu culture requires people to marry outside of their clan, be it Yirritja or Dhuwa, and to subvert this fundamental cultural law is to become “miriyu,” or nothing. This “wrong skin” onstage relationship between the young lovers (Rarriwuy Hick and Lionel Dhulmanawuy) has predictably tragic consequences. While by no means a perfect production, there was something special about the way Jamieson and the Chookies were able to express some of the challenges of living in such a remote place, as well as presenting some traditional indigenous dance in the forms of traditional Songmen from each moiety alongside more contemporary hip hop–inspired work. Lee Serle in Chunky Move’s Mortal Engine Photo: Andrew Curtis
uring the two weeks of the Olympic Games, we in Norway grew to know Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia very well. We also came to know the Callaghan Valley, where many of the Nordic events took place. The athletes performed at an extremely high level and there were many moments when one could associate them with dance Although the Olympic Games did steal many hours, keeping us parked on the sofa in front of the TV, there has also been a lot of dance in the first months of 2010. It started off in January when Dansens Hus (House of Dance) presented a long weekend with 16 pieces by young choreographers, selected from more than 50 ballets. The weekend was named NYNORSKDANS 2010 (newnorwegiandance 2010). The title plays on New Norwegian, which is our country’s second language. It can be difficult for foreigners to understand that New Norwegian is actually older than the language that most Norwegians speak. The idea behind arranging such a dance marathon is, of course, the hope that something exceptional will emerge. But it took a long time before anything of real interest showed up. It is sometimes sad to see how little some young choreographers think they can get away with displaying a paucity of dance technique. Sometimes watching modern dance makes one wonder if normal relations between two people are no longer an option. There are so many pieces where the dancers float around on stage without any contact at all. Well, in the two last ballets something changed drastically — and that saved the day. Guro Nagelhus Schia and Vebjørn Sundby were the names behind The Other, which they performed themselves. They were both dancers in the modern dance company Carte Blanche and, therefore they possess the technique and knowledge required for creating dance. The same was true of Daniel Proietto’s piece Almost Human. Proietto, also a former dancer with Carte Blanche, now creates more and more choreography which he performs himself. Carte Blanche started their tour of Norway with their winter production in Oslo. Of the three pieces on the programme, two were created by former company dancers. Christopher Arouni choreographed Fallen Behind Me, a ballet with three female dancers. On the backcloth, a film took all the focus away from the women — they worked hard but nobody managed to pick up on what they were doing. Kristin Hjort Inao and Yoshifumi Inao created Borboleta, but the piece did not stick much in one’s memory. The third piece was by the only choreographer with no history
with Carte Blanche, Heine Røsdal Avdal, Norwegian-born but currently using Belgium as his base. His ballet Horisontale Plan (Horizontal Levels) was the strongest of the three, but as an evening this was flat. This cannot be said about the Norwegian National Ballet’s programme Shoot the Moon, named after the last ballet on the programme from Paul Lightfoot and Sol León. The evening was one of the best ever from the company. First out in this programme was David Dawson, an Englishman who has created a ballet for seven dancers with the title dancingmadlybackwards, which uses beautiful music by Latvian Peteris Vasks. Dawson creates modern choreography en pointe and he is an aesthete. His choreography is tricky but it floats as harmoniously as a tranquil river. Jo Strømgren had the second new creation on this programme, The Wake. The title can be read in different ways. It is clear that it deals with a funeral, but it can also be read as meaning to stay alert. Strømgren chose new music by Bergmund Skaslien and he did the sets and lighting himself. For many years now, Christopher Kettner has been one of the most important male dancers in the company. After this season he is retiring and his farewell with the Norwegian audience was a 25minute duet by Sølvi Edvardsen, Access. This tough duet was danced with Victoria Herbert, and Kettner and Herbert were a perfect match.
Then came the last piece of the evening, Shoot the Moon, which deeply affected the audience. Lightfoot and León have had many ballets on the repertoire of the Norwegian Ballet during the last 10 years, but Shoot the Moon must be the best and strongest of them all. It is the first time that this piece has been performed outside the Netherlands Dance Theatre. The music they chose for this ballet is the beautiful second movement of Tirol Concerto by Philip Glass. The six dancers are placed in a revolving set that creates new rooms for each of them. Video cameras catch the faces of the dancers in close-ups, which means that they have to be extremely aware of their own facial expressions since the pictures of them are spread over big screens. Eugenie Skilnand and Kristian Alm in particular made a great impact in the piece. The newly appointed director of Dansens Hus, Arne Fagerholt, announced only days after starting his new job that he would have to withdraw from the position because of his health. The board is now in the process of finding a new person for this important position. A big surprise was to see Dinna Bjørn on the list of applicants, 17 in all. Bjørn directed first the Norwegian National Ballet and then the Finnish National Ballet during the last 18 years. It will be interesting to see if the board finds her appropriate for the modern field since that is Dansens Hus’ area.
Norway by Fredrik Rütter
Maiko Nishino and Philip Currell in dancingmadlybackwards part of Norwegian National Ballet’s Shoot the Moon programme Photo: Erik Berg
by Silvia Poletti
ew in the Italian dance world were surprised when Catello de Martino, the new superintendent of the Rome Opera House, announced in a press release that Carla Fracci would leave the artistic direction of Rome Ballet Company at the end of her contract this July. In typical Italian fashion, a new municipal government and mayor prompted changes on the boards of all the principal institutions. As the president of the board of the Opera House, the mayor can decide who will be the new intendant — usually a man very close to him politically — and, consequently, the artistic staff who will rule the theatre. Unfortunately, this happens almost regularly, regardless of whether the former artistic staff had reached its goals or not. Carla Fracci, and her husband and assistant, director Beppe Menegatti, were victims of this rule, even though the Rome Opera Ballet has had successes that were unthinkable before Fracci arrived with the company. She gave the Roman dancers many opportunities for technical and artistic development; she nurtured and promoted the younger dancers and motivated the older ones. The company increased its performances with new productions of classics, creations and revivals, which usually sold out. Among the ballets Fracci scheduled, the repertoire stemming from the
Diaghilev era, included such rarities as a reconstruction of Nijinsky’s lost ballets to Balanchine’s Le Chat and Le Bal — restored by Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer — that won particular international acclaim. Fracci has run the Rome company for 10 years, an achievement she should be proud of. Before her arrival, the Rome Opera Ballet was generally considered the laziest and most litigious of the Opera House companies in Italy. It will be interesting to see who succeeds her. The new artistic director will be an indication of the new board’s plans for the future of the ballet company, whose very survival at the Opera House is always at risk. Fracci will now be able to concentrate on being a City of Florence councillor for culture. Her last production in Rome will be Don Quixote, which seems to be this season’s preferred classic. In February, La Scala Ballet in Milan proposed performing Nureyev’s well-known idiosyncratic version. Why the sudden interest in such a revival? It is due, in part, to the Italian debut of the Bolshoi wonder Natalia Osipova in her trademark role: “The ultimate Kitri,” as one critic called her. And she really is exhilarating with her astonishing jumps and light, chiselled petit and grand batteries that she performs floating in the air.
