Arts & Culture

ENCOUNT3RS asks, What is Canadian ballet? Plus, The Hottentot Venus Untold, Renna Virk & more

Uniting three different Canadian choreographers with three composers to create three new one-act ballets in celebration of Canada’s 150 is ENCOUNT3RS, a presentation at the National Arts Centre from April 20 to 22.

From this intriguing fusion, audiences will get an opportunity to see the extent of Canadian ballet. But it raises the question: what is Canadian ballet, exactly?

Cathy Levy, the NAC’s executive producer of dance, says that defining a Canadian style can be tricky: “We have to keep in mind that Canada is a huge country. I don’t think there’s one style.” Generally, she notes, our ballet is known for its “incredible craft, ingenuity, theatricality, and experimentation.”

In ENCOUNT3RS, perhaps the most intriguing pair is composer Andrew Staniland and choreographer Jean Grand-Maître. Staniland has an affinity for new music (using electronics and computers), which sounds like a perfect match for Grand-Maître’s experimentations. (Currently at the helm of Alberta Ballet, he has collaborated with the likes of k.d. lang and Sir Elton John). Early concepts between these two involved “exploring metaphysical themes, which connect with concepts of infinity and ancient sciences.” Sci-fi suite, anyone?

ONGOING

The GCTC offers one of Canada’s smartest and most politically savvy playwrights. Michael Healey’s latest play, 1979, is a silly, satirical look at Joe Clark’s brief time as our prime minister, with eerie echoes of the political circus playing down south — Until April 30.

UPCOMING

TACTICS returns this spring with two mainstage offerings at Arts Court Theatre. The Hottentot Venus — untold, is Jacqui du Toit’s masterful ode to a South African woman named Sarah Baartman. As the story goes, she went to England in 1812 — it’s unclear whether she went willingly or was forced to go — where she was put on display as a freak. It’s on from April 19 to 23. And Girls! Girls! Girls!, Greg MacArthur’s devastating play about violence and teenage girls inspired by the 1997 murder of Reena Virk, is on April 26 to May 6.

"The Hottentot Venus — untold" is Jacqui du Toit’s masterful ode to a South African woman named Sarah Baartman at Arts Court Theatre. Photo: Captivate Creative Studios
“The Hottentot Venus — untold” is Jacqui du Toit’s masterful ode to a South African woman named Sarah Baartman at Arts Court Theatre. Photo: Captivate Creative Studios

Maestro is an entertaining, smart, and unpretentious look at high-level orchestral antics. The show, from Plosive Productions, runs in both French and English with the same bilingual cast. Directed by virtuoso Gilles Provost, it’s at The Gladstone from May 26 to June 10.

Children of God has been in the works since 2011; the passion project by Indigenous composer Corey Payette tells the story of an Oji-Cree family whose children were taken away to residential school. At the NAC from June 7 to 18.

Think you know the story of Louis Riel? Think again. Louis Riel is a tour de force opera sung in English, French, and Cree that seeks to rethink Canadian history — just in time for Canada’s 150. A co-production of the Canadian Opera Company and the NAC, it runs from June 15 to 17 at the NAC.