Artists of Ballet BC

Last night, Vancouver audiences were treated to a trio of performances by Ballet BC’s talented dance company. Bliss actually expands on choreographer José Navas’ original 2010 premiere (The bliss that from their limbs all movement takes), adding two additional compositions (Annunciations, and A Thousand Ways to Meet You Tenderly) to the evening. Navas is the founder and artistic director of José Navas/Compagnie Flak.

The program starts with world premiere Annunciations, danced to Mozart’s Allegro from Trio in G, Adagio from Trio in B flat, and Allegretto from Trio in B flat. It sets a light, cheerful start to the evening, with dancers and backdrop all in red. This work is inspired by Edwin Muir’s poem, The Annunciation, with themes of love, time, and sound. The poem also contains the lines that form the third movement: “Immediacy of strangest strangeness is the bliss That from their limbs all movement takes.

Annunciations contains delicate dancing, explorative movement, and passion. Towards the end of the composition, the floor lighting is such a deep blue that it appears as though the dancers are sublimely moving along water.

The second composition, A Thousand Ways to Meet You Tenderly, takes a decidedly more ominous tone, set to darker stage colours and costumes, starker lighting, and Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. The music’s title should be enough to cue the audience in as to what type of performance will unfold. I found it slow and droning, comprising four pairs of dancers moving from either side of the stage to dance with one another. With four chairs set on either side, dancers get up to meet their respective partner in the middle. Though the movements in this piece were beautiful to watch and very well executed, the repetitive music and slow pace didn’t provide me with the energy of the first piece.

The final movement was by far the most colourful: The bliss that from their limbs all movement takes. This piece, containing a musical collaboration by Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar, is wonderfully set to the 15 dancers that take to the stage and present a glorious range of motion. Ballet BC should be commended for its group of talented, sensuous, and dexterous dancers who brought this piece to the climax of the evening.

Whether or not the second piece moved me as much as the first and last, I felt that these three movements set a clever pace and design to the evening program. Two 20 minute intermissions break up the performances accordingly.

Bliss has two remaining performances on May 11 and 12.

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