Baseball season may be over, but the National Ballet of Canada hit a grand slam at Thursday’s premiere of the year’s final mixed bill.
I wish I could concur with the above by Kate but for moi, who attended the Thursday performance, I was stuck on third. Chroma did not move me at all. The movements evoked memories of Stravinsky Violin Concerto with some of its crab like moves-Just a run of the mill modern piece and nothing more. I must confess my preference for story ballets and Balanchine ballets. Watching Chroma was like listening to country music for moi-I can listen once but not twice.
Interestingly, “Serenade” received the least applause. There were a few wayward arms – though certainly no more than what one seems with New York City Ballet – but perhaps the ballet will gain in power with a performance or two.
I enjoyed this ballet most of all with no audible yawns. This was a break out performance by Tanya Howard who reminded me a little of Suzanne Farrell with her long flowing hair. I would rather watch this ballet 100 times straight than sit through Chroma.
* Perhaps the yawns were a result of the music by Tchaikovsky, which appears to end 2 times before finally coming to a close.
Curiously, I did notice some ballet goers leave early instead of sticking around for Emergence. I guess it just wasn’t to their tastes, which is okay. Below is my review from the premiere.
Host Michael Crabb and ballet historian/critic Clement Crisp warmed up Early Birds with an invigorating Ballet Talk for the Thursday March 5th performance of Innovation. According to M.C. the National boasts a
and mixed programs usually have a safe, pleasing opening, a dangerous often not audience pleasing middle, and a show stopping finale. In the spirit of Clement Crisp’s comments that there is no right or wrong critique when it comes to a ballet connoisseur’s opinion, I’m going to write against the grain and proclaim that blonde bombshell Crystal Pite’s Emergence was the audience hit of the evening and most definitely should have been given the coveted finale position!
In Colour evoked memories of the ballet ‘Jewels’ in both movement and costume with a much more serious most melancholy tone. The score by Anton Lubchenko echoed far too much of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, which weighed down the bargain basement $ store revival of Marius Petipa variations courtesy of Peter Quanz. This ballet connoisseur possesses no idea what it was about, would be very surprised to see it return, and hence, will not waste any more prose on it.
The middle of the mixed program will most definitely re-emerge at some point in the very near future. Emergence elicited the most applause of the trio and also inspired loads of balletomane buzz between sips of wine during the intermission. From start to finish, Crystal Pite dilated and glued this balletomane’s orbs into her underworld, which was a little too dark at times (more light please)! A naked bat like creature appears to be hatched à la an alien emerging from its sea-pod à la ‘The Body Snatchers.’ Every moment thereafter you forget you’re in the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts as these wicked bat-men and bat-women emerge from their cave to go about their routine chanting 1,2,3,4,5,6, and then finally 7,8,9,10,11,12…reminiscent of Leslie Feist’s impossible-to-get-out-of-my-head hit tune! For some reason, I felt strangely attracted to these hedonistic bat-women dressed skintight for sin-Evil is good when you look that good! Antonella Martinelli was especially HO double T!!
Pite exhibits a magnificent mind’s eye for theatrical tricks when the bat-men lay flat on the floor giving the impression of sticking to the ceiling of their cave from my view in Ring 3 of the mezzanine. These bat creatures appear to be blind in the early stages of their existence before being given the gift of sight and dance. As I replayed the ballet in my mind on the way home, I believed this ballerina bat colony to be somehow necessary to our human existence-In the same way mammal bats are thought of as evil even though they perform the very necessary task of ridding valuable farmland from millions of pests.
Though ‘Emergence’ might be more at home on the stage of The Princess of Wales Theatre, I loved absolutely everything about this bat-ballet from the mysterious music by Owen Belton; to the dark set design by Jay Gower Taylor; to the Halloween-esque costumes by Linda Chow; and, of course, I adored the daring muscular dance steps that emerged from the rosé champagne imagination of Crystal Pite who obviously has very little difficulty summoning and/or uncorking her Muse! BRAVO!
Gazing into my crystal ball, I see Crystal Pite as a future choreographer in residence for the National Ballet of Canada. Dance creativity such as hers must be given more opportunities to shine. It is so unfair that classical ballet, or in this case, modern-dance bat-ballet is such an ephemeral art. This mind’s eye inspiration deserves to be preserved for eternity onto DVD. You will see Emergence performed by the NBoC again-Perhaps as early as this June for the Mad Hot Ballet Gala or as part of a Halloween Masked Ball.
Onto the dull but pleasing to the eye and ear finale: Dextris. The music of Antonio Vivaldi transported me back in time to a Viennese royal court where the nouveau riche would surface to enjoy choir music accompanied by romantic dance. The singing was glorious and the dance, especially by Heather Ogden, was lovely. Unfortunately, the choir was very visible on the stage standing atop ghastly looking pigskin bleachers! It may have worked had they covered the bleachers to better blend in with the scenery and made smarter costume ‘colour’ choices for both dancers and singers. This was most disappointing for those looking forward to seeing round III of Sabrina Matthews at the 4 Seasons. Despite the mixed reviews, I recommend you catch this mixed fare-If only to see the middle!