The National Ballet of Canada (NBoC) put together a varied evening of ballet, modern dance, whimsical music, and comedy in their Winter Mixed Program. Every piece was unique, transforming the stage into different worlds through costuming, props, music, and lighting.
The first piece Skyward had the dancers adorned in strips of a grey blue sky. And as the piece progressed the background changed from a darker sky to the golden orange of a sunset. After the Rain used dynamic music and drastic changes in lighting and costuming to depict the power of the rain and the beauty of the rainbow afterwards.
On Solid Ground choreographed by Siphesihle November completely transformed the space with unique lighting and a costume that was both extravagant and innovative. Elite Syncopations ended the night by bringing the musicians onto the stage where the dancer’s movements on the sides were almost more entertaining than the action in the centre.
After the Rain choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon was a stunning contrast between light and dark. The first part of the performance featured three duets all with straight clean lines and effortless partnering. The choreography spoke to time passing, rain falling, and a precision that matched the music to the point of unison. Then came the delicate pas de deux between Harrison James and Jillian Vanstone representing the light hazy mist after a hard rain. It was soft, elegant, and a beautiful final adieu for Vanstone’s 22 year career with the NBoC.
Siphesihle November’s piece On Solid Ground used riveting movements that spoke to the flight of birds and the need to feel grounded to the earth. There were some extremely powerful instances, yet it lacked cohesiveness. Moments of unison felt off kilter and at times the slight difference in arms or head placement made the piece feel disjointed. The dancers effortlessly supported and partnered one another yet there seemed to be a main character, for reasons unknown, when a unified ensemble may have been more impactful.
The finale of the program was fun, entertaining, and a great combination of acting, dancing, and music. Elite Syncopations told an entertaining story of young love, carnivals, and a 1920s dance contest. Each character had their own personality that was maintained throughout the performance, and they continually reacted to the movements of their partners whether on or off the stage. At times the acting was silly, matching the extravagant and unique costumes that sported grandiose hats and tights that made the ladies' pointe shoes look like part of a second skin.
The Winter Mixed Program was a strong show and was curated in a way to allow each performance to support the overall aesthetic of the night. There may have been some bumps along the way, but each piece felt like a breath of fresh air. Making for an entertaining and enjoyable night out.
Author: Nicole Decsey
Date: Saturday March 12,
Venue: Four Seasons centre for the Performing Arts