Ballet BC
Walking Mad & Other Works
Choreography by Johan Inger, music by Maurice Ravel

Dates and Venue 8 - 10 March 2012, at 8 pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Principal performers Rachel Meyer, Racheal Prince, Gilbert Small, Peter Smida, Alyson Fretz, Alexander Burton, Connor Gnam, Livona Ellis, Makaila Wallace and Alexis Fletcher

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

Ballet BC did not disappoint on Thursday, March 8th. The Company gave a stunning performance at the opening of Walking Mad and Other Works. The program features two world premieres and one Canadian premiere. Each piece incorporates intense music, strong dance and stark sets to build a program which engages and holds the audience in its rhythm for the entire evening.

The program began with the world premiere of between disappearing and becoming. This piece was choreographed by Emily Molnar, the artistic director of Ballet BC. It is set to the music of Hildur Gudnadottir which Molnar has described as hauntingly beautiful. The music gives the piece a pace which the dancers respond to with a liquid fluidity that is indeed haunting. Alyson Fretz captured the mood of between disappearing and becoming in a solo dance that blended her movements with the music in perfect hypnotic harmony. The costumes, designed by Kate Burrows, and the lighting, designed by Bonnie Beecher, perfectly accentuated the mood of the piece.

The world premiere of Vitulare was the second selection of the evening. Vitulare was choreographed by Aszure Barton and is set to several selections of music. Figlude was performed by Matt Haimovitz; O Yo Yo performed by Shallaway, It’s Cloudy performed by Brooklyn Rider; Boi Se Otvari performed by Gruicho Dachev; Muzikanti performed by Marta Topferova; UberlebensgroB performed by Shallaway and Vila Se e Gora performed by Roza Tsvetkova. The costumes for this dance were designed by Linda Chow. The cut of the costumes gave an added dimension to the movement of the dancers and offered an interesting contrast to the classic elegant simplicity of the costumes in the previous number. This attention to detail heightened the artistic texture of the program and enhanced the enjoyment of the evening.

Both Emily Molnar and Aszure Barton are very accomplished Canadian artists whose talent and cooperative spirit of creativity were very much appreciated at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday night.

Walking Mad set to Bolero by Ravel was the final selection of the evening. Ballet BC performed the Canadian premiere for this piece which was choreographed by Johan Inger It was first premiered in 2001 by the Nederlands Dans Theatre. It has been staged all over the world since its inception and has become a signature piece for Inger.

It is an audacious offering which incorporates humour, whimsy and obviously a touch of madness. Inger has stated “Its natural course is from something delicate to something powerful.”

The dancers are challenged to keep the pace of the music while delivering the emotion required to convey the meaning of the piece. Ballet BC held the audience in a story that unfolds against the backdrop of a moveable wall and clever costume changes. These gifted artists portrayed many emotions by using their talent for timing and mime.

The philosophy of Socrates may be present in this piece. Inger has stated he was influenced by the philosopher’s saying, “Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness.” Vancouver, most certainly, is blessed by the hard work and innovative thinking of Ballet BC.

This was a demanding program which blended the elements of classical ballet with those of modern dance. Congratulations to Molnar and the dancers of Ballet BC for an evening that engaged the audience in a very meaningful way.

© 2012 Nancie Ottem