Compare this with the performance of Maryinsky principal Leonid Sarafanov, a frequent guest with La Scala. Although his technique is remarkable and his academic style is pure and bright, I have yet to feel impressed. His face is pale and his mime is too conventional and flat before the mercurial Kitri. Overall, though, the Milan company danced with renewed energy and some new names certainly deserve attention; for example, the tall, long-limbed Luana Saullo who was an aristocratic, sure and high-jumping Queen of Driads at the premiere. Another production of Petipa’s Spanish extravaganza received a well-deserved positive reaction from both the public and critics. Vladimir Derevianko worked with Florence Opera House company, MaggioDanza, to produce his version of the classic he had created for Dresden SemperOper Ballett. Derev-ianko faced several constraints — the number of dancers, small for a big production and in certain cases too old for dancing in tights (the problem of when dancers should retire is apparently insurmountable), and a poor budget that limited the size of the ensemble — but he cleverly invited six pairs of students from the Ballet Academy of La Scala Theatre to complete the dancing ensemble. This not only addressed his budget problems, it also introduced a fresh breath and natural energy to the choreography. While respecting tradition in the most important choreographic moments, Derevianko gave a new personality to Gamache, no more Kitri’s fiancé, but almost a funny, sparkling and naughty alter ego of Don Chisciotte. If the cavalier looks for romantic love as embodied by the dreamy Dulcinea everywhere, then Derevianko’s Gamache is a spicy tombeur de femmes. The ancient Don’s dream with all the Naiads thus becomes a dreamy and delicious “school” of courting where Gamache clumsily tries to teach the old man how to conquer his beloved, among wonderful and unreachable ladies in virginal white. The character of Love (a tiny and delicious Candida Sorrentino) escorts Don tenderly throughout the ballet while Kitri and Basilio live their romance. A lighthearted and radiant performance by the principals (Letizia Giuliani and Alessandro Riga) was matched by the company’s overall panache. Once more Derevianko showed that, despite few resources, an artistic director with true knowledge and experience can find clever solutions and so celebrate ballet tradition respectfully. Intendants who still want ballet companies in their Opera Houses should think carefully about this.
Natalia Osipova in Rome Ballet Company’s Don Quixote Photo: Marco Brescia
ne of the first Madrid-wide international festivals to take place in the New Year was the 10th edition of the Escena Contemporánea (Contemporary Scene), the city’s most alternative and avant-garde performing arts event. With programming focused on the unconventional and the multidisciplinary, the more than 80 performances by 23 different companies can be challenging to classify and oftentimes difficult to appreciate. The performances run the gamut from odd but refreshing to downright uncomfortable and obscene, and the experimental nature of the performances showcased make attending any show a salient gamble. However, there were a couple of national dance performances this year that are well worth mentioning. Leire Ituarte, dancer and expert in feminist film theory, presented Look at me, Bang Bang, an ironic work that studies the female image in contemporary visual culture. And what better way to tackle said subject matter than with a piece that dehumanizes the female body set to a James Bond — the most respected and internationally renowned womanizer in film history — inspired soundtrack? Framed by a projected pistol target and wearing a dress with what look like the tabs on the cut-out clothing of paper dolls, Ituarte remains with her back pressed against a wall, her limbs moving artificially like the loose joints of a puppet, symbolizing a woman with no real control over her body. In another scene, the stage lights flicker off and on while messages such as “My body … your commodity” are projected onto a mannequin’s torso. Each time the lights go up, Ituarte is found on the floor, folded into mangled positions that never reveal her face. Throughout the piece her hands flit into the shape of a pistol with a quick “bang, bang,” a clear reference to the James Bond motif, but also a criticism of contemporary culture’s malignant portrayal of women as abject and expendable. For her Pearformative Action piece Experiencias con un desconocido Show (Experiences with a stranger Show), dancer and performance artist Sonia Gómez placed an ad stating ���34-yearold, Caucasian brunette, unabashed performer, offers services for strangers.” Several men responded. After choosing her clients, Gómez offers to make their fantasies come true; fantasies that include such simple requests as travelling, exercising and dancing with her. She uses dance to complement her work with these clients, including dance improvisation designed to help one of her clients stay
in shape, which she demonstrates with the help of her sound and video technicians. This leads to a side-splitting scene of violent high-kicks and sloppy pirouettes, and a private dance in high heels, one of which falls off, leaving her to hobble around until her client has had enough. Yet her most inspired dance is one that she creates as a gift for a client whom she visits in China, where she films a praying mantis resting on and walking across the Great Wall. As the footage of the mantis is projected behind her, Gómez imitates the insect’s stance and long, jerky movements. The performance is original, creative and highly entertaining, and it exemplifies the successful merging of several different genres. The next important national dance event was the 14th annual Jerez Festival, which ran between February 26 and March 13. Although this flamenco festival showed itself an A-list affair, it missed the bar by several notches this year. The festival opened promisingly enough with the Broadway-scale performance of Poema del Cante Jonto en el Café de Chinitas performed by the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía and choreographed/directed by veteran flamenco star Cristina Hoyos. The show is based on Federico García
Dancer and choreographer Andrés Marín in La pasión según se mire Photo: Javier Fernandez
by Justine Bayod Espoz
Lorca’s 1921 book Poema del Cante Jondo and the record of popular songs that the poet later recorded with flamenco legend La Argentinita. The protagonists and settings of popular flamenco songs, such as La Petenera, Los Cuatro Muleros and el Café de Chinitas, came to life in a performance that ran a tad too long and was slightly overdone, but the dancing, especially that of the male cast, and the music, was first rate. One of the festival’s most avant-garde performances was Andrés Marín’s La pasión según se mire. This conceptual piece took iconic aspects of Andalusian and flamenco culture, such as Holy Week and the use of the anvil to keep time while performing a martinete, and approached them on a very personal and groundbreaking manner. Although Marín’s dancing, which was extremely similar but less abrasive than that of Israel Galván, left a lot to be desired, it was obvious that he put a lot of thought into the production. Yet his efforts were not widely appreciated by festival attendees, who for the most part left the Villamarta theatre completely baffled, while one audience member took it upon himself to heckle Marín throughout the show. Hands down the best performance of the 16-day festival was Rafaela Carrasco’s Vamos al tiroteo, versiones de un tiempo pasado, yet another work based on the popular songs collected by Lorca. However, this performance was far less literal and more minimalist than the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía’s super production. Vamos al tiroteo is quite simply phenomenal choreography that is so polished and fluid and performed by such impeccably trained dancers that it wows the audience without gimmicks or emotional appeals. This is a master work and a turning point in Carrasco’s career. She has proven herself more than an exceptional dancer, but also a first-class choreographer and artistic director. Unfortunately, quite a few secondrate (and lower) stars performed on both the festival’s main and secondary stages, creating a huge disappointment amongst press and avid festivalgoers who have been attending for years. The reason for this unquestionable drop in quality has not been addressed by festival organizers, but it is no doubt a question of funding. If that was the case, the organizers should have anticipated that attendees would have preferred one top notch performance per night to two or three mediocre shows every evening.
PROFILE by Marc Haegeman
n the last three or four years, Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet has spent a great deal of time reviving ballets that were, in most cases, originally produced in the 19th century by Marius Petipa for St. Petersburg. This intriguing exercise in time-travelling, in most cases based on extensive, scholarly research including the use of choreographic notations and stage designs of the era, has yielded remarkable results. Yet, it is also a fairly new phenomenon in the ballet world and one that directly opposes the more common and revered practice in Russia of handing down the steps from memory, from teacher to student. It will come as no surprise that every new revival of an old ballet invariably meets with a fair amount of skepticism from local critics and observers, who often argue that the theatres are being transformed into museums of lifeless dinosaurs. However, as several of these productions have shown, this is far from being the case. Much success lies in finding that delicate balance between respect for tradition and present-day theatrical viability, as well
as the artistic openness to adapt, at least to a certain extent, to the stylistic requirements of these ballets. One cannot expect artists of today to dance like their predecessors of the 19th century, just as one cannot expect choreographic patterns from 1900 to be upgraded in a 21st-century manner without looking distorted. A fine example was Petipa’s 1899 Le Corsaire, staged in 2007 by Alexei Ratmansky and Yuri Burlaka in what looked to be a thoroughly convincing compromise. Equally successful was Burlaka’s reconstruction of the Grand Pas from Paquita as well as the splendid 1894 Coppélia, brought back by former Maryinsky dancer Sergei Vikharev. These revivals shed new light on ballets considered to be well known and provide further insight into the significance of Petipa and several of his contemporaries, be they choreographers, composers or stage designers. And last, but not least, as Ratmansky observed, studying the fabric of these older works turns out to be an extremely gratifying experience for anyone involved in contemporary creations.
