Reviewed by on    Arts News, Dance  

March 6, 2017 – OTTAWA (Canada) – NAC Dance is proud to unveil one of its most spectacular and expansive seasons to date. Featuring 48 performances by 20 companies, it includes 3 Canadian exclusives, 2 co-productions, 11 artists and companies making their NAC debuts, and many great Canadian artists from home and abroad.  

Cathy Levy, Executive Producer of NAC Dance is thrilled to invite the incredible talents of choreographers and dancers from around the world to the NAC stage. This year, companies from Canada, the United States, Germany, Taiwan, France, Spain, Finland, Israel, Belgium and Australia will be making their way to a beautifully renovated NAC.

The season begins with the Canadian exclusive of Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in three performances of Café Müller and The Rite of Spring on Series A, with The Rite’s brilliant Stravinsky score performed live by the NAC Orchestra! Series A will also include a new tribute to the late Leonard Cohen, Dance Me, created by BJM (Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal) in collaboration with choreographers Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, & Ihsan Rustem; the wonderful return of MOMIX with their masterpiece Opus Cactus; and a first-time appearance by Taiwan’s Legend Lin Dance Theatre.

The Ballet series will feature three stunning companies in Southam Hall, each accompanied by the NAC Orchestra: Aaron S. Watkin’s gorgeous Swan Lake by Semperoper Ballet Dresden; the National Ballet of Canada’s extraordinary Nijinsky choreographed by John Neumeier; and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s much-loved and dramatic Dracula, created by Mark Godden.

Series B will showcase 5 bold and daring companies in the Theatre, including Finland’s Tero Saarinen, Israel’s L-E-V, France’s Yoann Bourgeois, Spain’s La Veronal and Montreal’s Frédérick Gravel in an NAC co-production. Series C will include the return of its contemporary dance series Face 2 Face, co-presented with Ottawa Dance Directive and La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins. Series C/Face 2 Face will feature Cie Mossoux-Bonté (Belgium), Belinda McGuire (Canada/NYC), Josh Beamish (Canada/NYC), Daina Ashbee (Canada) and Laurie Young (Canada/Berlin). The series also includes a co-production with Daniel Léveillé Danse, and a new work by Vancouver’s Shay Kuebler.

To top off the season, the beloved holiday favourite Nutcracker will be presented by The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the acclaimed Australian innovatorsCirca will blur the lines between circus, dance, movement and theatre in May of 2018.


BALLET SERIES / Southam Hall, 8 p.m.

Canadian Exclusive!

Semperoper Ballett Dresden ● Swan Lake ● Germany
Choreography by Aaron S. Watkin, featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra

November 9-11, 2017

The majesty of the royal court, eerie moonlight on a mist-shrouded lake, a mysterious swan princess, a handsome prince, an evil sorcerer, and a curse that can only be broken by the power of true love. Swan Lake is lyrical, romantic and breathtakingly beautiful.   Choreographer Aaron S. Watkin, one of Canada’s most admired dance exports and Artistic Director of the prestigious Semperoper Ballett Dresden, makes a very personal return to the original sources in this sumptuous, embellished vision of the beloved classic.



The National Ballet of Canada  Nijinsky ● Canada

A ballet by John Neumeier, featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra

January 25-27, 2018

Thrilling in scope, John Neumeier’s dazzling ballet is theatrical and unflinching, paying reverent, astute tribute to a tortured genius.  Vaslav Nijinsky changed the trajectory of dance in a spectacular and ephemeral career that came to an abrupt end with his descent into madness at the age of only 29. In this exhilarating production, the entire company draws on its extraordinary heart and stamina to bring to dramatic life a provocative and fascinating exploration of the artist’s complex inner journey. Nijinsky is an unforgettable, balletic tour de force of artistry, narrative and spectacle.


Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet  Dracula ● Canada

Choreography by Mark Godden, featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra

April 12-14, 2018

Atmospheric and brooding, Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s deliciously gothic Dracula lives up to the rich history of its famous source material with its smouldering eroticism, mysterious transformations, dancing gargoyles, and flying bats.  Performed to the lush, evocative music of Gustav Mahler, Mark Godden’s inventive and sensual choreography breathes dramatic new life into the macabre yet irresistible tale of the immortal vampire and his dark passions.  Dracula has thrilled, terrified and delighted audiences since its premiere in 1998, becoming a treasured favorite in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s repertoire.


