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Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 6:22 am
by Adrian
How delightful, Dick - may you and Esther have a wonderful time! I shall be sure to look for the music of Lauren Fox. (Actually, her name, and the show, sounds very familiar. I'm on the JMDL - Joni Mitchell Discussion List - and after one more night of proper sleep, it'll likely all come back to me...) Bon appetit+ :)

Having experienced/witnessed the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production of "The Doorway" on opening night, I say "d'accord" whole-heartedly to your observation re the widening of the circle by such artistic endeavours - bridging Leonard's music and poetry and ideas, with other forms.

It really is diminishing of me to try and describe the dance vignettes too particularly - and, I shall strive to locate any video as that will enable things to be understood with far fewer of my own words in the way. Fingers crossed!

Of course, the amazing artists/athletes that are the dancers, the imaginative lighting and costumes, the setting itself, the audience response, these and other elements, combine in-the-moment to create the visceral thrills and the spiritual+ residue (and not all that can be captured on any DVD, but, really, any such media captures will be better than I to help live it).

What I, and clearly, the body of the audience around me, appreciated was the way in which choreographer Jorden Morris has structured things - (which, I can see some people as considering unstructured - almost stream-of-consciousness). For me, as a lover of Leonard's music, and of the freedom of the art of rock and roll, it's welcome that Morris does not impose his definition or meanings on things, but, instead, that's left to whatever alchemy forms between the viewer/listener and the sounds and sights coming from the stage.

The interview segments that precede each song/poem/dance are more open-ended philosophical discourse - which is, of course, Leonard's way of speaking in answer to questions about God, spirituality, the nature of songwriting... and, just as naturally, what follows these spoken interludes is an expression of the choreographer's vision, but, it, too, is open to individual interpretation, and does not end - or, really, answer any questions. It's there to be explored - and we each bring to that, and take from it, whatever we do.

The journey of "Pure Ballet", what is known as a mixed program of dance, (and of which "The Doorway" is part), is thrilling and does take one all over the map. That's a plus, not a minus, imo. You cry, marvel, and delight, and more, at different stages. Solos, duos, dances of five+, and the full company. There's a pair of dances which serve as appropriately moving and celebratory swan songs for two dancers retiring from the company this season. Along with realizing I really am not in good physical shape, and maybe (surely!) have never been in such condition as to do what these dancers do, I was swept away by the imagination of the designers, who created props, and the lighting, that also creates the environment, the world, in which these amazing people fuse music and dance.

And then, there's the serendipity and magic of things that happen when you bring all these forces together in a physical space. For the most part, the experience is what fills one for the time in the theatre/concert hall. At the end, I had only a few "technical" questions - as to how the magic was constructed eg. what's the gorgeous piece of music heard in the equally gorgeous Peter Quanz-choreographed dance piece "Luminous"? (Marjan Mozetich’s "Affairs of the Heart"); what is the language heard in Mauricio Wainrot's epic Carmina Burana? (Latin and low German, lusts and passions of monks combined in the music of Carl Orff) And, in the performance of "Hallelujah", at a couple of points, fittingly, a butterfly descended from the heights, to alight on the stage near Sophia (Lee), who was dancing. How, I wondered, did they possibly manage this?

I learned - some prior group of performers had set off confetti cannons in the Centennial Concert Hall. The reverberation of Allison (Crowe)'s powerful voice, in the rafters of the hall at specific points in the song, had dislodged the vestigial confetti pieces, which are what we saw flutter to the stage.

And, when I am in an audience of ballet-goers, transfixed and transported by the words and music of Leonard Cohen, and applauding so long and hard that peoples' hands hurt from the clapping... yes, it's a beautiful thing, and it's what you say :)

The previous full ballet choreographed by Jorden Morris, "Moulin Rouge", has become the most successful, and popular, (reaching over 100,000 people in live settings in North America, so far), of all dance works in the near 75-year history of the RWB.

