Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Ballet by the Water 2004

Recommended Posts

Yes, all the performances are free and seats are first come first serve. This becomes especially important since the stage is quite high and the seats are all flat (not on an incline at all), and there is simply not a lot of seating in the first place!

Link to comment


I was there yesterday. Arrived at 6:30, and there were only a few seats left (!)

One of my favourite parts was watching the dancers (and the orchestra) warm up. It was very cold--in fact, Karen Kain, who was hosting, said that if it dipped below 18 degrees, they would have to cancel. Although that didn't happen, they did have to brave lighting problems, moths and other bugs, and clouds of smoke from the adjacent barbeque.

The programme started off with James Kudelka's "Musings" (orig. created for Kain in '91 under the title "Fare Well"), set to Mozart's quintet for clarinet and strings in A, K581, a very lovely and intimate piece of music. The first (Allegro), second (Larghetto) and fourth (Allegretto con variazioni) movements were performed. The quintet was onstage, and the Allegro began with one of the males (Aleksandar Antonijevic, or Jean-Sébastien Colau or Nehemiah Kish, not sure which) in dress shirt and black tights. I thought that his movements were very attuned to the phrasing of the clarinet melody, especially the port de bras. (Although there was a certain repeated movement, a sort of hitching back of the head and the arm, that seemed too arrogant for a small scale work, if that makes any sense.) The females were Jennifer Fournier, Rebekah Rimsay, Sonia Rodriguez, and Stacey Shiori Minagawa, in gorgeous jewel-toned evening dresses with a black overlay. I don't have much to say about this movement except that it was very, very good.

The Larghetto comprised Fournier (in red) and the males, generally acting out a pas de deux except of course with two extra males trailing behind. At times this allowed for langourously slow lifts and echoing, but other times they just looked like the townspeople who are stuck to the golden goose and have to keep running with it. A repeated motif was that of blindness (?), where someone would cover the eyes of whoever was partnering Fournier, and then the person behind _him_ would in turn cover his eyes. Also, the last person in the conga line might give a little push to the person in front of him, or the males would occasionally break off and do their own thing. The covering the eyes bit was ok in the bagatelle that was Gazebo Dances, one of Kudelka's shorter works that was performed last season, but in this longer Larghetto it became a cliché.

Finally, the theme and variations. The first variation was danced by Fournier (and in tonight's performance will be danced by Chan Hon Goh!). The fourth movement starts off with sprightly music, but Fournier seemed to have a hangover from the second movement... the choreography was still lugubrious, but it soon sped up to fit the music. In the middle of this, the lights went out; a round of applause goes to Fournier, who just kept on dancing, and the quintet, who kept on playing. The "house" lights (is it still called house lights if it's outdoors?) came back on quickly, but the stage lights didn't return until after the fourth variation.

The second variation featured Minagawa (purple), and was very spirited, full of jumps and definite arms. She was delightful to watch. The third variation, with Rebekah Rimsay (according to the program, it was too dark to tell who it was), had very dramatic choreography. Lots of sweeping gestures, interspersed with angular elbows, with the result that it had a mime-like quality. The fourth variation, with Sonia Rodriguez and Colau, was full of quick footwork to go with all the staccato passages. This led straight into the Adagio, which began with a sustained pose by Fournier and Antonijevic. An Allegro followed with the full ensemble.

[comments on "there, below" and Sleeping Beauty excerpts to follow]

Link to comment

Next up on the programme was "there, below," a shorter Kudelka work (from 1989). I had seen it already last season and loved it. The music was "Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis" by Ralph vaughn Williams, primarily strings, and has a transcendental quality. The costumes were unfortunate for such a chilly evening--nude unitards/tights (gold coloured, with the lighting), with wavy fronds of sparkly blue-green. Very otherworldly. "there, below" has many slow, sustained passages, like wading through water, like stretching out time. According to an old programme, some of the poses are taken from Greek vases (eg one where a couple is half-crouching, holding on to each other with arms outstretched, heads down, torsos hollowed out and feet close together so that they almost form the shape of a heart, or an apple). These may be Greek statues brought to life, but they aren't human either, they don't move at human speed (or lack of it), they don't have human expressions, and that is a marvellous thing to behold.

