Alberta Ballet
Joni Mitchell's The Fiddle and the Drum

Dates and Venue 22-23 Jan 2010 @ 8pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver

Reviewer RM Pink

Alberta Ballet, under the inspiring artistic direction of Jean Grand-Maitre, has risen to become an acclaimed Canadian ballet company. In the life of every top company, there comes a signature performance event where perceptions are changed and great qualities are revealed. Such was the performance that Alberta Ballet presented with elan and shining talent.

The Fiddle and the Drum, danced to the soulful and powerful songs of legendary singer Joni Mitchell, was a ballet tour de force. Mitchell, in collaborating with Grande Maitre, noted that she did not want a typical ballet with a light message. Instead, the focus was on songs against war and for the environment -- causes that the singer-songwriter has championed for forty years.The performance was organized around 13 songs, and each song represented a separate ballet piece. A huge circle was beamed onto the stage backdrop that showed images as the dancers moved. Video, dance and music merged to enhance the message and the artful dancing.

Particular standouts were Shine, For the Roses, and If, presented by the full company. Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maitre has been with the company since 2002. He has had an illustrious career working with top companies the world over and was selected as director of choreography for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Mitchell, inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 1997, is considered a musical and cultural icon. Her music inspires and educates.

The Alberta dancers move with tremendous grace and precision. Although considered a moden piece, the dancers display the bearing and movement of finely trained classical dancers. Special note goes to the young and energetic Patrick Doe from Nashville, the brilliant Yukichi Hattori from Tokyo, the elegant Laetitia Clement from France, and the impressive Blair Puente from Ontario. Yet all the rest of the dancers were superb and deserve high applause.

The sell out crowd gave the company a sustained and well deserved standing ovation. It marked the arrival of Alberta Ballet on the landscape of superb world class performance.

© 2010 RM Pink