Thursday, March 13, 2008

Loving Coq - Rooster - Ballet Review

Rooster & Soldiers' Mass & 24 Preludes by Chopin - National Ballet of Canada - Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON

Holy! Hot! Sexy! Wow! Sultry! Where do I start? I'm going to have to expand on this later on in the day (UPDATE: I finally got a chance to expand this on Sunday, Mar. 16th if anybody actually cares, so there's a bit more in the review below after the jump) because my hands are tired. From clapping too much. What were you thinking?

Karen Kain has brilliantly programmed another hodgepodge collection of ballet pieces that has added yet another layer of ballet repertoire to my personal learning curve as I'm falling in love with ballet (after attending all the shows this season as my first ballets ever), and particularly, I'm loving the National Ballet of Canada company who Kain proudly boasts, has the most versatile company after the Paris Ballet. I'd like to see how we do compare to other companies, because while I doubt I can tell the small technical differences, so far, I think ours is fabulous!

So the star attraction in this collection of ballets is Rooster, originally from the Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve (Switzerland) and it sets our dancers to the music of The Rolling Stones.

There's the moving piece called Soldiers' Mass with 16 of the companies best male dancers moving in a war torn battlefield as a chorus sings on. Was it wrong to be slightly turned on?

And then there's the first piece, 24 Preludes by Chopin that is weird and wonderful and modern and abstract and very very cool. Did I mention everyone is in tights? Tights that are transparent and only strategically covered by small black strips? Whoa! It would make your grandma (which seemed to make up most of the audience) blush! Hell, it made me blush! If you thought the dancers in Chicago had too much clothes, this is for you!

I'm going to continue this review later on but I'm having problems uploading the photos right now and I must come back to mention the incredible dancers (like the usual principal star dancers Guillaume Côté (who I've already drooled over 2 weeks ago) and Nehemiah Kish, Heather Ogden, etc) and some brilliant up and comers like Robert Stephens, Martin Lindinger, Noah Long and (I think) Adam Toth. (Photos of some of these favorite dancers (that I could pick out or identify), after the jump).(UPDATE: Extended review below)

In the meantime, get tickets if you're in Toronto! Because it only runs until this Sunday, March 16th.

As a show on a whole, I still think I preferred West Side Story Suite & Glass Pieces & In The Night and An Italian Straw Hat as a whole more, but this new collection seemed to be a better showcase to show the versatility and high technical levels of the dancers in the company.

24 Preludes by Chopin, while sultry with revealing wardrobes, was probably the most modern and sort of like the Glass Pieces of this trio. It was daring and cryptic with allusions to animals and insects but also politics and human behavious. At least that's how I saw it. It's one of those pieces you can interpret many which ways, which is the beauty of the whole piece, set against the beautiful score by Chopin. Who knew Chopin could be so sexy?

Again, so many talented dancers, so little time, but if there was one fault of the piece, it was like much of what I've seen from ballet, is that I'm never sure who to look at because each one is doing some dazzling movement on different parts of the stages and I literally felt overcome with emotion seeing it all. And I'm not being dramatic for the purpose of writing this. Loved Guillaume Côté, Rebekah Rimsay, Noah Long and many others (some I cannot identify, which is why they need to show the entire company in the program! hint hint...).

Loved that both Guillaume Côté and Nehemiah Kish got to dance together in Soldiers' Mass and that a third principal male dancer Zdenek Konvalina also participated in a piece that was essentially a showcase to the strength of the males in the company, while exterting the most emotional reaction of the three pieces.

Finally, I expected cool things from Rooster but half expecting them to dissapoint me. How silly of me to be so cynical! Martin Lindinger was AMAZING as the Rooster" in the pink shirted suit, and I cannot believe he is simply in the company only and not a soloist yet.

Robert Stephens, who danced in front of a backdrop of heavenly ladies (Heather Ogden, proving why she's a principal, in both beauty and movement, Jenna Savella, another one to watch for, and the third lady (who sadly, I can't remember now if it was Sonia Rodriguez or Sonia Hodgkinson)) was a total star in the making. I remember noting him in An Italian Straw Hat a couple weeks back when he played a waiter and I'm glad the company seems to have plucked him out into a starring moment, because while I have no idea if technically he was perfect or not (my feeling is he probably still has some things to learn), I felt he was on his way to more leading roles, and I coulnd't be happier!

I only wish I saw some of the other dancers more, like Joe Welbes, Adam Toth, Rebekah Rimsay in her Rooster roles, but as the dancers alternate between dates, alas, that was not to happen.

I wish the ballet ran their shows for longer than a week that they usually do, since I would definitely return to see the alternating day cast or heck, even the one I saw again, simply because I felt totally re-invigorated and inspired again, and isn't that what great art is supposed to do?

The National Ballet of Canada has a great program for those 29 and under to get $20 tickets on the day of (starting at midnight on their website) under their program DanceBreak (and when asked for promo code, it's "Dancebreak" which they never seem to mention).

Rooster & Soldiers' Mass & 24 Preludes by Chopin - The National Ballet of Canada - **** (4 stars out of 5)

Here are my previous reviews from visits to The National Ballet of Canada:

An Italian Straw Hat ****1/2
West Side Story Suite & Glass Pieces & In The Night ****1/2
The Merry Widow ****

Here are photos (in alphabetical order) of some of the dancers that totally loved from this performance (the whole company is great but I noted these in particular during the show):

Adam Toth

Aleksandar Antonijevic

Greta Hodgkinson

Guillaume Cote

Heather Ogden

Jenna Savella

Martin Lindinger

Nehemiah Kish

Noah Long

Rebekah Rimsay

Robert Stephen

Sonia Rodriguez

Zdenek Konvalina


Anonymous said...

It's actually 24 Preludes by Chopin.

The Chopin Currency said...

dude - great post, but I only wrote 24 preludes, not "32"!

Vance said...

oops. sorry. it was late and as I said. my hands were tired from clapping so much and so hard!

Keira Andrews said...

Hey there! came across your blog while Googling Nehemiah Kish, and I really enjoyed reading your reviews. I saw Rooster yesterday and was very impressed. West Side Story Suites was my first ballet as an adult, and, like you, I'm finding it quite addictive. I'm really looking forward to Cinderella and The Fiddle and the Drum.

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