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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 1:19 pm 
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Salena Kitteringham reviews the Thursday, May 10, 2012 performance of "Love Lies Bleeding" for the Edmonton Journal.

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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:05 pm 
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Alberta Ballet opens at Calgary's Jubilee Auditorium on September 13-15, 2012 with a mixed bill of Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15," "The Four Temperaments," and Twyla Tharp's "In the Upper Room." Salena Kitteringham previews the program in the Calgary Herald.

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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:14 am 
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Stephen Hunt reports on Alberta Ballet's opening night tribute to the late Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed for the Calgary Herald.

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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:05 pm 
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In the Edmonton Examiner, Aspen Gainer talks to dancer Kelley McKinlay about "The Four Temperaments" and "In the Upper Room."

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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:52 pm 
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Salena Kitteringham reviews Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15" and "The Four Temperaments" and Tryla Tharp's "In the Upper Room" for the Edmonton Journal.

Edmonton Journal


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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Location: Canada
Alberta Ballet
21 Sept 2012
Northern Jubilee Theatre
Divertimento No. 15, The Four Temperaments, In the Upper Room

Edmontonians are loath to come inside on a warm, sunny September evening. The Alberta Ballet’s Great Masterpieces of the 20th Century program, however, was well worth the sunlight sacrifice. Tracing the threads of ballet from neoclassical to Tharp, the evening’s performance revealed both the growth and the promise of the Alberta Ballet. The trio of ballets – Balanchine’s ‘Divertimento No. 15’ and ‘The Four Temperaments’, and Twyla Tharp’s ‘In the Upper Room’ – could not have been better suited to the company’s strengths. These are ballets where the focus is on the group, and Alberta Ballet is at its best when the company is together on stage.

Though the program was presumably arranged to show the evolution of ballet, the evening opened with the younger of the two Balanchine pieces, ‘Divertimento No. 15’. With a lilting Mozart score and Karinska’s subtly glittering tutus, ‘Divertmento’ combined elegance with finely tuned musicality. As in many of Balanchine’s ballets, the steps seemed to flow a hair’s breadth ahead of the music, requiring a non-stop attack. The Alberta Ballet dancers, for the most part, are more quarter horse than thoroughbred, but they brought ample energy to Balanchine’s tricky steps. Akiko Ishi, Nicole Caron, Mariko Kondo and Alison Dubsky led a sparkling, well-rehearsed female corps. The men were solid partners, though less sure in terms of individual technique. Of note as well was the quietness of the womens’ shoes – not a pointe shoe thunk to be heard.

If any of the evenings’ ballets lived up to the title billing, it was ‘The Four Temperaments’. Loosely inspired by the four humors once thought to determine the human temperament, the ballet is one of Balanchine’s masterpieces. Ironically though good health was thought to be achieved by a keeping the humors in balance, Balanchine’s choreography explores being off-balance. It’s not so simple as a jutting hip or a flexed foot, but steps that give the impression that a body is being pulled or pushed by some unseen force. There are many breathtakingly unique moments – for instance, a supported pirouette en attitude with the women’s supporting leg deeply bent, a man slowly backing off stage with his back deeply arched, and a male soloist who lifts one leg up in a front attitude only to pause, foot in hand, while the female corps dances around him. It’s made all the more powerful by Paul Hindemith’s driving piano score; commissioned especially for Balanchine’s choreography.

The company danced ‘The Four Temperaments’ with an exhilarating intensity, though the female corps lacked the constant attention to detail the ballet demands. At times wrists needed more flexion and tension, steps a little more jut in the hip or abandon into momentary imbalance. However, there were a number of stand out performances. One of the highlights of the evening was Kelley McKinlay’s Melancholic solo in which he exploded across the stage in one long, exhilarating blaze of steps. He was one the very few dancers who seemed confident enough in his technique to push that extra bit so that the steps were full fleshed out. In addition, McKinlay performed with a maturity that gave his dancing both metaphoric and literal depth. In Phlegmatic, one could not help but to notice Mark Wax’s ability to balance his easy, sky-high extensions with exquisite control. It was an interesting contrast with Elier Bourzac, who while an impeccable partner and blessed with beautiful proportions, seemed to struggle with getting his body under control. There was a looseness in his epaulement, and feet that were beautifully pointed a terre were floppy in the air. Finally, Tara Williamson’s steeliness and power stood out in Choleric.

