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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:30 pm 
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Only Karen Kain would try to steal the media spotlight from Old Man Winter! Toronto transformed into a winter wonderland but that did not deter Mrs. K from bourréeing her way through the snowdrifts surrounding the Walter Carsen Centre! Rumor has it Mrs. K is an ardent reader of Critical Dance and thus felt it her moral duty to respond to my January 30th post speculating what the 2006/2007 season will bring! I suffer in anticipation no more! My crystal ball was a little cloudy correctly forecasting only 3 ballets: The Sleeping Beauty, Mr. B’s Don Q, and of course, the Four Seasons!

2006/07 Season Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

The Sleeping Beauty

November 9 - 19, 2006

Wisely Mrs. K will present this as a ‘refurb’ Sleeping Beauty! We will be treated to new costumes! All hail Karen Kain! Yes that was a shameless suck up! I need good seats for the new ballet palace! Me thinks she read my Swan Lake review with the refurb comment.

Song of the Earth & Symphony in C

November 22 - 26, 2006

I hope they promote the above well! They are very difficult ballets to perform with the potential of a spectacular night at the ballet. Symphony in C will involve 50 plus dancers.

The Nutcracker

December 9 - 30, 2006

The Seventh International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize

March 3, 2007

The Taming of the Shrew

March 10 - 18, 2007

The Shrew is always well received by audiences and the National certainly has an array of beautiful shrew ballerinas to choose from!

A Footstep of Air & Opus 19/The Dreamer & Voluntaries

March 21 - 25, 2007

Fans will get a lot of ballet for the money for the above mixed program. It is fitting that Voluntaries be shown in the same season as Shrew – as it is a tribute to the late John Cranko who tragically died in his sleep from swallowing his own vomit aboard a plane returning from the U.S.A. to Germany. Not a crowd pleaser but it will be very meaningful for the company to perform.

Balanchine’s Don Quixote

June 1 - 10, 2007

I have no doubt Mr. B’s Don will attract many curious fans but I doubt they will come back for a 2nd viewing for a future date. From the reviews I’ve read it is a love letter to Mr. B and not something that translates well for a modern audience accustomed to the fun Don Q with ‘Kitri’ castanets.

The Four Seasons & Polyphonia & World Premiere by Matjash Mrozewski

June 16 - 23, 2007

It is fitting the NBoC would end their season in the new Four Seasons with the Four Seasons!

Interestingly there will be no February ballet and the usual April/May ballets have been pushed back to June. Sadly, the NBoC has to take 2nd seat to the Canadian Opera Company. :(

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Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:12 pm 
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Casting has been released for Jewels. This is a must see if you love ballet! Guess who my favorite jewel is?

Click HERE for my review. Or read the unedited version below!

Jewel of a Ballerina!

Of all the glittering jewels gracing the stage for Thursday’s afternoon delight one sparkled more than any emerald, ruby, or even diamond could ever hope to sparkle. Call me another (happy) victim of ballerina magnetism but this precious gem boasts the glowing face and beaming body of which National Ballet of Canada dreams are made on! Mere prose cannot do justice to the delicious images she created on stage. This is one ballerina who knows how to shine and isn’t afraid to face the music and dance: Every step was imbued with spontaneity; every moment on stage was danced as if it was her last; every eye in the house was glued to her as the come-hither ruby in Jewels. She danced en pointe as if Sir Isaac Newton’s silly theories of gravity applied to her-NOT!

Unlike Tristan and Isolde, Jewels lives up to the National Ballet of Canada’s cheeky tagline, ‘Come to the Ballet!’ Those fortunate enough to be retired, playing hooky from work or school were treated to undulating hips, dizzying pirouettes, bedroom eyes glancing skywards, sassy high kicks, flirtatious skipping with imaginary rope, and jazzy moves galore. These goo-goo eyes were glued from seat A 28. Sneaking a close up glance with opera glasses is one of my many, many guilty pleasures. What my mind’s eye witnessed was poetry in motion, a ballerina siren putting it all together: theatrical persona, dance technique, plus musicality. Triple wow!!! This ruby absolutely glowed surrendering body and spirit to the choreography of Mr. B as she danced the music of Stravinsky to life! Not even Aurora Borealis could match the steps of this dancing delight! The jewel of my eye was a ballerina goddess with the very poetic name of Heather Ogden.

