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Photo by Karolina Kuras

Review: Jewels (The National Ballet of Canada)

Ending the 2023/2024 season at the National Ballet of Canada is George Balanchine’s Jewels, a plotless ballet that centers around three precious stones: Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds. Each gem is represented in a separate act, with costumes designed by Barbara Karinska that match their brilliance, and are brought to life by music from renowned composers: Fauré, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. This ballet is a showcase of three distinct styles that have shaped Balanchine’s illustrious career: French Romanticism, Contemporary American, and Russian Classicism.
Photo by Brian Medina.

Review: JUNIOR 2024 (Harbourfront Centre)

Every May long weekend, the Harbourfront Centre hosts the annual Junior Festival, featuring a lineup of free or affordable performances of dance, theater, and circus, and activities for kids of all ages. This was my first time attending the festival and I had the pleasure of seeing three works: Make Me Dance by the Norwegian company Panta Rei Danseteater, Afrique en Cirque from the Guinean Cirque Kalabanté and BENCHED by Denmark’s Uppercut Dance Theater.
Photo by Matt Barnes.

Review: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Côté Danse, Ex Machina, and Show One Productions)

Opening tonight at the gorgeous Elgin Theatre, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, presented by Côté Danse, Ex Machina, and Show One Productions, is a wordless dance spectacle that captivates from start to finish. Choreographed and co-designed by Guillaume Côté and directed and designed by Robert Lepage, this production beautifully demonstrates that words are not necessary to convey the essence of this timeless Shakespearean tale. I attended a preview of the work last night, and it exemplifies the power of creative collaboration. From the music to the choreography, direction, and cast’s performances, each element is beautifully crafted to tell the tale.
Photo by Karolina Kuras.

Review: Winter Triple Bill (The National Ballet of Canada)

Winter Triple Bill, presented by the National Ballet of Canada, showcases three distinct works on the Four Seasons Stage. From the intimate duet of islands by Canadian choreographer Emma Portner, to the neoclassical elegance of Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar, and the digital-age reflections of UtopiVerse by Canadian William Yong, this Triple Bill offers a diverse mix of contemporary and classical ballet, highlighting the exceptional talent of Canadian dancers and choreographers.
Photo by Karolina Kuras.
Tirion Law, Siphesihle November, Jack Bertinshaw and Jurgita Dronina in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Photo by Karolina Kuras. Courtesy of The National Ballet of Canada.

Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (The National Ballet of Canada)

The National Ballet of Canada's production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a fun, vibrant, and imaginative ballet that brings Lewis Carroll's classic tale to the stage. Since its introduction to the company in 2011 through the choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, an Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet, this work has become a regular and beloved feature in the National Ballet’s repertoire. It's easy to see why!

Review: Eve of St. George (TranscenDance project)

TranscenDance Project makes a spectacular return with its production of Eve of St. George, an immersive reimagining of Bram Stoker's eerie tale of Dracula. Guests don masks and are set free to roam the four levels of The Great Hall, transformed into a gothic Victorian setting where the stories of sixteen characters come to life. Created by the ingenious Julia Cratchley and scored by the award-winning Canadian composer Owen Belton, this performance is truly an unmissable treat.
Photo by Maya Yoncali.

Review: Deciphers (Naishi Wang and Jean Abreau / Harbourfront Centre / DanceWorks)

Deciphers, presented in part by the Harbourfront Centre and DanceWorks, is a venture into the realm of dance-theater, aiming to illuminate the immigrant experience. This exploration is the creation of independent dancemakers Naishi Wang and Jean Abreau. Wang, originally from China and now based in Toronto, and Abreu, hailing from Brazil and currently based in London, merge their unique background for this work.
Photo by Skye Schmidt

Review: The Look of Love (Mark Morris Dance Group / TO Live)

With 11 honorary doctorate degrees and a repertoire of over 150 choreographed works to his name, the arrival of the illustrious Mark Morris to town is always a treat. The Look of Love, presented by TO Live, is a newer contemporary dance work (created in 2022) performed by the New York-based Mark Morris Dance Group. This production stands out as a rhythmic delight, brimming with love, humour, and sprightly dance choreography.
Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Review: Assembly Hall (Kidd Pivot / Canadian Stage)

