Ballet Kelowna performs original works by Canadian choreographers

Ballet Kelowna performs their 2015 spring programme at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre on April 1

Choreographer Shawn Hounsell's new work for Ballet Kelowna is performed to George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Photo: Glenna Turnbull

Revelstoke dance fans will experience a changing of the guard when Ballet Kelowna presents their spring mixed programme at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre on April 1.

It’s the first Revelstoke performance for the company under the artistic directorship of Simone Orlando, who replaced retiring artistic director David LaHay in the summer of 2014.

(Disclosure: Aaron Orlando, the writer of this story, is Simone Orlando’s brother.)

Orlando was a long-time collaborator with LaHay and Ballet Kelowna. She choreographed an early Ballet Kelowna commission, I Remember You, which tells the story of an underground resistance network shepherding downed Allied pilots to safety in Europe during the Second World War. That piece was remounted for a Revelstoke audience in 2014.

Orlando is the second artistic director after LaHay, who served since the Ballet Kelowna’s founding in 2002.

Ballet Kelowna Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando. Photo: Ballet Kelowna
Ballet Kelowna Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando. Photo: Ballet Kelowna

Orlando has taken on the additional role of CEO of the company, for the combined title of Artistic Director and CEO. In the new combined role at Ballet Kelowna, Orlando continues the work of rebuilding the company after it nearly folded in 2013 due to financial issues. As artistic director, she also oversees its artistic mission.

This year, Ballet Kelowna brings Forward: A Mixed Repertory Programme, which features contemporary works by established and contemporary Canadian talent.

Originally from Vancouver, Orlando began her professional dance career at the National Ballet of Canada, them moved to Desrosiers Dance Theatre and then Ballet British Columbia, where she performed as a celebrated principal artist. Orlando has performed internationally and worked as a choreographer through much of her professional dance career, completing numerous commissions.

“This performance is a true celebration of the artistic talents of both our country and our company,” Orlando said of the show.

Ballet Kelowna will perform the company premiere tour of Canadian choreographer James Kudelka’s Byrd Music, which showcases the stylistically diverse choreographer’s talented use of interplay. Kudelka is the former artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada and his diverse range in classical and contemporary dance forms has earned him commissions with international dance institutions including American Ballet Theatre, Chicago’s Hubbard Street Dance and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal. Kudelka is a resident choreographer with both the National Ballet and Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie in Montreal.

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Ballet Kelowna dancers Julie Pham and Jed Duifhuis are pictured in a duet from Blue. Photo: Glenna Turnbull
Ballet Kelowna dancers Julie Pham and Jed Duifhuis are pictured in a duet from choreographer Shaun Hounsell’s new work performed to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Photo: Glenna Turnbull

Byrd Music is set to music by Vancouver composer Rodney Sharman. Look for pas-de-deux performances where each dancer manipulates the other like a puppetmaster.

The programme will feature a new creation by Shawn Hounsell, a choreographer and former Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer. His create will be to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Orlando will present a new creation to work to Mozart.

The evening will feature the Lee Dances, which consists of excerpts from original choreography by Heather Myers (Dedications, 2009), Simone Orlando (Winter Journey, 2006), and Hounsell (Creaturehood, 1996). The premiere of the Lee Dances was made possible by the Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award established through the Banff Centre. The award encourages the creation of new work by emerging choreographers.

Vancouver dancer Jedidiah Duifuis takes the lead for the company in his performance of Byrd Music, a role he’s reprising since originally performing in the premiere in 2011.

Tickets to the Wednesday, April 1 show at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre are available online or at the door. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.