SERIES A / Southam Hall, 8 p.m.

Canadian Exclusive! Three performances!

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch  Café Müller and Rite of Spring ● Germany

Choreography by Pina Bausch, featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra

September 28-30, 2017

With her credo – finding a language for life – Pina Bausch was uniquely eloquent. Working in an intimate and truly collaborative partnership with her dancers, Bausch created works that speak to her fascination with primitive human experiences.  Café Müller and The Rite of Spring are two of her most important, and NAC Dance is thrilled to offer audiences a rare chance to discover these landmark creations in an exclusive evening of superb artistry. In the hauntingly moving Café Müller (1978) – a semi-autobiographical exploration of memory – highly charged and dramatic tension is juxtaposed against the poignant beauty of arias from Purcell’s operas.  And in her masterpiece The Rite of Spring (1975), an earth covered stage sets the scene for 34 dancers who magnificently portray the barbaric ritual with gut-wrenching movements, fiercely driven by Stravinsky’s groundbreaking score.


Legend Lin Dance Theatre ● The Eternal Tides ● Taiwan

Choreography by Lee-Chen Lin
January 20, 2018

Lee-Chen Lin’s masterful, large-scale works are visually stunning, drawing us into a realm of ethereal beauty and timeless sensuality. Taking inspiration from the elements of dance and music in the traditional religious rituals and ceremonial rites of her Taiwanese homeland, this brilliantly original artist places her exquisite dancers in captivating tableaux that embody the idea of poetry in motion. In this highly anticipated new work, the oceans serve as muse for a sumptuous and profoundly moving exploration of the never-ending, interdependent cycles of water and life.



BJM (Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal)  Dance Me ● Canada

Music by Leonard Cohen

Choreography by Annabelle Lopez OchoaAndonis Foniadakis and Ihsan Rustem

February 24, 2018

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love 

L. C.

A Canadian literary giant, Leonard Cohen’s songs are poetic evocations of the songwriter’s unerring insights into the human experience. Inspired by his inimitable music, and using a selection of his most beloved songs, choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andonis Foniadakis and Ihsan Rustem create a spectacular new multimedia work commissioned especially by Louis Robitaille, Artistic Director of BJM. Dance Me will evoke in “five seasons” the grand cycles of existence, as described in the music and poems of Leonard Cohen, a brilliant observer of our era, interpreted through the dazzling dancers of BJM.


MOMIX  Opus Cactus  United States

Choreography by Moses Pendleton

March 13, 2018

Celebrating the wonders and beauty of the American southwest, Moses Pendleton’s spectacular Opus Cactus is a gorgeously coloured, richly inventive work of dance fantasy.  Graceful and athletic, the dancers dazzle us with their technique, versatility and artistry, as they morph effortlessly before our eyes into luminous, exotic, many-limbed creatures of the desert, soaring outlandish birds, and skittering insect collectives. With music from the Swingle Sisters to Brian Eno as a backdrop, this kaleidoscopic, illusory world beckons us to suspend our disbelief and embrace the wonder.


Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

Canadian Exclusive!

Tero Saarinen Company ● Morphed ● Finland

Choreography by Tero Saarinen

October 4-5, 2017

What makes a man, a man?  That is the question Finnish dance prodigy Tero Saarinen investigates in a muscular new work with seven male dancers. A reflective, unfettered enquiry into the essence of maleness, Morphed embraces the kinetic volatility of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s music as a soundscape for movement that is raw, multi-layered and expressive, seeming to rise from primal wellsprings.  Bearded and belligerent, or tender and vulnerable, the dancersskillfully embody the shifting, mutating feelings that a man experiences, yet never succumb to cliché.


L-E-V ● OCD Love ● Israel

Choreography by Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar

November 23-24, 2017

Highly original, L-E-V’s inventive duo Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, whose House premiered at the NAC in 2014, team up with techno trailblazer DJ Ori Lichtik to create a raw, visceral new work inspired by slam poet Neil Hilborn’s sensational text OCD.  Harking back to the 90s club scene with its pulsing, rhythmic groove and striking contrasts in light and shadow, this hypnotic, obsessive compulsive piece looks at love and the emotional black holes that lurk in its shadows. Six superb dancers flawlessly execute a unique lexicon of complex, charged, riveting movement.