Last December, the Bolshoi brought yet another old Petipa classic back to life. La Esmeralda is today relatively little known outside of Russia, although the ballet premiered in London in 1844, combining the talents of French choreographer Jules Perrot and Italian composer Cesare Pugni. Almost immediately thereafter, La Esmeralda travelled to Russia, where it was first performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in St. Petersburg (1848). Petipa eventually took it under his caring wings and restaged the ballet for St. Petersburg’s Maryinsky Theatre in 1886 and once more in 1899, when the title role was performed by Mathilde Kschessinskaya. While he remained essentially faithful to the spirit of Perrot, Petipa’s transformation of La Esmeralda into a ballet à grand spectacle fit for the Imperial Theatre guaranteed its survival into the 20th century. Several further recensions followed and although it disappeared from the repertory of both the Maryinsky and Bolshoi, smaller companies like St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre perform versions to this day. Shunned by the Paris Opera, La Esmeralda was only premiered in Paris in 1856 and no version made it to the present. Roland Petit’s Notre-Dame de Paris may retell the story, but it is not connected with Perrot’s or Petipa’s ballet. The piece is based on Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) and its subject sounded especially dear to the Romantics. Set in an idealized late 15thcentury Paris, it featured a freedom-loving gypsy girl caught between the advances of the nobleman Phoebus and the priest Claude Frollo with his sinister sidekick Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer of Notre Dame. The story’s prevalent contrast between the heartless and depraved high society and the harsh but noble-hearted life in the gutter was essential in the Romantic canon. La Esmeralda was also the first ballet in history to have a real city onstage. The new Moscow revival is the work of Bolshoi Ballet director Yuri Burlaka and choreographer Vasily Medvedev, both experts in old ballet restoration. Even though Petipa’s 1899 staging may be considered the core of the new production, as with Le Corsaire there was no question of mounting a carbon copy. Instead, following extensive archival research, Burlaka and his team opted for a synthesis of almost a hundred years of performance practice, from 1844 to the 1930s. For the choreography, Burlaka and Medvedev used notations of the late19th-century production by Nikolai Sergeyev, kept at the Harvard Theatre Natalia Osipova in Bolshoi Ballet’s La Esmeralda Photo: Marc Haegeman
Collection, wherever possible, but they also had to fill the gaps with new steps. In addition, they beefed up the roles of the male dancers and restored mime scenes that had disappeared in the last century. The melodious score by Pugni, with additions from Riccardo Drigo, Anton Simon and Pyotr Shenk, was repaired by Alexander Troitsky. La Esmeralda is a feast for the eye with magnificent, grandiose sets accurately recreated by Alyona Pikalova after late19th-century designs, suggesting a romanticized medieval Paris with its Cour des Miracles, the gothic mansion of Fleur de Lys (Phoebus’ fiancée) and, of course, Notre Dame cathedral itself. The beautiful costumes were conceived by Yelena Zaitseva and were partly based on sketches by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, then director of the Imperial Theatres and known particularly for his work on The Sleeping Beauty. Since Pugni’s original orchestral score no longer exists, the producers opted for the 1926 orchestration by Reinhold Glière, which, unfortunately, piles up layers of sound, making it more Soviet era than 19th century. With its three hours 20 minutes’ running time, the three-act La Esmeralda remains, even by today’s standards, a ballet à grand spectacle. Requiring a company strong in numbers as well as in means, it fits the Bolshoi like a glove. The many soloist and demi-soloist roles and group scenes, as well as the eclectic nature of the choreography require an ensemble at the top of its game. In this respect, the premiere cast led by Maria Alexandrova left very little to be desired. Alexandrova, as always as commanding in steps as she is enchanting in character, found able support from Ruslan Skvortsov as Phoebus, Denis Savin as the poet Gringoire and Maria Allash as Fleur de Lys, while those two fine dance-actors Alexei Loparevich as the priest Frollo and Gennady Yanin as Quasimodo were already creating intriguing characters. A second cast led by Natalia Osipova’s very emotional Esmeralda and the debonair Phoebus of Alexander Volchkov provided interesting contrasts. Despite everything it does right, the new production is not without its shortfalls. Act I is rather lengthy with a great deal of mime and similar-looking dance, making for a slow start. The new steps look very much like new and the sense of stylistic unity achieved in Le Corsaire, for example, is absent. Act II is choreographically a gem, although here, too, purists will find fault in the conflation of styles. It features not only the 1899 Pas de Corbeilles (reminiscent of Le Jardin animé in Le Corsaire), but also the pas de
six with the famous zigzag bourrées for Esmeralda, created by Petipa for Virginia Zucchi in 1886 and the Pas de Diane (or Diane and Actaeon) divertissement culled from Agrippina Vaganova’s 1935 revival. However, by offering this savvy revisit of La Esmeralda, cleansed of absurd incrustations, Burlaka and his team have introduced the ballet to new generations of artists and audiences, securing its survival as a living work for years to come. And that’s nothing less than continuing the work of Petipa, Gorsky, Sergeyev, etc. On January 8, the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg celebrated what would have been the centenary of the iconic ballerina Galina Ulanova (1910-1998) with a gala performance of acts from her three most famous ballets: The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. Having spent her career on both stages, first as a dancer then, after 1961, as a ballet-mistress répétiteur, Ulanova’s unique artistic legacy and influence unites the Maryinsky and Bolshoi Theatres and so the event was repeated a week later in Moscow. The evenings were organized by the Galina Ulanova Foundation, presided by Vladimir Vasiliev.
Although Maryinsky booths sold photos of Ulanova posing with two presentday ballerinas, Diana Vishneva and Maya Dumchenko, neither one of these artists took part in the gala. In the final years of her life, Ulanova came to St. Petersburg and attended rehearsals of Vishneva and Dumchenko for their debuts in Romeo and Juliet and it would have been appropriate to feature them as they were indeed some of the very last, still active Maryinsky dancers, with whom a direct link could be established. Nonetheless, the Maryinsky company seemed thoroughly inspired by the commemorative event and, notwithstanding Alina Somova’s bleak rendition of Giselle, the evening looked very much like the perfect homage indeed. Act I of Rostislav Zakharov’s dram-ballet The Fountain of Bakhchisarai was sensitively performed by Anastasia Kolegova and Vladimir Shklyarov. But it was Act I of Leonid Lavrovsky’s Romeo and Juliet that formed the focal point of the evening, with outstanding interpretations by Evgenia Obraztsova — without doubt one of the finest younger dancers in the company — and Andrian Fadeyev, finally back after a long injury. Ulanova’s spirit was obviously watching over it all.
