The Alberta Ballet is presenting a new work, "Our Canada," a celebration of the Canadian spirit, to commemorate both the ballet company's 50th anniversary, and the country's 150th.
The CBC commissioned a song from Gordon Lightfoot for Canada's Centennial (for those of you new to Lightfoot's music, the song is "Canadian Railroad Trilogy"). What could be more appropropriate than to turn to Lightfoot again for the 150th? That is just what the Alberta Ballet did, this time in the form of a new ballet set to Lightfoot songs.
The new ballet opens Thursday, May 4th in Calgary, Alberta, with additional shows there on Friday and Saturday the 5th and 6th. The following week, there will be two performances on May 12th and 13th in Edmonton, Alberta.
This is the fifth ballet created by Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître around the music of a great musician. The previous musicians were Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Sarah McLaughlin and KD Lang. In each case the story involved something that was important to the songwriter; with Lightfoot, the quintessential Canadian songwriter, the objective was to present a portrait of Canada though his music.
The ballet features 22 of Lightfoot's songs, including "Sundown", “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, "If You Could Read My Mind", and the "Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald," but also other songs not as well known except to his most devoted fans. It's a rare opportunity to showcase Lightfoot's music in a new medium, and share it with an even wider audience.
Lightfoot songs have been used twice before in musical theater productions, one of which - "Love and Maple Syrup" - had five Lightfoot songs plus songs of other Canadian songwriters, and played off-Broadway in 1970. The more recent of the theater productions was in 2002 and is described here: If You Could Read My Mind: The Music of Gordon Lightfoot. This new production is the first with Lightfoot music in a ballet.
The Alberta Ballet has prepared a series of videos describing the ballet and how it was created. You can check out their videos on You Tube here.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit the Ballet's website: "Our Canada" at Alberta Ballet Website. There are still seats available for all five performances.
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