Assembly Hall unfolds the tale of medieval reenactors in a general meeting within a local community hall. They obsess over Robert's Rules, from points of order to motions to move, yet the rules still cannot control the quirky outbursts and conflicts within the group. The discussion centers on their event, “Quest Fest,” which is plagued by dwindling attendance and funds, leading to a vote on the group’s dissolution – a topic that splits the group.
Photo by Andre Cornellier

My Love Letter to Louise Lecavalier: A Review of 'Stations' at Harbourfront Centre

I grew up watching clips on YouTube of Louise Lecavalier dancing with the incredible La La La Human Steps, a contemporary dance company from Quebec. They were known for their completely fearless physicality, with dancers throwing their bodies in every direction in the most amazing physical feats. La La La Human Steps were especially famous for their signature move—a barrel jump, a fully horizontal, mid-air full body circle jump. Of course, I've attempted to replicate this jump many times and still share clips of their performances with my students to this day.
Photo by Karolina Kuras.
Photo by Karolina Kuras.

Review: Emma Bovary and Passion (The National Ballet of Canada)

Following intermission, Emma Bovary, plunges directly into the tumultuous psyche of its protagonist, Emma, as inspired by Gustave Flaubert's classic 1857 novel Madame Bovary. This piece navigates through intense themes of romantic idealism, materialism, and the intricate impacts of mental and emotional health and presents a new approach to the creation of narrative ballets. Rather than compressing the entire novel, the ballet focuses sharply on Emma's gradual descent into madness, offering a compelling experience tailored for modern audiences.

Review: Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice (Opera Atelier)

Orpheus and Eurydice is an opera composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, first performed in 1762. The opera is based on the mythological story of Orpheus (in this performance played by Canadian tenor Colin Ainsworth), a musician so skilled that even animals and nature would listen to him, and his love, Eurydice (played by Soprano Mireille Asselin). The tale revolves around Eurydice's untimely death and Orpheus's journey to the Underworld to bring her back to life with the help of the god of love, Amour (played by Soprano Anna-Julia David).

Review: Jungle Book Reimagined (Akram Khan / Canadian Stage)

Bringing the timeless tale to the stage, Jungle Book reimagined, an Akram Khan Company production presented by Canadian Stage, takes Rudyard Kipling's iconic story to new heights. In this innovative rendition, Mowgli is no longer in the wild forests but is instead a refugee in a flood-ravaged USA. This alarming shift of setting immediately foregrounds pressing environmental issues and the palpable loss of human connection in today's world. This version of the Jungle Book beautifully uses contemporary dance to tell its story and is suitable for the entire family, with recommendations for children only over the age of eight.

Review: HEARTBEATS: Signature Programme 1 (Fall for Dance North in partnership with TO Live)

In its ninth season, Fall for Dance North, in partnership with TO Live, unveils its latest mainstage series: HEARTBEATS: Signature Programme 1. Showcasing four distinct contemporary dance pieces, this programme brings together a diverse array of artists from all around the world, while still highlighting Canadian companies and talent. This programme asks its artists to dive into the realms of love and human connection.

Review: KAMUYOT (Ohad Naharin / Charlotte Ballet / Fall for Dance North)

Kicking off this year's Fall for Dance North festival is Ohad Naharin's KAMUYOT, a work that offers an immediate departure from the conventional audience-performer dynamics we've come to expect. Performed by the athletic and committed dancers of the Charlotte Ballet, the work situates the audience directly amidst the dancers, inviting closeness without pressure in a playful, immersive, and inviting collective dance experience.

Debriefing the dance: made in canada / fait au canada Festival

As the curtain falls on the dance: made in canada / fait au canada Festival, it's time to debrief another season of great performances, workshops, and dance exhibits. Spanning five days, the festival showcased the rich diversity of Canadian dance and its artists, and it was wonderful to be a part of it. In this final piece of the series, let's retrace and relive some of the festival's most memorable moments.
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