by Paula Citron
he population of Israel is similar to that of greater Toronto, yet the representation of its dance companies at festivals and series around the globe belies its small size. Why? The answer is simple. For the last 16 years, the Israeli government has been inviting presenters and producers to attend an annual curated event called International Exposure; 125 people from 34 countries were part of the 2009 cultural mission, December 9-13, 2009. The Israelis pay for the hotel and transportation which includes a day trip to Jerusalem. In the last couple of years, dance writers have also been invited. Most of the five-day event takes place at the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre. The complex includes four buildings carved into theatres and studios. There is also a large central square used for outdoor performances which is frequented by tourists and local residents. In fact, the Dellal Centre is a Tel Aviv tourist attraction because it is located in historic Neve Tzedek, first settled in the early 1900s by Jews who moved out of the Arab town of Jaffa to found a Jewish city. From the seeds of Neve Tzedek — with its quaint, narrow streets filled with antique shops, artists’ ateliers and restaurants — mighty Tel Aviv has grown. International Exposure is about contemporary dance, although there was a nod to tradition with a trip to the Israel Ballet. We were heavily programmed,
with 21 official performances involving 29 companies and five studio presentations by other dance companies. The three major Israeli companies, in terms of size, were all present: Batsheva, based at the Dellal Centre; Kibbutz, based at Kibbutz Ga’aton; and Kamea, based in Beersheva in the Negev Desert. The latter gave a studio presentation. Collectively, they have toured the globe. The rest of the shows were made up of smaller companies either already on the international circuit or hoping to be picked up. It should be noted that Israel has an extraordinary number of strong
male dancers, and that both the men and the women are very well trained. Ohad Naharin’s new piece Hora for Batsheva, set to the ethereal electronic music of Japanese composer Isao Tomita, is rooted in his Gaga training technique that produces strong, muscular, athletic dance. The 11 dancers are always onstage and there seems to be a desperation about their non-stop, maniacal movement. A hora is a Jewish dance of celebration, but this hora seems to end in melancholy, and therefore, the very word becomes one of bitter irony. Kibbutz’s Rami Be’er is Israel’s poet of dance who also designs the set and lighting for his productions, as well as writing the poetry that inspires his works. In Infrared, set to an atmospheric score by Alex Claude, the 15 dancers are clothed in vivid yellow, blue and red costumes. The piece, based on Be’er’s text, is an abstraction on war and each colour is a separate army. The infrared of the title is the light that reveals what is hidden in the blackness. Be’er creates intensely visual works of fluid choreography that contains many fascinating layers. Unfortunately, we only saw excerpts of Kamea’s repertoire by Tamir Ginz, but the brief taste of his acclaimed dance theatre Carmina Burana for 15 dancers was wonderful. Ginz’s choreography shows both his ballet and contemporary training in sleek, long, rhapsodic movement phrases. His new piece, Srul, is
Top: Kibbutz Dance Company in Rami Be’er’s Infrared Photo: Gadi Dragon
about the essence of being Israeli. The title is apparently a nickname for a pioneer, and what we saw showed a dance of almost melancholic reflection. Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company and Yasmeen Godder are very popular abroad. The Pinto/ Pollak Trout had pride of place at International Exposure; it was the only piece repeated every evening. It involves all manner of vignettes in water with a lonely figure that resembles Elizabeth I wandering through the flood. As for Godder’s Love Fire, a duet for her and Eran Shanny set to a potpourri of famous waltzes, the work examines the concept of romance and includes a dizzying array of props such as skin hides and postmodern choreography. My two favourite pieces were Michal Herman’s dance theatre Fellowship and the Yossi Berg/Oded Graf co-choreographed 4 Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer. The former, based on a Kafka absurdist short story, is about a group of five who want to be a group of six. Herman’s genius is that each of the characters has his or her own choreographic motif, supported by a solo musical instrument, which merge to create a group motif. Berg and Graf use a brilliant combination of burly movement, text, song and “male” props such as Mexican wrestling masks and guns to portray a black humour skewering of machismo — and all to Bach, no less. A popular favourite among the delegates was Noa Wertheim’s Mana (Vertigo Dance Company), a gorgeous, passionate piece filled with inventive visual images about the reconciliation between our exterior and interior selves. Artour Astman and Ilana Bellahsen’s ArtLana, a modern dance romance based on their own paintings is also worthy of mention. Rooster by Barak Marshall is an ambitious piece for 12 dancers, inspired by various short stories and folklore about a victimized loner. The detailed movement itself is wonderful dance theatre, but the inclusion of a soprano and an actress detract from its impact. The final note should go to Arkadi Zaides’ heartfelt Quiet. The cast comprises two Israelis (Zaides and Ofir Yudilevitch) and two Arabs (Muhammed Mugrabi and Rabie Khoury). It is a piece about aggression and compassion, set against the background of many stick-figure doves of peace. The beginning is unforgettable. Each man outlines the body of the other, but can’t quite bring himself to enact physical touching. It is only in the arts, it seems, that the two sides can come together.
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Left Centre: Rina Wertheim in Vertigo Dance Company’s Mana Photo: Gadi Dragon
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nder new artistic director Emily Molnar, Ballet British Columbia returned to its traditional home at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for Re/Naissance, a suite of three distinct works that clearly established the company as one that focuses on presenting contemporary ballets. Ballet British Columbia has decided to differentiate itself from other ballet companies in the country by following a path that neither ignores ballet’s long history nor remains constrained by its conventions. The new direction was clear from the first work. Herman Schmerman by William Forsythe took ballet’s gender roles and mixed them up. Forsythe’s women may have danced en pointe but they weren’t delicate paragons of femininity trying to defy gravity. Dressed in black bustiers originally designed by Gianni Versace, the woman were both unmistakably feminine but entirely confident and powerful. The men, too, were different: they were both traditionally powerful yet surprising graceful. The choreography in the quintet varied between dancers moving in unison, in horizontal or diagonal lines, as a group and as isolated individuals, in their own privatized spaces. A pleasing
rhythm developed between co-ordination and organized chaos. Watching the dancers, it’s easy to see why Forsythe’s choreography is so challenging: it requires dancers with enough ballet technique to keep their line, but also with the added skill to tweak it and move off kilter when required. It’s not surprising then that for its 2010-2011 season, the Bolshoi Ballet has selected Herman Schmerman as its first Forsythe work. Herman Schmerman ended with a pas de deux. Makaila Wallace first came onstage wearing a bright yellow skirt followed by a shirtless Donald Sales in an identical skirt. At the sight of a man wearing what’s traditionally considered women’s clothing the audience tittered briefly. But then everyone calmed down and sat back to watch two superb dancers perform together as male and female dancers — not as gender archetypes of femininity and masculinity. Herman Schmerman was a great choice to open Re/Naissance. Everything about the piece reflected the company’s new direction — even its odd title. Herman Schmerman comes from a line spoken by Steve Martin in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, a film by Carl Reiner that includes many movie clips from American film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. As with
Reiner’s film, Forsythe’s choreography took conventions and traditions of the past and re-imagined them for a contemporary audience. The second work was Itzik Galili’s Things I Told Nobody. If Forsythe’s piece could be admired for its exploration into ballet’s past, then Galili’s could be loved for its raw emotional impact. It opened with Gilbert Small on one side of the stage dancing a slow and sinewy solo on the floor while lit by an industrial-style single light just above him. Part of his movement included a pointed finger that suggested a gun or someone or something being singled out for attention. The lights slowly came up on the rest of the dancers who mimicked Small’s body and hand movement. As they slowly started to rise to their feet, their measured movements recalled ancient creatures being summoned back to life. Subtle but charged with emotion, the opening sequence ended when all the dancers stood up and turned the industrial-style lights onto us, the audience. The gesture broke the fourth wall separating performers from the audience and put our emotional response to the piece under a spotlight. The final piece was British Columbia’s Crystal Pite’s Short Works: 24. Comprised of two dozen vignettes of about a minute in duration, they were hilarious and inventive. Pite poked fun at toques, blonds and choreography itself. In one vignette, several dancers lined up from front to back in a row, then moved off line and back and forth in various combinations until one lone dancer was left onstage. With the simplest of movement, the piece touched upon the universal theme of abandonment and isolation. After financial troubles in 2009 that led the company to suspend its season and pass on taking part in the Cultural Olympiad for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Ballet British Columbia has returned to the stage with a sense of purpose as a contemporary ballet company. Re/Naissance is a sign the company has indeed undergone a rebirth and is ready to resume its position as British Columbia’s most important dance company. The company’s 25th anniversary season in 2010-2011 will be the first full season programmed by Molnar. Ballet British Columbia will be presenting eight world premieres by international and local choreographers that include Kevin O’Day, José Navas, Serge Bennathan, Wen Wei Wang, Gioconda Barbuto and Donald Sales. Kevin Griffin
o far, 2010 has been a stellar year for dance in Seattle. In March alone, this city of almost 600,000 enjoyed 14 shows given by its 40+ dance companies. On the Boards launched its video-on-demand programme; touring companies included Bruno Beltrão and the Trey McIntyre Project. And in April, Compañía Nacional de Danza gave two North American premieres. But the big news? The debut of Olivier Wevers’ new company Whim W’Him. This contemporary ballet troupe’s engagement at On the Boards in January sold out four days before the show opened. The performances radiated wit, grit and elegance. Wevers is currently a principal dancer at Pacific Northwest Ballet. His background includes dancing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and training in his native Belgium with Nicole Karys. As a dancer, he is known for his clean line, his musicality, his thoughtful and precise movement, and his compelling characterization. These appear in his own choreography, to which he adds turbo-charged mobility and expressiveness for the back and the hands. He often rejects easy symmetries, choosing instead the rewarding asymmetries I associate with Renaissance figure studies. Wevers has choreographed numerous pieces since 2002 and is an alumi of the National Choreographers Initiative and New York City Ballet’s New York Choreographic Institute. Joining Wevers on this first “whim” were four classical dancers from Pacific Northwest Ballet, three modern dancers from Spectrum Dance Theatre, one Seattle-based independent dancer and one dancer from Quorum Ballet in Portugal. Wevers brought these assorted dancers together for a 45-minute work called 3Seasons. A few years ago, Seattle seemed to skip a summer — thus the name 3Seasons; thus the eco-concept that we humans will have to change our habits; and thus the replacement each evening of one of Vivaldi’s four seasons with a new composition by Byron Au Yong. The dancers adjusted; the work’s mood shifted. Wevers’ 3Seasons starts with the powerhouse Kaori Nakamura in a gritty tutu, screwing in a light bulb. We see a dance of acquisition: how sensitive, funny and distressing is Jim Kent’s portrayal of his character’s desperate,
paralyzing desire for objects! We see a dance of vanity: Jonathan Porretta and Vincent Lopez lope in on extreme demi-pointe, with attitude, hands on their buttocks, looking like sexy fauns. We see a dance of community: an intimate daisy chain more charming, more elegantly designed than Balanchine’s. We see several dances of passion: Ty Alexander Cheng and Kylie Lewallen’s breathless romance, Lucien Postlewaite and Hannah Lagerway’s exquisite roll in the hay, and a horrendous but thrillingly danced rape scene. We see a dance about the implants and toxins we put in our bodies: Chalnessa Eames and Porretta once again prove themselves masters of comedy as he plucks plastic sacs from her tutu skirt and she stuffs them into her bodice. In the final tableau, Nakamura, her costume and body sullied by her partner’s bloodied hands, is dumped headfirst into a trash bin and left to spin alone onstage, her pointe shoes wrongway up. It’s devastating. Menswear designer Michael Cepress designed 3Seasons’ costumes. Michael Mazzola designed the lighting. Both were attractive and effective. Two other works appeared on the programme, limning Wevers’ choreographic past. The first piece, Xstasis, he created on Pacific Northwest Ballet in 2006. These abstract episodes feature his distinct, specific movement. Highlights included the fearless partnering of Nakamura and guest Karel Cruz. Porretta and Postlewaite danced their richly textured male pas de deux as though their joints had an infinite give.