Of course, my opinion alone is not proof enough. I was not the only (willing) causality of Miss Ogden’s ballerina magnetism. The Thursday matinée was teeming with high school kids who had bussed in for Jewels. Many of who never heard of ballet dinosaurs like George Balanchine or Igor Stravinsky. Many of who possess the attention span of Bart Simpson. Many of who came to see a ballet for the very first time in their lives. Somehow those green imaginations, never to be stretched beyond a TV screen, were set free through the stage charisma of Heather Ogden as the new Muse for Balanchine. As further evidence of the above, many in attendance were so moved by Heather Ogden’s performance they not only clapped and cheered ‘bravo’ with double espresso-They actually whistled! Something not heard often enough at the Hummingbird Centre. Also referred to as God’s Waiting Room due to the advancing age of the NBoC’s audience! By the way, many of the aforementioned historic ballet fans were likewise stirred to show their appreciation.

There have been many gorgeous muses in George Balanchine’s life: Tamara Geva, Alexandra Danilova, Vera Zorina, Maria Tallchief, and Tanaquil LeClercq. And then there was the elusive muse, Suzanne Farrell, in charge of overseeing the production of Jewels. Thank you Suzanne Farrell for keeping the genius of George Balanchine (Artistic Director for the National Ballet of Heaven) alive through a new muse…in his afterlife. I hesitate to mention any ballerina in the same sentence with Suzanne Farrell but Heather Ogden has loads of potential! Miss Ogden boasts stellar technical skills, (as mentioned) ballerina magnetism, the stuff to surprise on stage, and tops it all off with the fresh beauty of screen sirens Tippi Hendren and Grace Kelly!

This purely abstract 3-act ballet premiered April 13, 1967; yet, 5 decades later it still possesses the dance power to turn the Bart Simpson generation on to ballet! Another muse of musical note was a stunning redhead by the name of Julie Hay who danced the music of Gabriel Fauré to life in Emeralds. Yet one more emerald who caught my eye was Rebekah Rimsay. As close to the stage as I was, not once could I hear her pointe shoes thump through a long stroll en pointe. Miss Rimsay must share her silent dancing secrets with her fellow emeralds for future performances. Perhaps she bashed her pointe shoes against the brick wall of the Walter Carsen Centre to soften them up?

The last Jewel to top Balanchine’s masterpiece was Diamonds-danced beautifully and most seriously by Jennifer Fournier as guest artist in residence for the NBoC. Miss Fournier, a former principal of the National, danced for the Suzanne Farrell Dance Company after taking time off to have a baby. The Elusive Muse’s training obviously rubbed off on this diamond as her arabesque, back dips and piqué turns were exactly what Mr. B had in mind. Though Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 calls for cool classicism, this reviewer thought Miss Fournier was a little too cool. A little passion and fire here and there wouldn’t rub any shine off that diamond.

If you’re looking for a romantic escape to Paris (Emeralds), New York (Rubies), and St. Petersburg (Diamonds): Trip the light fantastic to the Hummingbird Centre for Jewels! Your orbs will be treated to new costumes and, unlike the over-hyped Tristan and Isolde, Jewels actually gives you a reason to ‘Come to the Ballet!’ Jewels might even inspire you enough to come twice!! I know I will to see Heather Ogden dance May 13th. If you need more incentive tickets are on sale for only $25 and $45!

Performance of Dancers: 22/25. Choreography: 24/25. Costumes, Sets, and Lighting: 17/20. Ballet Magic: 19/20. Music: 10/10. Rating: 92/100.

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The world revolves around the beauty of the ballerina.


Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:21 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
The Stork delivered a baby boy for Chan Hon Goh! Read more HERE.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:06 pm 
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Below are the highlights of Susan Walker’s Article about the NBoC’s 2006/2007 season:

Quote:
On Nov. 9 this year, that production, refurbished at a cost of $700,000, will open the company's first season on its new home stage at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.


It’s obvious Karen Kain is cost conscious deciding to simply ‘refurbish’ the costumes & sets, in lieu of also redoing the choreography, as Kudelka would have done! She obviously reads Critical Dance as I have discussed this issue at length. Why redo a ballet when all you really need is new costumes/sets? Smart move. Shrew will also be refurbed.

Look for Mrs. K to speed up Sleeping Beauty a little. There are way too many pauses for applause. When appropriate the dancers will take their bows but otherwise, look for them to rush off the stage or stay in character. Rudolf Nureyev’s ego is too large for a modern day audience.


