BALLET BC performs Saturday at the Suzanne Dellal Center as part of the CanaDanse festival.
(photo credit: WENDY D.)
The Suzanne Dellal Center celebrated its first-ever CanaDanse festival this month by hosting three leading voices in Canadian dance.
Ballet BC, based in Vancouver, was the first to showcase its repertoire with creations by Medhi Walerski, Emily Mulnar and Crystal Pite.
The title “Petite Ceremonie” (2011) by Walerski, echoes the name alone of canonic and still popular dance “Petite Mort” (1991), created by Jiri Kylian for his NDT, the same company that Walerski joined later. The work is indeed ceremonial, not in spirit but in form. It is filled to the brim with regimented aesthetics and simple, mostly frontal formations. The dancers seemed to fit easily into the unified execution and conveyed riskless respectability. The only time Walerski stepped outside the borderlines he laid so carefully, the piece soon retracted to former modus operandi. Yes, obviously there were fragments of lovely female solo here or a well done duet there. Yet this “Petite Ceremonie” avoided challenges and produced limited merit.
Molnar, artistic director of the company, set her creation “To This Day” (2018) to soundtrack composed of jazz and blues. Finally, one could see lively dancers, much engaged in expressive bodies, reacting to the ambiance of the captivating tunes. It was rather surprising to see the male dancers move without formal constraints, with individual interpretation and expansion of the spirit, urged by the music. It was best demonstrated in the first solo by a highly capable guy wearing a red shirt, who was spot-on in the right groove with its sensuous syncope and snakelike sleekness. He raised the bar, and the rest had to compete.
It should’ve been an all-male dance in this case, since the lovely girls were all out of their comfort zone, a result of too many years in front of the mirror in the ballet studio. It was a spirited work with talent and a good measure of hot spices.
Ending the long program was “Solo Echo” by Canadian choreographer Pite, set to music by Johannes Brahms. Pite danced and choreographed for a long line of fine dance companies in Europe. Among the three artists, Pite is best connected with the more intricate European contemporary dance scene.
Her fine craftsmanship and detailed and layered work included ongoing scenes and fragments of inner landscapes, reflecting a keen eye for beauty and human compassion.
The falling white flakes against the black background, which opened and closed the work, is a bit overused yet effective cliché. But here – with this somber, wintry piece soaked with inner longings and disappointments – it actually felt right.
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