Mad HOTT Gala II!!
As if...there was any doubt that Heather Ogden was H-O-Double-T HOTT, the Mad Hot Gala II program featured this ballerina hottie blonde bombshell all ablaze-A fireball engulfing the cover from her pointe shoes! The above fiery image was also featured on the southwest corner of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts courtesy of some lovestruck sidewalk chalk artist. Too bad Mother Nature will eventually wash away his artwork homage to the priceless beauty of Heather Ogden.
Never before had I climbed to the dizzying heights of Ring 5, and yet, somehow, I made it to my seat sans oxygen mask and hiking boots. The Mönch like climb to my balletic Mount Eiger was well worth it to feast tired orbs upon this hot Jungfrau! Fortunately, I didn’t forget my opera glasses, suffer any nose bleeds, and found my way to the special post-performance reception to quaff down cocktails and gobble up hors d’oeuvres without the aid of a Saint Bernard! How I suffer for my art! Okay, I had a Frasier Crane moment.
It was most apropos we uncorked our evening of champagne dance with the exercise at the barre ballet, Etudes. Nehemiah Kish did not perform here but he certainly will have ample opportunity to practice this 1948 Harald Lander work, now that he has defected to the Royal Danish Ballet. We’re treated to the classic piano by Karl Czerny arranged for orchestra by Knudåge Riisager. Slowly building in sophistication, the choreography squeezes in almost every step in the ballet canon from pliés to fouettés to jetés to spinning tops galore. This is a must see ballet for fans of the tutu, shadow lighting, and classical technique. Of course, Heather Ogden was hott but I preferred her performance in the Friday mixed program, which also featured Etudes. Despite seeing Etudes for a 2nd time within a span of 4 days, it was still very fresh and most entertaining.
Next up, we have the much storied delay for the world premiere of Veer with muscular dance moves courtesy of former National Ballet School of Canada student and dancer for Alberta Ballet, Sabrina Matthews. It was a little too abstract, modern, and dark for my tastes but I certainly did appreciate all the different moves showing off the human body. Veer would have made its debut during the Erik Bruhn Competition last year had Keiichi Hirano not blown out his Achilles tendon dancing in Le Corsaire. His partner, Tina Pereira, a replacement for the injured Bridgett Zehr, danced on, creating her own ending (Ballet Improv) and performed an unrehearsed Balcony Pas de Deux from Romeo and Juliet in place of Veer with a fan who volunteered to partner her from the audience-Guillaume Côté! Tina Pereira must believe in making lemonade when life gives you lemons, as she faced the music and danced winning the Erik Bruhn Competition to a teary-eyed thunderous standing O! Both Hirano and Pereira have a bright future with the National and both received much heartfelt applause for their Gala performance.
Nehemiah Kish revealed to all why Copenhagen opened up the vault to sign him as a free agent from the National Ballet of Canada with a show stopping performance in the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. Air Kish defied gravity with his leaps and spins all the while being a prefect partner for Heather Ogden. Both sparkled on stage and danced the emotion of Tchaikovsky’s music to life!
This was all-you-can-see ballet with an all-you-can-eat buffet after the show. To top it all off Karen Kain also served up Rubies from Jewels. I must admit my review is clouded by my memories of a 2003 matinée performance.
“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.”
Greta Hodgkinson was a technical marvel but she couldn’t imbue her performance with the carefree spirit of youth essential for Rubies. The corps de ballet, costumes, and orchestra all dazzled. It was a delicious evening of dance and hors d’oeuvres FREE to smart dance fans who renewed their subscription before April 18th! Sadly, the 2008/2009 season is 127 days away as of the date I post this review….