Both Laura and I are getting over spring colds. Vancouver is experiencing dreariness with ugly rain holding back the coming of the sun. If it weren’t for season’s tickets to the ballet neither of us would have got off the couch and escaped from the tv to culture. It never seems like a good idea getting dressed but history has proven over and over again that an evening of Ballet BC is an uplifting intriguing consciousness raising event. It even puts a smile on my face. Curmudgeon that age is making me.
And true to form this ballet did. The Queen Elizabeth Theatre is a bright oasis. Tonight the young women were truly gala in the latest fashions. Marvellous dresses and splendid shoes. I like best the gaggles of the early teens with their aunt or dance instructor mentor all fluttering and vibrant. But tonight it was the 20 year olds looking truly mysterious and captivating. The young men in jackets and fancy shirts and well scrubbed faces were there as well.
There is always the older crowd. Fewer tonight compared to the surge of youthful enthusiasm with it’s obvious appreciation of excellence. Us older folk are main stay. The City set. Very uptown. Banyan Books meets Nordstrom crowd. Uniquely Vancouver. But this night seemed mostly for the young and beautiful people. My favourite place in the whole world for people watching is the Ballet.
Queen Elizabeth really is a fine little theatre. Not the Lincoln Centre by any means. Neither is it shabby. I like the seats and the view. I like too when Emily Molnar comes on stage and briefly describes the coming show. I was miffed though she didn’t mention St. Patrick. There was however a swath of green dresses and jackets in the audience. I was wearing my patch vest from Dublin. Laura looked divine in her Ivanka.
When the lights went down, the Anthem choreographed by Lisa Gelly and Josh Martin exploded on the stage, a minimalist background, with functional costumes, a plethora of new moves and impossible bodies reached out to meet the industrial music of Colin Stetson, Sarah Neufeld, Ginzburg and Purgus. It was something never considered possible and yet it worked all together as one, a most incredible explanation of space and sound emotionally explored by human. I truly loved the piece. A World Premiere and somehow especially 2017.
I love watching individual dancers. I’ve known Alexis Fletcher, Peter Smida, Rachel Prince, Rachel Meyers and Gilbert Small now for several seasons so truly appreciate their interpretations and sophistication. Each night a dancer might capture my attention as tonight Nicole Ward and Brandon Alley stood out for me. It’s the troop though that astonishes,, like a flock of birds moving together in ultimate unison.
I loved Swan, choreography by Wen Wei Wang, music from Swan Lake, Alexis Fletcher and Kirsten Wicklund sublime and Christoph von Reideman, Andrew Bartee, Gilbert Small and Peter Smida so strong and robust. Combinations and permutations so very modern and refined. Such a tableau of exquisite form. Robson Street and Davie. Kate Burrows costume design rippled.
The audience loved the Lesly Telford composition, “If I were 2” , an exploration of narcissism, especially the young people. A dance duet by Emily Chessa and Brandon Alley set to the words of Barbara Adler sounding like a poem played by nightclub turntable. It wasn’t my cup of tea, like the other time they brought a painter on stage. I just wish for Nutcracker at such times despite my overall joy of the contemporary.
But then as always Ballet BC redeemed itself with the especially intimate Solo Echo choreographed by Crystal Pite to the beautiful music of Brahms. It actually had me crying and laughing at the same time as the dancers together reminded me of the otters holding onto each through the night at Vancouver Aquarium or at other times they became like a mob of inquisitive meerkats. I’ve never seen the like of it in all my years of ballet attendance such an original work of humans holding to each other, letting go and finding one another, then holding together as a group or family or community. Such delicacy and love. The tablleaus of human forms were mesmerizing.
The audience really loved it and we all leapt to our feet to give the performers a well deserved standing ovation. Then we funnelled back out to cars and taxis and the less dreary still raining city of Vancouver. I even had a little bounce in my step.