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Ballet Victoria teams up with music school

In a Victoria Conservatory of Music first, dancers will share the stage with musicians at a faculty concert Saturday. Music for Dance features performances by Ballet Victoria as part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
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Ballet dancer Matthew Cluff performs with accompaniment from Bradford Werner, Douglas Hensley and Michael Dias at Alix Goolden Hall on Wednesday.

In a Victoria Conservatory of Music first, dancers will share the stage with musicians at a faculty concert Saturday.

Music for Dance features performances by Ballet Victoria as part of the school’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“This is definitely the first time in the history of the conservatory where we’ve done a collaboration with a dance company,” CEO Jane Butler MacGregor said.

“I think it’s such a wonderful, wonderful marriage between music and dance.”

Ballet Victoria will perform during four sections of the program, which ranges in musical styles from European Renaissance dance music to tangos and Irish jigs.

But for a 12-person company accustomed to performing at the Royal Theatre, choreographing for the small stage at Alix Goolden Hall means a bit of paring down.

“You’re seeing race horses in a short track,” said Ballet Victoria artistic director Paul Destrooper.

Destrooper is creating several new pieces for the event, in addition to two pieces already in the company’s repertoire. One is set to Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion and the other is set to Paul Desmond’s Take Five, with choreography by Bruce Monk of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

While the collaboration is a special event for the conservatory, Destrooper said working with other local arts groups is part of the dance company’s ethos. Ballet Victoria has also adapted a play by Theatre SKAM as part of the theatre’s 20th anniversary, which it will perform Jan. 31 to Feb. 1.

It’s fun for the company, he said, but it’s also a way to show off the value of local performers to potential new audiences.

“It’s a philosophy of Ballet Victoria,” he said.

“I do this because I really want the landscape and the culture of Victoria to realize the level of artistry and talent they have here.”

Music for Dance is the fourth of five concerts in the conservatory’s 50th-anniversary series. The idea to adopt dance music as a theme was dean of music Stephen Green’s, Butler MacGregor said.

“He said there’s nothing more magical than the music for dance,” she said. “And wouldn’t it be great if you could actually have dancers on the stage, dancing to it?”

The musicians slated to perform are Michael Dias, Douglas Hensley, Bradford Werner, Robert Holliston, Gwen Thompson, Wilmer Fawcett, Kathleen Brett, Roger Buksa, Anna Cal, Julia Cunningham, Daniel Lapp, James Troy, Kelly Nordstrom, Joey Smith, Aaron Watson and Louise Rose.

As part of the 50th-anniversary celebrations, the conservatory announced several projects in May. They include the launch of a new school of contemporary music, a new school of music technology and creativity, a new satellite location in the West Shore communities scheduled to open next year, the expansion of children’s music outreach programs, and the restoration of Alix Goolden Hall.

In support of those initiatives, the conservatory launched a $2-million fundraising campaign. It has raised $1.4 million and fundraising will continue this year.

asmart@timescolonist.com