Ballet Kelowna celebrates 20th anniversary season with mixed program ‘Aspirations’
Company welcomes its first-ever Artist in Residence, Cameron Fraser-Monroe, as both choreographer and dancer for 2022/23 season
Ballet Kelowna opens its 20th anniversary season with an exhilarating mixed program, Aspirations, at the Kelowna Community Theatre, November 4 + 5, 2022 at 7:30pm.
A dynamic collection of short works by three virtuosic Canadian choreographers, Aspirations offers audiences an evening of dazzling premieres and returning classics, including the world premiere of an uplifting and highly musical new work by award-winning choreographer Robert Stephen. The triple bill also features the in-person premiere of the contemporary work taqəš [tawKESH] by 2022/23 Artist in Residence Cameron Fraser-Monroe, which first premiered virtually in May 2021, and the remounting of the riveting Bolero from The National Ballet of Canada’s Guillaume Côté.
“We are immensely proud and grateful to be presenting Ballet Kelowna’s 20th anniversary season, a milestone that reflects the passion and commitment of our dancers, choreographers, donors, patrons and volunteers, both past and present, over the past two decades,” says Simone Orlando, Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna. “Aspirations is a beautiful representation of our ongoing mission at Ballet Kelowna, to present inspirational and exquisite dance to the Okanagan and across Canada, while engaging, supporting, and increasing the visibility of Canadian choreographers, rooted in the values of equity, diversity and inclusion.”
Committed to supporting the growth and development of burgeoning choreographers, Ballet Kelowna has appointed Cameron Fraser-Monroe as the Company’s first Artist in Residence, for the 2022/23 season. A member of the Tla’amin First Nation, as well as being of Ukrainian and Scottish descent, Fraser-Monroe is a graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and has danced with Red Sky Performance, Dancers of Damelahamid, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.
Originally from the Okanagan, Fraser-Monroe returned to the community in 2020 during the global pandemic where he had the opportunity to present his choreographic work to Orlando. This evolved into the commissioning of taqəš and later, a secondary work, ʔɛmaxʷiygə [ehmaxweega], to be premiered as part of Ballet Kelowna’s winter program in February 2023. Fraser-Monroe will finish his artistic residence with an evening length world premiere in May 2023. In addition to the creation of three works, Fraser-Monroe will join the Company as a dancer in Kelowna, as well as on tour to Ontario, B.C. and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I first met Cameron in 2014 when he was dancing in the Canadian School of Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. I was instantly struck by his athleticism and commanding presence on stage,” says Orlando. “Since reconnecting in 2020 during the pandemic, the relationship has developed very organically, and we are delighted to have this opportunity to support his developing choreographic career – informed by his singular worldview as a classically trained, Indigenous dancer. Ballet Kelowna is proud to offer Cameron multiple commissions and to allow him the space and resources to create meaningful work that is sure to have a lasting impact on dance in Canada.”
In taqəš, Fraser-Monroe brings his classical ballet training, knowledge of traditional Coast Salish, Grass and Hoop Dance, and experience as a contemporary dancer to this work, which means “to return something” in the Ayajuthem language. Set to the percussive rhythms of Polaris Prize-winning composer and singer Jeremy Dutcher, taqəš follows the traditional story of “Raven Returns the Water,” when p̓oho (raven) goes in search of the world’s water, which has mysteriously disappeared.
Audiences will then be delighted by the return of Côté’s Bolero – the first in-theatre presentation of the athletically-charged work since 2019. Lauded as a “riveting tour de force” (Dance Magazine), Bolero features four male dancers, hypnotized by one female figure. A technically challenging piece, featuring breathtaking lifts and virtuosic choreography, the work showcases Ballet Kelowna’s technical prowess and breathes new life into the mesmerizing crescendo of Maurice Ravel’s famous composition of the same name.
A Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada, Côté is also Choreographic Associate with the National Ballet, Artistic Director of Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, the largest summer dance festival in the country, and founder of his own innovative dance company, Côté Danse.
The evening program will conclude with the world premiere of a new work by Robert Stephen, who will present his second Ballet Kelowna-commissioned work, following the premiere of Celestial Mechanics in 2021. Set to the elegant melodies of Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B-Flat Major, D. 485, Stephen’s classically-based ensemble piece is infused with contemporary influences and born in response to the challenges of the pandemic. Imbued with hopeful optimism, the intricate and highly musical work promises to be a breath of fresh air that will lift the audiences’ spirits.
A former First Soloist with The National Ballet of Canada, Stephen most recently performed in Germany, as a member of Gauthier Dance // Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart. A recipient of the prestigious Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award from the Banff Centre, Stephen is now a freelance choreographer, dancer, and teacher.
Tickets and information at balletkelowna.ca
Ballet Kelowna’s 2022/2023 season is presented by the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation.
Ballet Kelowna presents Aspirations
November 4 + 5, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
Ballet Kelowna is now using the box office services of the Kelowna Community Theatre
Phone: 250-469-8940 Online: theatre.kelowna.ca
From $57 (Adult), $50 (Senior), $32 (Student/Child)All prices include taxes and service charges.