A little piece of Canadiana will grace the G.W. Graham stage next week as Ballet Kelowna brings its latest performance to Chilliwack in celebration of our nation’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
Canadiana Suite is mixed program of dance featuring four works commissioned in honour of Canada’s 150th, and it hits the stage on Oct. 18. It is an uplifting artistic tribute to Canada’s rich cultural heritage and striking landscape that promises to make audiences proud to be Canadian. The show is 90 minutes long with an intermission.
Bringing the show here was a joint effort by Graham Theatre and the Chilliwack Community Arts Council.
Both Damon Fultz, drama teacher at G.W. Graham middle secondary school, and Patti Lawn, executive director with the Arts Council, thought this was an excellent collaboration. They agree that this is something the Arts Council and Graham Theatre would like to do at least once a year.
Lawn says it fulfills their mandate. “It’s not just about the visual artists, it’s about all aspects of art.”
“The company is quite excited about coming,” says Fultz. “They said this is going to be something that they’ve really want to do, and want to do more of.”
He’s talking not only about Ballet Kelowna’s Canadiana Suite performance, but also two shorter school performances they’ll be doing, plus a workshop aimed at kids in Grades 5 and up.
The professional dance company will present its 45-minute school performance Now, What, Like, When to hundreds of kids on the mornings of Oct. 18 and 19.
“It’s a presentation based on words — words that inspire, words that hurt, words that empower, and they have built this whole performance around that,” says Lawn. “We’ve got to get kids to see this because dance is more than just what they think of as ballet.”
She says it’s difficult to bring dance to elementary schools because of the flooring. Dancers need a specific floor on which to perform, and school gymnasiums won’t cut it. Dance companies often do have a special vinyl dance floor — called a Marley floor — that they bring with them, but that adds to the cost of travel and in turn the production itself.
Fultz says the Marley floor is loved by dancers because it gives them a “consistently smooth floor.”
G.W. Graham owns one of these floors, and Ballet Kelowna will be using it on Oct. 18 and 19, which was one of the reasons the school and the Arts Council was able to afford to bring the professional ballet company to Chilliwack.
“They have seen pictures of the theatre and they were quite surprised at how beautiful the theatre is and how well equipped were are,” says Fultz.
The Marley floor will be used for the main evening show, Canadiana Suite, as well as Now, What, Like, When.
“There’s a real educational component to this. We have the school show, but also the Maters’ Class,” adds Lawn.
The Masters’ Class is a 90-minute ballet workshop where dancers (aged 12 and up) will get to work closely with a professional choreographer and dancers.
Fultz and Lawn say they want to fill the place and allow people to experience Ballet Kelowna, therefore they have kept the ticket prices low.
“It’s important that theatres invest in the arts,” says Fultz.
“And develop their audiences,” adds Lawn.
“I really think the arts have to be supported in this way, and dance is something that is very important to have a variety of different things that we see on a stage, especially a company that’s so well regarded,” says Fultz.
There will also be live jazz music plus a coffee house in the lobby with specialty beverages and goodies before Canadiana Suite. The coffee house opens at 6 p.m., live music is at 6:10 p.m., theatre doors at 6:30 p.m., and show begins at 7 p.m.
Ballet Kelowna’s Canadiana Suite takes place Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Now, What, Like, When runs Oct. 18 and 19 at 9:30 a.m. And the Masters’ Class runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 and is limited to 35 students. All events take place at G.W. Graham Theatre (45955 Thomas Rd.).
Tickets for Canadian Suite are $20 for adults and $15 for students. Tickets for the school program, Now, What, Like, When, are $5 per student. Tickets for the masters’ class workshop are $25.
Tickets for Canadiana Suite can be purchased in person or by phone at the school (604-847-0772), or at the Chilliwack Community Arts Council: 20-5725 Vedder Rd., chilliwackartscouncil.com, 604-769-2787. Tickets for Now, What, Like, When and the Masters’ Class workshop can be purchased through Damon Fultz at firstname.lastname@example.org.