Ballet BC returns to the stage with an exciting presentation including three world premieres

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Unfold and Give | Medhi Walerski, Ethan Colangelo, Lesley Telford, Company 605 | Ballet BC | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | November 4-6, 2021

Ballet BC’s first live presentation since the start of the pandemic features three world premieres from Canadian choreographers along with a North American premiere from artistic director Medhi Walerski. The collective title of the evening, Unfold and Give, has little concrete significance but is a nice change from the usual generic “Program 1” type titles.

Ethan Colangelo’s Stadium opens the evening with an introspective work enhanced by voiceover and large stadium style lighting. As the reflective voice says things such as “Where do I go if I can never be with just myself?” the dancers move in unison with flowing spins and impressive momentum before making sharp stops. Tender duets and commentary on isolation make this a poignant piece from a choreographer who seems to be on the rise.

Copmany 605’s After We Glow follows with a piece seemingly inspired by digital technology. Below light bars that resemble light sabers, the dancers move in small, pulsing rhythms that evoke a character in a video game waiting for their turn. Reverberating, buzzing tones add to the futuristic tone, as do the metallic costumes. A final duet shifts to more expansive movement involving mirroring and synchronized momentum, leaving a feeling of coherence after a period of stilted struggle.

In her third commission for Ballet BC, Lesley Telford collaborates with Early Music Vancouver for Lean-to. Four musicians stand in front of the stage joining the five dancers in this stripped-down piece that didn’t seem to match the tone of the baroque music. This made it difficult to connect with the choreography, which was well conceived on its own aside from a moment that felt like a false ending.

 

Medhi Walerski’s Garden finishes off the evening with a jubilant tone. A giant sheet raises to reveal a line of dancers in white unitards. Their movements are beautifully sculpted with long lines and dynamic tension as they move through the music. A modernist influence is clear while the movement is more emotive. The giant sheet moves up and down a few times to hide and reveal different groups of dancers—a useful device to add a break or scene change to the work. Finally, the sheet falls to the floor for a dramatic ending. 

 

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