|THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA 60TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR - Vancouver|
|REVIEWS - LIVE|
|Written by Tessa Perkins|
|Monday, 26 September 2011 02:39|
Show: The National Ballet of Canada 60th Anniversary Tour
Company: The National Ballet
Choreographers: William Forsythe, Jerome Robbins, James Kudelka, Crystal Pite
Music by: Thom Willems, Frédéric Chopin, Johnny Cash, Owen Belton
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Run: Sep 23-25 2011
Reviewed by: Tessa Perkins
The National Ballet doesn’t tour very often, but when they do, they make sure to put together a great program showcasing various styles of choreography and both traditional and more experimental modern works. With four very different pieces, this show had something for everyone and showed how the National Ballet supports the creation of new works by emerging and innovative choreographers, but also continues to produce classic repertory works that never cease to please.
The first piece was a modern ballet by William Forsythe called “The Second Detail”, and it featured sharp, quick movements and very simple grey costumes of just bodysuits and tights. There was a sign standing at the front of the stage that read “THE,” and the back of the stage was lined with chairs that some of the dancers would sit on in between dancing. It was a beautifully choreographed piece with a lot happening at once and booming music that gave an urgency and preciseness to the movements. I really enjoyed this work and the fact that it appears simple, yet is full of complex formations and sequences.
A much more traditional piece by Jerome Robbins, “Other Dances,” came next and it was a beautiful pas de deux in pastel blue costumes. There was a piano on stage with the pianist playing Chopin and the duo danced together first, but also had a few solo parts each before coming back together for a finale. It was very elegant and seemed inspired by classical Polish dancing with lots of heel clicks and pivot turns. This work was originally created in 1976 for Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Showcasing yet another style of choreography, the next piece, “The Man In Black” by James Kudelka, featured six of Johnny Cash’s cover songs from the later part of his career. The choreography is inspired by classic American country-western dancing and four dancers in cowboy boots and western style costumes moved constantly around the stage, in contact with one another and moving as one unit much of the time. They also did some neat flips and lifts with each other, and their performance coupled with the emotional voice of Cash made this quite a touching piece, especially during songs like “Hurt” and “If You Could Read My Mind.” Any fan of Johnny Cash would have loved this piece.
The final performance was a work called “Emergence” by Vancouver’s Crystal Pite. It seemed to be a study of insect-like movement as the dancers swarmed onto the stage in great numbers and did interesting things with floor work and their arms. It was a very intense piece that began with the dancers in masks and very low lighting. They are all dressed in black and the set features a large pipe centred at the back of the stage that is used as an entrance and exit. The backdrop surrounding that is a bunch of black ink strokes in a circular pattern that converge at the centre. The low lighting and mysterious quality of this work really adds to the drama of it all, as well as the foreboding music and full stage of dancers moving at the exact same moment.
I think my favourite piece in this show was “Emergence,” but I also really liked “The Second Detail” for its stark, bold qualities, and “Other Dances” for its classicism and great pas de deux lifts. The songs of Johnny Cash also made “The Man In Black” an extremely enjoyable piece that told a story along with each song. Artistic Director Karen Kain has done a wonderful job with the company since taking over from James Kudelka in 2005, and I hope that the National Ballet will return to Vancouver before their next big anniversary!