CriticalDance Forum

National Ballet of Canada - Winter 2008
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Author:  ksneds [ Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:27 pm ]
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As to March - looks very unlikely - RDB is doing short runs of Romeo & Juliet and Onegin, and then premiering a new Balanchine triple bill (Symphony in C, La Sonnambula and Symphony in 3 Movements. Kish is not listed for that performance of Onegin nor in the current run of R&J. But I would strongly suspect that he has been cast in the Balanchine evening.

I can't imagine they'd want their second cast Onegin abroad while they're running the production (though they could use Blangstrup in a pinch if he's healthy), though it is just one performance. However with the mixed bill bowing on March 14, the two prior weeks would be busy with stage rehearsals, final costume fittings etc., so the dancers involved would have to be around each day. Kinda wipes out March.

March would also involve rehearsals for Don Q, which bows on April 4, and then the biggest event of the year - Silja Schandorff's farewell performance in Giselle. Kish was Albrecht to her Giselle in the fall, though it's quite possible that someone with longer ties to the company may be her final Albrecht.

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:43 pm ]
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Chan Hon Goh Retires After 20 Years of Dance

February 9, 2009... Principal Dancer Chan Hon Goh will retire in June 2009 after 20
years with The National Ballet of Canada.

"Chan has given us 20 years of beautiful and memorable performances at the National
Ballet. Not only has she had a stellar career, she is a wonderfully kind and
generous colleague with a professional etiquette and is a great model for young
dancers," says Karen Kain, Artistic Director. "Chan brings her remarkable energy and
dedication to all she puts her hand to, from the building of her business to the
raising of her lovely family. I will greatly miss her on stage and off, and look
forward to her exciting future."

Born in Beijing, China, Ms. Goh emigrated with her family to Canada, settling in
Vancouver, where she studied in the professional programme at the Goh Ballet
Academy. Upon graduation in 1988, she joined The National Ballet of Canada and has
been a Principal Dancer since 1994.

During her remarkable career, Ms. Goh danced almost all the lead female roles in the
classical repertoire, including Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Odette/Odile in Swan
Lake, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Tatiana in Onegin and title roles in
Giselle, Madame Butterfly and La Sylphide. Recently, DanceView Magazine wrote "Goh
is at the height of her powers, where technical ability and dramatic insight
converge. Her dancing these days feels freer than ever; she is totally present and
committed to what is unfolding on stage."

Ms. Goh is known for the vibrancy and elegance she brings to her extensive
Balanchine repertoire. Multiple roles have been created for her at the National
Ballet and she has been chosen to perform in the company premieres of works by
contemporary choreographers John Neumeier, Christopher Wheeldon, and Jirí Kylían,
among others.

A much sought-after international guest artist, Ms. Goh has appeared with numerous
companies throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. She was the first
Canadian to receive the silver medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition
in London, England and was a prize recipient at the Prix de Lausanne. In 2005, Ms.
Goh received the New Pioneers Arts Award for her contributions to dance in Canada.

Ms. Goh is the founder of Principal by Chan Hon Goh(tm), a manufacturer and
distributor of ballet footwear.

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:45 pm ]
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2009/10 Season Announced
Great Classics The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake
Onegin Featuring a Glorious New Design
Two World Premieres by Aszure Barton and Jorma Elo
One Company Premiere

February 9, 2009... Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada,
today announced the 2009/10 season. The season features the return of great
classics, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, world premieres by two exciting
choreographic talents, a company premiere as well as Onegin, featuring a glorious
new design.

The 2009/10 Season

The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet that epitomizes, perhaps better than any other, the
meaning of classical ballet and it opens the 2009/10 season on November 13, 2009.
Rudolf Nureyev's The Sleeping Beauty was refurbished and restored to its original
splendour to open The National Ballet of Canada's inaugural season in the Four
Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

"The Sleeping Beauty has an important place in the history of The National Ballet of
Canada. Rudolf Nureyev set his famous version of the work on our company in 1972, an
event that is still a famous milestone in our artistic evolution," says Ms. Kain.
"It gives me great pleasure to bring the work back this year to allow people the
chance once again to revel in the riches and timeless artistry it contains."

The Fall Season's mixed programme features a new work by one of the most poised and
exciting choreographers today, Edmonton-born Aszure Barton. Ms. Barton's energetic,
often riotously complex and utterly uncategorizable dances, commissioned by, among
others, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Martha Graham Dance Company and Les Ballets Jazz de
Montréal, have drawn praise and superlatives from all quarters. George Balanchine's
refined neo-classical The Four Temperaments and Jerome Robbins' vigorously modernist
Glass Pieces are also featured November 25 - 29, 2009.

