Stepping Stones by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and an Interview with Dance Alive's Artistic director, John Alleyne

October 3-4

Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver

Reviewer: Ross Pink

This acclaimed Quebec company, founded in 1957 by Ludmilla Chiriaeff, presented the ballet, STEPPING STONES, in an eclectic and fast paced evening of dance vignettes. Stepping Stones was inspired by the traditions of Australia's Aboriginals and is an ode to tribal traditions by choreographer Jiri Kylian.

The piece Axioma 7, by Ohad Haharin, is an energetic dance work that has received acclaim in Montreal and captivated the Vancouver audience. Also presented was the work, Duende, by choreographer Nacho Duato, who is artistic director of the Compania Nacional de Danza in Spain. The company is good at presenting dance combinations and seems to steer away from the conventional pairings. The opening piece featured three dancers, ( 2 female/1 male) accompanied by flute and harp. The third piece of the evening was unusual and refreshing for three male dancers were presented.

The stars of the company on this evening who doubtlessly shine on all occasions are Min Hua Zhao and Genevieve Guerard. These dancers flow together. Zhao is a confident, strong and beautifully pristine dancer with elegant movements and Guerard has the ethereal quality that marks all fine ballerinas. Together they are a joy to watch.



The artistry and acclaim of Ballet BC has grown enormously since the arrival of artistic director John Alleyne in 1993. Alleyne was born in Barbados and studied at Canada's famed National Ballet school and danced professionally with the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany and the National Ballet in Toronto. "I was pushed into dance by a school teacher", recalls Alleyne. " The minute I stepped into class I knew I was good. I was seven years old and  remember the feeling that this is somewhere I can excel and express myself. At the age of fourteen I decided to make a career of ballet."

Despite a promising and much praised career as a dancer, Alleyne already had dreams of a wider career in dance through choreography. " I realized at the age of twenty-one that dance was not enough", says Alleyne. "It wasn't a vehicle for me to express myself. "

Alleyne choreographed works for the Stuttgart Ballet while still a dancer there and became a resident choreographer at the National Ballet, a company raised to high international acclaim after the great dancer Nureyev worked there in the 1970s.

Alleyne's dance creations include Blue-Eyed Trek (1988) ; Split House Geometric (1989-1990) and Interrogating Slam (1991). During his tenure at Ballet BC, Alleyne has created numerous acclaimed works such as The Archeology of Karl ( 1993) ; The Don Juan Variations ( 1995) and Sex is My Religion (1996). Although criticized for falling short with Boy Wonder ( 1997) its themes of spirituality and fate took courage and artistic reach to tackle.

Alleyne is a creator of dance who reaches for conclusions and themes that touch the spiritual life and this fact marks him as a thoughtful and singularly expressive choreographer.  "If we are really fortunate," says Alleyne, " we learn to cultivate our soul and our spirit and I believe that sort of balance is necessary."

Alleyne's next major creation is The Goldberg , to be presented November 5 -7th , 1998 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, B.C. The two-act ballet mixes elements of spirituality, astronomy and sensuality and features a recording by the late piano master Glenn Gould.


Copyright 1998 Ross Pink