Our beginnings never know our ends, as another poet wrote... the potential is exciting, and great, however, as Morris dedicates himself to building "visible music" with the words and songs of Leonard Cohen. Thousands are sharing that this week - and the road is open :)

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Sat May 12, 2012 7:19 pm
by Adrian
p.s. those be my impressions - as someone entirely new to the world of ballet - and experiencing the dance with fresh eyes/ears+. This morning, I see a capsule comment online, posted by Dan Aysan, owner of Winnipeg's renowned Selim's Antiques, and a season ticket-holder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for 26 years, on-and-off. He says:

"Well... the Royal Winnipeg Ballet surprised me last night. Everything I had ever wanted them to do was done! They focused on the dance and not overwhelming production... and it captivated. The lighting and sound production were fantastic... but rarely did they overshadow the dancers themselves. Luminous was astonishing and EXACTLY the type of work I hope the RWB considers doing more of. The Doorway was a wild mix of dance, live music and spoken word that surprised me with it's depth and simplicity (how often do you get dancers' movements , Leonard Cohen's words & music with a smattering of Peter Gzowski's voice mashed up on stage ?!?)"


Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Sun May 13, 2012 12:09 am
by Adrian
Another review - - from Sarah Zaharia in Winnipeg:

Pure Ballet

After a big week, the live performance of Cohen’s Hallelujah by Allison Crowe and the incredibly emotional dancing by Sophia Lee brought me to tears. My friend Sarah and I agreed that Pure Ballet was the perfect escape on a Wednesday evening.


The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Pure Ballet is a selection of 5 works, the first half includes; Luminous, Adagietto, Rivalry/Revelry and The Doorway. The second half is an excerpt from Carmina Burana, one of my favorite ballets and one of the most powerful choral and classical scores I’ve heard. Luminous was exceptionally moving. The music was a powerful chamber orchestra piece written for solo violin and it is so full of emotion and power. Hear from choreographer Peter Quanz as he explains the sources of some of his inspiration.

My favourite by far was Scenes from Leonard Cohen, The Doorway. This was the World Premiere for Jorden Morris’s new work and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him. It was very interesting to see musicians on stage with the dancers and all the more powerful to hear, watch and feel them together. I especially enjoyed how Morris allowed Cohen’s words to be the music at times, with interviews and poetry as the guide for the dancers.




With this being the final show of the 2011/2012 season it was also a goodbye to two dancers, who not only danced beautifully but were honoured with a poignant final bow. I’ve seen Emily Grizzell and Carrie Broda dance over the years and they will be missed.

It’s been a beautiful season and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Fairy Tale Fantasy line up. Thank you to the RWB for sharing their dance, music and magic with us, I’m incredibly grateful.


*Photo credits to Bruce Monk and Tim Fennell

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 7:23 am
by Adrian
God is alive, magic is afoot, in Winnipeg ballet finds reviewer.

Adrienne Daniels of CHVN Radio, 95.1FM, Southern Manitoba's Christian music station attends the opening of “The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen”, and the whole of “Pure Ballet” and files this report:

Finding God at the RWB

Written by Adrienne Daniels


Sometimes working in radio has its perks. One of those perks came my way last Wednesday in the form of two tickets to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Pure Ballet: Fluid Motion, Vurtuosic Dance. I love the arts, but don’t support them as much as I would like. This night was a beautiful opportunity to go and appreciate all the talent that resides in our city.

As my sister and I sat down and proceeded to go through the program, we noticed that something special was happening that night. The RWB was premiering a brand new work, called The Doorway, featuring the music of Canadian poet and artist Leonard Cohen. We both grew up listening to the music of this true Canadian treasure and as we studied the songs in the program we realized that they were some of our favorites. Everything from ‘The Letters’, to ‘Sisters Of Mercy’ to the song that is now sung in a few churches ‘Hallelujah’. What made this performance even more spectacular was that local artists were on stage to perform a few of the songs live. ‘Bird On The Wire’ was done by Winnipeggers Keith and Renee, and ‘Hallelujah’ performed by Allison Crowe… just her and a piano. But the triumph of this performance was Mr. Cohen himself. He wasn’t there, but the RWB used audio from interviews he did regarding the songs being danced to and it gave such an incredible insight into the performance that it took it to that magical level. Where spirit and art connect and you FEEL the music. You feel it in your soul, its tangible with your hands and you can literally taste it.

When asked about the song ‘Hallelujah’, Mr. Cohen explained ‘"It's, as I say, a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion... It's a rather joyous song." The songwriter continues: "I wanted to write something in the tradition of the hallelujah choruses but from a different point of view... It's the notion that there is no perfection ~ that this is a broken world and we live with broken hearts and broken lives but still that is no alibi for anything. On the contrary, you have to stand up and say hallelujah under those circumstances."

