Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

National Ballet dances back after 14 years

  • Print

The National Ballet of Canada and its most famous personality, Karen Kain, both began life in 1951.

So this is the 60th-birthday year for both.

Kain, a beloved ballerina, hung up her pointe shoes at age 46. She has stayed with the 68-dancer, Toronto-based company and since 2005 has been at its helm as artistic director.

Speaking by phone from Victoria, Kain recalls that Winnipeg was the final stop on her emotional 1997 retirement tour.

But the company hasn't been back since. Now, 14 years later, the ballet is finally touching down in Winnipeg for one night of its mixed-repertoire 60th-anniversary tour. That night happens to be Tuesday, election night -- a fact that takes Kain by surprise.

"We didn't know that -- that's too bad," she says, though Jeff Herd, executive director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, later says at least some staff at the National Ballet are aware of it.

Kain says she hopes people will vote early and head to the Centennial Concert Hall in lieu of watching election results.

"If people don't come out -- if there isn't a support for us to be there -- we can't afford (to return)," she says.

Kain and Herd both say that for economic and logistical reasons, the ballet often skips isolated Winnipeg when it tours the West. When the company does come here, RWB partners with it as a marketing arm, earning a small fee in return, Herd says.

In 2009, the company had to cancel its Sleeping Beauty tour to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo -- the same cities as the current tour -- because it had a $1-million deficit and the financial risk was too great. Herd reveals that Winnipeg was originally on that itinerary, but was dropped even before the dates were made public.

"When you're a custodian of a large cultural institution," Kain says, "you can't make foolhardy decisions."

The reason the diamond-anniversary tour isn't of a lavish story ballet like Swan Lake or The Sleeping Beauty is prohibitive costs. Those shows require an orchestra, elaborate sets and costumes and a huge cast and crew, totalling more than 100 people.

Instead, Kain is leaving the tutus at home and showing off 50 of her dancers in more cutting-edge works. She's bringing a program of four acclaimed contemporary ballets, three danced to recorded soundtracks -- one to the voice of country legend Johnny Cash -- and one accompanied by a live pianist. It's the first time the company has ever toured without an orchestra.

"I love this program... and it's the program we can afford to bring," Kain says. "If you bring out a big ballet with a big title, you're going to have a better response at the box office. The Catch-22 is that I can't afford to do that.

"The response to this program has been extraordinary. People are on their feet in every single city, screaming. I have so many young, talented dancers who are very hungry to push the envelope.

"I do believe the technical level is higher with each generation. I love to watch these young people attack these works."

alison.mayes@freepress.mb.ca

 

Dance preview

The National Ballet of Canada

  • Centennial Concert Hall
  • Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
  • Tickets $37.75 to $102.25 at Ticketmaster

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2011 G3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Keri Latimer looks for beauty in the dark and the spaces between the notes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • Geese fight as a male defends his nesting site at the duck pond at St Vital Park Thursday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 08- May 10, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Winnipeg control growth to deal with climate change?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google