Desiree Bortolussi (left) and Valentin Chou perform a lift from Quatro Estaciones. (Grant Robinson/Ballet Kelowna photo)

The ballet is coming

Ballet Kelowna will perform Mambo and Other Works Nov. 17 at Della Herman Theatre

Who says high culture is just for big cities?

This week the Bulkley Valley Concert Association (BVCA) is bringing Ballet Kelowna (BK) to the stage at Della Herman Theatre.

The travelling company of nine dancers will present three new works BK commissioned from B.C.-based choreographers.

The troupe will perform Mambo and Other Works featuring on Nov. 17 starting at 7:30 p.m.

Miriam Colvin, BVCA’s artistic director, said the Smithers audience is in for a treat.

“It’s a pretty special thing because it combines classical ballet techniques with contemporary alive creators,”

The first piece, 1723 – Vivaldi, choreographed by Vancouver’s Wen Wei Wang, is described in a BVCA press release as “a mesmerizing sextet featuring gorgeous partnering, extreme extensions, and complex pointe work for the women.”

That will be followed by Cuatro Estaciones, “an evocative tango-inspired ensemble piece by Ballet Kelowna’s visionary artistic director and CEO Simone Orlando, set to virtuoso composer Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires,” the release states.

The program will close with Mambo “a colourful joie de vivre set to a vibrant soundtrack of Latin, swing, and jazz standards by musical legends such as Dean Martin, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Sarah Vaughn, and more.”

It is choreographed by award-winning National Ballet of Canada Choreogrpahic Work Shop alumna Alysa Pires.

Colvin said she is very excited to be presenting the program.

“Honestly, I’m just looking forward to the curtain opening,” she said. “I know this ballet company and they’re so vibrant and they’re exquisite movers and I just can’t wait for that first moment when the curtain opens and the music starts and the dancers flood onto the stage.”

The Sunday night performance is just part of the package, though. Ballet Kelowna will also be offering two 90-minute ballet classes on Nov. 16 including something unique for Smithers. Participation is by donation.

“The ballet company regularly offer classes when they tour, however, it is unusual that they’re doing a beginner community class,” Colvin said. “They’re doing that because I specifically requested it. I’m interested in creating opportunities for people who have danced a little bit in their lives, who are interested in dance, to be in the studio with professional ballet dancers and have that opportunity for interaction and to move their bodies.”

She believes it’s vital for aspiring artists of all disciplines to have those opportunities.

“I think it’s really important for young people to be able to interact with professional performers and I think it’s really important that just community members have an opportunity to be reminded of their relationship with movement and the arts.”

It has been five years since BVCA has brought ballet to the Bulkley Valley. Colvin said that is simply a matter of logistics.

“Ballet is a large production to present,” she said. “It’s a lot of work and commitment from the touring artists as well as from the concert association to make it happen.”

Nevertheless, she is hopeful they will be able to make ballet a more frequent addition to cultural life in the valley.

“The concert association would love to bring ballet as often as we can, but I don’t know what looks like yet,” she said.

“I think ballet is an art form that really gets people excited, it’s a very respected art form, so I do see that as part of our performance palette.”

Tickets are available at Mountain Eagle Books for $45. There are also a limited number of $25 tickets available for students.

“In consideration of making tickets more affordable, BVCA has designated a portion of tickets for sale at reduced prices for students, first come first served,” the press release stated.

Colvin said the response has been very good, so far.

“I fully expect this show to sell out, it’s very well-received and we really hope that everyone can attend,” she said.

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