Jan. 10, 2013 - Issue #899: The games we play
OK, so most of the seasonal sugarplum fairies have already danced and departed 'till next season. The annual wave of Nutcracker productions has mostly seen its curtains rise and fall, but that little calendar quibble isn't stopping Canada's Ukrainian Shumka Dancers from getting the world premiere of Clara's Dream: A Ukrainian Folk Ballet up on its feet. It is, after all, barely past Ukrainian Christmas.
"As the resident dance company of the Jubilee Auditorium, it was important for Shumka to feel like they're part of the Christmas holiday scene—albeit yes, we are in January given that's the Julian calendar part of Christmas," producer Michael Sulyma says. "Edmonton has been known to have a large population of people who celebrate both Christmases. So we may be at the end of it, but we're still feeling like part of it."
With Clara's Dream, the acclaimed dance company is putting its own indelible cultural spin into reshaping the enduring Tchaikovsky ballet. After guesting in touring versions of The Nutcracker with the Kyiv Ballet, and seeing audience reactions to their energetic folk dance take on moments of the story, Sulyma says they decided to fully explore that stylistic interpretation, including the incorporation of a Ukrainian Christmas carol, Shchedryk (Carol of the Bells).
"That's not to say it's up-and-down kicking throughout for two hours," he says. "Ukrainian dance does include a lot of character movement and a lot of ballidic movement. But no toe shoes, no tutus. We won't be using very many balletic moves, because we only have a few from the ballet, and we will populate the cast with all ukranian dancers."
Half of those dancers will be from Shumka; the other half are being provided by the 73-year-old Virsky company, based in in Ukraine and which Sulyma notes to be "the world's best Ukrainian dance group," performing choreography from Kyiv Ballet's Viktor Lytvynov, dancing beneath composition from the renowned Yuri Shevchenko. And, Sulyma points out, in this digital era, working with a company half a world away isn't as difficult as you'd imagine.
"There is a certain challenge when you're working with dancers and creative people half a world away," he says. "but with Skype and wonderful modes of transportation, surprisingly enough, if you're working with a group of people that are like minded with the same desire, it's easily created across the ocean."
Fri, Jan 11; Sat, Jan 12 (7:30 pm)
Jubilee Auditorium, $25 – $75
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