We enjoyed four ballets: the second detail; Other Dances; The Man in Black; and Emergence, all of which were modern ballets. Everyone enjoyed the ballets as evidenced by the standing ovation at the end of the evening. For those interested in a review, please see Bob Clark's article in the Calgary Herald:
Anniversary ballet tour bookended brilliantly
Jubilee Auditorium. Ticket info: Albertaballet.com
Rating 4-1/2 out of a possible 5 (edited for clarity)
If it were a flight - which it was, imaginatively speaking - you'd be inclined to say the National Ballet of Canada 60th anniversary show unveiled on Thursday at the Jubilee took off strongly and landed beautifully.
Or you could put it the other way around - and if you did, you'd have to say the landing was very strong, indeed.
Prior to the ballets, Karen Kain of the National Ballet met with the audience and took their questions. She discussed her career, the National Ballet, and dancers. She indicated that dancers today are much more capable than they were during her generation. There are greater demands placed upon today's dancers.
I asked her what she looked for in a principal dancer. She indicated that she looked for intelligence. Principal dancers must be extremely bright. Next, they must possess desire and passion. They always work harder than the others. They must have great timing and musicality as well as have great range and flexibility. And last, principal dancers possess a genetic gift.
My question was the last question asked during the pre-dance session. As soon as she responded, the crowd disbanded on its way to find its seating.
Leaders in almost any field are usually very bright. Similarly, desire, passion, and a willingness to work harder than most others is also true. For dancers, timing and musicality as well as range and flexibility are naturals. At the principal dancer level, I am not surprised by her genetic gift comment.
I'd like to ask those in Ballet Talk to describe a general career for a principal dancer. From looking at the evening's program, it seemed to me that most principal dancers were dancing with the National Ballet for about five to seven years before becoming a principal dancer.
Do you agree with Ms. Kain's answer? Would you augment her answer or suggest changes?
How long do most principal dancers remain as principal dancers before retiring? Do principal dancers receive any special benefits, aside from receiving more money and better roles? Is there more guidance or mentoring? Are the expectations much more demanding? Are more career or post-dance options explored? And as dancers approach the end of the performance careers, are they usually given a long transition period? That is, do artistic directors usually provide some early guidance that their careers are entering the sunset period? Is there anything else that would be helpful knowing?
I look forward to your responses.