Ballet Victoria dance mixes classic Bach, ’70s rock

Company staging weekend shows at McPherson Playhouse

Sandrine Cassini joins Ballet Victoria company for its latest production.

Sandrine Cassini joins Ballet Victoria company for its latest production.

As the psychedelic refrains of Pink Floyd die off, a couple twirl centre stage, the woman’s body suspended and blowing to the sound of wind.

A moment of silence, and cue the finale.

Thumping beats fill the rehearsal space with new energy while ballet dancers do their hair and makeup to the rhythm. It’s the Saturday night ritual.

“The mysterious things women do to draw the men in,” explains artistic director Paul Destrooper, skirting across the room to add the footnotes. “They’re getting ready to rock.”

The playful number is set to the first movement from Karl Jenkins’ Palladio, the string compsition made famous by the De Beers diamond commercial, but mashed up with dance club beats by musical group Bond.

The tune is a fusion of pop culture and classical music – a good description for Ballet Victoria’s latest show.

Ballet Rocks: from Bach to Pink Floyd, devotes one half of the performance to each artist.

“People think ballet is going to be Nutcracker or Swan Lake, (but) ballet continues to evolve,” Destrooper says.

This performance incorporates both the classical and the contemporary, making it accessible to fans of either style and introducing them to the other. Ballet Rocks incorporates the work of six choreographers and is a collaboration with star Canadian cellist Denise Djokic. It showcases humour, drama, politics, themes of relationships and the harmony of groups moving together, explains Destrooper.

So why Bach and Pink Floyd? There’s no deep connection.

“I love Pink Floyd,” he says simply. “I choose music that I like. The dancers like this music and they never get to dance to it.”

As for Bach, he adds, many of the classical composer’s music is timeless. “The music has so much energy, they would be rock stars nowadays, bar none.”

Destrooper’s enthusiasm for both styles is obvious and he’s critical of those who define ballet too narrowly. When he pitched a dance based on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, funders responded by saying “Everybody does that, it’s an old piece of music.”

Showing no patience for such arguments, he emphatically says “it’s a beautiful piece of music.”

At the same time, his contemporary selections also go against the grain.

Many ballet companies are performing to soundscapes these days, he says. “Nobody’s doing music anymore.”

Back at rehearsal, Destrooper slips between the role of director, giving gentle tips from the sidelines, to dancing a duet. Lying on his back, he lifts company newcomer and acclaimed dancer Sandrine Cassini, who danced most recently with a company in Switzerland.

It’s the latest coup for a growing dance company.

Since taking over four years ago, Destrooper has rid the company of debt, taken on nine local dancers, grown the budget from $100,000 to $500,000, added a fourth show per season and launched a number of community outreach programs for students and seniors.

While most artistic directors don’t double as dancers, Destrooper says, “It’s a small company.”

But there’s room for Ballet Victoria to grow. “Eventually, I would like to bring the whole company to tour, not just the province, but nationally and internationally.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Mark your calendar

• Ballet Victoria’s Ballet Rocks opens tonight (Oct. 7) at the McPherson Playhouse.

• Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

• Tickets are available at the Royal and McPherson theatre box offices, by phone at 250-386-6121 or online at www.rmts.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Sue Hodgson returns as publisher of the Peninsula News Review starting June 1. (Courtesy Sue Hodgson)
Peninsula News Review welcomes back Sue Hodgson as publisher

Dale Naftel takes helm of Oak Bay News as publisher

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read