Quote:
The company has grown to 70 dancers to cover an expanded schedule of 83 performances in the new venue, a much more intimate space than the 3,000-seat Hummingbird Centre, where the company has performed since the 1950s.


Hence, the higher costs of tickets.

Quote:
Prices for the most expensive seats will rise from $136 to $170, but Kain noted that $30 rush tickets will be available for each performance.


I thought top tickets would be pushing $200 per seat. This does not represent that much of a savings for subscribers. If I choose Orchestra 1, this represents a savings of $20 meaning I will be paying $150 per performance. I assume the Grand Ring will not be available for single seat purchases as the top seats there go for $185. Perhaps Grand Ring 2 will be available?


Below are the highlights of Paula Citron’s story on the new season:

Quote:
In each season there are twice as many performances of the full-length ballet because they are more popular than the mixed programs. The final series will now end in June, not May, but Kain is confident that the June dead zone will be given life by a planned Toronto Arts Festival.


If marketed properly, the mixed program of Song of the Earth and Symphony in C could also fill the house. Ballet fans will be very much looking forward to this program. See below:

Quote:
The mixed program (Nov. 22-26) includes Sir Kenneth MacMillan's 1965 Song of the Earth with Mahler’s song cycle performed by tenors Richard Margison and Michael Colvin, and mezzo-sopranos Susan Platts and Elizabeth Turnbull. The larger company means that Balanchine’s Symphony in C is making a welcome return. To mount this massive 1947 work, set to Bizet's music, the National will enlist six dancers from the National Ballet School.


* Will next season be Mr. K’s final season with the NBoC :?: I can’t see the National keeping him on the payroll just to ensure the Nutcracker runs smoothly. This will be 2 years with no new ballets created. :cry:

I am devastated!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 6:57 pm 
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The Toronto Sun reported on the National’s debut season in the Four Seasons as well. Not so, for the National Post. A shame considering they employ the writing talents of Michael Crabb.

Quote:
For the National Ballet of Canada’s debut on the stage of the new Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts, artistic director Karen Kain plans to reawaken a Sleeping Beauty.

Not just any Sleeping Beauty, mind you, but the classic version created for the company by the late Rudolf Nureyev in 1972 – “a work that not only epitomizes the experience of classical ballet in its grandest form, but represents an important part of the National Ballet's history,” Kain says.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:00 pm 
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I received a surprise in the mail today: The NBoC 2006/2007 Brochure. There were several surprises inside the large envelope.

# 1. No glossy paper for the brochure! I was disappointed they decided to save money there.

# 2. No more $39 Subscriber Rush seats. Instead, subscribers get 50% off any seat in the house.

# 3. No feature photo of my favorite ballerina: Heather Ogden.

# 4. No improved simulated view of seating.

# 5. No invite to preview the Four Seasons before purchasing seats.

As usual the National created beautiful prose to promote their ballets. Too bad they may lose some fans with their increased ticket prices along with a 4 month subscription ballet gap from November to March. :(

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 9:34 am 
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Quote:
“Ms. Kain, who assumed the role of Artistic Director July 1, 2005, announced that the company will open the new theatre with a refurbished production of Rudolf Nureyev’s The Sleeping Beauty on November 9, 2006. The production will have a $700,000 restoration to bring back the Nicholas Georgiadis costumes, wigs and scenery to their original splendour.”


I agree with the NBoC’s decision to refurb the sets and costumes for Sleeping Beauty rather than Kudelkaize Sleeping Beauty.

Quote:
According to Mr. K: “every classic needs to be rethought with new logic and powerful archetypes to make it moving and relevant for a new generation.” Translation: Tutus cannot hold up to the toughest critic of all: Time! Desmond Heeley’s tutus would have been 38 years old had Kudelka used them to dress down his swans.


I wrote the above and the below:

Quote:
He has no idea he has fallen for an Odette refurb!


I do wonder if they realize the negative connotations the word ‘refurb’ has. The word has gained a more negative meaning over the years now often used to describe computers that have been restored to proper working order after having new parts installed or a flaw repaired. I think we can all agree the National should do its best to distance itself from anything flawed. Perhaps rejuvenated, renovation, renewed, refreshed, or face-lift would be better words to employ.

