Margo Moritz/Contributed Kara Wilkes and Robb Beresford dance in Writing Ground. Beresford, a Ballet Kelowna alumni, is performing is March.

Kelowna Ballet alumni visits place where his career started

Robb Beresford is part of Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

There’s more to ballet than learning the steps.

It involves dedication and creativity, which is what San Francisco-based Alonzo King LINES Ballet brings to the stage.

Full of diverse dancers from all over the world, LINES Ballet includes one of Ballet Kelowna’s own alumni.

Robb Beresford, 29, started his ballet career with Ballet Kelowna in 2007.

Hailing from Ontario, Beresford danced with Kelowna’s small ballet team for a year.

“It was great – it was a lot of work. I have a lot of respect for dancers in that company because I know how grueling it is to be in such a small company. There’s a lot of opportunities to be on stage, but it’s a lot of work.”

Now, Beresford has his dream job, dancing with Alonzo King LINES Ballet. He joined the company in 2013.

“It’s amazing. Working with Alonzo is like a dancer’s dream. We do lots of amazing travel for work.”

He has opportunities to share ideas and be creative, helping sculpt the performances.

“There’s definitely a chance to be more creative than a lot of dancers get to be,” he said. “I think because built into Alonzo’s process is investing time and to develop the dancer’s voice instead of just getting them to do the steps. That’s a gift to get to work that way and not simply be a tool for the artist.

“I think that really helps me understand for myself what it is I want to say because once you’re asked to find your voice and dance in a way that’s meaningful to you, you ask yourself what you’re trying to say with it. It took me on my next step in my artistic journey,” he said.

He’s excited to revisit Kelowna; it feels surreal to him to see how far he’s come.

His favourite performance is SAND, one if the two performances that will be shown at the Kelowna Community Theatre, March 7.

“I particularly love to dance that ballet. It’s just a beautiful piece of choreography. It’s always a nice time to be on stage.”

Ever since Beresford can remember, he’s been intrigued by music and danced for friends and family.

“There’s never been any question that it’s the thing that I love to do,” he said.

Choreographer and creator of the company Alonzo King said Beresford has a quiet nature, but a deep understanding of choreography and is an “extraordinary” dancer.

“He has a depth of understanding that is both broad and deep. He has a solid technique and has a personal take on choreography that I find intriguing,” said King.

There is a flow of communication between dancers and King and he listens to the dancers and wants them to add their experiences.

“I’m not really concerned about my ideas. The idea that I’m attached to is that the work is well-made and the communication of the idea is clear. It’s about how do you build something interesting,” he said.

This is the first time LINES Ballet is performing in Kelowna.

“It’s important for us to go to places that would otherwise not have the opportunity to see us. We don’t just want to go the huge opera houses of the world. We want to go where people love to dance. It’s wanting to ignite other lights and inspire them and wanting to inspire them in some way.” said King.

It’s hard to describe what the performances will look like because they’re subjective, said King.

“It’s pretty tricky to see something in a clear, unprejudiced way,” he said, adding he loves when children watch as they see the performances in a unique way.

“I would advise people to come and experience it. I (would) want to open myself and find resonance and how it speaks to me. I don’t want to hear the interpretation of what the work is.”

The San Francisco company has been in operation since 1982.

“I would say that as you mature with work you want to become more systematic,” said King.

See the previous story.

Tickets to the performances are available at Ballet Kelowna’s website