Dance

_DSK7207Beauty and the Beast – Ballet Victoria – Interview with Risa Kobayashi

Ballet Victoria concluded its 14th season with Beauty and the Beast, set to music by Delibes, Dvorak, Gounod, Tchaikovsky, and choreographed by Artistic Director Paul Destrooper.
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_mg_5812-1-photo-john-hall_-1463594735Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal – Interview with Matthew Cluff

To conclude its 20th anniversary season, Dance Victoria presented Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal performing Minus One, choreographed by Ohad Naharin, the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, on April 7 and 8, 2017 at the Royal Theatre. Minus One is an homage to dance and dancers, with all 33 dancers of the company becoming both interpreters and inventors of movement.

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Midsummer cover by Derek FordA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Le Banc, and Luminous – by Ballet Victoria

In its 14th season, Ballet Victoria presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set to music by Felix Mendelssohn and choreographed by Artistic Director Paul Destrooper, as well as two shorter pieces, Le Banc (The Bench) created by Destrooper with live Cello Suites by Bach performed by Leslie Atherton, and Luminous choreographed by renowned Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz to the music of Marjan Mozetich. The productions tour BC until March 31, 2017.
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DV_Performances_2016_Lines_Sand_RJ_Muna_1805_AAlonzo King LINES Ballet

San Francisco’s Alonzo King LINES Ballet presented their double bill of innovative works at the Royal Theatre on March 10 and 11, 2017. Founded in 1982 by choreographer Alonzo King, the company understands ballet as a science – founded on universal, geometric principles of energy and evolution – and continues to develop a new language of movement from its classical forms and techniques. King calls his works “thought structures” created by the manipulation of energies that exist in matter through laws, which govern the shapes and movement directions of everything that exists.
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dv_performances_2016_bboyz_life_studio_wide_aBalletBoyz

UK’s only all-male dance company, BalletBoyz, founded by former Royal Ballet lead dancers Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, returned to Victoria’s Royal Theatre with two new commissions on January 20 and 21, 2017. The double bill, called Life, premiered at Sadler’s Wells in April 2016 and features new works by internationally renowned choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos.The company thrills audiences and critics the world over with its distinctive style, fusing spectacular dance both energetic and graceful, with stunning music and film. Ten young dancers, handpicked through open auditions across the country, feature in an evening of exhilarating dance, stunning music and awesome talent.
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angela-sterling-5Balanchine’s Nutcracker – Pacific Northwest Ballet

When George Balanchine first re-envisioned The Nutcracker ballet (composed by Peter Tchaikovsky, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in December 1892) for New York City Ballet in 1954, it was hard to imagine that it would become the North American Christmas staple and global phenomenon it has transformed into over the years. Balanchine touched a nerve in all of us, combining the Ballets Russes‘ ability to assemble a Gesamtkunstwerk of art, decor, costumes, music, dancing, and spectacle on stage, and evoke our sense of wonder and enchantment that we experienced as children at Christmas time. Mobilizing just the right amounts of nostalgia, wonderment, curiosity, and joy, Balanchine created a timeless work of art that persists in many countries to this day.
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Jessica Lang Dance: The CallingJessica Lang Dance

Dance Victoria opened its 20th anniversary season with New York’s choreographer Jessica Lang, who was called a “master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine. Lang is a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company, and has created more than 90 works for companies worldwide including the Joffrey Ballet and New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, among others. She was a New York City Center Fellow (2015) and is the recipient of the prestigious Bessie Award (2014).
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Astana BalletCleopatra by Astana Ballet – at the Mariinsky Theatre

On July 20, 2016, the Mariinsky Theatre hosted Kazastan’s Astana Ballet as part of the Stars of White Nights summer festival. The company presented two ballets “Gaia” – a contemporary ballet about the Earth and its various elements, choreographed by Ricardo Amarante – and “Cleopatra” set to Maurice Ravel’s music (including his timeless Boléro – originally composed as a ballet commissioned by the Russian actress and dancer Ida Rubinstein in 1928) and choreographed by Nikolai Markelov.
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IMG_1086_3351Eifman Ballet – Tchaikovsky Pro et Contra

Boris Eifman’s ballet company is at the fore of contemporary St. Petersburg ballet. On July 6, 2016 the company performed “Tchaikovsky Pro et Contra” (which premiered in May 2016 in its current version, but goes back to its origins in 1993) at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. Since the early 1990s Eifman focused on the creation of large-scale psycho-dramatic ballets, and established this aesthetic form as the main direction for his company.

