Ballet Kelowna is restarting its ballet season with a grand opening of their performance Rising Action. Don’t miss this artistic and cultural opportunity, set to take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 3 and 4, at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Rising Action, the opener of this year’s ballet season, is composed of a trio of ballet pieces — The Forever Part, Studies of Cash, and The Royal We. This season is especially significant, marking an important milestone — the 10th anniversary of Artistic Director and CEO, Simone Orlando, leading Kelowna Ballet.
About the 3 ballet pieces of Rising Action
Rising Action opens with Kirsten Wicklund’s contemporary masterpiece, The Forever Part. Eight dancers navigate landscapes of desire and yearning, to that of anxiety and restriction. Accompanied by a mesmerizing score of J.S. Bach's timeless classics and Wicklund’s original music, this performance promises to blow your expectations away.
Next, comes Studies of Cash. Originally choreographed in 2007 by Simone Orlando, Studies of Cash is making a comeback in homage of her decade-long dedication to Ballet Kelowna. The Phoenix News asked Orlando to tell us about the performance and what inspired her to create it. She responded, explaining, “My mother and I were on a road trip from Vancouver to Edmonton, and we were going up the Coquihalla highway, when we ended up in a freak snowstorm. We made it to Merritt, where we found a room to stay but were starving, so we went down to the pub and it was karaoke night. One of the locals was being coaxed to come up and sing a song. And he sang this amazing rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire.” That sparked my interest in exploring Johnny Cash’s music. I did a lot of research around the different albums he recorded throughout his life, and the one that resonated with me was his recording in Folsom Prison in 1968.
So, I started to explore some of the songs from that particular recording, and ended up developing a work that is about imprisonment and confinement. But, it’s really looking behind prison walls that are both human-made and self-imposed.”
These deep, profound and relatable themes are sure to move and touch your heart.
The third and finale of the trio will be The Royal We, Jake Poloz’s choreographic debut. Poloz’s piece will utilize the pomp and glitter of regal rituals to explore the central role ambitions play in the grand story of our lives.
About Ballet Kelowna and its growth over the decade
Founded in 2002, Ballet Kelowna is the only professional dance company in B.C.’s Interior. The organization, over its long two-decade presence in the region, has been a powerhouse of talent and a beacon of culture in B.C. Providing unique dance training opportunities and outreach programs to the community, Ballet Kelowna encourages, promotes, and develops Canadian dancers and choreographers. The Company performs annually for more than 12,000 audience members in Kelowna and on tour nationwide.
Simone Orlando, the CEO and Artistic Director, is an award-winning choreographer and former dancer with Ballet B.C. and The National Ballet of Canada. Over her decade at the helm of Ballet Kelowna, Orlando has developed the ballet group significantly into the renowned group they are today. She especially appreciates the growth of the company over the years and seeing how far it’s come.
A decade is a long time and a journey filled with countless memories, but we asked Orlando for some of her most memorable moments. She happily answered,
“In 2017, we did a full program with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra! They were playing live, we were performing, there were 4 world premiers. Even having newly-arranged music specifically for the program. That was a massive undertaking, but with the two organizations coming together and being able to share the stage together, it was really exciting.”
Orlando and Ballet Kelowna are also eager about the direction the group is headed in the near future. She elaborated, “Of late, I’ve been really excited about the expansion of our touring profile. Ballet Kelowna has recently toured to Atlantic Canada, Ontario, and Quebec. Next year, it looks like we will be touring in the US...I’ve been really proud of being able to build the reputation of the organization, and see presenters interested and wanting us to be on their stages.”
Orlando explains how much the group has grown, from only having 6 dancers when she first arrived, to now, being nearly three times larger with a dance team now 15 strong. They were even previously housed in a school, which was a major restriction. The hours of operation were really limited, and the practice room was much smaller. Since the group has moved to their current studio, the practices have greatly improved and the dancers have more time to work. With custom audio-visual equipment and professional dance floors, the ballet group has been producing higher-quality performances, allowing them to launch new programs for the world to witness. This is a major leap for the organization.
Misconceptions about Ballet Kelowna
Simone Orlando explained to us how ballet can often be misunderstood.
“I think sometimes, when people hear the word “ballet,” they think of tutus, tiaras, and pointe shoes, and maybe a more traditional ballet. But, with Ballet Kelowna, the work that we do is contemporary ballet, so it's work that has been created very recently. Like Jake’s piece — brand new, world premiere. The themes, ideas and conflicts that are being explored in the works are also relevant to today’s society, as opposed to 18th-century aristocracy in Europe.”
Attending a Ballet Kelowna performance often surprises first time ballet attendees, since it blows their expectations away. Orlando shares some feedback she regularly hears from guests, “The work is very accessible, oftentimes surprising. A lot of people who come to our shows, the first thing they say to me is ‘Oh my gosh! I can't believe I was not bored or ‘I was on the edge of my seat, I enjoyed absolutely everything on the program!’” This is a wonderful testament to why you should avoid listening to expectations about how boring ballet might be. Rather, ballet is able to be action-packed and full of teeth-clenching drama. Her response beautifully sums up why you and your friends should try this unique experience, especially with the loads of student discounts.
Why You Should Attend
Simone Orlando has displayed plenty of passion for the work she conducts, and a deep confidence that anyone who attends the event is sure to leave with a smile on their face and life-lasting memories of the spectacular experience. When we asked her what she hopes for attendees take away from the experience, Orlando gracefully replied,
“I think our biggest goal is to allow people to escape from the reality of their lives, from the pressures and struggles. When they come to the theatre and see our show for 2 hours, they can forget everything else and be present in that moment.”
She further elaborated, “And when they leave, we hope that the energy that we bring to the stage and the energy of these pieces will help inspire them in their daily lives. But also, it might encourage thought, it might encourage exploration of participating in dance themselves. I would hope that the art performances are something that they come to, to give them life and to re-energize, and allow them to go back into whatever world they live in with a renewed sense of energy. Invigorate them.”
Tickets, Deals, and More Info
Attending Rising Action or any of the other two Kelowna Ballet performances this season is sure to be an experience different and more exciting than the usual activities you usually partake in Kelowna. So, take advantage of this opportunity! Students get a generously discounted price too. And, as a greater bonus, you can save an extra 10% with the code bkfriend10.
Check out the official Kelowna Ballet website for more information and ticket pricing.
You can also visit their Instagram page to stay up to date @balletkelowna.