Ballet Victoria’s newest production, Carmina Burana, hits the stage on March 5 and 6 at the Royal Theatre. Combining dance with live music and voice, the production of Carl Orff’s epic masterpiece is something you won’t want to miss, and with more than 170 people on stage it’s kind of a big deal.
“It’s a piece of music that everyone knows, but not everyone knows that they know,” said Paul Destrooper, artistic and executive director for Ballet Victoria. “It’s very powerful, often used in films and even in hockey games to rally the troops.”
After studying the texts the production is based on in a medieval history class at the University of Victoria, Destrooper says he became inspired to create the production.
“What I find interesting is that hundreds of years later, the texts are still very relevant to mankind today,” says Destrooper. “It just shows that we haven’t really evolved much – although we are making progress which is good.”
Throughout the show Destrooper has used multiple couples to embody various kinds of love, with one representing a physical and passionate relationship and another couple focusing more on “spiritual love.”
“Back in the medieval ages, there was really a separation between spiritual and physical love, which was sinful unless you were procreating and then it was OK, but you certainly were not meant to enjoy it,” says Destrooper.
Andrea Bayne, a principle dancer with Ballet Victoria since 2008, says that along with expressing the duality of love, Carmina Burana is also about fate in relation to love. The couple she and her partner portray in the production are passionate, dynamic and overtly in love.
“I think part of the challenge for my partner and I is to be able to portray that feeling to the music … to get that passion and that dynamic and connection across to the audience is really going to be a challenge but I’m excited for it,” says Bayne.
She adds that another challenge of the production is dancing to live music.
“It keeps you on your toes,” says Bayne. “The tempo can really vary and you have to really pay attention, but dancing to live music [as opposed to a CD] is like night and day.”
Brian Wismath, director of the Victoria Choral Society, is conducting Carmina Burana in conjunction with Ballet Victoria. He says the production really deals with the fickleness of fate and fortune, adding the music is old-school pop music that would have been sung by regular people on the streets.
“I think a lot of people [will] leave this production in absolute awe, and they’ll walk away with elements of the music and the texts running through their head over and over again,” says Wismath.