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Jewels, MariinskyBalanchine’s Jewels – at Mariinsky II

On Saturday, June 25, 2016, the new Mariinsky Theatre presented a sold-out performance of Balanchine’s Jewels. Having just seen the ballet performed by the Berliner Staatsballettat the Deutsche Oper earlier this month, I wanted to compare the two performances.
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Balanchine_Jewels_Foto_by_Carlos_Quezada_DSC6114Balanchine’s Jewels – Berliner Staatsballett 

George Balanchine’s (1904-1983) Jewels ballet originally premiered at the New York State Theatre in April 1967 and has been performed on world stages more than 190 times since 1980. Berlin’s Staatsballett revived it for its current season with a premiere at the Deutsche Oper on May 21, 2016. Balanchine described it as “storyless but not abstract.” The ballet is divided into three parts, each distinct in colour, style, music, and movement.
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_DSJ1669 copyCinderella – Ballet Victoria – Interview with Andrea Bayne

Ballet Victoria concluded its 13th season with Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella composed during the war years, and originally presented at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre on November 21, 1945 with Galina Ulanova in the title role. This is the company’s second Prokofiev ballet this season, after the highly acclaimed Romeo and Juliet, but unfortunately without its former lead, Matthew Cluff, who is currently performing in Vancouver Arts Club Theatre production of Billy Elliot, and will be headed to Montreal afterwards to dance with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal.
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Billy ElliotBilly Elliot – Arts Club Theatre Vancouver – Interview with Matthew Cluff

From May 12 to July 10, 2016, Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre produced the musical Billy Elliot at the Stanley Theatre. With music by Elton John, lyrics and screenplay by Lee Hall, and based on the acclaimed film (dir. by Stephen Daldry, 2000), the musical is an inspiring tale of courage, ambition, and overcoming adversity. Set in 1984 County Durham’s coal miners community during Margaret Thatcher’s austerity politics and the miners’ strike (1984-85), this story focuses on 11-year-old Billy (Nolan Fahey), who finds his way into Mrs. Wilkinson’s (Caitriona Murphy) ballet class following his boxing lesson. Enthralled with dance and showing inherent ability, Billy is encouraged to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London, but he fears the reactions of his father (Warren Kimmel) and brother (Danny Balkwill), who are wrapped up in the escalating strike situation. Winner of 10 Tony Awards, this musical challenges gender stereotypes and celebrates creativity and arts despite the most severe economic and conservative obstacles.
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Royal Winnipeg Ballet - Going Home StarRoyal Winnipeg Ballet – Going Home Star

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is currently touring Canada with its groundbreaking and deeply moving ballet “Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation,” which premièred in Winnipeg in October 2014, during its 75th anniversary season. On April 1 and 2, 2016 Dance Victoria brought the production to Victoria’s Royal Theatre, recognizing the significance of what the company’s artistic director André Lewis has described as “the most important dance mounted by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in its illustrious 75-year history.”
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BetroffenheitBetroffenheit – by Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre 

Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre‘s co-production of “Betroffenheit” premiered in Toronto last July during the Pan American Games and caused an instant sensation. It has been touring Canada and performing to sold-out theatres. With the help of repetitions (of phrases, sounds, dance movements and segments) this two-act theatrical dance performance constructs a visualization of the inner space and the psychological terrain of the protagonist’s quest (played by ECT’s artistic director Jonathon Young) to come to terms with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after a horrific accident (rooted in real events, when Young lost his young daughter and two of her nieces to a cabin fire in 2009) that triggers a spiral of memories and various attempts to escape.
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Ballet Victoria, Romeo and JulietProkofiev’s Romeo and Juliet – Interview with Paul Destrooper