While sitting in my seat in the 10th row, I couldn’t help but notice something. That the beauty of movement can convey such passionate emotions, both positive and negative without ever speaking a word. That these bodies we’ve been given, created by a Holy God, are the most incredible vessels to convey the love and loss and passion and sorrow that we are confronted with on a daily basis. That we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ to bring Him glory and honour. I was witness to one of the most moving spectacles of human expression that I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. My soul took flight for over 2 hours as I watched the poetic nature of the human form in motion; dancing, swaying, fighting, loving, understanding and confusing all at once.

Beauty in movement.

In standing still.

In human expression.

Oh, how He loves us! ... &Itemid=71

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Thu May 17, 2012 11:52 pm
by Adrian
Classical music aficionado Pierre Meunier, of Manitoba's French language journal, La Liberté, pens the following review. Of "The Doorway - Scenes from Leonard Cohen", choreographed by Jorden Morris, Meunier says: "Chacune des cinq scènes est un petit bijou." En Anglais: "Each of the five scenes is a small jewel." ... e-winnipeg

Ballet Royal de Winnipeg


Le 9 mai 2012, le Ballet royal de Winnipeg présentait la première du spectacle de clôture de la saison, intitulé Pure Ballet. Ce spectacle de facture exceptionnelle met en valeur le talent d’artistes, danseurs ou chorégraphes, dont la carrière s’est déroulée ou se développe en lien étroit avec le RWB. Emily Grizzell, soliste et Carrie Broda, second soliste, formées à l’École professionnelle du RWB, prennent leur retraite après respectivement 15 et 14 ans de carrière au sein de la compagnie. Le chorégraphe Mauricio Wainrot, qui a déjà dansé avec le RWB, est revenu une troisième fois présenter une des ses oeuvres, Carmina Burana. Il avait collaboré aux productions de The Messiah en 2005 et Carmen, The Passion, en 2007. Jorden Morris dont le ballet The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen est présenté en première mondiale, a complété sa formation et mené presque toute sa carrière au sein du RWB. Enfin, le jeune chorégraphe Peter Quanz, dont le RWB produit pour la première fois Luminous, est également diplômé de l’école du RWB. Il rayonne sur la scène internationale mais garde des liens étroits avec le RWB.

Le spectacle débute par Luminous de Peter Quanz. Ce ballet a été inspiré à Quanz par le magnifique Concerto pour violon “Affairs of the Hearth”, du compositeur canadien Marjan Mozetich et une phrase du livre Le patient anglais de Michael Ondaatje: “Nous mourons rempli de la richesse de nos amours et de nos tribus …”. Le ballet évoque les rencontres entre huit personnes au fil du temps. Les danseurs évoluent sur une scène sans décor, dans une belle lumière qui délimite l’espace et le temps. Les couples se forment et se séparent, trouvent consolation dans le groupe et y tissent de nouvelles relations. D’abord superficielles, les relations deviennent de plus en plus profondes et amoureuses, durables jusqu’à la séparation finale dans la mort. C’est une danse remplie de sensibilité et de sensualité, au style classique dans une forme moderne, sur une musique très expressive. Les mouvements sont fluides, les figures sont belles et parfaitement exécutées.

Suit un magnifique duo d’amour dansé par Carrie Broda et Alexander Gamayunov, sur le superbe Adagietto de la Symphonie no 5 en do dièse mineur de Gustav Mahler, selon une chorégraphie d’Oscar Araiz . S’insérant en parfaite continuité avec Luminous, les lents mouvements des danseurs évoquent avec tendresse l’éveil de la passion et de l’affection entre deux personnes et leur émouvante montée vers l’extase amoureuse. Ce fut une très belle performance d’adieu de Mme Broda.

Emily Grizzel fait ses adieux dans la création en première mondiale de Rivalry/Revelry, qu’elle danse avec son partenaire favori Yosuke Mino, qui a fait la chorégraphie. C’est un court ballet de 5 minutes sur la musique entraînante de Perpetuum Mobile, de l’album The Signs of Life du Penguin Cafe Orchestra. C’est une danse aux mouvements vifs et humoristiques qui se termine sur un porté qui se fige, donnant l’impression que Grizzel va s’envoler hors de la scène à l’instant où les lumières s’éteignent. Image très symbolique de son départ à la retraite.