Once again, it will be very interesting to see how season ticket sales progress with prices goosed about 50% across the board. I wish the NBoC would address this issue. Obviously, they have chosen to ignore it and so has the media for the exception of a few words. Look for the National to offer discounted packages to fill the rest of the seats through some sort of a promotion via a major newspaper or department store-Hardly fair to subscribers who have paid full price half a year in advance of the season.

Speaking of Odette, the February edition of Dance Magazine has a wonderful article discussing the dual role of Odette/Odile. One of the famous swans interviewed was the one and only Karen Kain:

Quote:
“As a partner, Nureyev, with his emotional generosity, forced me to look into his eyes and believe in the moment. Erik Bruhn gave me the courage to trust my instincts and the freedom to phrase things my own way. (Before working with him I was very coached-every pose, every finger was specified).

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Last edited by Michael Goldbarth on Sat Feb 11, 2006 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 10:12 am 
Michael Goldbarth wrote:
Sadly, the NBoC has to take 2nd seat to the Canadian Opera Company. :(

Hey, Michael. Check THIS Out :D


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 10:55 am 
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You want me to switch to the opera? No way. I’m a diehard ballet fan all the way. Opera gives me a headache. I enjoy The Barber of Seville and a few others but not enough to consider subscribing.

The Canadian Opera Company is a 1st class organization and taking an ownership role in the Four Seasons. The NBoC is renting and hence will obviously receive 2nd choice of dates.

There will be an opportunity to preview your seat June 24th and 25th – after ballet fans must finalize their seating selection and make their 1st payment (April 17th). Why not have ballet fans pay up front and then give them an opportunity of selecting seats at a later date? Given the season does not start until November 9th this seems fair.

Quote:
Public Open House: June 24 and 25, 2006

Join us as we welcome the city to the Four Seasons Centre with guided and self-guided tours, concerts and special presentations of our brand new Zellers Ensemble Studio School Tour production of Isis and the Seven Scorpions. Ticketed and non-ticketed events. FREE.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 9:49 pm 
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Sarah Hampson interviewed Karen Kain in the Globe & Mail today: ‘Sweeping beauty.’ If you read in between the lines, you will see someone leaving the NBoC after next season.

Quote:
She wasn’t just a prima ballerina; she was the ultimate ballerina Canadiana, pure as snow, naturally beautiful, untouched somehow.


Karen Kain is still beautiful. She looks amazingly young for a woman who danced 28 years for the NBoC-Though she appears to have undergone some refurbing. Not $700,000 worth like her upcoming Sleeping Beauty, just a little help to erase the lines of Father Time.

Quote:
…But in 2004, it posted a loss of $692,000, and last year added another $448,000, for an accumulated deficit of roughly $1.2 million.


Perhaps the above is why the National decided to hike subscription prices 50% across the board?

Quote:
Kudelka’s great plan for the opening season in the opera house was a new version of Sleeping Beauty. …But that is not to be.


Interesting…

Quote:
“There are people who are doing really interesting work and it’s time to open the door a little bit,” Kain says carefully.


Even more interesting...

Quote:
She plans on commissioning new choreography from Kudelka in the future.


It appears next season may be the end of the Kudelka era at the National Ballet of Canada. They can’t afford to keep him on the payroll if he’s not creating a ballet every year.

Not convinced? Karen Kain went on to describe Greta Hodgkinson in tears during the 2nd intermission of Swan Lake in Washington. She was exhausted with this being her third performance. Mrs. K inspired her to finish the ballet. The below quote says it all:
Quote:
“We’re very different people, very different,” Kain remarks. “I have such empathy for the dancers.”


Michael Goldbarth has been a critic of James Kudelka since his appointment as AD in 1996. My criticisms escalated when he fired Kimberly Glasco. Despite my displeasure with some of his decisions as AD, I like to think I kept my objectivity giving him rave reviews for his Nutcracker, Cinderella, and the Four Seasons. As Kain discussed in the article, there were not enough hits to make up for the flops.

This was a classic case of someone biting off more than he could chew. James Kudelka is a choreographer. He never tried to be an Artistic Director. It was all about creating ballet: No interviews, No promoting the ballet, No smoozing to raise funds, No attempt to keep everybody in the company happy. He may have a done a little of the above but hardly enough to mention.

Mr. K orchestrated his own ending after giving the pink slip to Kimberly Glasco. This alienated many patrons, fans, and some dancers who were too afraid to speak up.