For its third performance this season, Ballet Victoria, under the artistic direction of Paul Destrooper, presented Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Originally created in January 1940 by the Kirov Ballet (Mariinsky) in St. Petersburg and performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1946 with Galina Ulanova in the lead role, the ballet became immensely popular with audiences around the world after the Bolshoi toured in Britain and the U.S. in 1956 and 1959. In 1965, Sir Kenneth MacMillan choreographed it  for the Royal Ballet  at Covent Garden, with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in the title roles. Subsequently, Nureyev created a new version in 1977. The ballet was first performed in Canada in 2011 by the National Ballet of Canada, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky in Toronto.
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Photo Raphaelle Bob GarciaLes Ballets Jazz de Montréal – Interview with Alexander Hille

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal opened their triple-bill show at the Royal Theatre in Victoria (Feb. 26 and 27, 2016) with “Rouge,” choreographed by the Brazilian Rodrigo Pederneiras, conceptualized as an “ode to resilience, a discreet tribute to Native peoples and their musical and cultural legacy,” with original music by the brothers Grand (originally premièred in 2014).
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Ballet Victoria, The Gift, photo Richard WebberThe Gift – by Ballet Victoria

Ballet Victoria, under the artistic direction and with choreography of Paul Destrooper, re-imagined and re-interpreted the perennial Christmas favourite story of The Nutcracker in their unique rendition that blends timeless music and dancing with a modern story twist that brings together myth, fairy-tale, and contemporary characters from everyone’s favourite films and stories.
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Nijinsky in ScheherazadeBallets Russes

On the evening of May 29, 1913 the Parisian upper class gathered at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees for the premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rites of Spring) performed by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The anticipation was sparked by “advance publicity which talked of ‘real art’ and ‘true art’ and art not confined by space and time.” Seat prices had been doubled (Eksteins 10). The ballet had been rehearsed 120 times because of its complexity, and required great precision in execution.
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Alberta Ballet's Nutcracker (photo by Paul McGrath)The Nutcracker – by Alberta Ballet

Ever since The Nutcracker premièred at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on December 18, 1892, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a libretto adapted by Alexandre Dumas Père from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” the ballet has captivated audiences of all ages around the world. Very few other works of art have had such a lasting, persistent, global, and undisputed appeal. This 123-year-old ballet is performed every holiday season in most major cities in Canada, U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba, China, Japan, and beyond.
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Ballet Rocks! (photos by Gail Takahashi)Ballet Rocks!

Ballet Victoria opened its 13th season with “Ballet Rocks” that featured five original pieces (including three world premieres) set to the rock music of Pink Floyd, BB King, Sting and U2, exploring various themes from loss to love in the first act. The second act was an homage to Broadway classics (including Fame, Sweet Charity, Chicago, Moulin Rouge, All That Jazz and more), driving a balletic comedy where an aging star reluctantly faces her decline and passes on the torch.
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Cas Public, Photo by Damian SiqueirosSymphonie Dramatique – by Cas Public

The latest creation by the Montréal-based dance company Cas Public, created by contemporary dance artist and choreographer Hélène Blackburn in 1989, is a re-interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, told through the visual vocabulary of modern dance, music, and re-conceptualizations of movement that evoke notions of seduction, desire, passion, and death.
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Duels – by Cas Public

This season Agora de la dance opens with another masterpiece of modern dance, a collaboration between choreographers Hélène Blackburn and Pierre Lecours, the creative team behind the notorious Suites Cruelles (2010). Their new creation, Duels, is composed of 19 encounters and confrontations between two or three dancers with varying gender dynamics, roles, and power struggles. However, unlike the gender-problematic movements and codes of Suites CruellesDuels is more balanced in terms of gender equality in movement, diverse in imagination, styles, and still powerful in modern dance codes.