On retrouve l’atmosphère intimiste de la première partie du spectacle dans Doorway, Scenes from Leonard Cohen, de Jorden Morris. Par un assemblage d’extraits d’entrevues et de cinq poèmes et chansons de Leonard Cohen, le ballet évoque comment, pour Cohen, la poésie est une porte d’entrée sur les chemins intérieurs de l’être. Les rapports entre les personnes sont ici explorés à travers le perception intime et profonde de chacun, dans ce qui ne peut se dire que par la poésie: la poésie des mots, la poésie de la musique, la poésie des corps qui dansent. Chacune des cinq scènes est un petit bijou. Les scènes Bird on the Wire et Hallelujah, dont la musique est interprétée sur scène par Keith and Renée et leur ensemble dans la première et par Allison Crowe s’accompagnant au piano dans la seconde, sont très intéressantes. Il se crée un rapport ambigu mais intense entre les danseurs et les musiciens, comme s’ils exprimaient les sentiments conflictuels ou contradictoires à l’intérieur d’une même personne. Since You Asked, un pas de deux dansé par Yosuke Mino et Harrison James sur les paroles sans musiques d’un poème récité par Cohen, est rempli d’émotion . Le ballet se termine par l’émouvante chanson Sisters of Mercy, un hommage à ces personnes que l’on croise sur nos chemins, où elles semblent nous attendre au moment où on ne croit plus pouvoir continuer, pour nous apporter leur réconfort et nous aider à reprendre la route.

Complet changement de ton et d’atmosphère dans la deuxième partie du spectacle. La chorégraphie de Mauricio Wainrot sur le célèbre Carmina Burana de Carl Orff est magnifique.

Dans un décor minimaliste, les différentes scènes sont caractérisées par des jeux de lumière et d’écrans et par les costumes. C’est une chorégraphie abstraite, axée sur les émotions plutôt que sur le récit. Le corps de ballet est impressionnant dans les première et dernière scènes (Fortuna I et Fortuna II). Les costumes évoquent une tribu primitive exécutant une danse rituelle. Les scènes Primo Vere (Printemps) et Cour d’amours sont empreintes de douceur et de sensualité. Des lutrins peints en vert évoquent les bosquets où les jeunes gens vont célébrer le réveil de la nature et folâtrer. Les écrans mobiles évoquent des espaces d’intimité où se retrouvent des couples d’amoureux. La scène In Taberna qui les sépare est vivante et drôle, dans l’esprit des moeurs de cette époque lointaine.

Seul bémol à cette magnifique soirée, le son était sur-amplifié et perçait les oreilles. Cela a du être corrigé pour les autres présentations.

Pure Ballet est à l’affiche jusqu’au 13 mai à la Salle de concert du Centenaire de Winnipeg.

Hallelujah ballet - images

Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 10:39 pm
by Adrian
Hallelujah ballet


"Spine-tingling." That's how Holly Harris, dancer reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press, describes this performance of "Hallelujah".

Corps de Ballet member Sophia Lee, fresh from a lead role as "First" in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production of Mark Godden's 'Svengali", here dances Leonard Cohen's modern song classic. Allison Crowe sings and plays piano on-stage with Lee in the world premiere of "The Doorway", choreographed by Jorden Morris. RWB Soloist Jo-Ann Gudilin (nee Sundermeier), "Mother" in "Svengali", dons the blue dress to perform "Hallelujah" with Crowe on alternate dates.

(Right now these screen-caps from CBC TV News provide a glimpse into the "visible music" of this performance. Should any video surface, we'll be additionally fortunate :) )

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:45 pm
by Adrian
Marvellous and mysterious blogger DrHGuy, miner of many Leonard Cohen-faceted diamonds, today presents a post de deux on Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the recent engagement of musician Allison Crowe and the RWB: ... the-pointe +

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:19 pm
by Adrian
In this part of the Northern Hemisphere, there's no wish for those lazy, hazy days of Summer to pass... still, in a sign of great things to come, Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet posts the next dates for "The Doorway" - the resonantly rewarding ballet choreographed by Jorden Morris and set to the words and music of Leonard Cohen. (These Maritime Canada tour dates are presented in several of those same venues which launched Cohen's triumphant return to the concert arena in 2008.)

For these Autumnal dates, Allison Crowe reprises her role performing "Hallelujah". Cris Williamson, whose live recording of "Sisters of Mercy" capped the premiere runs, joins the RWB company to perform the song live on-stage.

