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The Alberta Ballet's Carmen.

Yukichi Hattori does double duty at Alberta Ballet. He is both a star dancer and a rising choreographic talent.

When artistic director Jean Grand-Maître commissioned Hattori to create a new Carmen for the company, he was determined to find a fresh angle. After reading the original 1845 Prosper Mérimée novella several times, Hattori focused on a Carmen who was a modern woman. "She is not a victim," he says. "Carmen is a strong-willed person who has been held back by the social status of her time. Today she could have been a CEO or a politician. She just doesn't fall in love with a matador; she dreams of being a matador."

Because Hattori's scenario has been influenced by the novella rather than Bizet's opera, the soldier Don José is defined by selfish love. He is a premeditated killer driven by jealousy who murders not one, but two men, including Carmen's Gypsy husband. Says Hattori: "This is a story ballet, so I'm concentrating on storytelling. I think we've got something real cool here."

Alberta Ballet's Carmen runs in Calgary from March 26 to 28.