BJM—Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal celebrates a Ruby Anniversary

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BJM © photo: Benjamin Von Wong

They are among Canada’s most beloved and longest running dance companies. Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal has been producing innovative dance by world-renowned choreographers for the past four decades, and the company has no intention of slowing down any time soon. To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, BJM is bringing to the NAC a visually-stunning triple-bill featuring works from three international contemporary choreographers. The full company of 12 "sensual, precise and egoless dancers" are sure to delight with movement that has been referred to as "an athletic style rooted in ballet and yet wonderfully hip." These exquisite dancers indeed set a standard for contemporary ballet. What sets them apart from other dance companies is their quality of performances and ability to captivate audiences and critics around the world.

This thrilling triple-bill features works entitled Closer, Night Box, and Harry.

Closer is an intense, physically-dynamic yet subtle male-female pas de deux by French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Formerly a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, Millepied has choreographed for that company as well as for Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 film Black Swan, starring his wife, Natalie Portman.  Closer is performed to a composition entitled Mad Rush by Philip Glass. With magnificent aplomb, the female lead in Closer is held aloft for nearly two minutes by her male partner -- perhaps conveying an interesting commentary about the elevation of women. Millepied created Closer in France in 2006 for French dance star Céline Cassone (who joined BJM in 2008) and New York City Ballet principal Sébastien Marcovici. Partnered here with Alexander Hille, Ms. Cassone is very much at ease with the piece and is exquisite to watch. She moves freely, playing with but not teasing Hille’s attentive lover. The evocative lighting in pastel colours (by Roderick Stewart Murray) gives a hopeful and uplifting ambience to this magnificent piece.

Night Box by Chinese-born Vancouver-based Wen Wei Wang, who creates startling and provocative performance works of a distinctive trans-cultural sensibility. With an original and highly individual style, Wang fuses precise and subtle choreography with stunning visual design and music, turning each work into a rich and unique world. Evoking the city through sounds, rhythms, music and an incessant blinking of lights, Night Box is a high-voltage work in which love, loss, sexuality, and joy are intertwined. In a slinky, weightless style, the dancers siphon off from a chic, urban nightclub crowd for coolly romantic encounters before slipping back into the group. Wang is ingenious at distilling dance-floor juts and gyrations to their outline and using the mechanised crowd to comment on, adorn, and hem in the featured couple.

Harry, a new dance specially commissioned for BJM by rising star Barak Marshall. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Marshall danced with Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company for several years, and he has fast established himself as one of Israeli dance’s most innovative voices, winning numerous awards. Also a singer, Marshall’s own dance company has toured extensively throughout Europe. His phenomenal Harry tells the story of a man’s internal and external struggles. Harry is a man laid under a white sheet – again and again, after being blown up by increasingly surreal means. Poor Harry. Mourners stand over his dead body and within seconds, they argue and break into fights. Elegant Swing-era costumes transport us back in time and the duets, trios and groups tell a lot about human interactions under stress -- and humour wins out every time. A catchy soundscape includes gunfire, Israeli folk songs, and gems by Maria Callas and the Andrews Sisters. Harry is an NAC co-production.

With contemporary choreographers representing several different countries, this triple-bill not only highlights a landmark 40th Anniversary for BJM, it emphasizes the accuracy of 'A World of Dance in Ottawa', the compelling slogan of NAC Dance.

Meet the Artistic Director for a Post-Performance Chat

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Join Louis Robitaille, Artistic Director for BJM after the show on Thursday, March 21 for a special post-performance chat to share your experience of the performance. The 20 minute chat will take place in the NAC Theatre right after the show.

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