Twyla Tharp’s “In the Upper Room” is clearly popular with audiences, but for this critic, placing it after ‘The Four Temperaments’ highlights the relative lack of choreographic depth. Yet, with a driving Philip Glass score, and brassy choreography, it is a upbeat end to an evening. The piece revolves around a sextet of sneaker clad ‘stompers’, three ‘ballet couples’ and a girl who crosses over. Clad in Norma Kamali’s varying red and prison-striped costumes, the dancers appear and disappear into a great swath of smoke that covers the back of the stage; it’s fun and a bit fantastical.
The mood is relentlessly upbeat, with a fascinating variety of steps from bounding to twitchy. The emphasis on power and group interaction suited the Alberta Ballet to a “T. No dancer seemed more at home than the Yukichi Hattori, who simply flew across the stage. Another dancer who stood out was the young Cuban Jaciel Gomez. Already bestowed with a solid foundation in technique and partnering, Gomez seems to be relishing the less classical challenges at Alberta Ballet. He’s clearly making the most of every opportunity, and has a combination of technique, presence and range that is a treat to see on the Northern Jubilee stage.


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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 1:00 pm 
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In the Calgary Herald, Jenna Shummoogum reviews Kirk Peterson's "Othello" at the Jubilee Auditorium, October 18-20, 2012.

Calgary Herald


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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:27 am 
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In the Edmonton Journal, Salena Kitteringham previews Kirk Peterson's "Othello" at the Jubilee Auditorium, November 2-3, 2012.

Edmonton Journal


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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:30 am 
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Location: Canada
“Othello”
2 Nov 2012
Northern Jubilee Auditorium
Alberta Ballet

Welcome to the Kelley McKinlay show! Kirk Peterson’s production of “Othello” may be less than memorable, but it serves as a perfect vehicle to display the unforgettable talents of Alberta Ballet’s leading man, Kelley McKinlay. From his moody opening solo, McKinlay , as Iago the ensign whose jealous machinations result in murder, heartbreak and suicide, becomes the electrifying centerpiece of the ballet. This is not “Othello”, but “Iago”.

Kirk Peterson, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, comes from a rich story-ballet pedigree, but his efforts at bringing “Othello” to the ballet stage are decidedly uneven. Shakespeare’s Othello is the tragic tale of a Moorish general who murders his new wife, Desdemona, after Iago – an ensign under Othello’s command who has been passed over for promotion - tricks him into believing she was unfaithful. The story, with its intrigue, romance, betrayal and sword fights, is ripe for dramatic interpretation.

Yet, despite visually appealing sets and lighting, Peterson’s choreography lacks sufficient originality or cohesion to create a dynamic, engaging drama. Alexander Nichols’ sets are particularly stunning, combining Alhambra-like architectural patterns and Moorish carpet-like designs, while leaving the stage itself free for dancing (one minor quibble – the diamond-grill second act set pieces feel more chain-link fence than Alhambra window frame). The designs though are understated, requiring vibrant dancing to make the setting to life – and Peterson’s choreography is not quite up to the task.

