Ballet BC - Boys! Boys! Boys!Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Boys! Boys! Boys!
This dance aficionado is going to come clean and point out that his knowledge of dance is purely amateur and that any opinions herein should be taken with a flake of salt (preferably Maldon Salt). I would also like to state that as a retired magazine photographer the former tickets to openings in the arts, for quid pro quo services rendered, have all but shrunk to a trickle. For this reason I must be very frugal in those performances for which I must disburse funds of a pension nature.
My presence with my 11 year-old granddaughter Lauren Elizabeth in Friday, October 18, at the latest Ballet BC program called Tilt at the Queen Elizabeth was funded by a small quid pro quo.
That acknowledgement does not give me the possible sense of guilt that I would have were I to pan the show as being a terrible one. There is no guilt because my review is a from-the-heart good one.
With those cards on the table I have to add one more important one. Because of frugality I have to admit here that my last presence at a Ballet BC performance was during the previous mandate of the Ballet BC Artistic Director who shall remain nameless as Soviet-style political revisionism and non-personing is alive and well in Vancouver. None of us should know that the man, brought us many ballets by the world-renowned William Forsythe when other ballet companies in Canada were parading tutus around May Poles.
With the air now cleared to that of a crisp-blue-skied fall Vancouver day, October 22, 2013 I can now indulge in wowing and raving of our (Lauren was ecstatic, too) Friday experience at Ballet BC’s Tilt.
I never thought I would ever begin anything I would write on our venerable city ballet company with this, Boys! Boys! Boys!
There is a very long bench of talent in Ballet BC, one end being at Davie and Granville and the other on Granville Island, smack by the studios of Artemis Gordon’s Arts Umbrella Dance.
While the women in Ballet BC are beautiful and talented (I will write a tad about them further on) I only had eyes for all those men.
At one time testosterone at Ballet BC seemed to be the realm of cool Edmond Kilpatrick and a more passionate one by the long departed (and sorely missed by this amateur) Miroslav Zydowicz. Once Kilpatrick left Ballet BC I stopped noticing the men.
Friday night my eyes were constantly shifting from Peter Smida, to Scott Fowler, from Connor Gnam to Thibout Eiferman and from Alexander Burton to Ryan Genoe. There were others but that night my eyes were on the former.
For many years men in Ballet BC were lifters and blurs. I wanted to stare and enjoy the bodies of the women. Ballet BC has always been a feast for the eyes for lovers of women. Kudos to costume designer Kate Burrows for not hiding those wonderful bodies with superfluous cloth.
On Friday I again enjoyed (alas I have never photographed her) watching the classical ballerina that she is for me, Makaila Wallace, knowing that after this year she will be gone. I watched those two different female powerhouses that are Rachel Meyer and Alexis Fletcher. Scurrying with delight around those two I watched Livona Ellis and Emily Chessa (on that bench from Granville Island). I watched in delight but this time I also noticed some of the men dancing with them. In particular in Jorma Elo’s I and I am You, that was the combination of Alexander Burton with Mikaila Wallace and Peter Smida with Alexis Fletcher. It seemed like Mikaila was signaling, it's not over yet. And for good reason she was superb.
Few might know that Alexander Burton treats a dance floor like his architect father’s vision of space. Few might know that I first saw apprentice dancer Scott Fowler as a little boy at Arts Umbrella. Who would guess that the muscled man who oozes in testosterone is the vary same boy? If those two weren’t enough and considering that I am suddenly noticing a mature Smida there is that little joy of motion that is apprentice dancer (from the Bench!) Ryan Genoe who has a style and face to perhaps launch more ships than the fair Helen.
All those men and many more that I will notice in future performances have brought a balance to Ballet BC that I never saw before. In particular there is French-born Thibaut Eiferman whose enthusiasm for dancing is infectious. But there is something more. Perhaps it is his Frenchness. Or it could be his face. It is a face that reminds me of another era and of a ballet company I never saw in the flesh and that is Diaghilev’s Ballets Rousses. If I understand well Artemis Gordon may have played a talent scout here in persuading the powers-that-be to hire the young man.
My granddaughter was in glee watching all those men wearing party hats in Johan Inger’s Walking Mad. I did not want to tell her that I saw the whole wonderful farce as a mixture of several bowler-hatted-waiting-for-Godot and a connection to Peter Noon’s band The Tremblers (if you have to ask, you don’t know). The dance was definitely all about funny sex to me!
In I and I am You I watched as the queen, Mikaila Wallace competed with her perhaps replacement Alexis Fletcher.
But most of my interest was in watching Emily Molnar’s (in cooperation with the artist of Ballet BC) piece 16 = a room. With all those men front and centre, Molnar’s work accompanied by Dirk P. Haubrick’s sound scape ( I particularly liked one that sounded like a hovering helicopter), Jordan Tuinman’s lighting and Kate Burrow’s costume design. Here was something spare but bold, clean but complicated, very contemporary, but ever so much more warmish than the works of last year’s Cedar Lake Dance that I saw at the Vancouver Playhouse. Best of all Molnar cleared the whole Ballet BC bench. It was extra nice to see so many dancers, all at the same time in the spacious Queen Elizabeth stage.
As contemporary as it was it did not go over the top of my Lauren. But then she is being trained to dance at Arts Umbrella.
I am now forced to bring back the memory of the man, a former Artistic Director of Ballet BC. That is John Alleyne. Since I never had to work with him as dancers did I liked the man and I respected many of his views. But I had a bit of problem when he summarily let go one of the best dancers that Ballet BC ever had which was Lauri Stallings. Stallings was so unique that I could watch her dance from her ankles down and I knew who it was. I would seem that Alleyne wanted a team of dancers with no personalities and with no exception.
He must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that day (aren’t we now glad?), soon after Stallings was gone, when he decided to recruit dancer Emily Molnar. The rest is history.