Company continues to break boundaries
An Okanagan dance company has been breaking boundaries since forming in 2002, and now Ballet Kelowna is about to show what it is calling its best work to date.
The valley’s only professional dance company is returning to the Vernon Performing Arts Centre after its heralded performance with the Okanagan Symphony of R. Murray Schafer’s The Falcon’s Trumpet.
This time Ballet Kelowna is presenting four diverse dances in its newest show, Breaking Boundaries, the second of five performances in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Society’s dance series.
“This performance is sure to delight audiences, whether they are dedicated dance patrons or newcomers to the world of ballet, as Breaking Boundaries takes audiences on a journey through classical, romantic, and abstract works with accessible and technically versatile dancing,” said Brian van Wensem, audience development coordinator with the Performing Arts Centre.
Centered on universal themes including love, loss, innocence and youth, the production breaks boundaries in connecting these human themes through choreography that spans from 1869 to 2011.
“Breaking Boundaries speaks to the audience in a new voice, one that draws them in and connects the movement to them on a human level,” said David LaHay, Ballet Kelowna's artistic director, adding he wants those themes to relate to the audience, leaving them with something to walk away with.
“Breaking Boundaries is what today’s dance is all about –– finding new and relevant ways to explore universal themes.”
Since rehearsals began in September, all six Ballet Kelowna dancers have been challenged with the diverse pieces that range from the classical choreography of Marius Petipa’s pas de deux from Don Quixote, which LaHay describes as full of physical grandeur and technical demands, to the humorous Le Banc, a recent work by Paul Destrooper, where couples flirt and fall in love around a park bench.
“This whimsical ballet, set to selected Bach cello suites, charms and entertains audiences,” said LaHay.
Breaking Boundaries also lives up to its title with two contemporary works created by celebrated Canadian choreographers, D.A. Hoskins and Shawn Hounsell.
Hoskins’ work combines lyrical, neo-classical choreography with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ hauntingly beautiful music in The Lark Ascending, a piece that uplifts spirits and lingers long in the memory, said LaHay.
Said to combine “intellectual rigour with emotional wallop, resulting in works that engage hearts and minds” (Toronto Life Magazine), Hoskins, a Toronto-based choreographer, has created more than 50 works.
The recipient of the Clifford E. Lee Award from the Banff Centre for the Arts, Hoskins’ choreography has been presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of an evening examining sexuality and censorship, and as a retrospective on artist Barbara Hepworth.
An excerpt from his first full evening work, The Mortality Songs, was presented at the Holocaust Perspective at the Toronto Jewish Community Centre and later presented in its entirety as a fundraiser for the Toronto People with AIDS foundation.
Breaking Boundaries ends with a bang, closing with Ballet Kelowna’s newest commission, the world premiere of Hounsell’s north shore.
Hounsell, a Saskatchewan-born dancer who danced professionally with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, was in Kelowna earlier this season to work with the Ballet Kelowna troupe.
His piece explores the moody and expressive music, which the piece is titled after, to evoke images of the north, barrenness, and the far-off horizon all through strong movement vocabulary, said LaHay.
As an award-winning choreographer, Hounsell has created and staged pieces for some of the top dance companies in Canada. His works have also been performed by American companies such as Ballet Pacifica and in Europe by the Ballet of the National Theatre of Prague.
Ballet Kelowna will take the stage at the Performing Arts Centre with Breaking Boundaries Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $30/adult, $27/senior, $25/student, $5/eyeGO and $23/members plus at the Ticket Seller box office, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.