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Cirque du Soleil – Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour

Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour is perhaps the closest you can come to seeing Michael Jackson live in concert today, but the experience is even more enhanced with the incredible cutting-edge technology of light, sound, screen projections, screen graphics, and the talent of world-class acrobats, dancers, choreographers, musicians, and set and light designers, all collaborating with Cirque du Soleil.

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El 12 – By La Otra Orilla

After years of training as a flamenco dancer in Seville and Madrid, and working as a professional dancer in Spain, France, and Germany, Myriam Allard came back to her native Montréal and founded a flamenco company La Otra Orilla (the other shore) in 2006  with Hedi “el Moro” Graja.
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Merry Age – by Ghislaine Doté

Ghislaine Doté is a UQAM graduate in dance and has been choreographing dance performances since 2002. Merry Age is her artistic contribution to Montreal’s Black History Month (organized by Agora de la danse, Circuit-Est, le Mai, le Studio 303, Tangente and Nyata-Nyata – celebrating contemporary creation from artists of the African Diaspora).
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Bijoux – by Mandala Sitù

Bijoux is the latest performance piece conceptualized by Marie-Gabrielle Ménard, founder of MANDALA SITÙ, a “laboratory-incubator-greenhouse for feminine dance studies,” featuring five female dancers in solos choreographed by five local male choreographers.

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Berlin Elsewhere

“This is not a piece about Berlin” is announced in four languages at the beginning of Berlin Elsewhere as ten people step onto the stage and begin to twirl and dance without music. One of the props – a styrofoam model of a high-rise building – collapses and the dancers begin to use it as a platform for their movements. Einstürzende Neubauten comes to mind. Two musicians on a side stage (set up with instruments) begin to play. The dancers continue to dance to the music. Their movement is that of fragmentation and interruption. They fall and get back up, only to fall again (knee pads are integrated into the costumes).

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Cinq Humeurs – Pre-consciousness of Movement

Carpe Diem Dance Company’s mandate is to encourage exploration and attempts in a continuous process of development and research as part of the contemporary dance world’s enrichment. Choreographer Emmanuel Jouthe is co-founder and artistic director of the Company. His signature style combines vivid energy and dramatic intensity. In an approach centered on the performer’s body, his aim is to reach the human being by eluding his expectations with situation scenarios, conceptual or instinctive, where functional movement has as much room as poetic movement.

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Tango

Thanks to my wonderful friend Charlotte I got to discover the sensual world of Tango in Montréal. Right above one of my favourite international live music bars, Les Bobards, on Boulevard St. Laurent is a whole new world of dance with a sexy flair in the air.

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Dancemakers – It’s About Time

Dancemakers, Toronto’s trouble makers, come to Montreal with their latest creation, It’s about time: 60 dances in 60 minutes. By working on the way we perceive time, on the way it works and influences us, on what happens when it contracts, expands or stays the same, choreographer Michael Trent tells us of his uneasiness before all that is absolute.

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Thread – choreographed and performed by Margie Gillies

Margie Gillis, 56, an icon of Quebec contemporary dance, is celebrating 37 years as a professional dancer. With Thread, Gillis explores the ebb and flow of energy, weaving strands of life and movement, exploring the aging body. Its fabric-like structure examines the connectedness to source and explores our own personal maze.

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Modern Dance and Gender Relations

Rarely are there representations of femininity, even in feminist art, that represent what femininity means to me. Mass media is largely constructed around the spectacle principle, ideologically coded with patriarchal hierarchy, domination, and power struggles. Feminist art, to this day, is more concerned with deconstructing, mocking, mimicking, exaggerating and exposing patriarchy for what it is, rather than constructing positive and inspiring visions of femininity. So what then, are accurate representations of femininity and gender relations today to an audience of 20 to 40 year old “third-wave-feminists”?

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