Following The Nutcracker, December 12, 2009 - January 3, 2010, the Winter Season
opens on March 3, 2010 with Marie Chouinard's brilliantly provocative 24 Preludes by
Chopin, James Kudelka's touching and elegant The Four Seasons and the company
premiere of Jerome Robbins' captivating solo work, A Suite of Dances.

The full-length work for the Winter Season will be Mr. Kudelka's enthralling
interpretation of Swan Lake, on stage March 11 - 21, 2010, throughout March Break.
Never sacrificing any of the ballet's allure, symbolic fascination and power, Mr.
Kudelka re-thinks the tale for a contemporary audience.

The Summer Season features a new work by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo, a highly
sought-after choreographer who has created works for numerous ballet companies in
both Europe and North America. Mr. Elo's choreography is renowned for its speed and
physicality, its intricate fusion of the classical and contemporary and for the
extraordinary but rewarding demands it makes on dancers. This new work will be
presented with Jerome Robbins' exuberant and entertaining West Side Story Suite and
his exquisite Opus 19/The Dreamer June 4 - 13, 2010.

The 2009/10 season closes with one of the National Ballet's most popular full-length
story ballets, John Cranko's Onegin, featuring beautiful new sets and costumes by
Santo Loquasto, one of today's most illustrious designers. Onegin is on stage June
19 - 25, 2010.

The company will tour to Western Canada in 2009 with 13 performances of The Sleeping
Beauty: Calgary (September 17 - 19), Edmonton (September 22 - 23), Victoria
(September 26), Nanaimo (September 28) and Vancouver (September 30 - October 3).

The company will tour to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa with The Sleeping Beauty
November 5 - 7, 2009 for three performances. Other touring dates will be announced

The National Ballet of Canada's 2009/10 Season at the
Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts

Fall Season
The Sleeping Beauty
November 13 - 22, 2009

World Premiere by Aszure Barton+ & The Four Temperaments & Glass Pieces
November 25 - 29, 2009

Holiday Season
The Nutcracker
December 12, 2009 - January 3, 2010

Winter Season
24 Preludes by Chopin & A Suite of Dances* & The Four Seasons
March 3 - 7, 2010

Swan Lake
March 11 - 21, 2010

Summer Season
West Side Story Suite & World Premiere by Jorma Elo+ & Opus 19/The Dreamer
June 4 - 13, 2010

June 19 - 25, 2010

+ World Premiere * Company Premiere

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:51 pm ]
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Welcome to Critical Dance NBoC Keira99! I too was very surprised to see the return of some familiar favs: West Side Story & Glass Pieces (November 2007), The 4 Seasons (June 2007), Opus 19/The Dreamer (March 2007), Sleeping Beauty (November 2006), The 4 Temperaments ( March 2006), and Swan Lake V (November 2005)! It’s official, the National has gone RETRO and we’re obviously in a recession with all these reruns! To make things worse for myself, I already reserved a seat to see the Stratford Festival perform West Side Story. I was secretly hoping the National would role out the Kudelkaized version of Swan Lake for the 100th anniversary of the choreographer’s passing-No such good fortune.

I have to give credit to Mrs. K for being honest about her selections:

“I changed a lot of things for this year. I brought back the classics. That wasn’t part of my original thinking.”

At least we will be treated to a new set and costumes courtesy of Santo Loquasto for Onegin and something new from Aszure Barton and Jorma Elo. I was hoping to see the old Don Q return, Still Life at the Penguin Café, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tzigane, and Jewels. If only, the NBoC would appoint Michael Goldbarth as AD!

In other melancholy news, the ageless Chan Hon Goh is hanging up her pointe shoes.

An observer might have agreed with Kain that the wiry dancer has a lot of strong performances left in her, but in an interview following the event, the award-winning dancer revealed that only time-consuming therapy has kept her 40-year-old body in tune since a 2006 car accident in Vancouver that resulted in a spinal injury.

“It didn’t seem very serious at the time,” said Goh in an interview following the perforrmance, “but I never fully recuperated.

Author:  Keira99 [ Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:53 am ]
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Thanks to all for the warm welcome!

Wow, the Danes don't mess around; I had no idea their season was so long. Great for audiences over there, not so good for Kish fans here! I was really hoping he'd be back for R&J in March, but I suppose we'll see.

