Ballet BC Grace Symmetry Review

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Disclosure: Review — Views are those of the author. Media tickets were provided for review purposes. Please review the Policy & Disclosure section for further information.

On Thursday night Ballet BC, in collaboration with Turning Point Ensemble, presented the first of three performances of Grace Symmetry at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The performance features live music by Turning Point Ensemble, a local chamber ensemble whose repertoire specializes in music composed in the past 100 years and who is known for its collaborations in interdisciplinary productions.

Alexis Fletcher and Gilbert Small. Photo by Michael Slobodian for Ballet BC.

Grace Symmetry includes world premieres by Kevin O’Day and Medhi Walerski, plus the return of In Motion by Wen Wei Wang, an audience favourite from the 2010/11 dance season, which was my favourite piece of the evening.

In Motion had the musicians from Turning Point Ensemble, dressed in black, sharing the stage with the dancers. Either behind a transparent scrim and or occasionally emerging to play right next to dancers, the musicians’ presence added to shapes, lines, and dimensions to the piece in a transcendent way with Conductor Owen Underhill’s arms swaying up and down, the line of a clarinet, the shape and sound of a violin.

In Prelude, James Proudfoot’s spectacularly spartan and brutalist lighting design drove the piece and the lights literally moved down onto the dancers as the piece progressed, creating an oppressive force on them, having them submitting to what was above. I loved the uniformed costume design by Kim Nielson in this piece–all the dancers had a sheer nude top on and both men and women looked as they were topless. Darren Devaney’s solo was just spectacular, rolling his abs and contorting his body in ways that would normally would look ugly if anyone else did it, but somehow he made it absolutely exquisite.

Unfortunately, due to Peter Smida suddenly falling ill after Prelude, Here On End had to be completely reworked and re-spaced during the intermission and as a result lacked unity and a polished quality. However, it is my understanding that he will be back for the next performance and if not, I’m sure that Ballet BC will add grace and symmetry to the piece by tonight’s performance. I only wish I could go back tonight.

Tickets for Grace Symmetry‘s final performance tonight can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-2787(855-985-ARTS) or online at and range in price from $22.25 to $70.00 (plus service charges).

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