Review: Alberta Ballet presents Shaping Sound | By Zosia Prus-Czarnecka

“If we give in and allow our dreams to take over, only then can we delve into our innermost thoughts and confront our demons” (Shaping Sound Playbook). Every few years, a dance show appears that electrifies audiences and restructures the face of dance in Edmonton. Shaping Sound is this decade’s rare gem, and Edmonton is incredibly lucky to be one host of their premiere world tour. Shaping Sound is a family of world-famous dancers and choreographers that have bewitched audiences since its inception in Los Angeles in 2012. Their seamless ties and incredible talent mesmerize audiences. Notably, the duets between Mallauri Esquibel and Teddy Forance flow as gracefully and intriguingly as a deep conversation.

Shaping Sound is not your usual calm and relaxing Alberta Ballet Show. No Sugar Plum Fairy or dark Shakespeare tragedy make an appearance here. Instead, this contemporary production will have you experiencing every emotion and wanting to run up on stage to join in the dance. Never before have I felt so moved, amazed, and inspired at the same time. As the story unfolds, the audience is dragged through their own thoughts, dreams and desires, as the dancers portray the rough and beautiful sides of relationships and dreams. At times provocative, former So You Think You Can Dance runner up and winner of the 2015 Emmy for Outstanding Choreography, Travis Wall, has shaped more than sound, including dreams.

The first act introduces the audience to a young girl (Mallauri Esquibel), whose partner has left her in pursuit of quick love. As she falls asleep alone, the dancers capture her innermost emotional states of loneliness, longing, and torment. Act One concludes with a sudden blast of emotion, as the girl ecstatically dances with her perfect man at a cabaret. After a quick 20-minute intermission, the cast recommences with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which prompts the audience, already completely enamoured with the show, to cheer and roar in enthusiasm. The male side of the cast, lined up in perfectly tailored suits, turns into the keys of a sublimely tuned piano as the lights center on them one by one, as though a hand was floating effortlessly over the keys. By this point the audience is completely obsessed and fully focused on the cast as the mood switches to two darker pieces: Corruption and Darkness.

In just two hours, Travis Wall, Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance, and Kyle Robinson force the audience to not only delve into their happiest dreams, but also to explore their darkest thoughts and reconsider every relationship they have ever been in. Shaping dreams, shaping thoughts, Shaping Sound – a truly remarkable blend of jazz, contemporary ballet, and hip hop that will leave audiences of all ages hypnotized and inspired.

Shaping Sound played in Edmonton on January 12-13th, and continues on to Calgary for January 15th and 16th before moving south across North America.


Photography courtesy of Shaping Sound.