It’s official, the National has gone RETRO and we’re obviously in a recession with all these reruns!

Yes, they're certainly reducing, reusing and recyling. I don't mind though, as I'm a relatively new ballet fan and haven't seen most of those productions.

I already reserved a seat to see the Stratford Festival perform West Side Story

At least the ballet version won't be until June 2010, so you'll have a year in-between. I was thinking of going to Stratford to see it myself this summer. Their musicals are usually top notch.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:45 am ]
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I’ve never seen a bad musical at the Stratford Festival. As a subscriber I can always exchange a ticket for a different performance. Perhaps I will double up on Sleeping Beauty. On the surface the season is great value because you’re really getting bang for your ballet buck with Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, the 4 Seasons mixed program, as well as the West Side Story mixed program. I just wish they would have given us something new or at least something not of recent memory instead of Swan Lake V AGAIN! :roll:

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:36 pm ]
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Heather Ogden spills the beans about her luv of Cranko’s R&J:

“The first time I saw Cranko's Romeo and Juliet was when I was learning the role of Juliet. I fell in love with the ballet right away and it is still my favourite ballet to dance and watch. The entire production is stunning, the story is heartbreaking and the way it touches the audience is truly amazing. If you are up for a night of romance this is your show. It is a beautiful love story that reminds us to cherish that special person in our lives.”

I’m very much looking forward to seeing R&J in March! Below is an old review:

The NBoC will Dance Cranko’s R&J into Eternity!

“Welcome, gentlemen! Ladies that have their toes
Unplagued with corns will have a bout with you.
Ah ha, my mistresses which of you all!
Will now deny to dance?”

Lord Capulet, the head of the house.

Anyone who has suffered through a rendition of Shakespeare’s verse by amateurish thespians knows full well how long time passes under such Bardish conditions. Such times make one wish for silent acting. You will be pleased to read that time passes very quickly and most gracefully for the National Ballet of Canada dancing the prose of the Bard to life!

Unfortunately, I must bestow compliments for the choreography posthumously; John Cranko passed away in 1973 at the age of 45. Dieter Gräfe, as chief beneficiary of Cranko’s will, holds the copyright. His partner, Reid Anderson, former Artistic Director of the NBoC, stages the ballet. The beauty of Cranko’s choreography is speaking the Bard of Avon through nothing more than silent acting, movement, and music. You don’t have to read the program to follow the story. You don’t even have to be familiar with the story. Words become unnecessary; the dance speaks for itself.

Our story begins in fair Verona with Romeo (Guillaume Côté) and Rosalind (Alexandra Golden) flirting. Two Michelangelo-like statues grace the stage as the city stirs to life. If ever you visit New York City Ballet, I highly recommend you make a side trip to Central Park for gazing purposes and perhaps a little Shakespeare in the Park. For your viewing pleasure, outside of the Delacorte Theatre, stands a Milton Hebald nude bronze statue symbolizing Romeo & Juliet’s eternal love at first sight. (Viewer Discretion is advised.) The Capulets and Montagues play fighting deteriorates into real fighting and the Duke of Verona calls a halt to the hostilities.

The curtain closes to allow for a quick set change and set up Juliet’s coming of age in the elegant form of the very girlish and lovely Heather Ogden. It was obvious the NBoC’s casting menu raked in quite a few hits. The May 6th performance I attended was noticeably fuller and buzzing with anticipation for Miss Ogden. As proof I offer up the appearance of Lord Black of Crossharbour, Conrad Black, along with his wife, Barbara Amiel. Despite being in the news for all the wrong reasons, not many noticed the large presence of Lord Black-Not someone you want to sit behind if you value an unobstructed view of the stage!

Heather Ogden did not disappoint. For evidence I offer up my memories of Juliet full of play teasing her nurse (Lisa Robinson) and dancing with a new dress for her first ball. Wilting roses longing for the sweet dew of youth were temporarily transported back in time when their love was shiny and new. Standing all alone on center stage, the light from the heavens shines upon Juliet as she blossoms from a 14 year old teenager into womanhood before our very eyes. The jury of the Hummingbird Centre reaches a unanimous verdict: Miss Ogden is the picture of beauty, freshness, vitality and innocence on all counts! If called upon, I have full confidence a certain lordly couple will testify to the above.

