Fusion of balletic vocabularies
This weekend, Edmonton’s Citie Ballet wraps its fifth season at the Timms Centre for the Arts with Boundaries—dance that challenges traditional balletic conventions.
The company’s artistic director, Jorden Morris says the two-part performance features something for everyone.
Each half of Boundaries is separately choreographed within the titular theme. While Morris choreographed the second half’s Turas, 22-year-old Kylee Hart choreographed the first performance, FIVE.
Hart employs a handful of dancers across five sections of her 20-minute ballet, with inspiration from the 19th century music of Franz Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Two songs from the quintet are contrasted with the music of contemporary English composer Oliver Davis.
“They match together, even though they were really composed nearly 200 years apart,” Hart says. “I’ve been able to sort of play around with the idea of having this older music and newer movement, and then juxtaposing that with the new music and new movement.”
Morris says Hart’s choreography in FIVE uses several technically challenging aspects of traditional ballet that many young artists aren’t necessarily drawn to. Hart’s interests led Citie Ballet to offer her the guest choreographer role.
“Immediately, I was impressed and intrigued as to what this young mind was going to do with classical/neo-classic movement,” Morris says.
Hart chose to play with familiar, yet novel dance ideas in her choreography.
“I really tried to push the dancers to find some kind of new and unique movement qualities while still having the shapes familiar to an audience member,” she explains. “An audience member can expect to see things that they would see at a classical ballet, but maybe off-kilter or off-balance.”
Hart says those distorted shapes and figures are modeled after modern visual art, another huge inspiration in her first professionally choreographed ballet.
“In order for new, exciting work and art in general to be born, you have to keep pushing it in a forward direction,” Hart says. “So as a choreographer, I’ve really had the opportunity to be able to kind of share my voice in that spectrum.”
Morris’ ballet, Turas—which is Gaelic for pilgrimage—takes a more programmatic approach, based on the story of the Celtic immigrants who came to Canada following the 19th century potato famine.
“It’s sort of like ballet meets some of the traditional Celtic and Irish dancing,” Morris says. “So it was kind of interesting to see the dancers have to start learning different movements that they don’t necessarily do in ballet.”
He says the fusion between the historical folk style and balletic vocabulary helped evoke the tale he’s telling—set to music from Scottish folk singer-songwriter Julie Fowlis as well as Edmonton musician Maria Dunn.
“It could be one of a thousand stories,” Morris explains. “But I think a lot of people can identify with how hard it was to leave the old country and how challenging it was to come to a new country.”
While Boundaries’ two halves are stylistically different, both ballets push the limits of dance in their own varying ways while maintaining cohesiveness.
Fri., Apr. 21 to Sun., Apr. 23
Timms Centre for the Arts,
$40 Fri.-Sat., $30 on Sun.