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2003 in Dance in Toronto

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We have a forum in general discussion for the year in general, but I wondered if people might also wish to talk locally.

I began opening a thread here because as I went through my notes for the year I realized that some of my favorite performances of a year seeing dance in New York, London and Paris were in . . .Toronto!

It's not my home town, but for the performances I saw, I'd nominate Martine Lamy as NBoC's MVP for 2003. A beautiful, softly rounded performance in the pas de six from Napoli and an extraordinarily powerful Tatiana in Onegin were some of the most pleasant surprises of my dance going year. NBoC ought to be proud to have her.

I'm going to get skewered for this, but I thought Rex was overrated in Onegin. Like everything else he does, it was a hambone performance. I like hambone, but I could have lived without it there.

Anyone else care to sum up the year in Toronto?

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It's been a fairly exciting year for the NBoC, with new ballets: "Tristan and Isolde" and "Monument", and the company premiere of Kudelka's "there, below". This fall we also got to see Evelyn Hart and Nikolaj Hubbe as guest artists, both of which were quite moving in "Gazebo Dances" and "Onegin" respectively.

Unfortunately, for me, both of the new ballets were dissapointing overall. John Alleyne's Tristan was too safe, too monotone, too disjointed (the elements of music, dance, and narrative rarely converged). There were some very strong pas de deux, and gorgeous costumes, but the ballet lacked drama. "Monument" was a bigger dissapointment, not because it was a worse ballet, but because I so admired Mrozewski's first work for NBoC "A Delicate Battle". The concept of "Monument", an exploration of the evolution of dance and its fleeting nature, is fresh and elegantly conceived. But this ballet looks more cluttered than his previous work which was more distilled. It seems he received a larger budget for this ballet, and he is young and has so much to say. It's a short ballet, but there is a LOT in it... possibly too much.

Of the Kudelka ballets presented this year, "Swan Lake", "Gazebo Dances", "The End" (man's solo), and "there, below", I was not really fond of any of them. It was interesting to see "there, below" though. Kudelka created the ballet for Ballet Met in 1989, and his style has changed quite a bit since then. I wish NBoC could get a new Swan Lake, but with the price tag of this one, that will not happen anytime soon (not while Kudelka's alive anyways!).

I enjoying seeing Dumais' "One Hundred Words for Snow" again. "Elite Syncopations" and "Onegin" are sort of signature ballets for the company, and both looked great. It was my chance to see Rex and Xiao Nan Yu dance Onegin. There was so much fuss about Nan's debut, I was very sorry that I missed it (I saw Chan Hon Goh instead). The ballet is quite dear to me, and I was truly moved by their opening night performance. Rex is such a wonderful partner and Nan is also very talented. The pas de deux were incredible. Both gave their all in that performance. Just when I thought it couldn't get better, Martine Lamy and Nikolaj Hubbe gave a totally different, but equally effective portrayal of Pushkin's story. Lamy is a superb dance actress that will be very difficult to replace. This was my first time seeing Hubbe, and I was impressed with the intensity of his performance.

"Jewels" looked fantastic this spring, especially with brand new costumes.

I had the chance to see "Judgement of Paris" both in the theatre and the open air at the "Ballet by the Water" event at the Harbourfront. Victoria Bertram and Lorna Geddes were hillarious in the roles they first danced 3 decades ago. Jennifer Fournier was able to hold her own amongst these two veteran performers.

A "Ballet by the Water" highlight for me, was seeing Guillaume Cote's Apollo. "Apollo" is another favourite of mine. I adore the music and can never see it enough. "Intermezzo" was also lovely with the warm summer breeze.

For non-NBoC performances, I enjoyed this year's gala "Stars of the 21st Century". Two words: Herman Cornejo. Wow! He danced "Diana and Acteon" pdd with Xiomara Reyes who was also a delight.

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