The first couple was Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté, a wonderful way to begin. Their section was quite exuberent. The second couple was Alejandra Perez-Gomez and Patrick Lavoie; she looked very Sphinx-like. The third couple was Sophie Letendre and Richard Landry, who appeared to be struggling with the lifts. They enter with her curled up on his shoulder, and their section included several turns with her hanging off of his outstretched arm. Kudelka never fails to supply us with original ideas and dazzlingly difficult tricks, and it worked well here. Actually, all of the couples had very athletic lifts and turns, etc, and when juxtaposed with the moments of stillness, the tricks didn't overwhelm the dancing or the mood. The fourth couple was Martine Lamy and Piotr Stanczyk, who had their own cheering section over by stage left :( Their section started off with a fully extended lift (legs _and_ arms stretched on both of them, very impressive) and had a lot of (squeaky) floor work. Very hard to see unless perhaps you were in the third row, unfortunately, as the stage is very high. Then there was a section for all ten dancers, followed by a duet with the last couple, Jennifer Fournier and Ryan Boorne. Mr. Boorne needs a haircut, but the dancing was lovely.

Link to comment

The third and last feature on the programme was excerpts from Nureyev's "Sleeping Beauty." We saw the fairies bestowing gifts, from the prologue; the rose adagio; the pussycats; the bluebird pdd; and the wedding pdd. A quick glance at the program notes shows that Ormsby Wilkins will not be conducting on Thursday (rather, Norman Reintamm). I noticed before the show that even with the more delicate Vaughan Williams, Mr. Wilkins was putting his head and whole upper body into the conducting. But I digress.

The fairies in their gorgeous tutus and silly feathered headpieces were: Tanya Howard, Je-an Salas and Jillian Vanstone, Rebekah Rimsay, Lisa Robinson, Alejandra Perez-Gomez, and Julie Hay as the lead fairy in powder blue, who gets two cavaliers to stand and watch as she dances her variation, compared to only one for everyone else. I always enjoy watching Ms Hay, and she was very nice in the group sections, but by the time she did her solo, a majestic one full of long lines and pirouettes, things started getting shaky. But of course, she had been on stage for a very long time already and was probably tired. The suitors, btw, were Richard Landry, Avi Silverman, Colau, Kevin Bowles (I think), Lavoie, Stanczyk, and Etienne Lavigne.

Next was Greta Hodgkinson as Princess Aurora, and Antonijevic as Prince Florimund, along with three of the the other suitors (I think one of them was Landry, here?). It's too bad they couldn't include a few more excerpts, to see Princess Aurora transforming from a young girl into someone ready to become queen. The audience started clapping wildly as soon as she let go of her suitor in the last promenade. A very appreciative audience, made up largely of the knowledgeable more mature folk (seniors), a couple of families with very young children (who were clearly not appreciated when they started crying), plus several rows of the college-age-ish standing in the back.

The pussycats, Tanya Evidente and Daisuke Ohno, were a crowd pleaser, as usual. I particularly liked the way they stayed in character, afterwards--even when partially hidden by other dancers in the finale, he kept nibbling her arm and she kept batting him away.

Bluebird was danced by Keiichi Hirano and Princess Florine by Stacey Shiori Minagawa. They dance well together. Unfortunately this was not one of Keiichi's better days, as he stumbled once (maybe the stage was slippery?) and seemed more cautious afterwards.

And finally there was the wedding pdd, a version of which, incidentally, you can see on Greta's home page (http://www.gretahodgkinson.com). The audience loved this too.

All in all, it was well worth the wait! Many thanks go to the dancers and the musicians who took time off from their summers to put on these performances.

Link to comment

Paquita, you are in for a treat. We went last night and what an outstanding performance. They announced that Heather Ogden would be replacing Sonia R. last night, dancing Aurora for her first time. She was absolutely delightful, doing the most wonderful Rose adagio and for her first time. I was speechless. This definitely should move her to the principal ranks where she so rightly belongs.

