Chroma & Song of a Wayfarer & Elite Syncopations – A Beautiful Mixed Programme
Rating:★★★★★(out of 5)
Just when you thought the magic of ballet couldn’t be pushed to another level, the National Ballet of Canada swoops in with another master class event, featuring a mixed programme of some iconic ballet pieces: Chroma & Song of a Wayfarer & Elite Syncopations.
The moment the lights fade, the feet-tapping music from the ragtime era fills the space, the curtains lift and the beautifully choreographed Elite Syncopations kicks off the evening. Since premiering in 1978, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s choreography has created a beautiful conversation piece, one that showcases a great blend of humour, colour and expressive dances. The moment the curtains roll up, you are presented with an amazing array colours. The hand-painted body tights, designed by Ian Spurling, are truly beautiful and capture your attention immediately. With each costume having a different design, each dancer has an individual presence on stage, which is wonderful to see. The most beautiful part of the performance was seeing the chemistry between the dancers. Every step was in sync with the music and each other, providing a smooth, fluid performance. That, coupled with an excellent demonstration of comedic elements, created a performance that just kept a smile on your face that would last until the final moments of the 36 minute-long piece.
Maurice Béjart’s Song of a Wayfarer, a duet between two male dancers, was a completely different experience. Created in 1971, the piece showcases a young man and another figure – often seen as “another part of him” – who struggle together before finding common ground and reconcile. The piece was performed by Zdenek Konvalina and Guillaume Côté, beginning with both figures standing back to back, being faded into view. With a blank stage and simple lighting, there was nothing to distract you from the performance. When Gustav Mahler’s moving song-cycle kicks in, and the steady sound of a man’s opera voice engulfs the room, you are taken in by this intense atmosphere created within the space. The two dancers provide an absolutely fluid performance, demonstrating mind-boggling chemistry between one another. The lights helped dictate the mood, and their different coloured costumes helped differentiate their characters. Seeing these two men portray very opposite characters but still able to provide a fluid performance was just beautiful. When the piece concludes, it has connected with you emotionally, some that a work of art should do. The audience gave it a standing ovation, which it truly deserved. It was wonderful!
After two very different pieces, there was a third contender for the evening that was going to, again, showcase something completely different. Chroma, choreographed by Wayne McGregor, is a master-piece on a whole different level. Originally created for The Royal Ballet in 2006, Chroma brings forth magical choreography with truly brilliant architecture. When the bright lights fill the neutral minimalist set, designed by John Pawson, and the score by Joby Talbot kicks in, you are immediately captivated by the nude-like figures on stage. Dressed in costumes that mimic the skin colour of each dancer, and the background as white as it can get, there is nothing to distract you from the sheer brilliance that is about to unfold. All the elements together let you see the beauty of physical movement demonstrated by the human body. Each dancer connects with the rough-edged music to put on an energetic performance that tests the limits of movement and expression. You are completely taken aback by what these dancers can really do. The audience was wow’d to such a level that as soon as the music stopped, the audience sprang to their feet to what is likely the fastest standing ovation. Chroma is truly a beautiful piece of dance.
The National Ballet’s mixed programme is a blend of unique pieces, each with a different experience. It is a showcase of beautiful choreography, fantastic footwork and brilliant orchestration. This is a must-watch show. The mixed programme of Chroma & Song of a Wayfarer & Elite Syncopations runs at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts until June 17th, 2012. For tickets, please visit national.ballet.ca