Last night I went to the Ballet with a friend. That was not small feat as we were in the midst of a major snow storm in Toronto. I was hesitant, but my host thought her car would make it ok. The National Ballet of Canada’s website was quite adamant… the performance goes on now matter how much snow there is! So, off we went. I must say I was quite amazed by how the VW Jetta did on the road. That German engineering does make a difference. We didn’t slip, slide or shake. The car just keep going like a tank through the snow.
We made our way to the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. For patrons of the opera or ballet it is an exciting venue for performances. Elegent, bright and certainly sound-proof. For the people of Toronto the Centre is a square, brick-box of a slap in the face. Ugly! It’s also a slap to the good people of The Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts who are known for their good taste! The disappointing Centre is only outdone by the aluminium siding tumour that covers the Royal Ontario Museum. The renovation of the ROM was supposed to include the addition of a translucent crystal. It was going to be bold. Budget constraints meant the crystal was replaced by aluminium siding and left the building looking like a tornado pick up a trailer-park and dropped it on the ROM. Ugliest! I digress.
The performance we went to see was rather unique. I am a little weird when it comes to my taste in ballet. I don’t like the “story” ballets like the Nutcraker. I prefer more interpretative dance. I was quite pleased with the last night’s presentation. The first performance was was called 24 Preludes by Chopin. These were presented as a series of small, tight dances which were quirky, sometimes witty and very energetic. At times, the dancers moved like the hammers of the piano. Quite interesting. The very creative choreography was by Marie Chouinard. The next performance, and my favourite was Soldiers Mass. 12 men danced to the music of Bohuslav Martinu and the choreography of Jiri Kylian (pardon the lack of accents… I haven’t mastered WordPress yet). It was moving listening to the Kyrie, Agnus Dei and Lord’s Prayer and the poems of Jiri Mucha. The Soldiers Mass is dedicated to the young Czechs who fought the Nazis in France. The peformance notes suggest:
The dancers represent young soldiers everywhere who are called to fight in a just war they did not provoke.
This peformance was powerful, tender and deeply moving and certainly brought to mind the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan.
The last dance was Rooster and based on the music of the Rolling Stones. It portrayed the relationship between men and women. Keiichi Hirano, a male First Soloist with the National Ballet was especially engaging.
And… uh, where does Kurt Browning fit in all this, you ask? Well, I bumped into him (literally) at the concession stand during the intermission. For those who don’t know him, Kurt Browning is an Olympic athlete and World Champion figure-skater from Canada. He is a true gentleman and the epitome of what Canadians aspire to be; talented, gracious, humble and kind. Mr. Browning is married to Sonia Rodriguez, a Principal Dancer with the Ballet. Judging by the amount of time he spent on his feet applauding, I would guess he was quite pleased with his wife’s performance and that of her colleagues. I couldn’t agree more! Kudos.