Kelly Ann Barton and Vincent Lopez in Whim W’Him’s 3Seasons Photo: La Vie Photography
Wevers created the second work, Fragments, on Spectrum in 2007. Lopez and guest Kelly Ann Barton wear gorgeous new costumes by Christine Joly de Lotbiniere. Dome-shaped skirts that fit the Mozart arias, amplify Fragments’ seriocomic tone and do not hamper the modern movement, which ranges from huge lunges to piccolo-quick back spasms. Lopez had a heart-searing solo. Bathed in “candlelight,” he removed his skirts and began a tortuous testing of each joint and muscle, his minute articulations distancing him from his clothes. As the music reached an agonized ecstasy, Lopez held a crabbed backbend, balanced on his head and one foot, stuck but still striving. Then, in silence and velvety near-darkness, he re-donned the reductive trappings of society. Whim W’Him means to stick around. Planning began in 2008. The advisory board is made up of Donald Byrd, Francia Russell, Kent Stowell and Chuck Gottschalk. The company boasts a sophisticated marketing presence created by Wevers, Michele Locatelli, Jess Pauwels and Marc von Borstel. By January, Wevers and volunteers had raised $58,000 for the 2010 season. In February, Whim W’Him performed again, taking Fragments to the Chop Shop: Bodies of Work festival. The dancers returned to their home companies after the show and Wevers started fundraising again. Last year, he raised funds on faith and friendship. This year he can point to a remarkable first season with an excellent box office and glowing critical reviews. Rosie Gaynor
acific Northwest Ballet typically programmes a story ballet every February. This year it was Sleeping Beauty, co-staged by the choreographer himself, Ronald Hynd, February 4-14 at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. Pacific Northwest Ballet premiered Hynd’s opus in 2001 — the first time it had been presented outside Europe since the 1993 world premiere for English National Ballet. It is a ballet with familiar narrative themes, character performances and technically demanding solos. Artistic Director Peter Boal admits that it is “perhaps the greatest technical challenge of any ballet in our repertory.” On opening night, this challenge was met by Kaori Nakamura who, as Aurora, mastered the requisite prolonged balances and promenades. Fearless during the Rose Adagio, she appeared exuberant in the Vision Scene Adagio as well as in the Grand Pas de Deux. Carrie Imler’s Aurora was delightfully impetuous and confident. Well poised, her impressive dynamic range could be seen in her generous renversé and ronde de jambe, but also in her rapid turns en ménage. Imler excels in her jumps. She hovers in them, flaunting her great ballon. Mara Vinson as Aurora was ex-
ceptionally comfortable and secure onstage, from her crisp bourrée to her skilfully placed turns and balances — all performed with a youthful impulse. The Prologue variations showcased the Royal Fairies’ gifts. Opening night featured Carla Körbes as the Lilac Fairy, a study in grace and calm throughout the high drama of the ballet. The musical Körbes overshadowed all, pusing somewhat forcefully into arabesque and pausing as if to punctuate her turns. Also memorable were Kylee Kitchens’ Fairy of Beauty for her slow, deliberate moves (in another cast, she is the pizzicato Fairy of Purity); Laura Gilbreath’s Fairy of Purity, who accomplished balances and turns with great composure (as she also did in the more difficult role of Lilac Fairy); Chalnessa Eames’ dynamic Fairy of Wit (Eames also was impressive in the Act III Gold and Silver Pas de Trois); and Lesley Rausch’s Fairy of Generosity, noteworthy for her speed. In another cast, Lindsi Dec was a fiery Fairy of Wit, commanding with her huge extensions and led by an authoritative Carrie Imler as Lilac Fairy. Although relaxed onstage, Imler can bring a rare acuity to the role. Olivier Wevers is Carabosse, a vindictive supernatural creature that is both terrifying and pathetic. Wevers’ por-
trayal of the slighted fairy godmother is dramatic and he plays it with a convincing urgency. Wevers has made a name for himself in princely and character roles alike, as well as for his edgy choreography for Pacific Northwest Ballet and his own company, Whim W’Him. In this programme, though, he faced some healthy competition from Jonathan Porretta, who debuted as Carabosse. Porretta was a beguiling mix of eerie serenity and ferocity. In the three performances I viewed, most of the dancers were in top form — from the spirited mazurka ensemble dancing to the fairy tale character variations. Mara Vinson and Jonathan Porretta performed a stunning, articulate Bluebird Pas de Deux, as well as Jerome Tisserand who also excelled in the stamina-laden Bluebird role. However, Porretta dominates here, with his sparkling technique and huge jumps. Of the male leads, Lucien Postlewaite’s Prince Florimund stood out. On opening night, he soldiered on through the lifts and delivered a clearly phrased and gracious pas de deux. Tchaikovsky’s emotive music defines the ballet. From the lilting waltzes to the rousing brass hunting calls, this is a score that requires great focus from the orchestra. At times, the fanfare of trumpets, trombones and horns sounded somewhat sharp, but the bassoon solos, the high, haunting cello solos and the clear violin solos of concertmaster Michael Jinsoo Lim were beautifully executed, as were the sections played by the strong woodwinds and percussion. Although the rhythm was a little uneven on opening night, much had been sorted out by this critic’s third viewing. It would seem that award-winning scenic and costume designer Peter Docherty was given complete discretion with the production. From the goldtinted drapes to the ethereal gauze-like dress worn by the airborne fairies or the tattered garments of the wicked Carabosse, this is a spectacular production. Docherty’s style is to create an impressionistic feel to the scenic design, much like a watercolour effect. The scale of presentation is huge, yet his costumes and sets soften even the most robust cabriole or the most threatening forest. Lastly, kudos is due to choreographer Ronald Hynd, who brings a lyrical sensibility to his work. The flow of the ballet is as one magnificent waltz — most certainly a hard act to follow in programming for the story-loving Seattle balletomanes. Gigi Berardi
Lucien Postlewaite and Kaori Nakamura in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty Photo: © Angela Sterling
expectations around a new production of a work such as La Bayadère are often the starting point for an intriguing series of paradoxes. Innovation, surprise and the ability to develop a “fresh” view — all these are desirable because many viewers want to see a choreographer’s personal touch. If the innovations are too drastic, however, the choreographer is accused of bad taste, at best, or heresy, at worst. For many decades, artistic directors have been walking this fine line, and critics and fans like to argue about where new productions fall within this imaginary spectrum. Anthony Dowell’s Swan Lake for the Royal Ballet is, for me, a masterpiece; Sylvie Guillem’s Giselle for La Scala Ballet, however, is a seriously failed attempt at rusticity. I like riding this interpretation roller coaster because it is a thrilling trip, one at the very core of my experience of the story ballet. The publicity hype over Artistic Director Stanton Welch’s new La Bayadère for Houston Ballet came fast and furious last September, and made him sound almost like an armchair anthropologist. There were written previews about Welch and his artistic team (in particular, scenic and costume designer Peter Farmer) visiting the Hillcroft neighbourhood in Houston to research authentic and yet modern Indian costume. Live snakes with vivid markings nearly upstaged the dancers in promotional advertising (they behaved well onstage, though). In an informal interview at the company’s studios last year, Welch explained to me some of his latest ideas. His enthusiasm was impressive. It was evident that he truly loves La Bayadère and that for
