Renaissance for Kelowna

Ballet Kelowna closes its 2015/16 season with Renaissance, a program that blends live music and contemporary ballet ...

Virtuoso musicians are meeting some of the country’s top ballet dancers on a Kelowna stage later this week for a performance that’s already moved some closest to it to tears.

Ballet Kelowna closes its 2015/16 season with Renaissance, a program that blends live music and contemporary ballet from some of Canada’s most celebrated choreographers and composers.

“I think it’s really special and unlike what you’ve seen before,” said Ryan Scott, the artistic director of Continuum Contemporary Music, a collective of Canada’s top musicians that are bringing the musical component of the collaboration to Kelowna.

“Usually when you see dance like this the musicians are in the pit, you don’t see them and they’re playing what you’re used to hearing. In this case it’s five virtuosos on the stage with the dancers. You see them play and get to feel the connection to the music much more than you would otherwise.”

The unique collaboration between these top musicians and dancers started as an idea for a one-number performance 22 months ago, but with time it grew into the show that will be in Kelowna this week, then Oliver and finally Vancouver. It has already far exceeded Scott’s expectations, and he has high hopes that he will be able to take it back to Toronto—Continuum’s home base— in the year to come.

“Continuum has been around for 30 plus years, and we’ve never done anything like this,” he said, from the studio space in downtown Kelowna where they’ve been practicing this week.

“I was walking down the hall and I had tears … it’s so rewarding to see this come together.”

The repertoire includes works explored with fresh ears based on Henri Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and the music of William Byrd and Marin Marias, with premieres by Jocelyn Morlock and Michael Oesterle; also included is Arvo Pärt’s Fratres.

The dancers were sent a computer file with that and more music long ago, and it offered a basic outline they were able to work with in terms of choreography.

This week, however, the musicians arrived in Kelowna allowing for further creativity to blossom.

“It’s a different experience in a collaboration like this,” Scott said, noting that seeing the movement that’s been set to music has been inspiring.

“We don’t just play the music, we have to get tempos the way they dancers want them. The way the dancers relate to music is so different than the way musicians relate to it.”

Excitement for the performance is mirrored on the dance side of the collaboration, as well.

“I am thrilled and honoured to close our 2015/16 season with this incredible line-up of exceptional dance and music talent,” said Simone Orlando, the Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna.

“It is such a privilege, and rare opportunity, to have assembled some of our country’s finest artists, including Heather Myers, celebrated choreographer and former dancer with the Nederlands Dans Theatre, James Kudelka, and John Alleyne, former Artistic Director of Ballet BC, with two all-stars from The National Ballet of Canada, Hannah Fischer and Ethan Watts, and Toronto’s Continuum Contemporary Music – for what promises to be a truly unforgettable celebration of the arts.”

The extreme athleticism and depth of emotion of Ballet Kelowna’s company of artists will be on full display in a series of new and remounted works from renowned Canadian choreographers Myers, Kudelka, Alleyne, and Ballet Kelowna Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando.

Also on the programme, and making their highly anticipated British Columbia debut, The National Ballet of Canada’s rising stars, Hannah Fischer and Ethan Watts, will perform a rousing duet titled The Wild Space Between Two Hearts choreographed by Robert Binet, Choreographic Associate with The National Ballet. Fischer will further demonstrate her skill in the world premiere of a solo, also choreographed by Binet.

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Kelowna Capital News