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Ballet Kelowna Dances on Vancouver's Roundhouse stage

Tiffany Bilodeau & Davin Luce. Photo by Glenna TurnbullMasters' Play
Ballet Kelowna
Roundhouse Community Centre
Sat, Apr 19th, 2010

Vancouver, BC: In an unusual conjunction, this weekend I had the pleasure of seeing two dance shows (instead of two plays  back to back on successive evenings. Friday night's show was the stunning high energy Burn The Floor Ballroom and Latin Dance production at the Vogue Theatre. As a lovely counterpoint, on Saturday night, Ballet Kelowna, a small ballet company with a huge heart performed at the Roundhouse Community Center.

This was the 14th of 17 performances for Ballet Kelowna on their 2 month tour through communities of British Columbia, from Fort Nelson to Golden, and to their home base in Kelowna. Their schedule listed in the program looked quite grueling to me but as the dancers range in age from 19 to 25, they have the youthful energy to bounce back from the performances and travel between locations. On stage they certainly showed no signs of having been on the road for long although this is near the end of their tour. The ensemble on tour consists of three ballerinas, Tiffany Bilodeau,  Christina Cecchini and Raelynn Heppell, and three male dancers, Cal Glover,  Davin Luce and Eloi Homie.

When Artistic Director, David LaHay, began to introduce the program for the evening I knew I was in for a treat. His enthusiasm and obvious passion for honoring those who have been part of the history of Canadian ballet created an excited anticipation as he  talked about each piece we were about to see. The concept behind this program was to celebrate great Canadian choreography.

Tiffany Bilodeau and (l-r) Davin Luce, Cal Glover &  Eloi Homier. Photo by Glenna TurnbullThe first piece was Etude, created in 1949 by the late Kay Armstrong, originally choreographed for her graduating students and danced to Tchaikovksky's June: Barcarolle from The Seasons. Next in Gymnopédies (1951) by the late Nesta Toumine set to Trois Gymnopédies by Eric Satie, all six dancers moved through a series of segments, recreating the classical images of figures on ancient pottery.

Butterfly Affect (2006) choreographed by Joe Laughlin to String Quartet No. 2 by Michael Nyman completed the first half of the program.

After intermission came Double Quartet (1979) by Brian Macdonald. The contrast between the lyrical first segment interpreting Quartettsatz by Franz Schubert and the almost painfully tortuous interpretation of the (for me, torture to listen to) StringQuartet No. 1 by R. Murray Schafer made this piece especially fascinating for me.

Finally Donizetti Dances, a joyful piece choreographed in 2004 by David LaHay to excerpts from operas by Gaetano Donizetti, brought the program to a delightful and colourful conclusion. I loved the purple and cream hues of the costumes, coming after the simplicity of white and black leotards and tights  for the other pieces.

I lay no claim to being a cognescenti of ballet or obviously of contemporary music composition. My ballet knowledge is limited to muscle memory from years of ballet classes in my youth; the main residual effect being a strong tendency to foot turnout that wreaks havoc with my standard ballroom dancing - specially foxtrot. On the other hand its great for Latin dances. 

But I do know when a performance leaves me as happy and satisfied as did this one. It is always a pleasure to see  artists putting heart and soul into their work and as one of the dancers said after the show, "we're out there doing what we love". I hope to see them back "doing what they love", in Vancouver next year.