National Ballet of Canada announces virtual season, including digital films

TORONTO — The National Ballet of Canada is dancing into the virtual world.

Earlier this month the company announced the COVID-19 pandemic had forced it to cancel its physical performances set for November and December, including its annual production of "The Nutcracker."

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But in a newly announced virtual season, the ballet will offer digital premieres and new works, including some created in isolation.

Beginning Sept. 10, the ballet will post weekly "Expansive Dances" films for free on its website and social media channels.

Ben Shirinian directed the three films, which were shot in Toronto and created in partnership with Evergreen.

A news release says each film will feature a solo performer "moving boldly through space in direct contrast to our present confined existence due to the pandemic, heralding hope for a brighter future."

In one film, choreographer Guillaume Cote presents the new work "Lulu," about a woman who "lets go of her tainted past to start anew."

In another, choreographer Robert Binet revisits his 2012 Lawren Harris-inspired piece "Lake Maligne," this time with first soloist Spencer Hack performing outdoors at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto.

In the third film, second soloist Christopher Gerty performs adapted excerpts from choreographer Alysa Pires's existing work, "In Between," at Evergreen Brick Works. The National Ballet says it "expresses a sense of restlessness and a yearning for comfort that feel especially relevant during these uncertain times."

The ballet has also commissioned new works by choreographers Kevin A. Ormbsy and Jera Wolfe as part of the upcoming Spotlight Series of curated digital presentations.

The ballet says it is looking at options for how it will present the Spotlight Series and additional programming for the virtual season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.

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