By Troy Hasselman, February 14 2020 —
Alberta Ballet is blending classical, neoclassical and contemporary ballet in a triple bill that will showcase dancers from all three forms in Alberta Ballet: Unleashed. The mixed bill will have three performances at the Jubilee Auditorium, including the world premiere of Montreal choreographer Anne Plamondon’s Yearning to Make a Difference, the Canadian premiere of Helen Pickett’s Petals and a performance of George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante.
“One of the things that we like to do at Alberta Ballet is showcase a wide variety of styles of dance to kind of showcase the versatility of the company and also to introduce audiences to a style of dance that they may not have initially been drawn to. Perhaps they discover something new that they enjoy about concert dance and live dance performances,” Alberta Ballet Artistic Director Designate Christopher Anderson says. “The program features neoclassical ballet. It features contemporary ballet and then it also features highly contemporary or almost modern theatrical dance. So it’s a really wide spread of performance that we have.”
Anderson notes the contrast between the classical and contemporary styles used in the different pieces and speaks on how the athleticism involved plays to the strengths of Alberta Ballet.
“You have classical ballet, neoclassical ballet and contemporary ballet,” Anderson says. “Classical ballet is really sort of the exaggeration of line, and the movements and the way that the dancers transition from step-to-step. So what you’ll see is a much more fold out and freer way of moving on stage. You see that in the first piece, Allegra Brillante. Then with Helen Pickett’s Petals, which is the piece that closes, is a really much more contemporary ballet piece and you see so much freedom of movement there is in the torso and in the neck, and it really accentuates the strengths of Alberta Ballet because it’s such an athletic company.”
The world première of Anne Primondon’s Yearning to Make a Difference has been a work in progress for some time, with Primondon working with the company this past summer in a residency in Banff.
“[Primondon] was commissioned by us to create a new work for the company,” Anderson says. “She spent some time with us in the summer in a residency in Banff workshopping it. She’s been back since and she’ll be with us for a total of four weeks before we open. It’s so great to be able to support new work and it’s great for the dancers because they’re getting to help contribute and shape the piece with their own personality and their own style of movement.”
Helen Pickett’s Petals will close out the evening and was brought to the company stemming from Anderson’s admiration for her, coming from their previous work together.
“The last piece by Helen Pickett is just a tremendous ballet and she is such a wonderful choreographer to work with, not only for the movement that she creates but her ability to inspire the dancers,” Anderson says. “She’s a choreographer that I had worked with as a dancer. So when I came to Alberta ballet, I really wanted to be able to bring her in and introduce her to the company. It’s just been fantastic to have her here and really give them and the dancers a whole new dimension to work with.”
Though the three pieces are non-narrative, Yearning to Make a Difference was inspired by a real world news item involving the death of a young girl in Quebec. The piece does not follow a plot structure, however, and looks at the story metaphorically.
“Anne originally started with the foundation of an idea,” Anderson says. “A story that she saw on the news that kind of stirred her and shook her emotionally that she’s really pulled back from that and she’s really using that as just the launching point. It’s really an abstract representation of the title, but it’s really investigating how people relate to each other and the essence of yearning to make things better.”
Alberta Ballet: Unleashed will run at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium from Feb. 12–15 and Feb. 21–22 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton. Tickets are available through the Alberta Ballet website.