Ballet British Columbia

  • Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
  • Dates: 14-16 November at 20.00
  • Reviewer: R. M. Pink

    Ballet BC Shines

    Ballet aficionados in Vancouver were treated to another round of outstanding ballet by Ballet British Columbia in mid-November. Audiences have come to appreciate and be challenged by the eclectic and daring work of John Alleyne, the company's artistic director. His newest work, Scheherazade, did not disappoint.

    This evocative and emotional ballet, set to the famous musical score by Rimsky-Korsakov, is based on stories from The Arabian Nights Tales. Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes originally presented the work of the same name at the Opera de Paris in 1910. A sensation, the work was sharply controversial because it strayed from the composer's original intentions.

    Alleyne's adaptation presents three stories from The Arabian Nights. Under brilliant tents, the Prince, his first and second wives, and a slave dance a tale of love, lust, and infidelity. After the Prince kills his wives for betraying him, he pledges never to love another woman for more than one day, killing her the next morning after the wedding.

    The enchanting heroine, Scheherazade protects herself by telling the Prince a compelling story but not finishing it. The Prince is so compelled by her tales that each night he spares her life. Eventually, he falls in love with her and spares her. The dancers performed with fluid movement and grace. Justin Peck and Emily Molnar were particularly effective in portraying the emotion and intensity of the Prince and his clever last bride.

    The second piece of the evening, There, Below, choreographed by James Kudelka was set to music of Ralph Vaughan Williams. The work explores tensile strength made fluidly expressive. The ballet has been hailed as evoking a celestial quality. Dancers Jones Henry, Justin Peck, James Toth, Nicholas Gede-Lange, and Chengxin Wei brought vitality to the piece.

    Th final ballet, The Winter Room, was choreographed by Jean Grand-Maitre to music by Laurel Macdonald and Somei Satoh. This enchanting piece follows the delicate, emotional, and slow movement of dance with accompanying music of haunting beauty, including chant. In one scene a dancer lying on her back on the floor extends her limbs to duplicate the silhouette of massive tree roots that are seen as a dark shadow. Her limbs blend with the dark, long, lonely roots of the giant tree. The tableau cleverly blended nature and movement.

    The sell-out crowd, attentive throughout, surely attests to the enduring success of Ballet British Columbia and its performance partners.

    © 2002, R. M. Pink