Full details tba

Maritime Tour:

Halifax, NS | November 7-8, 2012 | In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action | Rebecca Cohn Theatre

Fredericton, NB | November 9, 2012 | In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action | The Playhouse

Charlottetown, PE | November 10, 2012 | In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action | Confederation Centre of the Arts

Saint John, NB | November 12, 2012 | In Tandem, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, The Doorway, and Pas D’Action | Imperial Theatre

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:04 pm
by Adrian
The Playhouse in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada announces an upcoming performance by Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet at that venue - and this mixed repertoire program includes the newest incarnation of "The Doorway", the exciting ballet wedded to the words and music of Leonard Cohen which had its World Premiere in May 2012:


On Friday, November 9, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be presenting a mixed repertoire program at The Fredericton Playhouse showcasing works by some of today’s most celebrated choreographers, leaving no doubt that the Company deserves its distinguished global reputation.The impressive four-piece lineup includes Peter Quanz’s In Tandem, Brian Macdonald’s Pas D’Action, William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and Jorden Morris’ The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen.

Joining RWB on tour in Atlantic Canada will be Canadian songstress Allison Crowe and American singer-songwriter Cris Williamson, who will be performing live in The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen. Crowe, a native of Nanaimo, B.C., will be performing Cohen’s 1984 legendary ballad Hallelujah while Williamson will sing her version of Cohen’s 1967 song Sisters of Mercy. Crowe and Williamson will also be performing a duet of Cohen’s 1969 song, Bird on a Wire.

In Tandem
Rising international star and RWB alumnus Peter Quanz was commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in New York City to create this neo-classical ballet. Set to the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet by American composer Steve Reich, In Tandem will take you on a swift-paced journey that is as charming and complex as its urban birthplace.

Pas D’Action
A witty story ballet by award-winning Canadian choreographer Brian Macdonald, Pas D’Action is a humorous portrayal of Princess Naissa and her four suitors that wonderfully satirizes the posturing and mannerisms of turn-of-the-century classical ballet.

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude
Set to Franz Schubert’s Symphony N˚9 in C Major and choreographed by internationally-acclaimed artist William Forsythe, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is a rapid, dynamic ballet full of energy and vitality. The work embodies the tradition of dance as it explores a range of choreographic possibilities, testing the dancers’ physical limits with its technical rigour.

The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen
Created by Jorden Morris, the visionary behind RWB’s smash hit Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet, The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen will take you inside the contemplative mind and complex heart of music icon Leonard Cohen. Graceful, moving and achingly honest, the series of dance vignettes set to Cohen’s songs and poems explores the emotional journey across the threshold to love and longing.

The Fredericton Playhouse's full release is @ ... tic-canada

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:28 am
by Sochijava
Thanks for the posts and updates Adrian. I just wish the ballet would swing by Ottawa. Perhaps in 2013?

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:32 am
by Adrian
I'm delighted, Sochijava, to be able to report on the ongoing movements of this ballet! I'd love to see "The Doorway" on stage in Ottawa - fitting that would be, as the NAC was home to the RWB's first-ever production of a ballet based on Leonard Cohen's works - in 1970. I'd love to see it on my coast of Canada - the Pacific, and all points between :) and, out to the world!

Being new to the ways of the dance company, one can see the progression - but, the time-line and future direction is strictly their own knowledge. This year, by my count, the ballet will be performed 13 times, and, the next step - I believe - would involve expanding the production - to include more songs and live musical artists performing Leonard's songs along with the dancers.

How long it takes for them to mount such a production, I've no idea. There is clearly a creative evolution underway - with changes to the performance between its May 2012 run, and what's upcoming in November.

It is all very exciting, and, hopefully we'll all learn more about where the RWB is taking this LC-rooted dance - and, yes, fingers crossed, for 2013 and 2014. The RWB dance season runs September to May - and this, the 2012/13, season is set with the Maritime Canada dates. Thus, we can hope for the continuation of "The Doorway" - as it is, or, expanded into "The Chamber" - should they go that way, as potential for next season. :)

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:42 am
by Adrian
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet rolls into Canada's Maritime provinces this week - bringing with it "The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen" - as part of a "virtuosic quadruple-bill". Here's a preview from Halifax, Nova Scotia - which focuses, naturally, on the return home of a great local dancer - and, also references the Cohen-rooted ballet:


By ELISSA BARNARD Arts Reporter Halifax Chronicle-Herald November 5, 2012

Winnipeg Ballet bringing mixed repertoire to the Cohn


Liam Caines, a Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer who grew up near Saint John, N.B., performs for his first time in Atlantic Canada when the ballet arrives at Halifax's Rebecca Cohn Auditorium Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. (David Cooper photograph).