Link to comment

I have to agree with everyone, the NBoC put on a fantastic show last night. I couldn't find a seat, so I was standing at the back, but the best view is from the back anyways because of the way the stage is designed.

This was my first look at Musings and I thought it was quite lovely, although not especially memorable. Jennifer Fournier looked strong in it, dancing with more freedom in her upper body. Aleksandar Antonijevic's soft port de bras and fluid style worked well in this romantic piece. On a side note, I thought the long dresses the women wore were beautiful! Especially the one on Stacey Shiori Minagawa... it was purple/blue I think.

The Larghetto with 1 woman and 3 men seemed to drag on just a tad too long, and I agree with tigger that the arm over the eye thing was bit overused. Some formations reminded me a little of Apollo, with the 3 men replaced the muses.

I really enjoyed Minagawa's solo. She showed style and sharp attack. Heather Ogden is certainly getting a lot of attention these days, but I would also say that Minagawa is one to watch. She also gave a solid performance as one of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty.

I thought Rebekah Rimsay's variation was interesting. Compared to the rest of the variations, the sweeping arm movements and turned in stance were starkly modern. Rimsay performed it well. She can be very dramatic, moving rigorously and then coming to a completely still position.

I saw there,below in the fall program and it looked a little different on the Harbourfront stage because the lighting seemed a little brighter. With their extremely long limbs and extensions, Tanya Howard and Julie Hay were physically perfect for this abstact and animalistic ballet. Both gave intense performances, to an almost hypnotic effect.

Sleeping Beauty was wonderful. Did they really announce that it was Ogden's debut as Aurora?? Perhaps they meant it was her first time dancing the role at Ballet by the Water, because she danced Aurora in february. She certainly is a technical marvel, with very steady balances in the rose adagio. She's no Greta Hodgkinson, however. But with a little more polish, she could certainly be a great Aurora. She already seemed more relaxed in the role than when I saw her in the winter season. Guillaume Cote was the perfect prince, no surprise there.

The bluebird pdd was danced by Jillian Vanstone and Richard Landry. I continue to be impressed with Vanstone's precision and articulation. She was a beautiful Florine. As the bluebird, Landry did not quite get as much height as one would like to see. Perhaps there were some slippery spots on the stage because at one point he did slide (a very small slip) when he landed his double tour. Overall though, he made it through the pdd cleanly.

The fairies were very together and looked well rehearsed. In the solos Tanya Howard was a little wrist-y but Rimsay was remarkably light and delicate in the 3rd variation (almost entirely hops en pointe- ouch!).

Link to comment

They announced the change in dancers but I can not remember if they announced the fact that it would be her debut. I may be mistaken, but when we went to see Sleeping beauty during the last season it was a date that Heather was to be dancing. If I remember correctly she was injured and unable to dance. Are you quite certain it was her you saw?

Link to comment

I'm so sorry gracey! I think you're right! I remember now that Odgen was scheduled to dance Aurora but she was replaced, presumably because she needed more time? Pardon me, it was Sonia Rodriguez who I saw dance with Guillaume Cote in Feb.

Link to comment

gracey, you're so lucky to have seen Ogden's Aurora! Leigh--you're welcome! Writing it down helps me remember what I saw ;)

Reading Paquita's review made me wonder: what makes a good Aurora? To me, Greta Hodgkinson on Tuesday was good, but not spectacular (my apologies to any of her admirers out there, it might have been the bad seats). My main quibble is that when she looked down at her hand during the balances, that made them look difficult.

Link to comment

Tigger, in my opinion you can't tell a great Aurora from the dancing alone - which is why an excerpted version might not let you know. Aurora needs to be not just able to balance - she's beauty, order and reason. You need a dancer who's the golden mean.

That just made the question worse, didn't it? :D

Link to comment

Tigger it was an absolute pleasure and suprise.

Paquita I seem to be under the impression she had a foot injury or fracture which kept her out of a good portion of the season at that time. It was a shame as we were looking forward to seeing her at that time. I imagine that is what made this quite an unexpected suprise....meant to be!

Leigh they presented 47 minute of Sleeping Beauty ( much to my daughters delight) and it was magical.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...