What brings Ballet BC together with Crystal Pite, Lesley Telford, Wen Wei Wang, and Company 605 in one show of awesome dance?  The answer is Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations, and what a celebration of Canadian, and especially Vancouver-based dance, Program 2 will be.

Recently, AUDC dancers had an opportunity to watch a Ballet BC rehearsal of the Program 2 pieces. Rumour has it, this show will be exquisite, and you will not want to miss it. It opens this Thursday, March 16, continuing until March 18, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Here’s a closer look at the choreographers, and their works, to be presented in Program 2:

Crystal Pite: Solo Echo

The UK’s Evening Standard recently called Crystal Pite “the most exciting choreographer in the world right now” in a feature on her. Based locally and celebrated internationally, Crystal Pite has influenced AUDC through her graduate-level choreography mentorships, her work with our senior company dancers, and the work of her own company, Kidd Pivot (most recently with Betroffenheit, in partnership with Electric Company Theatre). Her newest piece, Flight Pattern, for the Royal Ballet in London, opens this week. Crystal Pite developed choreographic ideas for the piece while working with AUDC. She originally choreographed Solo Echo for the Nederlands Dans Theatre in 2012, and Ballet BC performed it in late 2015.  It was wonderful then, but my AUDC “sources” tell me that watching the Ballet BC rehearsal the other day, they felt the dancers had discovered and developed new depths in their approach to the work, and that will be exciting to see.

Lesley Telford: If I Were 2

Another treasured local choreographer, Lesley Telford, has also found an international platform and audience for her work. AUDC knows her through her teaching, choreography, and the new PREP program. Through her company, Inverso, she focuses on “creating dance through the lens of other art forms.”  She brings this interest in collaboration into her new work for Ballet BC’s Program 2, a duet she choreographed for AUDC alumni Emily Chessa and Brandon Alley, in a partnership with spoken word poet Barbara Adler.  We will have more on Lesley Telford’s work with Inverso, and the company’s upcoming performances, before their shows April 20-22.

Wen Wei Wang: Swan

Also based in Vancouver, Wen Wei Wang’s elegant and powerful work has been presented across Canada and internationally. He has worked with AUDC in the past, and is currently setting a new work on the AUDC grads, to be shown at Season Finale.  For Ballet BC, he used the classical ballet, Swan Lake, as a jumping off point, and has created a work that is, I’m told, incredible. (Pictured above is Andrew Bartee in Swan. Photo, taken at the dress rehearsal for Program 2, by Chris Wong.) Wen Wei’s company, Wen Wei Dance, will debut a new work called Dialogue, at the Scotiabank Dance Centre on May 25. Dialogue has an all-male cast and will explore the immigrant experience of communication barriers.

Company 605: Anthem

Company 605 began as a collective of Vancouver dance artists, with a goal to collaborate on work that explores the boundaries between urban and contemporary dance. Over time, the collective morphed into the current company, and built a body of work with a unique voice, which they’ve taken across Canada and the US. For the first time, co-artistic directors Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin will collaborate with a ballet company, so this new work with Ballet BC is likely to be an interesting and exciting fusion.

While AUDC hasn’t had any formal ties with Company 605, I discovered some interesting links between Arts Umbrella Dance, the company, and our local dance community. That made me think that Ballet BC’s Program 2 goes beyond celebrating dance in Canada. By providing a showcase for Vancouver-based choreographers, Ballet BC is helping to strengthen the connections between local dance artists. This can only help build a stronger and more vibrant dance community here and across Canada.

Interested in more?  Listen to Ballet BC’s Artistic Director, Emily Molnar, discuss Program 2 with dance journalist Pia Lo.


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