Two years ago, the Creston Concert Society was proud to present Ballet Kelowna to the valley. After a period of uncertainty at the continuation of the company, the society is pleased to be able to present it once again, on April 20.
Ballet Kelowna, founded in 2002, upholds the promise to “showcase excellent ballet, through performances that create lasting positive memories,” which are “fun, inspiring, enjoyable and educational, … include variety and innovation … [and] showcase the best possible talents in dance.”
On April 20, Ballet Kelowna presents two world premieres and one company premiere from some of Canada’s leading contemporary ballet choreographers — James Kudelka, Shawn Hounsell and Simone Orlando — in Forward: A Mixed Repertory Programme, at the Prince Charles Theatre. The anticipated program will also feature the introduction of Lee Dances — a presentation of excerpts from award-winning works created for the Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award, established in 1978 by the Banff Centre to encourage new creations by emerging Canadian choreographers.
“Forward: A Mixed Repertory Programme concludes an extraordinary season for Ballet Kelowna,” said Orlando, Ballet Kelowna’s artistic director and CEO. “This performance is a true celebration of the artistic talents of both our country and our company.”
She has danced with the National Ballet of Canada, Desrosiers Dance Theatre and with Ballet British Columbia for 13 years as one of the company’s most celebrated principal artists. She has performed worldwide and, as a choreographer, has created numerous commissions as well as a short film for the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad. In addition to the Clifford E. Lee Award, Orlando also received a fellowship from the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate with New York City Ballet.
“The artistry and physicality of Ballet Kelowna’s masterly dancers will be on full display in this mixed program that will undoubtedly showcase the immense possibilities that ballet has to offer,” she said.
In addition to a new work by Orlando, set to the music of Mozart, the evening will include the company premiere of Byrd Music, by revered Canadian choreographer Kudelka. His award-winning dance and choreographic career spans more than four decades, and includes commissioned works for Toronto Dance Theatre, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. He has a long-term association with the National Ballet of Canada, including ten years as artistic director and currently as resident choreographer. Since 2008 he has also been resident choreographer for Quebec-based international touring company Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. He is particularly esteemed for his unique interpretations of classic works such as Swan Lake and Cinderella, among many original dance works, and is praised for his style and perspective on eternal themes. In 2005, he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada. Rich in technical inventiveness and expressive musicality,
Byrd Music will feature Kudelka’s signature mix of ingenious ballet partnering and lyrical interplay. It is beautifully set to a score by Vancouver’s own acclaimed composer Rodney Sharman, with four dancers performing a pas de deux in pairs, with each pair comprising one dancer “manipulating” the other in the guise of a puppet master.
Also on the program is a new work, set to the music of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, by former Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) dancer and award-winning choreographer Hounsell. He first danced with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1986, joining the company in 1990, performing many classical and contemporary roles in ballets such as The Nutcracker, Symphony No.1, Myth and A Darkness Between Us, and had the opportunity to dance in works choreographed by Hans Van Manen, Jiri Kylian, Rudi van Dantzig, Agnes De Mille and others. Hounsell also notably had several of his original choreographic works added to the RWB’s repertoire and touring schedules, including Jigsaw in 1992 and Creaturehood in 2000.
Lastly, the world premiere of Lee Dances will showcase excerpts from three original works: Dedications (2009) by Boston Ballet alumni Heather Myers, Winter Journey (2006) by Orlando and Creaturehood (1996) by Hounsell. All works will highlight the athleticism and stunning technique of Ballet Kelowna’s company artists, including Vancouver’s Jedidiah Duifhuis, who reprises his role in Byrd Music after performing in the 2011 world premiere with Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella Dance Company.
For more information, visit www.crestonconcertsociety.ca. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are $22 for adults and $10 for students at Black Bear Books, Kingfisher Used Books and Creative Fix ($25/$12 at the door).
—CRESTON CONCERT SOCIETY