THE ROYAL Winnipeg Ballet is coming back to Atlantic Canada after an absence of six years.

That thrills Kingston, N.B., native Liam Caines, who joined the corps de ballet for the 2009-10 season and has never performed in his home region.

“I’m already doing the countdown with my friends. I can’t wait,” Caines says in a phone interview from Lacrosse, Wis.

The RWB is on the road in the United States performing Jorden Morris’s Moulin Rouge and is bringing a mixed repertoire to Atlantic Canada, performing in Halifax at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Wednesday and Thursday.

The program features RWB alumnus Peter Quanz’s playful neo-classical ballet In Tandem, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum; Brian Macdonald’s comedic classical-style ballet Pas D’Action, which pokes fun at ballet; William Forsythe’s technically rigorous, boundary-pushing The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, set to a Schubert symphony, and Jorden Morris’s The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen, with singer Allison Crowe.

“The nice thing about mixed repertoire is it allows you to give a diverse range of content,” says Caines.

The company’s artistic director Andre Lewis is similarly excited to be coming back to the Maritimes.

“It’s such a lovely part of the world. One of the first tours I did was in that part of the country,” says Lewis, who danced with the RWB for 10 years and has been artistic director for 15.

“We’ve been going to the Maritimes for the better part of 30 to 40 years. It’d be a shame for me to lose that connection.”

Touring is economically much more difficult today. “The world is not what it was 10 years ago. I remember when we used to go there every two years without fail. You could set your clock on when we’d be coming.”

The U.S. presenters want full-length ballets like Moulin Rouge but “for the Maritimes we chose something we thought would suit the theatres and be attractive to an audience.”

In particular, he thought Atlantic Canadian audiences would like the Cohen piece, featuring a live performance by Corner Brook singer Crowe, singing the 1984 legendary ballad Hallelujah, Cohen’s 1967 song Sisters of Mercy and his 1969 song, Bird on a Wire.

“Allison has quite a following and we wanted to do something different,” says Lewis.

“We don’t often do mixed repertoire on tour so we’re thrilled to do that.”

Ballet is “always evolving, there’s no question. You have to keep ahead of the curve and find things people don’t realize they want.”

About half of the RWB’s season is spent on tour, says Caines. “I was talking to some friends and they said, ‘Where are you going?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know. I just get out when the bus stops.’”

He became interested in ballet when he was three. “I wanted to be like my big sister who was two years older and she was taking ballet,” says Caines, now 25.

At the age of eight he joined the performing ensemble of Port City Dance Company in Saint John, N.B., before going to the RWB school at the age of 16. “It was that experience of being on stage and performing for an audience that kept me interested.”

( ... oming-home

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:53 am
by Adrian
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's tour launched tonight in Halifax, Nova Scotia - and with it, the newest opening of the RWB's Leonard Cohen-rooted dance, "The Doorway":

Crowe joins dancers for tribute to Cohen

Halifax Chronicle Herald - ArtsLife - November 7, 2012 (Nov. 8 Print Edition)

By ANDREA NEMETZ Entertainment Reporter

N.L. performer joins RWB in Maritime shows


Allison Crowe will sing the songs of Leonard Cohen during a performance by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Halifax tonight. (Billie Woods photograph)

It was the movie Shrek that first introduced Allison Crowe to the Leonard Cohen anthem Hallelujah.

She’s loved it ever since.

The 30-year-old singer-songwriter, who grew up in Nanaimo, B.C., and now lives in Corner Brook, N.L., recorded it for her 2003 EP, Tidings.

Since then it has become a signature for the effervescent performer, garnering more than eight million views on YouTube. She’s just returned from a European tour where she sang it for every show.

Now she’s on a Maritime tour with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet where she’ll sing Hallelujah, as well as Cohen’s Bird on the Wire and Sisters of Mercy, live on stage while RWB dancers perform as part of The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen.

Choreographed by Jorden Morris, the piece, described as “a series of dance vignettes set to Cohen’s songs and poems, exploring the emotional journey across the threshold to love and longing,” also features pre-recorded versions of The Letters and Since You Asked.

It had its world premiere in May in Winnipeg. Tonight is the second night of the RWB’s mixed-repertoire program presented by Live Art Dance at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. The evening, which begins at 8 p.m., also includes Peter Quanz’s In Tandem, Brian Macdonald’s Pas D’Action and William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.

American singer Cris Williamson was originally scheduled to perform Bird on the Wire and the two were to duet on Sisters of Mercy, but Williamson had to withdraw for health reasons, so Crowe will be going it alone while accompanying herself on piano.

