Musical theatre is the hybrid beast of the stage world. With triple-threat performers delivering song, dance and over-the-top theatricality to those who like that sort of thing, it seems to cast a wide net for pleasing audiences. Dont like the way this singer is belting out Seasons of Love? Dont worry, youll love the choreographed acrobatics.
While Broadway and ballet may not seem like a natural fit on the surface, its a good one for Ballet Victoria. The dance company has developed a signature program of something-for-everyone mixed offerings. And the opening show of the companys 10th season was no different.
The title promise of Broadway came after intermission. First, the 10-member troupe demonstrated their greatest technical strength: classical ballet. The opening piece, the pas de dix (in this case, pas de huit) from Raymonda, is the final, most celebrated scene in Marius Petipas ballet. The young noble lady finally marries her fiance, after he thwarts a knights abduction plan (dramatic or what?). Principal dancer Andrea Bayne is the picture of a jewellery-box ballerina, at one point spinning at just that speed like a pin under principal dancer Robb Beresfords hand. Its entirely unforgiving, technically so precise that slight missteps make it sloppy. These dancers didnt.
Not into that kind of thing? Brief History appeals to the contemporary-minded. The stage is set with belts of LED lights hanging from grid-like lines.
Four dancers move together like mirror images, thenseparate in pairs. Its a new piece by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Schools Bruce Monk, inspired by Stephen Hawkings popular cosmology book, A Brief History of Time.
Then, the heartbroken French drawl of Jacques Brel brings us to somewhere in between. Ne Me Quitte Pas is the kind of doomed love song that makes you want to make a date with a bottle of Scotch and chain smoke cigarettes, in a good way. Bayne and Destrooper play the game, with a pas de deux full of regret.
But the Belgian singer-songwriter had other emotions too and this series of solos and group dance pieces move through the spectrum of human expression.
Finally, we arrive at the piece de resistance.
Theres a certain bias toward the old-timey hits. Good choice theres enough Glee in the world already.
Instead, a loose story of doe-eyed rising star (Bayne) and the weathered and buxom fading one (Amanda Radetzky) weaves through songs like George Gershwins Walking the Dog and Cole Porters Too Darn Hot.
Want entertainment in your ballet? Here it is.
Theres a lot of goofiness and showbiz pizzazz, like a cross-dressing seduction set to Big Spender. Radetzky showed she can slink into a room well, leading with her hips, bending her arm and going limp at the wrist.
But theres strong dance here too none more so than a powerful finale to Moulin Rouges Roxanne Tango, with lifts carried to a new level at one point, Bayne moves as if to melt onto Beresford, already on the ground, and then is lifted by three others, as if weightless, above their heads.
See? Broadway and Ballet Victoria have a few things in common.
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