Friday, November 13, 2015

Guest Post on Ballet BC's Program 1 at the Queen E

I was in Portland last weekend for a conference and so did not get to see the opening program to Ballet BC's 30th anniversary season. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed. However, a posse of my SFU Dance Aesthetics students attended and as an adjunct to our blog writing related to that course (see the course website here), I encouraged anyone who might be so inclined to contribute a guest post on what I missed.

Andrea Valentine-Lewis took me up on the offer, and what follows are her observations on the evening's three works:

Overall remarks/notes:
- The dancers are very athletic-looking.
- All acts were performed in socks.
- The company is mixed-raced.
- There are more male dancers than female dancers.
- All dancers are quite classically trained.
- The lighting was very interesting in all three movements.
- ... By interesting I mean very specific to the action. I loved it.
- The ballet was divided into three acts/movements, with two intermissions.
- The three movements were presented in a different order than the program indicated.
- The company was presented as gender-neutral. There weren't specific female/male roles. Both genders were strong and similarly dressed.

1.) The first movement was called Twenty Eight Thousand Waves. It was choreographed by Cayetano Soto (Ballet BC's new resident choreographer). Surprisingly, it was my favourite movement, because the music, lighting, and costuming was very satisfying to me. I prefer fluid, graceful movements that are strong, and that is what I saw. I had expectations that Crystal Pite's work would be my favourite.

2.) The second movement was called New Work, by Stijn Celis. The piece was accompanied by 40 male singers. Both female and male dancers wore the same clothing (button down work shirts and slacks). The women had their hair in buns to hide the appearance of long hair. This piece seemed repetitive and not dynamic enough. The choir was beautiful, but I felt the dancers were washed out by the music. There were obvious themes of religion and the life cycle, which I was thankful of; otherwise I would have gotten bored.

3.) The third movement (a crowd favourite), by Crystal Pite, was called Solo Echo. Pite's piece had a beautiful, simple set of snow falling from the backdrop, with lights that moved to either frame sections of the backdrop, or expose the entirety of it. The dancers were all dressed in black vests and black slacks... again, a gender-neutral choice. The movements were very dynamic and strong compared to the silky cello music of Johannes Brahms (played by Yo Yo Ma). It was a nice juxtaposition. Pite's choreography has changed since I've seen it last, so in that regard my expectations weren't met. But I did appreciate some sections of strong, intelligent choreography.

So there you have it. My thanks to Andrea. And more from me soon.


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