There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s a SHE! And guess what? She’s tougher than James Kudelka! I see a 10 year run for Mrs. K. Retirement age is 65. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:44 pm 
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Click HERE to dance with the National Ballet of Canada at the Illuminata Ball June 22. I have a hunch the price will be high. I always know something is beyond my bank account when there is no price tag!

Click HERE to meet one of the few redheads in ballet: the lovely Julie Hay.

Click HERE to experience a day in the life of Jennifer Fournier. FYI: Arts Alive is a wonderful website to learn about dance. Check it out.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 9:09 pm 
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To whet your appetite for Jewels, veteran dance writer Susan Walker explores the Balanchine style and how Mr. B’s brilliance impacted his muses.

Quote:
“You make yourself a Balanchine dancer by dancing his ballets. Your legs change, your body changes, you become a filly,” said Canadian-born dancer Melissa Hayden, a principal with New York City Ballet from 1949 to 1979.


Quote:
“Balanchine requires a very intelligent approach,” Fournier says. “He left so much up to his dancers. He wanted everything to be natural. On the one hand, that is very liberating. On the other, it means you have to develop your own response to the choreography and the music. You’re part of the creative process.”


Quote:
“They definitely push you,” says Hodgkinson. “Right out of the gate you’ve got to be ready to go.”


Quote:
Like many a Balanchine ballerina, Sidimus recalls his soft-spoken manner, his respect for his dancers and his insight into their particular talents. “His greatest gift to me was his unbelievable ability to see things in you that you didn’t see yourself.”


Only a creative genius could inspire prose like the above! The article is a must read and you can read it all for free! The Toronto Star doesn’t charge yet to read their web newspaper.

Casting has been released for the Balanchine mixed program of The Four Temperaments, Apollo, along with Theme and Variations.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2006 8:53 pm 
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Whoever writes promotional pieces for the Globe & Mail’s entertainment section shares my same taste in ballet. The below headline accompanied the lovely Heather Ogden on pointe in today’s Globe. Unfortunately, it is only available via paper – not the web. :lol:

Quote:
Spoiler alert! It all ends very badly but the graceful Heather Ogden, below, makes up for the narrative downer in the National Ballet’s Swan Lake.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:09 am 
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Quote:
He saw the art form in new and exciting ways. He created new movement based on classical steps that challenged our understanding of what ballet ought to be.

When he died April 30, 1983, his legend was released into the ether of the imagination.


Quote:
“Ask me the definition of genius,” she shrugs. “Nothing about his work is dated. He dealt in the poetic. It’s the literal that ages badly.”


Quote:
“It has to be in your body, that way of moving. You have to surrender to it, explore it. You must claim it for your own.”


Quote:
“Your personality is allowed to come through. It’s all just so freeing. You can’t be thinking anything about the steps. You have to get past them, to dance with total abandon.”


I wonder who could inspire the above? Click HERE to read more.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 11:11 am 
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Niccolò Marras interviews Prima Ballerina Greta Hodgkinson about life, cuisine, and of course, ballet.

Quote:
Greta Hodgkinson, prima ballerina of the National Ballet of Canada, has turned her first dream into reality: she danced at Milan’s La Scala with Roberto Bolle, primo ballerino in the world’s most famous theatre.

…Chilli peppers and romance. Giselle is the classic romantic ballet par excellence, conceived by Chilli peppers, in her case, stand for the fire of passion. When she’s in Italy, she lets the passion flow. “I love dancing in Italy; Italian audiences are warmer, more passionate. The Italian lifestyle is indeed different. In Italy, opera and ballet are a part of everyday life. Not so in Canada.”

Italy has conquered this Canadian ballerina - born in Providence, Rhode Island - who has been dancing for the National Ballet of Canada since 1990, soon becoming its prima ballerina. She would like this culture to spread in her own country. “Maybe, with Toronto’s new venue - the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - this will get new impulse,” hopes Hodgkinson.


Perhaps Primo Ballerino Roberto Bolle will make the trip overseas to play Prince Désiré with Princess Aurora Hodgkinson? I’m sure his machismo will inject new impulse with members of the fairer sex in Toronto! :wink:

Funny how the position of Prima Ballerina is no where to be found in the NBoC’s seasonal program and ballet officials have denied existence of the position. :roll:

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