Tag Archive for 'national ballet of canada'

World Ballet Day

I was the lucky director and producer of the National Ballet of Canada’s segment of World Ballet Day.

Bastard Fugue

Bastard Fugue features Naoya Ebe of the National Ballet of Canada, and live camerawork by yours truly. It premiered at Fresh Blood, a group show of work by young choreographers hosted by The Chimera Project, on October 29th at the Enwave Theatre in Toronto. The piece is set to a Bach fugue for organ, arranged instead for mixed percussion, and uses live projection to explore fugue structure with a single dancer. Special thanks to Naishi (Kamen) Wang for his valuable participation in the creation process. More credits and special thanks after the jump.

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Upcoming Premiere: ‘Bastard Fugue’

I’ll be premiering a new work at The Chimera Project’s Fresh Blood at 8pm on October 29th, at the Enwave Theatre. Bastard Fugue features the National Ballet of Canada’s Naoya Ebe (at right) and is set to the Fugue from Bach’s Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue in C Major, arranged for mixed percussion. Including cowbell. Bach + cowbell is like chocolate + bacon: two great tastes that go great together! You can buy tickets here.

Bastard Fugue fuses live performance and projection to explore fugal composition with a single dancer. The Bach fugue, originally composed for organ, is stripped of melody and becomes a propulsive rhythmic fundament for a powerful performance. Some preliminary special thanks:

  • Naishi (Kamen) Wang of Toronto Dance Theatre for his valuable participation in the creation process;
  • The National Ballet School and the National Ballet of Canada for donating rehearsal space;
  • Malgorzata Nowacka for the opportunity to show this work;
  • Jeff Morris and Robert Stephen for participating in the technical workshop which spawned some of the ideas explored in this work.

Fragments of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel (2008)

Fragments of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel has a long and recondite title but comes by it honestly. The piece was inspired by a chance connection between two works: Shostakovich’s Five Fragments for Orchestra, a short suite of sparse, enigmatic works written as preparation for his Fourth Symphony; and five fragments of writing dating to around the life of Christ that may have been part of a book apocryphally attributed to the biblical prophet Ezekiel. It’s hard to go into more detail about the provenance of the fragments without descending into even more Pynchon-esque levels of uncertainty; essentially, there is no evidence of the primary source (the Apocryphon itself) and the fragments survive only as quotations in other works.

The ballet consists of five movements, each pairing a musical and literary fragment. Two excerpts of the ballet were presented at the National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Showcase in September 2008.

The first and longest fragment is a parable, in which a king invites everyone in his kingdom to his daughter’s wedding feast, save two men: one blind, and one lame. They decide to avenge the slight by vandalizing the king’s garden, acting as each other’s eyes and legs. When the damage is discovered, they protest their innocence: their disabilities make it impossible for them to be the perpetrators. The king realizes they worked together and has them both flogged. The parable is that the soul is accountable for the actions of the body and vice versa.

The second performed fragment is in the voice of God, and translates as “As I find thee, so will I judge thee”; meaning, on judgment day, it is your present state of sin or grace that matters and not any of your life prior to the day.

Archival video of the work exists, but is not available online due to the terms of the collective agreement between Actor’s Equity and the National Ballet.

The excerpts were performed by Catherine Maitland, Joe Welbes, and Aarik Wells.

Auden Songs (2006)

Auden Songs is a 20-minute contemporary ballet. The ballet’s score is assembled from Benjamin Britten’s settings, for baritone and piano, of poems by W.H. Auden. Some of the songs were published as part of the cycle On This Island, and others were published individually. A recording of Auden himself reading “The Wanderer” acts as a score for the work’s prologue.

The work explores friendships and romantic entanglements between a group of young people. Excerpts of the ballet—totalling six movements and fifteen minutes—were performed in the National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Lab, an in-studio showing of new work, in August 2006 to positive reaction.

Please contact me if you are interested in viewing archival video of the work; it cannot be made publicly available due to the terms of the collective agreement between Actor’s Equity and the National Ballet.

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Collected Short Works

This entry collects several short works, many choreographed for workshops or as etudes.

Two Heterosexual Etudes

Set to three pieces from György Kurtág’s Signs, Games, and Messages. Two three-minute relationship studies, one of a father and daughter, one of a husband and wife; the title is meant to be a bit of a footnote as James Kudelka’s Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, while not the inspiration for the piece, served as a model with which to wrestle, argue, and occasionally agree. Created for Ballet Jörgen as part of their Solos, Duets, and Trios program. Performed in-studio at George Brown College in April 2009 by Tara Butler, Cristina Graziano, and Preston McBain. Archival video.

Capriol Suite

Set to two dances from Peter Warlock’s suite of the same name. One duet for a young couple, and one solo for a character dancer. Performed by Mark Dennis & Nikki Holck and Victoria Betram in June 2008 as part of the National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Explorations in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre of the Four Seasons Centre. Archival video.


Set to the song of the same title from Poulenc’s song cycle Banalités, based on poems by Guillaume Apollinaire. Duet, part of a planned setting of the entire cycle. Performed by Isabella Gasparini and Rodrigo Gonzales in July 2004 as part of of the National Ballet School’s Stephen Godfrey Choreographic Workshop. Archival video.

Private Words

Set to the intermezzo from Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tiresias. Relationship sketch. Performed by Jordana Daumec and François Robichaud in July 2003 as part of the National Ballet School’s Stephen Godfrey Choreographic Workshop. No video.

La dame de Monte Carlo

Set to Poulenc’s solo operetta of the same name. A sort of danced monologue. Performed by Mariline Goodhue and Scott Maybank in June 2003 as part of Gorgeous Little Things, a showing of new work by young choreographers at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto. Archival video.