Live dance may have returned to Canada in 2021, but the art form only recently resumed traversing international borders. The fall 2022 schedules of Canadian troupes and art presenters reflect that newfound return-to-reality: Dance artists can once again touring the world without being tracked on ArriveCan.
Not only are companies visiting from at least three continents, international choreographers are setting works on Canadian dancers, continuing the cross-pollination of movement that allows for stretching and growth. Audiences will be challenged, too, not only by premieres from choreographers who are less known here, but by new interpretations of century-old works. Meanwhile, on Turtle Island shores, Indigenous choreographers continue to fuse tradition and modern movement while creating distinctly Canadian art.
Here are a fraction of the dance performances scheduled during the next two months that should be well worth the trip, for both dancegoers and the performers.
Vanishing Mélodies: Ballets Jazz Montréal
Ballets Jazz Montréal, Quebec’s top modern dance company, will spend most of the fall overseas, performing in Israel and across Europe. Before jetting off, BJM will bring its 50th anniversary commission to three more cities across its home province. Director Eric Jean worked with an actor, the company, musician Patrick Watson and choreographers from Montreal and Germany to create a 75-minute “très atmosphérique” work of dance theatre. St. Jean-sur-Richelieu (Oct. 14) and Victoriaville (Oct. 19).
Rite of Spring/Common Ground[s]
When composer Igor Stravinsky, choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky and artist/ethnographer Nikolai Roerich created Rite of Spring in 1912, the trio genuinely believed they were staging a dance that resembled an ancient pagan ritual from the Caucasus. German choreographer Pina Bausch, reinterpreting the piece in 1975, probably got much closer to the truth with her earthen stage, sackcloth costumes and bloody symbolism. Sadler’s Wells, the English dance presenter, has revived Bausch’s Rite with a company of 36 African dancers. Reviewing for The Guardian, Sarah Crompton said, “Bausch catches the raw ferocity of sound … making each step towards survival an effort of desperation.” The program opens with Common Ground[s], a duet for Germaine Acogny, a leader in contemporary African dance, and longtime Bausch dancer Malou Airaudo. Danse Danse, Place des Arts until Oct 8, Montreal. TO Live, Meridian Hall, Oct. 14 and 15, Toronto.
Graces: Silvia Gribaudi Performing Arts
One guy gets all the demi-goddesses in George Balanchine’s Apollo. The 1928 ballet is all about beautiful women (representing three muses) bowing before the ideal man. Italian dancer, choreographer and performance artist Silvia Gribaudi turns the conceit on its head in Graces, her evening-length comedy for three gorgeous shirtless men and a more average-looking middle-aged woman. That is, herself. Danse Danse, Place des Arts, Oct. 11-14, Montreal. National Arts Centre, Oct. 18 and 19, Ottawa.
The Handmaid’s Tale: Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba’s leading dance company, not only beat Elisabeth Moss to Gilead, it beat National Ballet of Canada to Margaret Atwood. MaddAddam debuts in Toronto in November, but in advance of that new dystopian dance drama, Royal Winnipeg dancers put on their weird white wimples and red robes to tour the country with Lila York’s 2013 adaption of The Handmaid’s Tale. Centennial Concert Hall, Oct. 12-16, Winnipeg. National Arts Centre, Oct. 27-29, Ottawa.
Dona Peron: Ballet Hispanico
Step down from that balcony, Evita. There’s a new Eva Peron onstage, and even without Andrew Lloyd Webber, oh what a show. Prolific globe-trotter Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, a Belgian-Colombian choreographer, created this new “vivid 10-episode portrait” (The New York Times) of the Argentine first lady for the New York dance troupe Ballet Hispanico. National Arts Centre, Oct. 14 and 15, Ottawa.
Overature/s: Ballet BC
Ballet BC, Vancouver’s small, scrappy dance company, leads the country when it comes to commissioning contemporary ballet. Under former artistic director Emily Molnar, the company not only nurtured Canadian talent, it introduced British Columbia to global up-and-comers. That tradition continues this fall when Dutch sibling duo Imre and Marne van Opstal debut a new work co-commissioned by Finland’s Tero Saarinen Company. The program also includes a revival from two Israeli choreographers and a North American premiere from new artistic director Medhi Walerski. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Nov. 3-5, Vancouver.
The Collective Agreement & Crepuscular & Concerto: National Ballet of Canada
This season-opening triple bill gives an American veteran and a Canadian newcomer their Toronto opera house debuts. Alonzo King will set his jazzy 2018 work The Collective Agreement on the National Ballet. Montoya, a principal at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, will remount Crepuscular, a piece she created for the company’s Toronto Harbourfront comeback performances last year. British choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto rounds out the program, which will include a dizzying array of live jazz, Chopin’s nocturnes and a Shostakovich piano concerto. Four Seasons Centre, Nov. 9-13, Toronto.
Citadel Dance Mix 2022
Against all pandemic odds, Métis choreographer Jera Wolfe managed to raise his international profile over the past three years. Soul, his steamy streaming quartet for National Ballet, was among the company’s best digital efforts. Trace, his hi-tech interpretation of the Anishinaabe creation myth for Red Sky Performance Group, won a Dora Award in 2019 and toured North America last year. His next creation comes courtesy of Toronto’s intimate dance incubator. The annual Dance Mix program also features Indigenous hip-hop performers River Waterhen and Winter Hawk. The Citadel, Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, Toronto.
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