Shuswap Dance Center students Adrianna Williams

Shuswap Dance Center students Adrianna Williams

Ballet Kelowna’s innovative program features local dance students

Three Shuswap Dance Center students will perform onstage with members of Ballet Kelowna for three shows, including one in Salmon Arm.

Prepare for an evening of ‘Excellence in Motion’ as Ballet Kelowna dancers take to the Shuswap Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 14.

Ballet Kelowna dancers are back on their toes with InnOvation, a program designed to celebrate great Canadian choreography – and three Shuswap Dance Centre students will share the stage with professional dancers.

From the poignantly heartbreaking I Remember You, to the joyously uplifting Exsultate, Jubilate, Ballet Kelowna’s spring show will feature pieces that illustrate their new motto – ‘Excellence in Motion.’

Award-winning jazz musician Neville Bowman has created an original score for a brand new ballet, Redux Continuum, choreographed by Ballet Kelowna’s artistic director, David LaHay.

“It tells the story of what might happen if the ballet master was to leave the classroom,” said LaHay.

Each of the dancers is given a chance to shine in what they do best in this piece, set Bowman’s innovative score.

Tossing in a dash of humour is  #weddingdayproblems by Ballet Kelowna alumna, Raelynn Heppell.

“It all started as a joke last June when I was retiring from dancing and was asked to do a fun piece for a performance in Kelowna,” says Heppell, who teaches ballet, jazz and lyrical at the dance centre. “Basically there’s an army of brides on stage, all mourning over the fact the love of their life is marrying another woman.”

Describing the number as lighthearted and funny, Heppell says LaHay liked it and suggested the company could include it in a show.

Set to the song, All I Do Is Cry by vocalist Etta James, the dance combines three Ballet Kelowna dancers and three local dance students.

“I auditioned students and videotaped them to show to the artistic director,” says Heppell, noting she had chosen to audition those who showed the most promise.

Not only was LaHay impressed when he saw them rehearse in Kelowna, he suggested Sidney Pullin, Brooke Richardson and Adrianna Williams perform in the Summerland and Kamloops shows as well.

“They’re lucky,” says Heppell. “They’re excited and working really hard.”

Humour won’t be all that gets ‘tossed’ into InnOvation’s mix.

Watch as ballerina Desiree Bortolussi is tossed in the air in a hold-your-breath throw and catch by her partner Jed Duifhuis during the pas de deux from iconic Canadian choreographer Brian Macdonald’s Tam Ti Delam.

Tam Ti Delam holds a special place in LaHay’s heart as he was part of the original cast when Macdonald created the piece for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.

Ballet Kelowna dancers will be wearing the original costumes for this, on loan from the Montreal Ballet.

Rounding out the program will be the exquisitely elegant Étude by another of Canada’s great choreographers, Kay Armstrong.

Tickets for InnOvation are available at Salmon Arm Stationery, 310 Hudson Ave. or at the door.