Onegin: Magnificent ensemble work by the National Ballet of Canada brings to life this highly dramatic piece based on Pushkin’s verse novel

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo.  Aleksandar  Antonijevic,  with Xiao Nan Yu and McGee Maddox.

Spectacular narrative ballets are the forte of the National Ballet of Canada and Tchaikovsky’s work based on stories and fairy tales have become the mainstay of their production, not to discount that exquisite Romeo and Juliet set to the music of Prokofiev which brought Karen Kain to my attention many years ago. This was just after seeing her dance Nana (based on the novel by Emile Zola) with the Company of Roland Petit in Paris, Now, thanks to the choreography of John Cranko the Company has added to its repertoire, another exquisite production of storytelling on point, this one inspired by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel Evgeni Onegin written in 1823. (more…)

Batsheva Dance Company’s “Last Work”: Ohad Naharin researches the performing body.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

bat89C_0727 Batsheva photographer Gadi Dagon

Photo: Gadi  Dagon

At first, we are intrigued by the evolution of these young bodies in space:  disarticulated, disjointed, straining muscles in unusual directions, in opposition to what happens to bodies executing existing dance steps. Dance has repossessed the human body in a way that makes  unhuman demands on the living human creature and opens a new world.

Choreographed at first as  individuals, each dancer  crawls, lopes, twists, leaps, floats in from the wings,  opposing  the  rhythms and movements of the preceding dancer, just to give us the feeling of the enormous possibilities of the human body in this investigation of what can take place in a performance space.  Then groups form and reform,  as all around them the fluttering and twisting of slim, elongated and  finely muscular creatures jerking in and out, up and down, below and above,  create a parallel dialogue with the  electronic sound effects and highly dramatic music.   There is so much excitement, so much activity that  our gaze  keeps  shifting around the stage, picking up individual movements, noticing  other bodies  regrouping, almost as though we were  watching the trembling of some  nervous cellular activity under an intense microscope.


Cinderella: A child’s delight with a musical montage that brings joy to all hearts.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


This lighthearted version of Cinderella is a  delightful evening  of classical ballet  for young people. Les Petits Ballets has included  two very proficient professional dancers.  Prince Charming (Evgeni Dokoukine,) whose leaps and acting talent brought much excitement to his performance as the Prince. The ball room in the palace that fateful night when little Cinderella appears in her dazzling blue magic robe (Haruka Kyoguch) with the stars twinkling on the top of her head, gave the prince the chance to show his acting talents as he tries to avoid the  terrible two sisters who  were so cruel to Cinderella. But the Prince and Mlle Kyoguch also a professional dancer kept the tension high and the pas de deux breathtaking as they whirled around the floor together dancing the night away in the prince’s palace.  Also excellent was the step mother (Jasmine van Schouwen ) who  brought strong acting  as well as very good dancing to her character role as the pushy mother.


Hubbard Street Dance Chicago: A judicious choice of choreographers that creates a revealing evening.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo. Tod   Rosenburg . Falling Angels by Jiri Kylian, music by Steve Reich.

There is no doubt that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is focusing on an extremely contemporary realm of performing bodies that is having important consequences on the way we see “dance” and on the way we speak of an activity called “dance”” but which definitely needs a new designation . Let’s just say, last night we saw and heard “life in movement” as the Company prefers to name what it does.

In keeping with this orientation towards corporeal research, the Hubbard Street Dance has brought together some of the most important names in contemporary dance whose works were already created earlier in Europe. However, presented together in this special evening, the connections and the links between all these choreographers become all the more obvious and extremely revealing: the way their perception of the moving body and its relationship to sound and choreographed movement, appears to be even more closely tied to recent technology, to the way bodies are exposed and defined through contemporary images, videos, tablets, iPhone, all the means currently at our disposal to project and redefine the human creature, without necessarily showing the audience these sources directly. Whizzing throughout the internet, human consciousness becomes the expression of disarticulated body parts that almost appear to disengage themselves from the human brain and become involuntary reactions , provoked by the physicality of sound around them.


Ottawa Fringe 2016: Raw Footage – mission accomplished as three artists create trustworthiness, honesty and beauty.

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

Raw footage is comprised of three dance pieces performed by Cathy Kyle-Fenton, Mary Catherine Jack and Nicola Henry. It is a real treat for dance lovers who like to immerse themselves in a beauty of dance moves and to be carried away by the imaginative narrative. Artists dance beautifully, showcasing their talent, strength and creativity while portraying women who struggle with their personal perception of loss, beauty and life defining light.

Cathy Kyle-Fenton is dancing partly to the faint sound of guitar and partly to the complete silence – at the beginning the only sound heard is tapping of her own feet accompanied by the rhythmic sound of her breathing. Silence adds to the drama of the story about woman who recently suffered a loss of someone close and beloved. Pain is clearly written on her face. Every move tells about battle to accept the reality in hope that they will meet again.

Mary Catherine Jack is a true comedian in a role of a woman who is not a youngster any more, and has hard time to accept the plain facts: sagging skin, wrinkled face and not so firm body. She portrays the wont-to-be sexy seductress in a naturally humorous way while preserving control and gracefulness of dance.


