Ballet Victoria presents Ballet Off
When: Friday and Saturday at 7: 30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: McPherson Playhouse
Tickets: $24.75-$65 at rmts.bc.ca or 250-386-6121. Discounts for children, students, seniors
Artists are often required to leap out of their comfort zones. At Ballet Victoria, that means more than an extra-grand jetÃ©.
"When [artistic director] Paul [Destrooper] told me I was going to sing, I thought he was joking," said principal dancer Andrea Bayne.
For a show dedicated to musical theatre, however, it seems appropriate. The local dance company kicks off a new season Friday with Ballet Off Broadway - and amid the classical and contemporary choreographic offerings, set to the likes of George Gershwin and Cole Porter, Bayne will perform her own rendition of On My Own from Les Miserables.
Don't worry, though. She's good, according to Destrooper.
"It's almost funny because she's so tiny - even in the rehearsals we've had so far, people are like, 'Wow, she's so tiny - how does that voice come out of there?' " he said.
When Bayne was studying at the School of Alberta Ballet, she heard that Dirty Dancing was heading to Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre. She sent an audition tape and impressed the preliminary selection committee enough for them to fly her to Winnipeg to meet the director.
"I was really excited - it seemed like kind of a done deal, because I was auditioning for the lead," she said. She rehearsed her songs and steps, walked in to meet the director, and it all fell apart. He stopped her before she even got to sing.
"He said I looked too young," she said. Though she was 22 at the time, her spritely demeanour worked against her.
It wasn't a big deal for Bayne, since she'd already chosen her path. Back in high school, when her vocal projects kept getting in the way of ballet practice, she committed to dance.
"I chose to become a ballet dancer instead, because that's where my heart was," she said.
She'll bring that passion to Ballet Off Broadway.
In keeping with the company's signature style, the season opener offers a bit of everything. The first half is a mixed program: It begins with excerpts from the classical ballet Raymonda, set to the music of Alexandre Glazounov. A new piece by Bruce Monk of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, set to Claude Debussy's Nuage, follows. And, finally, the dancers cover a range of human emotions - joy, lust, work, love - set to Jacques Brel songs.
The Broadway portion is woven together with a loose story familiar to anyone in the ballet world: A veteran star fades while another rises.
"I've been with four companies in my career," Destrooper said. "I've seen it over and over."
Ballet Victoria welcomes two new local dancers to the company this season and continues with an ambitious four-show season - a jump that Destrooper took last season. Apart from a remounting of The Secret Garden next spring, all are new. Destrooper said it's part of his goal to strengthen the company and to give his dancers consistent professional work.
"I'm hoping I can continue to do this and help artists not just always struggle, and not just always make a meagre living, but make a living," he said. "It does bring art, it does bring life to the community. But we need help to dig it out of the ground. And the best way you can do it is come and see the shows." email@example.com
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