this production he intended to pull out all the stops. I’ll admit that I left the discussion feeling just a bit anxious about the outcome. Five months later: opening week. I was thrilled at how elegant and sophisticated this Bayadère feels. It’s a sustainable production, updated to a 21st-century view, vivid and colourful, but still with a respectful attitude toward the ballet’s history. I took a deep breath near the conclusion of Act I, thinking happily that Welch had thus far achieved a perfect balance. Up until now, my primary reference point for La Bayadère has been Anna-Marie Holmes’ production nearly a decade ago for Boston Ballet. Her staging has been considered enormously authentic, in particular since Holmes had made good use of the Sergeyev notes in the Harvard Theatre Collection. Comparing it to Welch’s production, however, makes it seem that he asked a simple yet pertinent question of himself: “What would this ballet look like to a contemporary person of Indian descent?” Maybe there were important secondary questions, as well. What does this movement look like now, when so many Westerners study yoga? How do we present La Bayadère in a time where Americans have become quite familiar with anjali mudra (sacred hand position)? In light of such questions, Welch’s ballet feels less of an exotic oddity. Farmer’s use of sensuous, flowing silks and rayon is liberating for the Houston Ballet dancers. Kelly Myernick as Gamzatti, in particular, used the fabric as yet another way to amplify her sweeping lyricism. All the acting in the secondary roles was well coached and the sense of ensemble highly confident. James Gotesky was a commanding, if not terrifying, High Brahmin. Sara Webb provided a strangely romantic in-
Kelly Myernick and Connor Walsh in Houston Ballet’s La Bayadère Photo: Amitava Sarkar
terpretation as Nikiya, always ethereal, except when crossed by Gamzatti, where she was an imposing spitfire. Connor Walsh is currently at the ideal point in his career to take on a role like Solor. His studied interpretation and wholehearted commitment to the part reminds one that many classical and romantic ballets are just as much about the “cavalier” as they are about the ballerina. A great Albrecht in Giselle, for example, can make one think that he is the protagonist, and that all the action centres on his realization of destiny and defeat, his own lack of compassion. Walsh brought a similar impact to Solor in this production — without ever upstaging Webb — and his jumping right now is an art form in itself. Perhaps the excitement of the new production made the corps de ballet or Welch rest on their laurels when it came to the Kingdom of the Shades, the epitome of the ballet blanc. There is no way to say it nicely. This scene has to be perfect or it’s not worth doing at all. I was stunned to see so many of the women wobble on the supporting leg, rush ahead or lag behind the others in the arabesque cambré, or push the extension of the raised leg unnecessarily, thereby ruining the horizontal lines of the ensemble. The problems were manifold, and the scene barely held together until Webb and Walsh arrived. Seated as I was on the right side 10 rows back, I could easily see the seam running upstage in the marley floor. With each congregation to frame the soloists, the women dotted the margins on either side of this seam, making a wavering line even when they had a guide in plain sight. It was surprising sloppiness in an otherwise deeply considered reinterpretation of this great classical ballet. Theodore Bale
rom its inception on January 8, with a Light the Knight gala featuring North Carolina Dance Theatre onstage as the toasts of a champagne evening, the new Knight Theatre has been preeminently a palace of dance. Before North Carolina Dance Theatre returned for its first regular subscription programme at the Knight, where it is the official resident company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre came in with three different programmes for a six-day, eight-performance run in February, unprecedented in Charlotte. Parsons Dance had to follow all that hoopla and excitement, and its four-day sojourn late in March sported some double-barreled programming ammunition of its own. Fans who were pre-sold on Parsons could expect to see 11 different David Parsons choreographies on the two programmes. In its first foray into Charlotte — the Parsons troupe does not tour intensively — it was obvious that nobody was taking the new audience for granted. So the first programme boasted more familiarity in its music, more variety in its costuming and choreography, more lighting wizardry from Parsons cofounder Howell Binkley, and more eagerness to please. After Thursday’s opening night sampler, it was hard not to consider returning on Saturday night or for the Sunday matinee. Both programmes began and ended conventionally with larger ensemble pieces that introduced the dancers at the top of the evening and gathered them again at the final curtain for closing bows. Wolfgang began the opening night dazzle, with flowing mauve-and-cream costumes by David Murin accented in black, moving three of the six Parsons couples busily around the stage in the opening allegro. The sensuality of Murin’s costumes are welcome in Parsons’ works, so often infused with the American wholesomeness that is associated with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, where Parsons began his career. Chemistry between the couples — Abby Silva Gavezzoli and Miguel Quiñones, Julie Blume and Zac Ham-
mer — came across most beguilingly in the middle movement of the piece, set with close partnering to the famed Elvira Madigan andante of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #21, with the men often devoted to keeping the women floating on air. More feats of levitation were to follow, thanks to the synergy between Parsons and Binkley. Hand Dance spotlighted five unidentified members of the company — or at least their hands and arms floating in the dark. Illuminated from the wings, the 10 appendages danced to Orange Blossom Special, a speedy bluegrass ramble, veering and swaying and affirming in unison, splitting chaotically or co-operating in formations, and at one climax, forming a sloping plank that a single hand walked to its doom. The humour of this novelty was counterbalanced after intermission by the amazement of Caught, a signature Parsons piece developed in 1982 while he was still a star in the Paul Taylor firmament. Aided by precisely timed strobe lights, Quiñones was repeatedly frozen in mid-air, seemingly soaring around the stage or walking above-ground, only to reappear — almost as spectacularly — totally still in an at-ease posture upstage centre. Although three members of the troupe were listed as possible soloists, when Caught was reprised on Saturday night in the second programme, it was Quiñones who opened once again. Seeing him a second time, after being understandably wowed by the strobe-lit ending, I was able to savour more fully the excellence of Quiñones’ work before the strobes come on (and to observe his
consistency afterward). Deservedly a classic. Four of the six couples participated in Swing Shift, set to a fine suite by composer Kenji Bunch. Dressed in rust and orange by costumer Mia McSwain, the ensemble amped the energy in the fast segments beyond what we had seen earlier in Wolfgang and gave us some glimpses of the men and women in separate groups — some impressive individuality and synchronicity there. Kind of Blue, a Parsons homage to Miles Davis’ So What, saw the two couples — Gavezzoli and Hammer, Blume and Billy Smith — dressed down to denim by McSwain. As the familiar solos by Davis, John Coltrane and “Cannonball” Adderley wailed, Parsons toughened the dancers with a more citified insouciance and a more competitive edge. Has disco been revived? So it appeared when McSwain draped the ensemble in all-white costumes, reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever, for Shining Star. The look and the choreography were surprisingly apt for the medley of silky soul hits by Earth, Wind & Fire. Gavezzoli and Hammer were again the alpha couple in this piece as we transitioned from the party-on ambiance of the title song to the wittier, sexier moves that Parsons paired with That’s the Way of the World, an orgy of simultaneous pas de deux. Tuxedo jackets, which somehow get peeled off torsos along the way, returned for the Can’t Hide Love finale, where Lauren Putty, capping her first appearance of the night, stole the final scene, reclining luxuriously on a tux as her man dragged her offstage. Overall, the second programme, though more casual in its dress, maintained a slightly more serious tone. There were weightier themes in Scrutiny from 1987, where Parsons explored the beauties and pressures of conformity, and Brothers from 1982, where Quiñones and Steven Vaughan ranged from joking, teasing horseplay — very much in the Paul Taylor idiom — to anger and resentment, with added Freudian undercurrents supplied by the unexpected Stravinsky score. A fascinat-
Sarah Braverman and Miguel Quinones (middle), Zac Hammer and Julie Blume (left), Billy Smith and Abby Silva (right) inWolfgang Photo: Bill Hebert (BHPhotos)