The curtain opens to reveal Romeo, Mercutio (Piotr Stanczyk) and Benvolio (Nehemiah Kish) sneaking into the Capulet’s Ball disguised as revelers in masks and long capes. They dance a jubilant pas de trios. Stanczyk works up quite a sweat executing a string of breathless traveling jumps (coupe jeté en tournant). The very shy Juliet arrives in her flower petalled dress topped off with a beautiful flowered headdress. Her backwards bourrées indicate she does not approve of this pre-arranged marriage to Count Paris. As soon as she sees Romeo it’s love at first sight. Sergei Prokofiev scores a love letter for violins and violas. Christopher Body interrupts their romantic pas de deux with an Oscar worthy performance as Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt.

Romeo visits Juliet’s dreamy moonlit balcony later that night where the love struck duo profess their eternal love in a romantic pas de deux and erotic kisses galore. Viewer Discretion is strongly advised. There was a lot of making out! I lost count of the number of kisses. Their love duet climaxes in breathtaking upside down lifts and gorgeous fish dives. Cranko imbues his R&J with many intoxicating high lifts that require split second timing and trust in your partner. Ogden and Côté danced in perfect concert as celestial instruments for Cranko’s eternal gift to Terpsichore.

Now would be a good time for you to prepare a delicious apéritif to prep your senses for Act II. The curtain reveals a festive celebration. Cranko treats us to a little do-si-do and Cirque Du Soleil moves. The surprise highlight of the Carnival Dance was the performance of Second Soloist, Jillian Vanstone, almost unrecognizable hiding underneath her adorable circus artist makeup. She absolutely shined on stage performing one ebullient flip and cartwheel after another. This ballet fan couldn’t take his eyes off her!

Romeo slips away to marry his Juliet at Friar Laurence’s Cell (Senior Ballet Master, Peter Ottmann). We return you to the Street Party overflowing with townsfolk, merchants, beggars, and saucy harlots-All employed to move the story through Cranko’s choreography. Tybalt disrupts the merriment challenging Romeo to a duel, who declines. His bosom buddy Mercutio takes up the challenge and we’re royally entertained with a duel to the death evoking memories of the classic sword fight between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone from the movie, ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood.’ John Cranko engages the entire corps de ballet on stage as the mischievous Mercutio duels with the humorless Tybalt. Piotr Stanczyk takes a long time to finally expire in a cartoonish ending but it works with the music (especially the cellos).

Romeo can endure it no more. He accepts the challenge picking up the glove to slap Tybalt (ouch)! The Ill-Humor man gets what’s coming to him; Romeo must avenge his friend’s death. Blond, blue-eyed, and broad shouldered with the prerequisite washboard abs, Body (pronounced Beaudy) is much more than Steve McQueen sex appeal-Body is the real deal. You never catch Body (yes, it’s his real name) ‘jumping the shark’ in his silent acting. Christopher Body received a standing ovation when he appeared for his curtain call and it was well deserved. FYI: ‘Jumping the shark’ is a cool phrase and website for ‘keeping it real.’

The Duke of Verona banishes Romeo for killing off Juliet’s cousin. Stephanie Hutchison gave a Stratford like acting job mourning the death of her son. Again, this scene is a little drawn out but it works. Act III beckons. Once again, viewer discretion is strongly advised!

We return from our intermission to a very intimate sight to behold: Juliet and Romeo sleeping off their Wedding Night in a beautiful canopied bed. I wonder why they’re so spent? We’re treated to the swooning, hypnotic melody of R&J’s love theme for their final duet together. Romeo leaves at dawn.

Mom and dad return with Count Paris and Juliet consents to marriage. She runs off to Friar Laurence for a way out. He devises a plan to fake her death with a sleeping potion. Ironically, John Cranko tragically passed away while asleep on a flight from Philadelphia to Stuttgart. He had taken a sleeping sedative (chloral hydrate) and choked on his own vomit. At the time, many newspapers falsely assumed he had taken his own life because of previous battles with depression and alcohol. The world of ballet lost a brilliant choreographer who brought out the best in all the lives he touched whether they be principal dancers, the corps de ballet, or those working behind the scenes. The true beauty of John Cranko was his refreshing distain for all things snobbish and delightful sense of humor (The Taming of the Shrew and Pineapple Poll).

You probably know the rest of the story. Juliet drinks the potion, her nurse and bridesmaids presume her to be heaven bound. It’s time for the heartbreaking Dance of the Lilies. Perhaps I missed it absorbed in the ballet, but I did not notice Romeo’s failure to receive Friar Laurence’s note that Juliet is alive. He sees Paris mourning at the Capulet family crypt and stabs Paris to death. Romeo spends a few tender moments with Juliet before taking his own life. Guillaume Côté, as usual, danced flawlessly and gave a memorable performance.

