Les Grands Ballet Canadiens
Queen of Spades

Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Dates: 3 - 5 April 2003

Reviewer: Ross Michael Pink

The famed and eclectic ballet troupe Les Grands Ballet Canadiens graced the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver April 3, 4, 5th 2003 with performances of QUEEN OF SPADES:FROM FANTASY TO REALITY, that broke new creative boundaries.

GBC was formed in Montreal in 1957 by Ludmilla Chiriaeff. Though early works were focussed on classical dance, such as Coppelia, Giselle and Swan Lake, the company has broadened its horizons in the past twenty years. Recent works have included an emphasis upon Balanchine, Nijinsky, Fokine, Limom and Joos.

The company has also worked with noted choreographer James Kudelka. Since 2000, the artistic director has been Gradmir Pankov who hails from Macedonia. Pankov has a rich ballet pedigree. Originally a dancer, he emigrated to the choreography world and has distinguished himself with many companies including the Netherlands Dance Theatre, Grand Theatre in Geneva, Ballet of Finland, and Swedish Cullberg Ballet.

'QUEEN of SPADES' is based on a short story written 150 years ago by the famed writer Alexander Pushkin. The story explores with powerful imagery the eternal themes of human will and human fate. In some respects, it is a dance version of Andre Malraux's famous book, Man's Fate. The company dancers are pristine and technically faultless.

The dim lighting in many sequences provided the appropriate mood for the theme. A brilliant piece of creative lighting included giant dancers of light beamed onto the stage in three dimensional form. In one scene, a lonely human dancer sat on a chair while three huge halographic dancers, at least 30 feet in height, wearing ephemeral white gowns, swirled about her. It was truly imaginative dance. Future visits will surely be well attended based on the warm applause GBC received in Vancouver.

© 2003, Ross Michael Pink