Ballet Kelowna opens season with stirring mixed programme

Ballet Kelowna opens its 2023/24 season with a compelling triple bill, Rising Action, at the Kelowna Community Theatre, November 3 and 4, 2023, at 7:30 pm. The program features the remount of Kirsten Wicklund’s ethereal The Forever Part, as well as Studies of Cash, a soulful exploration of country legend Johnny Cash, from Ballet Kelowna’s own Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando, who celebrates her 10th anniversary season with the Company.

“Reflecting on a decade as Artistic Director and CEO with Ballet Kelowna, I feel incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to bring more than 40 new works from emerging and established Canadian choreographers into the Company’s repertoire, including our first commissioned full-length ballet, Macbeth,” says Simone Orlando.

“Since the beginning of my tenure at this Company, my mission has been to create opportunities for Canadian dancemakers to share their vision and craft with audiences in Kelowna, the province, and across the country.”

In celebration of Orlando’s 10th anniversary season, the Company will then remount Studies of Cash, a soulful reflection on the lasting impact of country legend Johnny Cash, and his heartfelt and often humorous music. Delving into concepts of confinement and imprisonment, as inspired by Cash’s life-changing 1968 concert at Folsom Prison, Studies of Cash looks behind prison walls that are both man-made and self-imposed. 

Two years after its Kelowna premiere, Wicklund returns with her work The Forever Part, an introspective contemporary work choreographed for eight dancers [top photo]. Inspired by daydreams and longing, The Forever Partexplores the inherent tension of the permanence of forever, from feelings of yearning and desire to anxiety and restriction. Set to a compelling and divergent score of some of J.S. Bach’s greatest works (Toccata and Fugue in D minor; Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria da capo) as well as original music by Wicklund, the piece features rhythmic group sections and stirring duets.

Classically trained in Vancouver at Pacific Dance Arts and Goh Ballet Academy, Wicklund is a former dancer with Ballet BC and has been a demi-soloist with Antwerp’s Opera Ballet Vlaanderen since 2021. A rising choreographic talent, Wicklund has choreographed works for Arts Umbrella, Goh Ballet, and Dancing on the Edge Festival, and has been commissioned by the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company to present a new work at venues across Holland in 2024.

Originally choreographed by Orlando in 2007, while a principal dancer with Ballet BC, she introduced the work to Kelowna audiences in 2016. Recognized as a favourite work of the past 10 years, senior Ballet Kelowna dancers requested the work be remounted in 2023, in honour of Orlando’s milestone season.

The evening’s triple bill will conclude with the world premiere of The Royal We from Montreal-based dancer and choreographer, Jake Poloz, who uses the pomp and circumstance of monarchy rituals to reflect on the ways our ambitions become the central story in our lives.

A graduate of Ontario’s elite training program, Conteur Academy, Poloz has danced with ProArteDanza, Alysa Pires Dance Projects, Bouchardanse, and also with Ballet Kelowna during the 2021/22 season as a member of the ensemble in Alysa Pires’ full-length Macbeth. As an emerging choreographer, his movement exploration caught Orlando’s attention, who then invited Poloz to fully realize his ideas into a commissioned piece with Ballet Kelowna this fall.

Ballet Kelowna welcomes three new dancers to its Company for the 2023/24 season, including Avery Grierson and Riku Hirakoba. Samuel Ramos will join later in the season. Jake Poloz will also dance with Ballet Kelowna as a Guest Artist and Cameron Fraser-Monroe – Ballet’s Kelowna’s 2022/23 Artist in Residence – will be Associate Artist. 

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Photos by Emily Cooper.