The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is finishing their season with a special mixed programme, running from May 7th to 11th at the Centennial Concert Hall. A small four day window to see Winnipeg’s finest emerging dancers. For those who appreciate dance and appreciate the fact that Winnipeg is home to one of the most prestigious dance companies, you will undoubtedly enjoy this season closer. With three choreographed pieces, the show is concise and varied.
The opening piece “Défilé” by Winnipeg’s own Jorden Morris cleverly features the entire RWB school’s students (both recreational and professional divisions). This allows unseasoned audience members to pick up on the basics of ballet as young dancers walk in the ballet style, run in the ballet style, hold their hands in the ballet style, and exude the joy of dancing that is mandatory to the ballet style. Mixing them in with the professional division allows a tableau to form where growing talent becomes apparent, and allows the audience to grow in appreciation for what they are witnessing. The music, mostly light-hearted and joyful, allows everyone to simply enjoy the vignettes. There is no décor, no elaborate costumes and no discernible storyline to hide behind. This is raw dancing, allowed to breathe on its own.
The second choreography, “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” by William Forsythe, transports us into a neo-classical ballet world that leaves the audience members in awe of the raw strength of the dancers. Women seem to always be on point and the men are constantly demanded to rely on grounded strength. Yet grace floats up consistently, allowing the powerful and triumphant musical score to empower both dancers and audience. Again, with no décor and with simple costumes, the choreography is designed to highlight the talent of the dancers.
After an intermission, we are treated to “The Four Seasons” by James Kudelka. Again, a simple screen serves as a backdrop. But the true backdrop is made up of the dancers themselves, who succeed in showcasing the four seasons of a man’s life. As lead man, Liam Caines is a great focus, but he is also surrounded by impressive dancers that create picturesque moments and interactions. All of them will leave you grateful that there is no décor and that it is the dance alone that tells the story. Expectedly, the piece ends with the winter of his life, setting up the opportunity for four seasoned dancers to reclaim the stage, including dance icon Evelyn Hart. She commands attention in what she projects in terms of poise and grace, evoking all the right emotions in the audience. Hart is a reminder that the strength of youth may be most impressive, but the grace and humanity of age is a powerful emotion as well.
In the performance I saw, the audience showed its appreciation instantaneously with a standing ovation. It was as much for the chance to see Evelyn Hart as it was to see the young corps du ballet offering us a demanding performance that was presented with strength, grace and passion. If you are going to take in the show, get tickets close to the stage. This is about the dancers, so you might as well be up close and personal.
By Eric Plamondon
Photo provided by RWB