“It’s an amazing experience, I sing and watch the dancers — I’m singing to them,” says Crowe by phone from Corner Brook, which she says has a great arts scene with lots of musicians.

“I like the fact that I’m not the focus, the dancers are; I’m accompanying them.”

She says while singing she must be conscious of not throwing the dancers off. “You can’t suddenly start improvising, there must be consistency there.”

She recalls feeling lucky at the opportunity to watch the dancers for hours at a time during six days of preparation for the May premiere.

“It’s amazing, they are athletic, artistic, beautiful to watch.”

And watching the dancers perform to Cohen’s emotion-filled music “is like poetry in motion, the way the songs are built, it naturally lends itself to movement.”

Crowe has recorded other Cohen songs. Joan of Arc was included on her debut CD Secrets in 2004 and on a compilation disc from British music magazine Mojo. Chelsea Hotel No. 2 was on 2010’s Spiral. Tonight Will Be Fine and Bird on the Wire are included in a digital-only compilation called Crowe Covers: Live and Rare.

But Hallelujah is a favourite.

“There’s something so freeing about singing all those verses — it feels so good,” she says.

Crowe particularly loves Rufus Wainwright’s version. The song has been covered by hundreds of singers, from Bob Dylan to Bon Jovi, John Cale and Jeff Buckley, and k.d. lang, who sang it at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Crowe, who spent her summer working as musical director for the Gros Morne Theatre Festival production of Newfoundland Vinyl, would love to see Cohen perform live one day.

After the RWB tour concludes in Saint John on Sunday, she heads to B.C., where her parents still live, for a Christmas tour.

Tickets for RWB in Halifax range from $30 to $40 and are available at 494-3820 or

A review of Wednesday’s show will be in Friday’s paper.

( ... e-to-cohen

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:35 am
by Adrian
Making good on their word, The Halifax Chronicle Herald publishes a dance review - and this provides fuller description of how Leonard's works inform and inspire the movement, which communicates anew to the audience:

RWB technique, emotion dazzle in Halifax return

By ANDREA NEMETZ Entertainment Reporter - The Halifax Chronicle Herald - November 8, 2012

Troupe ranges from Cohen to classical to comic

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet paid homage to a Canadian legend in The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen during its performance in Halifax.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet made a triumphant and rapturously received return to Halifax Wednesday night after an absence of six years.

Presenting a mixed-repertoire program at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, the company dazzled with the precision and elegance of its talented dancers in pieces ranging from sophisticated to comic, and from traditional to contemporary, set to classical music and live renditions of Leonard Cohen tunes.

The evening opened with In Tandem, choreographed by RWB alumnus Peter Quanz as a commission for the Guggenheim Museum in New York and set to Steve Reich’s constantly pulsing Double Sextet.

Modern and refined, the dancers evoked images of ladies who lunch, wandering the streets of Paris or Fifth Avenue, accepting as their right the admiration of all those watching.

And there was much to admire from the four women and two men. Every motion was effortless and graceful, a long leg suddenly pointing upward into a vertical split with no apparent exertion, no sound emanating when they leapt and noiselessly landed on the floor, fingers perfectly pointed at the end of perfectly placed arms, classic ballet turns executed with sureness and grace.

At times, the women posed like statues or saucy cigarette girls in an upscale men’s club or evoked enchanting nymphs running through a forest, mystical creatures in a Shakespearean world. Embraces with the men were fleeting, full of promise as yet unfulfilled.

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, a Canadian premiere of a work by William Forsythe that had its world premiere with the Frankfurt Ballet in 1996, was a classical ballet feast. Described as homage to Petipa and Balanchine, the three women in structured green tutus and two men in red shirts and shorts presented a master class in exquisite pointe work and partnering set to Schubert’s Allegro Vivace.

The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen was the evening’s only departure from classical ballet. Choreographed by Jorden Morris, the emotionally charged piece was the story of lovers in different stages of relationships told through Cohen’s music and words.

The Letters (sung on tape by Cohen and Jennifer Warnes) showcased a man and a woman desperate for communication, eagerly anticipating missives from lovers, dismayed or elated at their receipt, leaping over chairs or tables or draping themselves miserably over the objects.

Bird on a Wire, sung by Allison Crowe, was a duet in which the couple were achingly and joyously in love, while Sisters of Mercy, also sung by Crowe, showcased the supportive friendship between a group of women.

