Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal celebrates 40 years

Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal is in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday to perform three pieces, including Wen Wei Wang
Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal is in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Tuesday to perform three pieces, including Wen Wei Wang's Night Box.
— image credit: Gregory Batardon

They are among Canada’s most beloved and longest running dance companies.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal has been producing innovative dance by world renowned chorographers for the past four decades, and there’s no intention of the company slowing down anytime soon.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Les Ballets Jazz is bringing its visually stunning contemporary performance featuring dances from three prolific choreographers across the country.

The full company of 12 dancers will be at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday as the VPAC society’s second performance in its  dance series.

“What sets them apart from other dance companies is their quality of performances and ability to captivate audiences and critics around the world,” said Kip Whelpley, the VPAC’s dance outreach coordinator.

The first piece is the duo Zero In On by Cayetano Soto, danced to the music of visionary musician and composer  Philip Glass.

Born in Spain, Soto started his dance education in his hometown of Barcelona and continued his studies in The Hague, Netherlands.

After receiving his degree, he danced with IT Dansa in Barcelona before joining the Ballet Theatre Munich a year later. There he created several successful ballets for the company.

Now based in Munich, Soto has gone on to create dances for some of the top ballet companies in Europe.

“Like a Pedro Almodóvar film, Soto subverts beauty to convey something else,” said Rebecca Ritzel, with The Washington Post.

Chinese-born Canadian choreographer and dance company owner Wen Wei Wang was last in Vernon in 2010 with his full-length collaborative work Under the Skin, co-produced with the Beijing Modern Dance Company.

Les Ballets Jazz will perform Wang’s Night Box, which uses movement and light to tell a dynamic story inspired by the urban night life of Montréal.

“Wang’s fascinating imaginary world of burgeoning manhood and confused desire… It’s all brilliantly theatrical, in turns witty, poignant and unsettling…,” said Michael Crabb, with The National Post.

The third piece, Harry, is a new dance specially commissioned for Les Ballets Jazz  by a rising star in the world of choreography, Barak Marshall.

Born and raised in L.A., Marshall is the son of acclaimed dancer, choreographer and musician Margalit Oved and has fast established himself as one of Israeli dance’s most innovative and unique voices, winning numerous awards.

Marshall’s own dance company has toured extensively throughout Europe, including performances in Berlin, Lyon and Paris. Also a singer, he has performed as a soloist with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, the Yuval Ron Ensemble and the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony.

To welcome Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal to Vernon, the VPAC has scheduled two outreach events.

For all of those interested in what happens  behind the scenes, the company’s tour technical director is hosting an exclusive 30-to-60 minute technical discussion.

“Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the integral and sophisticated technical inspirations and processes, with a focus on lighting, with one of the industry’s finest lighting directors,” said Whelpley.

The VPAC is also offering a master class with Les Ballets Jazz dancers on Monday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The class is for local advanced dance students only and space is very limited. To participate in either class, contact the Ticket Seller at 250-549-7469 for availability.

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal takes the stage at the VPAC Tuesday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35/adult, $32/senior, $30/student, $5/eyeGO  at the Ticket Seller box office, www.ticketseller.ca.


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