Ballet BC’s Grace Symmetry enraptures and mystifies

Chaos and order. 

Playful, yet solemn.

It’s hard to truly explain what unfolded in front of me Thursday at the opening night for Ballet BC and Turning Point Ensemble’s Grace Symmetry. The capabilities of the human body shone in collaboration with the sounds of an outstanding chamber ensemble, with each instrument simultaneously dictating the dancers’ movements. In a mystifying way, music subsided and the sounds of the dancers’ breaths, counting, and tapping of their feet enveloped the room. Lighting varied in exposure from geometrical shapes on the ground, to pin-pointed parts of the stage where the stage lights slowly dropped as if descending to crush the dancer. Docile and sweet interactions transformed into intense and somewhat aggressive behaviour as it transitioned between scenes from “In Motion” to “Prelude” and then “Here on End”.  

Prelude: Choreographer Medhi Walerski

Prelude ©Michael Slobodian

Dancers – Artists of Ballet BC | Prelude ©Michael Slobodian

In synch with the definition of “symmetry” – a vague sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance – the performance exhibited only a subtle differentiation between the sexes. The dancers exchanged dominant roles throughout the play in a fluid and discreet manner with female dancers picking up men, and men partnering with other men in a manner that would certainly make Putin cringe.

The attire was also gender-neutral with both sexes donning slacks and a nude coloured top, before the primary dancers stripped down to full “nudity”. Clothing remained minimalistic and without frills in “Here on End” as dancers contorted, twisted and threw themselves on the ground wearing “street clothes”. It appeared as if they were in a perfectly executed rehearsal. And as I sat there, enraptured in the movement that was taking place in front of me, that’s how I felt; the mezzanine was a private room and I was being let in on a secret and intimate performance.

Here on End – Choreographer Kevin O’Day

Grace Symmetry features choreography for “Here on End” from internationally acclaimed Kevin O’Day of Ballet Mannheim, with music written for Turning Point by New York’s John King. The reprise of “In Motion” was choreographed by Wen Wei Wang with music by composer Owen Underhill, while Choreography for “Prelude” was by Medhi Walerski with music by Lera Auerbach. This is a reunion performance for the Turning Point Ensemble and Ballet BC following the 25th Anniversary program that celebrated the talent of Canadian composers and choreographers.

BALLET BC INSIDER VIDEO #3 

The third Ballet BC Insider Video of the 2013-14 season, created by Vancouver filmmaker Larry Raskin and Montreal-based photographer/videographer Michael Slobodian, features highlights from Grace Symmetry. Get to know the dancers and view exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the World Premieres.

Video: http://www.balletbc.com/movies/2013_14_grace-symmetry.html

GRACE SYMMETRY runs from FEBRUARY 20-22, 2014 at 8pm at the QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE. Tickets range from $30 to $78.50.

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