"Trace" showcases Ballet BC's diversity and talent

Michael Slobodian, Dancers:Gilbert Small and Emily Chessa

Ballet BC's Traces, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre March 26, 27 & 28, showcases three pieces of choreography from William Forsythe, Walter Matteini, and Medhi Walerski, Molnar pushes the company in a diverse program.

The Canadian premiere of Forsythe’s workwithinwork is an abstract interpretation of Luciano Berio’s Duo for two Violins.

With no emotional subtext to the work, it is the relationship between the bodies in space and the lines and flow between the steps and gestures that make workwithinwork an intellectual exercise rather than a heartfelt journey.

The highly imaginative partnering, which couples the very simple with the extremely difficult, is riveting. With shapes and lines connoting 20th century visual art, the work is a living, breathing, three dimensional version of modern art aesthetic. Constantly surprising and endlessly inventive, it is a piece that warrants seeing twice to understand it properly.

Requiring the women to be en pointe, and the men handling strenuous partnering, this abstract work requires pristine technique. The  complexity warrants more runs to reach its full potential and truly live in the dancers' bodies. Solos by Darren  Devaney, were thoroughly integrated creating an exciting abandon.

Matteini’s World Premiere, entitled Lascia ch’io pianga, sits in Ballet BC's sweet spot. A brilliant portrait of the pull between isolation and connection in the unconscious mind, the piece employs the superb lighting of James Proudfoot and gorgeously designed costumes by Ina Broeckx.

With the stage configured to suggest a passageway like one you’d find in a small street in a dense Italian town, the dancers disappear upstage after pausing to reflect. Two rotating, suspended, upside down bodies give the feel of a dream where space is not what it appears to be. The sound scape ranges from the sound of wind and drips of water with familiar pieces of music like Bach's Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No 1 in G major interspersed.

With each dancer telling their emotional journey with fearlessness, the grounded choreography and the superb use of stage space, renders the narrative of a journey of desolation brilliantly.

Of special note is Emily Chessa, the protagonist, whose quick silver dynamics including shifting from light darting to weighted power, lead the cast with her clear, committed story telling. Judging by the bravos at the end, the audience enjoyed the great artistic collaboration that shows why Ballet BC is at the forefront internationally.

Walerski’s Petite Cérémonie, premiered in 2011, is being put to bed after Trace. An amusing study in silliness with a section that plays with lighting effects that are more dancey, the dancers use their voices for texts and sounds. A diatribe on the difference between men and women and how their brains work delivered by Peter Smida, also gives a theatrical feel to the piece.

Read More:

More in Culture

Lounge lizards' lair; new life for old den

Tyrants Media revives iconic Noir venue for jokes & jams

Mythopoeic mega-mela

Indian Summer Fest mixes music, arts, deep thoughts and fine eats

Vancouver: wild at heart

Museum show blurs City vs. "Nature" boundary
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.