ing choreography developed by Parsons and Daniel Ezralow, right up to the obligatory bows — and exits to opposite wings. We only glimpsed the full ambition of Remember Me through a convulsive excerpt, Ebben, danced by Billy Smith and the ever-wondrous Gavezzoli. No, the music from Alfredo Catalani’s opera, La Wally, only distantly resembled the passionate plaints revived by the ethereal Renée Fleming. The East Village Opera Company obviously had other ideas in its adaptation and it chimed very well with Gavezzoli’s precise catatonia. All else was pure light in Nascimento Novo, which brought down the curtain for intermission, and the rowdier In the End, which closed the Parsons visit to Charlotte. A quick glance at the company website revealed that the tribute to Caribbean composer Milton Nascimento had been condensed, for the drummers who appear on the video did not join the troupe on the road, and the final segment, beginning with five couples spelling out “WE LOVE MILTON” had been abridged to “LOVE.” The rousing finale was a tribute to the music of the Dave Matthews Band, a joyous perpetual-motion celebration that streamed Satellite, When the World Ends and Out of My Hands before climaxing with the whole ensemble onstage for Stay. That was certainly the audience’s sentiment as they sprang up for a standing ovation. There was nothing perfunctory about this outburst of enthusiasm, for the crowd had risen just as spontaneously to its feet moments earlier when Quiñones landed onstage at the end of Caught. Charlotte’s second standing ovation merely sealed the Parsons triumph. Perry Tannenbaum
ming and, of course, dance entertain. On January 1, 2010, the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo was the setting for a beautiful display of elegant and restrained traditional dance, colourful kimonos, and fluttering fans and sashes. However, the Japanese don’t limit themselves solely to the traditional arts when ringing in the New Year. If anything, the Japanese are masters at adopting foreign cultures without compromising their own so during the first two weeks of the year, Tokyo is also abuzz with every type of dance, from flamenco to hip hop to contemporary. Yet tradition, albeit by Western standards, was exactly what the New National Theatre chose to observe in their New Year Opera Palace Gala on January 5-6, with two evenings of ballet and opera. A short train ride from Shinjuku Station, Tokyo’s New National Theatre, a modern yet opulent building, was constructed in 1997 to house opera, dance and theatre. The gala took place in the largest of the venue’s three theatres, the Opera Palace, which was packed to the rafters with a restrained yet very appreciative Japanese audience. The first half of the gala was devoted entirely to two ballet pieces performed by the New National Theatre Ballet and accompanied by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted beautifully by Ooi Takeshi. The opening piece was the Pas des Fiancées from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a welcome change from the composer’s seasonal favourite The Nutcracker. Maki Asami’s staging and the new choreography by British choreographer Jack Carter were simple yet elegant, and gave each of the six female dancers the room and liberty to express small bursts of individuality. Each dancer had the enormous task of filling a very large and sparsely decorated stage throughout each brief solo, which was masterfully accomplished with a spritely choreography that used all the open space while
highlighting each of the ballerinas’ musicality and playful charm. The already up-tempo performance became even livelier with the Grand Café sequence from Roland Petit’s La Chauve-Souris with music by Strauss, a perfect selection for this celebratory gala. As the lights went up on Jean-Michel Wilmotte’s minimalist yet effective set, the audience was welcomed to the legendary Parisian restaurant Maxim’s by a trio of waiters performing near-acrobatic feats of dance. With a tremendous complicity and rapport, this threesome infused the piece with humour before and after welcoming the café’s patrons to the stage. Their female counterparts arrived in the form of the leggy, traditional cancan dancers, who established the scene’s more bawdy tone. The corps de ballet demonstrated not only their excellent timing and elegance as the Parisian social scene, but also made evident a natural theatricality, giving the performance a warmth and joy that filled the immense theatre. Although the performances of Bella, Johann and Ulrich, danced by Yukawa Mamiko, Henmi Tomohiko and Yoshimoto Yasuhisa respectively, were magnificently and expressively danced, it was really the collaboration of the New National Theatre Ballet as a whole that made this piece a downright success, making the audience feel like it was revelling onstage with the dancers and witnessing first-hand all of the individual storylines unravelling inside the Grand Café. If the New National Theatre accomplished anything with its New Year’s gala, it was to prove that Japanese dancers have mastered the classical Western arts, and that Tokyo’s body of talent is well worth the attention and praise usually reserved for ballet companies in cities such as Paris, London and New York. Justine Bayod Espoz
n Japan, the celebration of the New Year is a sacred event lasting two weeks. From the evening of December 31, the Japanese visit shrines and temples to worship, and to seek luck and prosperity in the year to come. The area around these houses of worship becomes a veritable fairground of traditional activities. Rows of open-air food stalls ply visitors with everything from roasted chestnuts to a variety of skewered meats and seafood, while displays of archery, falconry, swordsmanship, Taiko drum-
Tomohiko Henmi, Mamiko Yukawa and Nobuo Sawada in La Chauve-Souris (Grand Café) Photo: Hidemi Seto
by Michael Crabb
Arnold Sphor accepting an ovation at his 25th gala (1983)
he outpouring of affectionate tributes that followed the announcement of the death of Arnold Spohr speaks volumes. It was not just the warm tones that coloured the many reports on radio and television and in newspapers and magazines across Canada and abroad. It was manifested in the immediate stream of fond reminiscences, vivid anecdotes and heartfelt sadness shared through email, message boards and similar electronic media. They flowed among those who knew Spohr personally and also from people who connected with his spirit through the dancing he put onstage as a ballet director. The Spohr touch was magical, palpable, unmistakable and unforgettable. Within hours of his death, Spohr’s friends were discussing the need — their need — to hold memorial gatherings not just in Winnipeg, the epicentre of his life’s work, but in Vancouver and Toronto as well. Partly this reflects the extraordinary sense of kinship among geographically dispersed Royal Winnipeg Ballet alumnae from the years of Spohr’s directorship, a virtual family of which he was the undisputed father figure. But there’s a much larger extended family, those around the globe who from decades ago still remember the thrill of a Royal Winnipeg Ballet performance, its programming blazingly reflective of the man at its helm. Yet, fiercely devoted to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as he undoubtedly was, Spohr’s love of dance and desire
DanceInternational International Summer Summer2010 2010 Dance
to further the art wherever and however he could knew no bounds. He taught, coached and mentored widely. His influence, if only by example, was felt across Canada and beyond. He inspired people he’d never even met. This extraordinary response to Spohr’s death reminded me of the time, more than a decade ago, when I began work on his biography. Naturally, some of my interview candidates had to be tracked down, but there were many who, when they learned through the ballet grapevine what I was up to, were eager to be heard; so many in fact that eventually I had to draw the line for fear of never getting the book finished. They were powerfully motivated to share their impressions of Spohr for the simple reason that he had touched their lives profoundly. There was much laughter; sometimes tears. When the Canadian Conference of the Arts awarded him its coveted Diplôme d’honneur in 1983, the citation described him as “the best-loved man in Canadian dance.” It is one thing in a career to command the respect and admiration of one’s colleagues, quite another to earn their love. Remarkably, Arnold Spohr achieved both. There was, of course, something naturally lovable about the man. Spohr retained throughout his life a childlike quality of wonder, delight and excitement in the world around him. It could be a gasp of sheer exhilaration unleashed by a great performance or an almost conspiratorially