La Veronal ● Siena  Spain

Choreography by Marcos Morau in collaboration with the dancers

February 2-3, 2018

Director Marcos Morau and his collaborative team are gaining international attention for work that fuses cultural references drawn from cinema, literature, music and photography. La Veronal’s signature dance pieces are sophisticated and slyly humorous. Siena serves as a geographical point of reference for a provocative, abstract reflection on the concept of the human body in art and time. The dancers use their bodies as malleable maps to meaning in a meticulously reproduced gallery space dominated by a giant blow up of Titian’s luxuriously sensuous Venus of Urbino.


Yoann Bourgeois – CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble ● He Who Falls  France
Choreography by Yoann Bourgeois, assisted by Marie Fonte
March 9-10, 2018

Suspended in air, a platform begins to move, slowly, then faster, spinning, tilting, pivoting, swinging.  Six artists seem to defy gravity, hanging on to the platform, leaning into the spin, climbing, falling, tripping, running with incredible agility, grace and skill.  Three men and three women become couples in a fleeting, tender embrace, or a crowd, jostled in close quarters, or rivals in a perilous race, their survival interdependent. Uplifting and awe-inspiring, acrobat, actor, juggler and dancer Yoann Bourgeois’s beautiful, playful movement expresses an ongoing fascination with the idea of weightlessness, and leaves us breathless. 

Frédérick Gravel ● Some Hope for the Bastards ● Canada

Choreography by Frédérick Gravel

April 20-21, 2018

Text, live music, and movement – these are the three elements with which Frédérick Gravel performs a kind of creative alchemy. A major force on the Quebec dance scene for over a decade, Gravel’s vigorous, uncensored, brutally honest collaborations reflect the gutsy curiosity and quirky intelligence that push him constantly to interrogate the state of being human. Seeking beauty in the cracks between what we show and what we live, Gravel electrifies audiences with dance that is rock ‘n’ roll sexy and in the moment.


After a one year hiatus, our Face 2 Face series returns with new voices and new venues! And for 2017, a celebration of Canadians at Large — a series of works inspired and created by Canadian voices here and abroad. 

Face 2 Face: Studio A, La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins

Co-Presented with La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins

October 26-28, 2017, 8 :30 p.m.

Josh Beamish ● Radios (choreography Ame Henderson) ● Concerto (choreography Josh Beamish)

Belinda McGuire ● Til 120, Again (choreography Idan Shirabi) ● The Eight Propositions (co-choreography Belinda McGuire, Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten)
Cie Mossoux-Bonté ● Vice Versa (choreography Nicole Mossoux)

New York-based Canadian Joshua Beamish has earned the respect and admiration of his peers and critics worldwide both for his technically astonishing and articulate style as a dancer and his distinctive, meticulous choreographic approach to the body in space. In Radios Beamish performs work by NAC Associate Dance Artist and agent provocateur of Canadian dance, Ame Henderson. Concerto is both created and performed by Beamish to the music of J.S. Bach.

Fellow Canadian Belinda McGuire, who also now calls New York home, is celebrated for her physical discipline and emotional range as a performer and choreographer. In Til 120, Again Israeli choreographer Idan Sharabi is muse to McGuire’s creative genius, with a new look at a signature piece inspired by the Hebrew birthday blessing and set to music by Chopin.  The Eight Propositions is McGuire’s new solo co-choreographed with Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten.

Belgian Nicole Mossoux’s creative output has been characterized by performances that meet at the intersection between dance and theatre.  Working in close collaboration with partner Patrick Bonté, Cie Mossoux-Bonté presents Vice Versa – a seductive duo for two female dancers performed to the hypnotic folk songLes Anneaux de Marianson, interpreted by Quebecois storyteller/singer Michel Faubert, founder of Les Charbonniers de l’enfer.

Face 2 Face: Studio B, La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins

Daina Ashbee ● Unrelated

Co-Presented with La Nouvelle Scène Gilles Desjardins

October 27-28, 20177 p.m.

Montreal based choreographer Daina Ashbee is quickly becoming an important voice on national and international stages.  Of Cree and Dutch descent, Ashbee’s unflinching use of the nude or nearly nude body as a tool to sound the depths of the subconscious, results in movement that is disconcertingly lucid. In Unrelated, Ashbee boldly confronts issues of violence and vulnerability faced by indigenous women in Canada, while exploring identity, destruction, and the potential for transformation.  Brutal and sensually charged, this disquieting duet is fearlessly interpreted by Areli Moran and Paige Culley.

