Last year was my first time getting into theatre in a serious way. I bought season tickets for the Citadel and Theatre Network and went hard at the Fringe. What really stuck with me though was the absolutely excellent season the Citadel had - I can clearly remember being blown away by Boom, falling in love with the music and costumes and sheer epic-ness of Evangeline, feeling the visceral anger in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and being utterly entertained by West Side Story. Every single play that season was a knock-out, and it was a no-brainer for me to renew my season tickets this year.
I then noticed that the Alberta Ballet was celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year! I figured if the Citadel killed it in its 50th year, the ballet probably would too. I didn't splurge quite as much, as I was less familiar with the ballet, and so I bought a three-pack subscription to get my feet wet. I chose Shadowland by Pilobus, Life by BalletBoyz, and Romeo and Juliet. So far I've seen Pilobus, and wow - it was quite the show!
Photo by Ian Douglas
The ballet was non-traditional and involved the Pilobus Dance troupe, who used shadows and light to play with the size and depth of objects and characters, which made me feel like I was in a dream. The ballet was whimsical, uber-creative, and had a soundtrack full of great tunes. The ballet felt like a magic show, full of illusions. The performers would contort their bodies to create new objects, and I would wonder how they did it. It was both sad and uplifting, and by the end I think the whole audience was swept up in a "dreamlike land of darkness, light, and adventure." The ending was particularly heart-warming, as they tailored it to the Edmonton audience by creating the Muttart pyramids with their bodies, referencing the Oilers, and of course, signalling their appreciation for Canada with a beaver.
Here's a YouTube video that gives you a glimpse into Shadowland!
Now, I know the whole point of blogging is to be timely, so that if I love something, I can encourage you to go. But - like I said, I took a five year hiatus and I am just practicing and catching up. And - while you may have missed this show, there are at least five more to go! I highly encourage everyone in Edmonton to visit the Alberta Ballet website and choose one that appeals to you. I will admit that I can't wait to see Life - a ballet comprised of male dancers. I saw the pics - those BalletBoyz are cute!
As well, if you like contributing to a community with feedback and the opportunity to ask questions, it is interesting to note that Talk Alberta Ballet was also established this year, and it is a website that allows ballet patrons to comment on the shows, brainstorm what they want to see in the future, and ask questions such as "What does a dancer's week look like?" There are members of the Alberta Ballet participating on the site, and so you can get a behind-the-scenes look at what the ballet is like from their perspective. I've enjoyed participating so far, and I think it is a great innovation for their 50th year!