By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Ballet Kelowna’s Morinville stop on their tour Mar. 9 provided the Morinville Community Cultural Centre with its largest audience to date in the Centennial Concert Series. Approximately 200 came out to the Friday night performance to view one of Canada’s 10 touring ballet companies.
Ballet Kelowna’s performance of a Grand Passion, named in honour of their interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, offered a mixed repertoire performance of five pieces, each touching on a different form of ballet, and each from a different period of dance history.
The evening began with a contemporary ballet piece, Allegro Per Tre, choreographed in 2008 by Ballet Kelowna Artictic Director David LaHay.
The ballet company moved on to Pas de Deux from The Sleeping Beauty, a piece choreographed in 1890 by Marius Petipa. LaHay said Petipa created the piece in Russia, a country he had travelled to on a one-year contract but which he stayed in for more than 50 years. “He became the greatest choreographer and ballet master of his time,” LaHay said of Petipa. “It is in fact due to him that we have the great tradition of the classical ballet.”
But not all of Ballet Kelowna’s performance involved 19th century choreography. The ballet performed another one of LaHay’s own pieces, Tangazzo, a ballet number that takes its cue from the Tango bars of South America in the early 1900s.
North Shore, a modern piece by choreographer Shawn Hounsell, and commissioned by Balley Kelowna in 2011, was the largest departure from the typical ballet routine. LaHay said modern composers have an important role to play in ballet today. “They do not speak the same language as they did a hundred years ago, but I think what they have to say has deep meaning and value,” LaHay said, adding the dance conjures up images of Canada’s north.
Ballet Kelowna’s final piece was Romeo and Juliet Apassionata, an 18-minute number that condenses Shakespeare’s classic tragedy to fit the music composed by Pyotor Tchaikovsky in 1869 when he was 28.
Although the famous composer was a young man when he wrote the classic piece of music that accompanied Ballet Kelowna’s finale, the members of the ballet company are considerably younger. The six ballet dancer’s hailing from New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia range in age from 19 to 24.
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Ballet Kelowna followed their Mar. 9 Morinville appearance with a performance in Stettler Mar. 11. They wrap up their spring tour in Kelowna Apr. 27 and 28.