By Dan Walton
Ballet Kelowna is synchronizing its latest set of shows with Canada’s sesquicentennial.
One such show is coming to Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver this Sunday.
To mark the anniversary, performers will begin 2017 by packing a much heavier punch with 150 Moves. The debut performances are set for the first week of February, when they’ll be joined by dancers from Calgary’s Alberta Ballet II and Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella Dance Company. Afterwards, a lighter version of 150 Moves will entertain on the road.
One of the dancers augmenting the show is Joshua Beamish, who reinterpreted the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet and choreographed into a piece last year.
In Beamish’s version, Romeo and Juliet almost never stop touching, “whereas the original duet they spend a lot more time apart,” he said.
As he remastered the timeless works of William Shakespeare, “my main objective as a creator is to make everything more complicated than it was before.”
As time progresses and the human experience becomes more sophisticated with each generation, Beamish said timeless classics can still benefit from innovation.
“The world we live in is a lot more complicated than the time period that classical ballet was founded… and I’m not saying things were easy back then.”
Beamish’s update to Romeo and Juliet reflects the age of mass communication, which has exposed modern audiences to much deeper levels of connectivity. He won’t be eliminating any of the classical elements of the piece, “I was only interested in layering other ideas on top of it,” he said. “I know a lot of people come to ballet because they want to see things like women getting lifted and dancing on pointy shoes.”
Another number to be featured at 150 Moves will be one of the greatest hits from Ballet Kelowna’s Artistic Director and CEO, Simone Orlando. The piece, which she decided would be the best of her work to remount for 150 Moves, is called Doppeling and she began working on it in 2007 for Ballet BC.
“When creating a new work, oftentimes the inspiration will come from a piece of music,” said Orlando. “Other times it might be an idea, story or narrative that the choreographer wants to explore.”
Orlando said that Ballet Kelowna, like most studios in North America, aims to push the limits of the art form.
“Dancers aren’t wearing tutus and tiaras,” she said. “Our movement and pieces would fall into the vein of contemporary ballet.”
In comparison to 19th century stories like Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake, “We’re telling stories that are maybe a little more relevant to today’s society.
“It’s really important that we present fresh, innovative ideas that go beyond just being safe and showcasing the traditional pieces that are part of the history of ballet.”
150 Moves will take place in many forms and several different locations throughout 2017, though the season opener will offer some of the most potent performances.
Alberta Ballet II and Arts Umbrella Dance Company were included in their Kelowna shows on Feb. 3 and 4, and a scaled-down version of 150 Moves will go mobile as they tour B.C. and Alberta during the next two months.
“The work is very energetic, very dynamic. These dancers are like athletes,” she said. “The energy they bring to everything they do is phenomenal. The spectacle of seeing all these dancers is something many people haven’t seen before. And to have three companies performing on the same program – normally somebody would have to travel to Vancouver for a show that big. So it’s really nice that there’s an opportunity for Okanagan audiences to see these.”
The Town of Oliver is on their tour schedule on Feb. 12. The dancers will be at the Frank Venables Theatre and the show starts at 7 p.m.
“We travel to communities that don’t often see a professional dance company come through,” Orlando said.
In Oliver, tickets cost $35 (half price for students) and can be purchased at Venablestheatre.ca or by calling 250-498-1626.
For tickets or to find out more about the program, visit balletkelowna.ca.