The ballet opens with a striking solo for McKinlay’s Iago that immediately leaves a feeling of deep, unsettling unease. Between the alternately sinuous and angular steps and Pierre Lavoie’s shadowy lighting, there’s little doubt of the burgeoning evil within Iago. It is McKinlay, however, which transforms the solo from mere steps into a tour de force – if the role of Iago was not originally made for McKinlay, it is certainly a role than defines him as dancer. The often bent-kneed choreography has a more modern sensibility, requiring the ability to shift from almost slimy fluidity to powerful jaggedness. McKinlay has this ability and then some, creating a character who makes the hairs on the back of your neck rise – a uneasy mix of refinement, simmering anger and reptilian sliminess. By the end of the solo, McKinlay has the audience at the edge of their seats, and keeps that way whenever he is on stage

And therein, perhaps is the problem – McKinlay’s Iago is so vividly portrayed, that the rest of the ballet pales. This, one hastens to add, is the problem of the production, and not of the dancers. Mariko Kondo, as Desdemona, was ray of sunshine – both in her tender dancing and Sandra Woodall’s beautiful pink and then white dresses. Like McKinlay, Kondo seems confident enough in her technique to focus on the artistry and the character. Kodo’s lyrical, brought a loving humanity to Desdemona that made her cruel fate all the harder to bear. In the other lead role, that of Iago’s wife Emilia, Hayna Gutierrez seems to have finally been found a role that brings out her dance-acting skills. She was equally convincing as both the sometime humorously conniving Emilia, and the remorseful, horrified Emilia.

On the other hand, Elier Bourzac was hot and cold as Othello. Nearly unrecognizable in a heavy beard, he looked sluggish and unfocused throughout the first act of the ballet. One felt a certain hesitation in his movement, a feeling that he hadn’t quite assimilated Peterson’s weightier choreographic style into his body. His Othello was shadow to the lightning bolt of McKinlay’s Iago, and so the storyline was painfully unbalanced.

However, when the curtain rose on the second act, the difference was like light and day. Uncertainty was replaced by commitment, creating for the first time a character who was likeable, but flawed. Perhaps the strongest demonstration of Bourzac’s dance-acting skills – and one of the most poignant scenes in the ballet – was that of Desdemona’s death in the couple’s bedroom. With Alexander Nichol’s spectacular designs - a blood red drape cascading down to a simple bed under starlit “sky” of tiny Moorish lanterns – the setting is both romantic and haunting, a perfect place for love and murder. Bourzac, in his acting and dance, was able to express both Othello’s tender, loving side and his irrational, jealous feelings. If one could complain, it is that he sometimes slips out of character, for instance his rather clumsy stage walks during the final murder scene. It’s as if he’s focusing on his hands, his face, his expression, and forgetting about the lower half of his body.

Elsewhere, Colby Parsons was a fine Cassio, and the corps comported themselves well in Peterson’s pleasant, if unoriginal corps sections. The men, led by Yukichi Hattori, get to show off their skills in a fun dance for Othello’s Guards, showing off their fine physiques in their brief costumes. All were also in top form in the rousing fight scene, where Iago schemes to get Cassio and Rodrigo into a fight. The sword fight could have been pulled directly from any number of Romeo & Juliet productions, but the guys looked like they were having a blast. Peterson’s scene for the colorfully attired Furies has some of the most interesting choreography, with the women twining into intricate circular patterns. Yet, these scenes often seemed like filler between the sections for the main characters, a glue that wasn’t sufficient to keep the whole together.

The ballet ends with final tragic murder of Emilia and suicide of Othello, Iago strung up to be tortured. The score, cobbled together from soundtracks by Jerry Goldsmith, was appropriately melodramatic, but was hobbled by poor editing. As the curtain drops, Iago is strung up by his arms, but with the curtain barely a quarter of the way down, the music stops suddenly as if someone had hit the CD player button mid-note. With the music, goes the mood, and the dramatic tension; what is left is a dangling dancer, a slowly closing curtain and a bewildered audience. It not only killed the ending, it deprived the dancers of the swell of applause that they rightly deserved. If the ballet is to be performed in later scenes, it’s time to recut the music or find the money to orchestrate the score for a live orchestra.


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 Post subject: Re: Alberta Ballet 2012
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:18 pm 
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Salena Kitteringham reviews "Othello" for the Edmonton Journal.

Edmonton Journal


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