Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra are bringing Canadiana Suite: A Sesquicentennial Celebration to the stage, May 4 and 5 at the Kelowna Community Theatre. - Image Credit: Michael Slobodian

Creating music and dance for Canada’s 150th

Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra are combining forces

Blending music and dance has been common for centuries. But less common for Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.

The two groups will combine together tonight to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

The upcoming performance titled Canadiana Suite: A Sesquicentennial Celebration is a special tribute, May 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Kelowna Community Theatre, and May 6 at 7 p.m. at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

Simone Orlando, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna, said the program has been in the works for two years.

The Capital News visited the artists’ first dress rehearsal, seeing the artists perform together for the first time.

“We’ve had to redefine how we brought the orchestra and ballet together on stage,” said Orlando, adding the symphony sits on a scaffolding set which gives the dancers room to perform on stage.

The first half of the program carries the theme of trains and the journey through Canada via train, at one point utilizing Gordon Lightfoot’s Canadian Railroad Trilogy, “I think what this choreography shows is that it’s the energy, it’s a journey building a nation and the dancers are moving like crazy for the eight minutes. They’re all over the stage. They move as a unit and then they separate and come and move back together,” said Orlando.

“It’s almost like the corners of the nation are coming together and meeting and dispersing forward… It really has a sense of momentum.”

The combining of Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, Orlando said is “fantastic.”

“It’s a collaboration on a scale I don’t think this community has seen and we really hope through our partnership, we create a model for organizations to move forward together.”

Orlando hopes to work with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra again in the future.

According to a Ballet Kelowna release, “The OSO brings the magic of live music celebrating Canadian music icons including R. Murray Shafer, Gordon Lightfoot and Oscar Peterson with a specially commissioned arrangement by Lance Anderson, and guest performances by local jazz ensemble The Neville Bowman Trio, and renowned blues artist Shakura S’Aida.”

Tickets can be purchased through Ballet Kelowna’s website.