São Paulo Companhia de Dança :Extremely strong dancers do justice to all the choreographers!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

maxresdefault Photo (promotionnelle) © (The Seasons) Édouard Lock.  Norman McLaren, Pas de deux (1968)

The Canadian premiere of this Brazilian Dance Company – the São Paulo Companhia de Dança – at the National Arts Centre, offered three pieces each by a different choreographer. The Seasons by choreographer Edouard Lock, whose work is well known on the stages of Canada/Quebec, was no doubt the most interesting piece. As the Brazilian dancers appeared to easily grasp the emotional, the high spirited and pressing physical demands of this clash of bodies and lighting effects, The Seasons also incorporated a most exciting remix and reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and thus soared above the other two pieces , Mamihlapinatapai (Jomar Mesquita) and Gnawa (Nacho Duato), which almost seemed “déjà vu” in the aftermath of Lock’s tsunami that came crashing down on us with all its strength.


Bach, Glen Gould and María Muñoz in perfect symbiosis at the National Arts Centre!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo. María Muñoz, courtesy of the NAC

One would not be mistaken if one defined  María Muñoz as a  performance artist as much as a dancer. Her research with her collaborator Pep Ramis in the context of the production company Mal Pelo is clearly determined by the meeting of musical performance, by the creative links between lighting and space as well as by the transformative use of film that locates the dancer’s body on a screen at the back in a new mode of corporeal dialogue with these multiple elements.  Her moving presence on stage is fluid and beautiful to watch. It reveals baroque order juxtaposed with searing emotion, passages of strength and flowing romanticism. It appears to be responding to the rhythms of the allegro, the presto and the andante time signatures of the preludes and the fugues based on Glen Gould’s interpretation of portions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier integrated into her work. In fact, we almost have the feeling Gould is really in the wings, mumbling over his keyboard as his fingers fly at a phenomenal rate.

It could be the way the dancer anticipates the arrival of a bass note reflecting the specific instrument style that Gould’s playing clearly imposes. During certain pieces, by lifting her hand in short clipped movements, she retrieves gestures of resistance or  gestures of a chef d’orchestre ready to interiorise the whole piano performance and retain the rhythmic and emotional energy of that event. It could also be the moment when the music fades and Muñoz is left on her own in the silence of empty space. Whatever takes place, Muñoz calls up the haunting softness of an ethereal being literally possessed by these multiple forms of expression who speak to each other and propel her body forward on the stage.


Exquisite 2016-17 Dance Programme Coming Next Season: Cathy Levy Brings the Best in International and National Dance to the National Arts Centre.

News from Capital Critics Circle

Virginieunspecified  Photo: Penguin.JPG    Virginie Brunelle.

Cathy Levy established an NAC Associate Dance Artists program in 2007, with the goal of creating a community of artists and giving them an opportunity to meet and explore ideas with each other and with some of the greatest dance artists from around the world. Three of these eleven Associate Dance Artists will be featured on a special evening entitled The Associates in March of 2017. Work by Marie Chouinard, Crystal Pite, and Christopher House, will no doubt delight audiences.

NAC Dance is also proud to present Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montréal and The National Ballet of Canada as well as co-produce new work by Montreal’s Virginie Brunelle.  We also have the chance to celebrate Canadians working abroad with Germany’s Gauthier Dance, founded by Canadian Dancer Eric Gauthier.


Photo: Regine Brocke, Gauthier Dance.


Highlights include return visits by international superstar Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and his company Eastman, NAC Associate Dance Artists Crystal Pite, Marie Chouinard and Christopher House; Montreal’s Virginie Brunelle, America’s dazzling Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; and Israel’s incomparable Batsheva. Shanghai Ballet returns after a long absence, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo returns with their unique flare as well Albert Ballet with their festive special The Nutcracker; and The National Ballet of Canada makes their annual visit with Onegin, an exquisite romantic classic.


The Sleeping Beauty: this dazzling spectacle drizzled in gold is a feast for the eyes.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photos. Courtesy of the Hong Kong Ballet.

En route to New York City this year, the Hong Kong Ballet’s s dazzling production of The Sleeping Beauty, is currently making a three-day stopover in Ottawa at the the National Arts Centre. Under the keen eye of guest director Cynthia Harvey, former principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre and whom I saw as guest professor and coach of classical variations at this year’s edition of the Prix de Lausanne in February, the visual interpretation of the Petipa choreography became the focal point of this grandiose performance. Such a wealth of stylistic effects, inspired by the ceremonies that defined the French court of Louis XIV, made an eye-catching show of razzle dazzle with Tchaikovsky’s music under the direction of Judith Yan, Artistic director of the Guelph symphony orchestra. Fabulous wigs, enormous dresses that swung and swooped across the stage, shining satin jackets, glittering chandelier’s, crowds of little nymphs and glowing fairies, dresses of delicately transparent material. Everything was drizzled in gold and covered in sequins. Even when the style changes 100 years later in Acts II and III, the movements of the courtiers as well as the costumes, were adapted to the new time frame and the tastes of the local Hong Kong population.


Hofesh Shechter’s Barbarians. An Immense range of styles that has “no meaning”?

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo: Gabriele Zuca

It appears that this autumn, London’s Royal Opera House season begins with Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice directed by Hofesh Shechter . It is the choreographer’s directorial debut which can only make one imagine the most glorious of visual moments in the performance. Hofesh will also be doing the choreography of a Broadway revival of Fidler on the Roof, premiering in December. All these events emphasize the enormous versatility of this choreographer, whose trilogy Barbarians opened last night at the NAC. None of this news is surprising because this choreographer took us through an immense range of musics, rhythms, performance styles and relationships with the audience that are rarely seen during a single evening of any dance company.


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