It’s not often world class ballerinas take the stage in small Canadian cities but the stars above the Okanagan are set to align, allowing for a night of brilliance.
Ballet Kelowna has lured some of the New York City Ballet’s finest dancers west for an appearance at the Community Theatre. They’ll be premiering the Ashley Bouder Project, March 3, at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re absolutely thrilled we have this caliber of dancer coming to Kelowna…these dancers from the NYC Ballet are some of the best in the world,” said Simone Orlando, Ballet Kelowna’s artistic director and chief executive officer.
Orlando, who has been with the ballet less than a year, took it upon herself to bring something spectacular to the valley, although a little help from a friend was key to her success.
“The stars did align on this one,” she said.
She heard about Ashley Bouder’s potential availability through a friend who has a lasting connection to the Okanagan.
Josh Beamish is one of Kelowna’s most successful exports, having traveled all over the world to choreograph for different ballet companies.
He’s now based in London, England having recently relocated from New York.
“When I started my job here in September, I had a short period of time to build a season and I contacted numerous companies across North America to see if they were available for a visiting series,” she said.
“Because most companies book two to three years in advance, I keep getting, ‘No, we’re not available,’” she said.
That’s where Beamish stepped in.
He was aware of the challenges Orlando was facing, and one day he called to say there was a slight chance that the Ashley Bouder project may have a window to stage a local show.
With a little effort, everything came together. In addition to Ashley Bouder, Kelowna ballet patrons will also be in the audience to see Beamish’s Rouge et Noir, performed by the same top NYC Ballet artists.
Orlando pointed out that the ballet dancers who will be taking the stage at the Community Theatre don’t often even leave New York. But, it’s not like they will be put off by the coziness of Kelowna.
“I think the great thing about professional dancers is that no matter where they’re from, an audience is an audience, is an audience,” she said.
“Being a professional dancer myself, I’d go from performing in the Kennedy Centre, to a high school gym in Nakusp in B.C. Every show has equal value. They’re out there to entertain.”
Not every ballet is the New York City Ballet, though.
“I think this is really a once in a life time opportunity—and they’re coming to us, which is amazing,” she said.
Orlando is also excited that Bouder shares a similar philosophy about engaging audiences when it comes to ballet.
The Ashley Bouder Project offers An Exposé on Ballet Style, by highlighting the grand classical and neoclassical works by ballet legends Marius Petipa and George Balanchine—including excerpts from Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Agon and the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.
It’s bound to help Ballet Kelowna inroads at breaking down the barriers between the audience and the company, something Orlando seems to have already made great strides toward.
She just started Sept. 1, 2014 and subscriptions to the ballet are up 61 per cent over last year, membership is up and individual donations are also up.
“I think people are excited about programming,” she said.
The pressure, however, is on. Now that she’s delivered such a high caliber opportunity, Orlando will have to keep brining exciting acts to the ballet. “It is a lot of pressure, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
Tickets are available by phone at Kelowna Actors Studio Box Office 250-862-2867, or visit the box office at its new location in Orchard Park Shopping Centre.
Adults: $73 // Students & Seniors: $63 // Children: $33.