Juliet emerges from her sleeping potion slumber to death. Heather Ogden filled the long musical passage admirably with her silent acting before kissing Romeo on the forehead and taking her own life. This was an especially moving night with the National bidding farewell this season to the Hummingbird Centre, along with Ormsby Wilkins, their Music Director & Principal Conductor since 1990. Bravo to all those in the pit, who go unseen, for the exception of us balletomanes with the curiosity to sneak a peak at the folks who create the music. Sergei Prokofiev’s score has proven over time to be one of the most sophisticated and evocative in the ballet canon.

To think John Cranko was worried his Romeo & Juliet would not survive the toughest critic of all: Time. He once wrote: Quote:
“A Bach can die and leave behind his Brandenburg concertos for a world to come. A choreographer is lost forever.”
This version of his R&J has survived since its debut in 1962 and might just live as long as the National Ballet of Canada is alive and well. Only his version has played on its stage since 1964. This is one ballet which won’t be Kudelkaized! Of course, I’m sure the Stuttgart Ballet will likewise keep John Cranko’s R&J alive.

Dancers: 20/20. Choreography: 20/20. Ballet Magic: 19/20. Costumes, Sets & Lighting: 16/20. Story: 10/10. Music: 10/10. Rating: 95/100.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:07 am ]
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The Luv Bug is buzzing everywhere at the National Ballet of Canada!

Author:  Keira99 [ Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:27 am ]
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Aw, great article. Isn't Nehemiah Kish dating Elena Lobsanova? I suppose he was unavailable for the article since he's in Denmark.

That's so cute about Heather and Guillaume. I really hope he's healthy and can dance R&J with her next month.

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:55 pm ]
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As to the RDB season - it's a typical set up for the traditional opera-house based European companies. The season seems long, but there are several extended breaks, and since the theatre is also used by the opera and theatre companies, RDB may only perform two or three times a week. I can't remember the exact number, but there are over 100 performances a season.

I have mixed feelings about the NBoC valentines article. It's nice to read about some of the established couples and the article has some fun tidbits, but I wonder how wise it is to publicize the younger couples. Inevitably, not all of the relationships will last and it's got to be hard enough to deal with a relationship that ends in such a close/hands-on working atmosphere. But to deal with it in the public eye as well - what happens if a well meaning fan or critic asks about the relationship in the future...

Anyway, best Valentines' wishes to all the couples.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:53 pm ]
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Kate makes an interesting pointe. Also, I wonder how healthy it is to be with your partner/spouse 24/7? I imagine it may also make it difficult for the company to let one dancer go knowing they are married? What if a dancer gets an offer at a much more prestigious company with higher pay overseas? Do you go? Do differences spice up a relationship? You could make all kinds of arguments both for and against a work relationship.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Tue Feb 17, 2009 7:35 pm ]
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Click HERE for a very touching photo of Karen Kain embracing Chan Hon Goh upon announcing her final year with the National. The Blog also provides a comprehensive preview of the 2009/2010 season.

* I received my subscription renewal package in the mail today. For those of you who are still waiting, subscriptions have been goosed by an average of $24 across the board. You get a 10% discount if you renew before May 1. You’re encouraged to renew on line and print off your tickets electronically. Times are tough and lean more than ever at the Ballet! :lol:

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:21 pm ]
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For Canadians who are members, there's an article on Rex Harrington in the Spring 2009 issue of CAA's quarterly magazine.

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:33 pm ]
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Casting is up for R & J. I find it odd they finalized casting for this before the mixed program that precedes it.

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:26 pm ]
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It happens. The triple bill might be harder to finalise since the cast needs to be set for all three ballets - not just one ballet.

Interesting to see that Nehemiah Kish is returning for two performances - sounds like a flying visit between rehearsals back in Copenhagen. I would assume he's done Romeo before and is doing familiar roles back in Copenhagen.

I'm a bid disappointed to miss Cote again - here's hoping he'll be dancing on opening night of the triple bill. And I would have loved to see Konvalina again or Kish for the first time. I find it interesting that R&J is being cast with relatively old dancers. Not necessarily a bad thing - the most moving performance I ever saw of R &J was with Angel Corella when he was in his late 20s. But there is something magical about seeing young dancers in the roles - these seem to roles which often launch dancers from the corps into soloist and principal ranks.


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