Since you Asked, a poem from a CD, was a duet for two men, powerful and full of loneliness.

And while the glorious sounds of Crowe’s signature rendition of Hallelujah filled the room, Sophia Lee transfixed the audience with the poignancy of her performance.

The evening wrapped up with the delightful Pas d’Action. Principal dancer Jo-Ann Sundermeier and her four suitors, including New Brunswick native Liam Caines, shone in a priceless parody of the turn-of-the century classic princess ballet, complete with toe shoes, diamond tiara, ruffled tutu and black velvet military uniforms.

The exaggerated “look at me” facial expressions evoked constant laughter, as did the preening and posturing as each of the men tried to curry favour with their frazzled princess and the audience.

But the comic gestures couldn’t hide the impeccable dancing or lovely lines of the dancers, which were evident throughout, making the evening a complete delight.

( ... fax-return

Re: Exciting Ballet News

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:08 pm
by Adrian
From the birthplace of Canadian confederation come this, perhaps the final, review, of the just-wrapped tour by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet - which featured a re-sequenced version of "The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen" - newly choreographed and performed:

A royal treat

Published on November 16, 2012
Todd MacLean The Guardian - Arts - Entertainment Charlottetown, PEI

“I think you’re in for a royal treat,” smiled Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director André Lewis in his introduction to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Mixed Repertoire performance at Confederation Centre’s Homburg Theatre this past Saturday night.

After Lewis’ parting words, the curtain rose on two female dancers at the sides of the stage — who soon became four — as a bustlingly fluid dance of suspense played out before our eyes and ears for the first number of the night, In Tandem, choreographed by Peter Quantz.

It was the first time in six years that Royal Winnipeg feet had graced the Confederation Centre stage, and the jam-packed audience of dance enthusiasts was clearly starved-in-excitement for world-class ballet in a local setting.

And for those of you who may not call yourself a ballet-enthusiast, all it takes is to closely watch a highly skilled manoeuvre by a professional female or male dancer — and to be able to observe and delight in the incredible combination of skill, strength and precision it takes, for example, to jump so powerfully and land so placidly — and it can become a highly enjoyable experience even for the most, well, “monster-truck-ian” of those among us, I do believe.

The program continued in the first half with The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, a piece choreographed by William Forsythe, which was, certainly, a joyous and courtly feat of feet, I would say, complete with marvelous pointe dancing by its three beaming and prancing ballerinas (who were clad in green plant-esque tutus) and an exquisite display of über-precise pas de bourées and attitude poses.

Most definitely the highlight of the night came with the second half’s presentation of The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen, choreographed by Jorden Morris.

Four songs and one poem were featured: The Letters; Bird on a Wire; Sisters of Mercy and Hallelujah, with the poem Since You Asked from the CD Born to the Breed as spoken word. Cohen interview-clip introductions began each one of them and interpretive dancing began over top of this audio.

To top it off, three of these songs were performed live by B.C. recording artist Allison Crowe, seated at a grand piano to the left of the stage.

With an a cappella version of Sisters of Mercy, she sent chills up the spine as dancers in white flowing dresses illustrated each line and melody in perfect expression.

And Hallelujah, naturally the finale to the presentation, I would have to say was probably one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen in my entire life.

Just one ballerina, clad in white, a chair and a spotlight. And the clang of the chair as she (Jo-Ann Sundermeier) pushed it to the ground at the line, “she tied you to her kitchen chair,” probably expressed most flawlessly that sense of raw emotion — in that vulnerable, affected and yet harshly enduring sense — that I have ever witnessed in a presentation of this sacred song.

They received an immediate standing ovation as the piece ended.

The night’s final piece, Pas D’Action, choreographed by Brian Macdonald, was a comedic delight — danced by one female dancer and four male dancers who displayed remarkable skill at playing the role of unskilled dancers. It was a fantastic note to usher us all home.

What a magnificent show it was. And as André Lewis indicated in his introduction, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be aiming to get back to its routine of bi-annual presentations in Charlottetown in the coming years. We will certainly be looking forward to that next royal treat.

And who knows? Maybe we’ll even see some “monster-truck-ians” there, hanging on every jump, next time around...

Next week: I’m off to the Holland College Welshman Community Band Concert on Nov. 19 in Charlottetown.

Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t. ... al-treat/1


Here's a family portrait of the RWB on the road in Canada's Maritimes. (photo by Ingrid Kottke)