At a time when women’s vision is roaring to the forefront across a range of artistic endeavours, Ballet Kelowna is proud to present work created by some of Canada’s most accomplished female artists in Elles: Extraordinary Dance Created by Women, coming to the Frank Venables Theatre on February 6 at 7:00 p.m.
This dynamic and vibrant mixed dance program features two world premieres by celebrated Canadian choreographers Gioconda Barbuto and Alysa Pires, who is making her choreographic debut with Ballet Kelowna, along with Folie à Cinq by Heather Myers and Glas by Gabrielle Lamb.
“In the world of ballet, female choreographers are rare,“ says Ballet Kelowna’s Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando. “As the very first choreographer commissioned to create a new work for Ballet Kelowna back in 2005, I am particularly proud of our company’s history of promoting women. By supporting the artistic development of these female artists, we hope to inspire other companies to do the same. We want our audiences to know that amazing work is being created right here in Kelowna, and that our emphasis on supporting Canadian dance artists needs to be shared across the country.”
The as-yet unnamed world premiere by Giocondo Barbuto will be the fourth work she has created for Ballet Kelowna, following Negotiating Shifts (2008), Capture (2011), and Eight and Sand (2017). Since 1996, Barbuto has pursued her choreographic calling with her oeuvre now counting more than 50 works.
Of her contribution to Elles, she says, “I’m excited to return to Ballet Kelowna with a new company work. I hope to bring out the individuality of each artist and gather everyone together in a collective atmosphere that will inspire the score and pace of a brand new creation.”
The second new work on the Elles program is by Alysa Pires. This is the first time Ballet Kelowna has commissioned Pires to create a work for the company.
“Everything feels cold right now: the weather, the news. The world feels like a bleak place. I wanted to make something delightful: a warm, fuzzy, joyful escape,” she says of her dance creation. “We’re working on a piece that uses Latin Swing and jazz tunes, and channels artists such as Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, and Perry Como. This piece will help audience members shed the winter blues and inspire everyone to get up and dance, and celebrate even in the darkest of times.”
In 2016, Folie à Cinq was created by esteemed Canadian choreographer Heather Myers through a commission by Ballet Kelowna in collaboration with Toronto’s Continuum Contemporary Music. Michael Oesterle was called upon to compose a multifaceted musical piece based on Folie d’espagne by Jean Bapiste Lully. Described as “quirky and playful,” Folie à Cinq weaves a vibrant, fanciful tale that conjures up the magic and madness of artists past and present.
A review in The Dance Current describes the choreography as, “At times cheeky, with the dancers looking directly out to the audience, and filled with quirks, such as a finger-leading motif that had (the reviewer) thinking of the animated fantasy worlds of Tim Burton.” The spirited remount will feature Ballet Kelowna dancers Valentin Chou, Desiree Bortolussi, and Kurt Werner who were in the original cast alongside Yuka Otsuki and Kelsey Hanna, who will be making their debuts in this piece.
Glas was created by American-born choreographer Gabrielle Lamb during The Banff Centre’s 2015 Professional Dance Program where six Ballet Kelowna dancers performed her new creation inspired by the brilliant blue-green colour of Alberta’s Bow River. When trying to find a title for her piece, Lamb came upon the word “glas” from old Irish and Welsh. This term describes everything from pale complexion to tears, shiny metal, fresh vegetation, ice, sea, and fog. For this upcoming presentation of Glas, Ballet Kelowna dancers Valentin Chou, Desiree Bortolussi, and Kurt Werner, who were involved in the original creation of this piece at the Banff Centre, will be joined by new company members Kelsey Hanna and Charlotte Reid.
Ballet Kelowna takes the stage with Elles – Extraordinary Dance Created by Women on Tuesday February 6th at 7 p.m. at the Frank Venables Theatre, 6100 Gala St. in Oliver. Tickets are $30.00 in advance or $35.00 at the door for adults, $15.00 in advance or $17.50 at the door for students, and are available at www.venablestheatre.ca or the Theatre Box Office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.