mischievous smile at the first taste of a delicious dessert. Once, when he was staying in my home, I asked him if he’d like me to put some music on. He expressed a desire for Bach. I reached for Glenn Gould’s historic 1955 recording of The Goldberg Variations. Almost immediately he was transported. He sat there silent and motionless throughout. Afterward he simply got up and disappeared to his room. I knew better than to disturb his spiritual reverie. In his travels and official duties, Spohr met grand people of every stripe, from crowned heads, politicians and corporate moguls to the most eminent artists, but there was nothing grand about him. He certainly did not disdain the champagneand-caviar circles in which he sometimes moved, but his own modesty, humility and simplicity remained unaffected. He would be as courteous to the meek as to the mighty. To coin an English expression, he was “a man without side.” I’ll never forget the gala celebrating his 25th anniversary as artistic director. Audience members were informed that following the performance they could if they wished greet him personally in the lobby. There he stood as well-wishers waited their turn to shake his hand or give him a hug. Watching from the mezzanine where an invitation-only reception in his honour had already begun, I’d guess at least half the audience stayed to speak to him. The process took so long that he missed his own party. I know he was exhausted, but he hid it well. Of course, to be an effective ballet director you can’t pussyfoot. You have to make decisions that will please some and wound others. These were always hard for Spohr and could cause him great distress. Ideally, he would have preferred to please everyone and indeed often tried to do so, almost to a fault. In the end, however, he knew where his duty rested, to the company and art form he loved beyond everything. What’s truly extraordinary is that for the most part even those who, in their own terms, were adversely affected by his decisions did not bear a grudge. It’s almost a cliché to recount the personal sacrifices leaders in all walks of life must sometimes make in pursuit of a cause. Arnold Spohr certainly sacrificed a great deal, not the least in terms of his health, but he would have had it no other way. I remember him once, with great particularity, talking about the difference between a life in dance and a life for dance. His was most emphatically a life for dance and we are all the richer for it.
Summer School for Dancers August 21 -August 29, 2010 at our new location at 511 Columbia Street, New Westminster
Ballet Repertoire • Pas De Deux Jazz • Musical Theatre Don’t miss this opportunity to develop your skills as a dancer, training with world-renowned teachers and other dedicated dancers.
Summer classes are offered for all levels from Tiny-Tots to Majors RCYB Company Auditions Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm Following Summer School (Ages 7 & older)
Open Company Auditions Saturday, September 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm Open Auditions for the “Nutcracker” Ballet Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm Principals
Camilla Fishwick RTRAD ARAD ballet classes, point, repertoire
Dolores Kirkwood OBC, RTRAD RAD Syllabus Classes, Children’s & Majors
Camilla is a graduate of the Kirkwood Academy of performing arts, where she received her Advanced RAD diploma as well as her RAD teachers diploma. Camilla has danced professionally with the Connecticut Ballet Theatre, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet Theatre. She performed lead dancing roles in many Royal City Youth Ballet and Royal City Musical Theatre productions such as; The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Cinderella, Wizard of Oz, Brigadoon, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, and The King and I. Camilla was a featured dancer in “The Glory of Christmas” and “The Glory of Easter” at the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County California. Camilla resides in Orange County and currently teaches and performs as a dancer at Disneyland, California.
A professional performer, choreographer, singer and dancer, Dolores Kirkwood holds a teaching diploma from the Royal Academy of Dance, London and is a life member there. She has been honoured with a star on ‘Starwalk’ on Granville Street and has been inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame for her contribution to the cultural life of BC. Past honours include the New Westminster Citizen of the Year in 1994, the Sam Payne Award from ACTRA and CBC for humanity, integrity and the encouragement of new talent. Dolores is one of the founders and past choreographer for the Royal City Musical Theatre Company and founder and Artistic Director of the Royal City Youth Ballet Company.
Trisha Sinosich-Arciaga ARAD, RTRAD ARAD ballet classes Trisha trained and graduated from Kirkwood Academy of Performing Arts. She was soloist and ballet mistress with ‘Dance Streams’ before dancing with other groups. She trained with the Alberta Ballet School professional program, which helped to develop her exciting choreographic skills. Trisha continued her studies in dance and received her teaching certificate, achieving the high mark of ‘distinction’ from the R.A.D. As well as being a busy ballet teacher, she also assists the Royal City Youth Ballet Company with rehearsals and performances. She is a very popular teacher at our summer school program.
Matthew Waldie Choreographer & Stage Jazz Specialist From Victoria B.C., Matt has trained at both Sinclair Academy of Performing Arts and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. He has performed works by Kate Alton, Nova Bhattacharya, Val Calam, Bruce Monk, among many other noted choreographers. Matt has performed in dance films created by Alana Elmer, ELD Films, Boundless Entertainment, Running Duck Productions, and Discovery Dance. The RCYB is pleased to have Matt return to our Summer School program.
Karin Nicholas Musical Theatre After graduation from Kirkwood Academy, Karin spent two years performing in the Toronto area before dancing on cruise ships for several years. She has danced in four of the Royal City Musical Theatre productions, and was a soloist with Royal City Youth Ballet Company. Karin taught ballet (RAD) for four years in Thailand, before returning home to teach Ballet, Tap, and Musical Theatre. Karin holds her Gold Star in tap and has completed the R.A.D. Professional Teachers Program. She looks forward to a fun program for our summer school.
Special Guest Teacher
Ranking as one of the world’s half dozen true ballerinas, she has graciously agreed to teach local dancers at Royal City Youth Ballet summer workshop. Patricia Barker was born in Richland, Washington, USA. She trained with Lynne Williams-Mullins prior to studying at Pacific Northwest Ballet School on scholarship. She joined Pacific Northwest Ballet as an apprentice in 1981, became a full company member in 1982 and was promoted to soloist in 1984. She became principal in 1986. She has staged, rehearsed and coached ballets for professional companies, taught at leading ballet schools throughout the nation and performed on tours throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.
For More Information: Phone (604)521-7290 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Harlequin Studio Dance Floors liberated Canada’s National Ballet School” ™
“Canada’s National Ballet School – an international leader in ballet training – is dedicated to advancing the art of ballet. NBS develops dance professionals in a student-centered environment by weaving innovation and evolving practices with the finest teaching traditions. Before moving to our award-winning new facilities, NBS students and staff struggled with appalling conditions including impossibly slippery floors. One guest artist commented that teaching grand allegro under these circumstances was like asking students to drive a car at high speed with the brakes on. With the success of our capital expansion campaign and the tremendous support of our donors, NBS was able to install Harlequin Studio Dance Floors in the new facilities. As a national training institution, NBS ensures that no talented student is deprived access because of their financial circumstances.With 68% of full-time students currently receiving financial assistance, it makes our donors and sponsors proud to know the students at NBS are supported by proper dance floors. Now, NBS students are flying through space and taking off from a surface as magnificent as the art form itself.”
Mavis Staines Artistic Director Canada’s National Ballet School
For free samples, information or assistance call toll free today 800-642-6440 American Harlequin Corporation 1531 Glen Avenue, Moorestown, NJ 08057 Toll Free 800-642-6440 or 856-234-5505 - Fax 856-231-4403 email@example.com - www.harlequinfloors.com
PHILADELPHIA LONDON PARIS LOS ANGELES SYDNEY LUXEMBOURG FORT WORTH Building photo by Tom Arban. Dancer photo by Cylla von Tiedemann. Mavis Staines’ photo by Dan Cremin