Face 2 Face: ODD BOX, Arts Court

Laurie Young  How is Now

Co-Presented with Ottawa Dance Directive

October 25 at 8 p.m. / October 26 at 7 p.m. / October 28 at 5:30 p.m.

Berlin-based Canadian Laurie Young began her career at Le Groupe Dance Lab in Ottawa before becoming a founding member of Sasha Waltz and Guests in 1996.  Young’s own choreographic practice, which crosses into scientific research and enquiry, includes her 2011 solo Natural Habitat for the Natural History Museum in Berlin.  In How is Now, she collaborates with drummer and sound designer Johannes Malfatti in an observation about time.  The space is set with a drum kit, a dancer and a light.  Here, Young turns her methodical eye to the ways in which time frames the way we move, thwarts our expectations, and re-imagines the meaning of gesture.

Daniel Léveillé Danse ● Solitudes duo ● Canada

NAC Co-Production

Choreography by Daniel Léveillé

February 15-17, 2018

For 40 years, Daniel Léveillé has been an iconoclastic pioneer at the vanguard of both the national and international contemporary dance scenes.  In Solitudes Duo, the master choreographer expands on the themes first visited in his award-winning Solitudes Solo. In a sequence of physically demanding duos, couples connect in a white space that both limits and liberates them, a metaphor for the emotional paradoxes in human relationships. Modesty, passion, indifference, affection and lust are all discovered in movement that is potent, pared down, guileless, and surprisingly tender.


Shay Kuebler / Radical System Art ● Telemetry ● Canada

Choregraphy by Shay Kuebler

April 26-28, 2018

Singing the body electric!  The human body as antenna, a satellite for sound, energy and memory, translating and transmitting information into a purely kinetic vocabulary – this is the starting point for an explosive new dance creation from Vancouver’s high octane wunderkind Shay Kuebler.  A convulsive synchronicity of bepob, swing, and contemporary dance—and featuring Canadian tap virtuoso Danny Nielsen—Telemetry tunes in to radio sciences and systems to generate a magnetically charged performance from its seemingly indefatigable, hugely versatile company of seven dancers.



Royal Winnipeg Ballet  Nutcracker ● Canada

Choreography by Galina Yordanova, Nina Menon and RWB Artistic Staff

Featuring the National Arts Centre Orchestra

December 6-10, 2017 at 7 p.m. / December 9-10, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.

Frolicking polar bears, majestic Mounties, a snowy pond hockey game and, new this season, frisky holiday reindeer!  This Nutcracker is a jubilant, shimmering, Canadian holiday treasure that honours tradition while adding a playful homegrown touch. Join young Clara in her fairytale reverie through glittering winter landscapes where an enchanted nutcracker becomes a dashing soldier, the mischievous Mouse King wreaks havoc, and the dazzling Sugar Plum Fairy holds court in an exotic land. Set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved music, and with stunning sets and costumes, this Canadian Nutcracker fills the heart with joy and wonder!


Circa ● Opus ● Australia


Choregraphy by Yaron Lifschitz, with the Circa Ensemble and the Debussy Quartet

May 5, 2018

Testing the limits of their art form, internationally acclaimed Australian innovators Circa blur the lines between circus, dance, movement and theatre in works that are visually and emotionally arresting.  In Opus, 14 astonishingly acrobatic dancers move from dislocated stillness to violent explosions, morphing into fantastic geometries of bodies soaring through space.  Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s passionate and deeply moving quartets -performed live on stage by France’s internationally acclaimed Debussy String Quartet – form the musical and dramatic spine of a red-hot fusion of extreme acrobatics, lyrical movement and group choreography.


NAC Dance and the NAC Foundation would like to thank the donors and partners who have made the season possible. Thank you to Hotel Partners the Lord Elgin Hotel, Nutcracker is generously sponsored by Sun Life Financial and is part of the Share the Spirit program. Special thanks to VIA Rail the “Official Rail Partner” of the NAC.



Subscription packages to the 2017-2018 Dance season are on sale now.  Subscription information is available online at or in person at the NACWelcome Centre (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and the NAC Box Office (Open 2 hours before any show).