The Alberta Ballet staged an enrapturing show on February 19, Dynamic Directions, which brought together a mixed bill triad of local choreographic talent and featured the work of three of Canada’s most famous dance makers.
Wen Wei Wang’s “Futureland” served as a powerful opening performance. According to Wang, his choreography draws inspiration from video-game culture and “evokes the universal human search for the unattainable, in other words the life force that drives us all.” Futureland sends audiences into a world of intense, proud, and impressive beat-synchronized contemporary dance. The musical score connects with a youthful gamer audience as it comes from the “inFAMOUS” video game soundtrack. The closing segments of the first act left me wanting more, as dancers Reilley and Kelley McKinlay blew the audience away.
After a brief intermission, the second dance began with a very different tone. Choreographed by Aszure Barton, an Alberta native, the piece called “Happy Little Things (Waiting On A Gruff Cloud of Wanting)” sought to remind us of our prairie home. It succeeded in its aim to “explore all forms and shapes of the individual, down to the roots of our animal physicality,” as described in the program. This playful number made the audience laugh as the dancers wiggled, hopped, slid, rolled, and even piled on top of one another. The sepia tone reminded us of a simpler bygone era, and served as a juxtaposition to the impressively modern contemporary style of the rest of the performance.
Alberta Ballet Company Artist Catherine Rutherford in ‘Futureland’, choreographed by Wen Wei Wang
The final routine, choreographed by Yukichi Hattori and titled “01010010 01101001 01110100 01100101 (rite),” focused on biology. “Life begins with a single cell. The cell multiplies. It continues to multiply until the space around it disappears,” explains Hattori. The dancers moved in uniquely intense morphologic and natural ways, reminding the audience of the strange but awe-inspiring ways of nature. Hattori also dances in this raw piece, revealing that he is not only an impressive choreographer, but an extremely talented dancer. The closing moments of this number end with Luna Sasaki, an Alberta Ballet dancer, being thrown into the air as the lights are extinguished, leaving the audience with a lasting memory of wonder.
Alberta Ballet Company Artists in ‘rite’ – choreographed by Yukichi Hattori
A ballet prformance for the 21st century, all three choreographers ensured that Dynamic Directions will stay with me – and likely other members of the audience – for some time. If you did not get a chance to see this spectacular performance, keep your eyes peeled for future opportunities and your fingers crossed that this world premiere will not be their last showing.
Featured image: Alberta Ballet Company Artist Catherine Rutherford in Futureland, choreographed by Wen Wei Wang.
Photography courtesy of Paul McGrath.