On Thursday evening, my mother and I were able to see Spotlight, the final performance of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Professional Division. Even though I recently saw the RWB PD in their On the Edge performance, I was still incredibly excited to see this.
There were two different pieces in Spotlight. These were longer pieces than those in On the Edge, I really enjoyed that. Not that shorter pieces aren’t worthwhile, but I prefer having a bit of a storyline to follow along with. I wasn’t sure of how many of the same dancers would be featured in both performances, but there was a good mixture.
Paquita is a classical ballet, the grand pas classique allows several dancers to perform lively and entertaining solos. The costuming was gorgeous; both the male and female dancers were outfitted in incredibly detailed costumes that suited the opulent backdrop. It opened with two younger groups of dancers performing court dances. I loved that they were able to include the youngest dancers in the Professional Division- it is a wonderful opportunity for them, and they were a lot of fun to watch! It was roughly 35 minutes, but it flew by for me- my new goal is to see the full setting of Paquita as soon as I can.
The Little Match Girl began the second half of the show- it is a new creation from an alumnus of the Professional Division. Here is the synopsis from the program:
“On a frigid cold winter’s evening, a young girl wanders the streets, trying to sell her matches to passersby. No one is buying, but the little girl is afraid to go home and face her family. She shelters from the wind and lights her matches one by one, finding comfort in their flames, and in the beautiful visions they inspire. She remembers the warmth of her grandmother’s love, and as the little girl finally surrenders and drifts off into oblivion, a shooting star blazes across the sky.”
The lead ballet dancer, Morgan Thiessen, was perfect for the role of the Little Match Girl. Although she is quite slender, her strength was quite clear. Even more impressive though, was her vulnerability and child-like spirit that shone through her performance. And the other dancers brushing her off and passing her by immersed themselves in their roles completely. Although we never saw any of them on their own, you could truly see each individual personality and character. Overall, a short but heartfelt piece!
And the final piece of the evening, Romani Song:
“Evening at a travellers’ camp. Violka, a young Romani girl, circles a bonfire, lost in thought. She dreams of the future, and wonders who her love will be. She is joined by her friends, who offer her colourful scarves and dance with her. Manush wanders in among a group of boys; he notices Violka, and she him. The attraction is obvious, but they are interrupted before they can become btter acquainted. They lose each other in the carousing and dancing that ensues, but Manush later finds a way to return to see Violka. As they proclaim their love for each other, the community comes together in a celebration of young love.”
This was an entirely fun piece; it was the perfect companion to the Little Match Girl! It was lively and entertaining, and very reminiscent of the Rusalka (Ukrainian) dancing that is featured in the RWB’s Nutcracker. While the two main characters were well-danced and clearly in love, I thought that Violka’s three friends stole the show. Erin Atkinson in particular brought an energy to her role that made you feel like you were a part of it all, and her technique was perfectly employed to bring a sass to her character. I would love to see a full length ballet with the full company of this! The entire Professional Division was involved, and it was again lovely to see the younger dancers. I think that having some older dancers would add a fuller dimension to the piece that would fully flesh it out. Fingers crossed!!
What cultural events in your city do you enjoy?