Happy Spring! What a winter it has been. Congratulations to all for the amazing creative acts that have manifested through our city. A wonder it is to have such a breadth of ideas, experience and passion in our arts community. To both maker and viewer, thank you for participating and for making these moments important.
At Ballet BC, we’re preparing for our final program of the season May 11-13, featuring a new work by internationally acclaimed Emanuel Gat, Minus 16 by renowned Ohad Naharin of the Batsheva Dance Company and my new work in collaboration with the National Arts Centre and Montreal composer Nicole Lizée. Since my last blog, I have also been busy with Ballet BC’s Program 2, a BC inspired evening honouring Canada’s 150th anniversary. It was thrilling to experience the collective pride of our community as the work of local choreographic visionaries, Lesley Telford, Company 605, Crystal Pite and Wen Wei Wang took to the QET stage. Directly following, Ballet BC left for a five-week tour that started with an all female choreographer program that opened the 2017 Belgrade Dance Festival and ended with ENCOUNTE3S, an evening in collaboration with the National Arts Centre and orchestra featuring world premieres by three Canadian choreographers and three Canadian composers. It was an extraordinary moment for us as a company to be a part of this celebration of Canadian talent and to share the stage with the National Ballet of Canada and Alberta Ballet.
Touring is always an interesting doing—it seems to hold a special place in the story books for performers. The ins and outs of the day to day bring laughter and tears. It’s exhilarating and hard all at the same time. There is a special kind of learning with each tour, that shapes us in new ways. There were many memorable moments on this past tour that affected us: the power that went out four times while we were in our technical rehearsal in Belgrade, the standing ovations between pieces in Montreal, the fire alarm going off during the Kingston show (because of the haze!), and an audience member saying they had no idea dance could look like this. For me it was remarkable to witness daily how we can rise to the occasion, no matter what; that the motivation of our spirit carries us through; that when we commit, when we believe, when we have purpose, anything is possible. It was beautiful to see so much sharing between the artists and audiences through a wide range of communities. There was delight and joy in these meetings, and all of this was made possible through the exchange of a live performance. Art defies all boundaries and borders—it is the human story, it is universal. If we allow it, art can bring us closer.
More than ever we need to stand together, work together as a community. It is not an easy time in the world. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty and conflict. Our lives are busier than ever, and filled with more and more questions. We ask for more from life and demand clearer answers; we need to be heard and to express our voices. It is a tenuous time that requires open communication, respect and deep listening. It is a time to develop empathy, not opinion, not to build walls. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
As artists and citizens, may we have the courage to look broadly and hold with humility the complexities of the world. Let us unite and celebrate what we have in common and respect what is different. In the end, we are all human, doing our best in an ever-changing world. The texture of living is what makes us unique, but ultimately we are all in the same place, striving to make life matter, to discover who we are and to help others. What we think, how we listen, how we act—or don’t—form our future. We are each a grain of sand in a much larger ocean. We are stronger together.
This is my last blog as the 2016-17 Artslandia Ambassador! It has been a pleasure and privilege. I applaud you and wish you much joy and opportunity on your creative journey. My gratitude and respect are with you.
To close I leave you with a quote from John Cage:
Look at everything. Don’t close your eyes to the world around you. Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.”
Artistic Director, Ballet BC and Artslandia Ambassador