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NBoC outdoor summer performance

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Last week Aug. 21-23 the National gave 3 free outdoor performances at the Harbourfront Centre, "Ballet by the Water". I went on the 22nd and it was a lovely evening with an impressive turn out so I hope some of those people who hadn't previously gone to the ballet, will see a few ballets in the 50th anniversary season. Karen Kain and John Northcott of CBC TV hosted. The program included:

1) Romeo and Juliet ( Cranko) excerpts- Tarantella, Balcony pas de deux, and Birdesmaids Dance.

Greta Hodkinson and Geon van der Wyst were wonderful in the pdd, and it was very suiting to be danced outside on a summer night with the breeze. I am used to seeing the MacMillan version though, so it took some getting used to.

2) 1st movement of A Delicate Battle

A new piece premiered in the spring with music by Bach. It was a good ballet to show the audience the company's range, but this section makes a lot more sense in context of the full ballet.

3) Paquita solo variations

Jillian Vanstone from the corps did a nice solo with great italian fouettes, and Rebekah Rimsay's variation was also well done. Richard Landry had some problems with his turns however.

4) Pastorale (Kudelka) excerpts

My first glimpse of this ballet. A series of 4 pdd. It reminds me a bit of Ashton's A Month in the Country for some reason. Sonia Rodriguez was partnered by newly promoted soloist Piotr Stanczyk, Greta Hodgkinson with William Marrie, Chan Hon Goh with Patrick Lavoie, and Martine Lamy and Rex Harrington.

5) Theme and Variations

It was Stacey Shiori Minagawa and Jhe Russell's debut as leads in this ballet. They looked a bit nervous, as well it's difficult with a smaller stage and with the wind. But they managed very well. Minagawa has some tightness in her upper body, probably due to the nerves. Jhe gave a confident and energetic performance, and once the few minor technical errors are smoothed over, it will be a good role for him. The corps managed extremely well during the finale with the small stage!

The NBoC orchestra was there but only played for section 2 and 3.

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It was last week, tuesday- thursday. I didn't make it either, but I heard it was excellent.

In other NBoC news, they are filming Kudelka's Firebird. I'm not sure if it is for a video or what, but I'm guessing that it will air on CBC's new season of "Opening Night" so watch for it!

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Opening Night airs every thursday from 8-10pm. In the past we've seen some excellent programs. They aired Royal Ballet's Firebird from the Stravinsky Staged program and that is my favourite version, it seems the closest to the original. If you've never seen Kudelka's version, it's worth at least one viewing. The costumes and sets are very unique, but I didn't enjoy the choreography. I can't wait to hear what New Yorkers think of it when ABT performs it this fall. I will be seeing it again too in NBoC's upcoming season, only because it is with La Bayadere Act 2 and A Delicate Battle.

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With Napoli, Apollo, Judgement of Paris, and Intermezzo, it's a nice program. They should all work pretty well on that small stage (Napoli might be a stretch)... I remember when they did Theme and Variations and it got pretty squishy during the finale! Apollo should be in fine form, since they just performed it at the Spoleto Festival. Too bad there's no previews of ballets in the upcoming season. Usually they include a few. I'd love to see Serenade again. But I won't complain, Intermezzo is a treat! I think new audience members will like Judgement too.

I remember in previous years, in addition to the performances, there were movement workshops and we could also watch company class and rehearsal on stage. But the Harbourfront is always busy in the summer with other things. Ballet by the Water used to be a weekend event, but I don't think it drew enough of a crowd.

For those interested, the Canadian Opera Company is also giving free concerts at the same place, Aug. 26-28.

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