The newest creation by Ballet BC’s Artistic Director, Emily Molnar, titled when you left, will have its world premiere on May 10, 2018 as part of Program 3 – the company’s last program for season. Emily shares her insights about her new work in this interview.

Program 3 runs May 10-12 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets and info at BalletBC.

What motivated you to collaborate with the Phoenix Chamber Choir?

EM: Whenever we can have a live music aspect to our work I’m always fascinated by the different dimensions that that brings. The way that their director, Graeme Langager, brings individual voices together to work collectively towards a common goal is very similar to the way that we work. Their performances have a captivating quality – a strong underlying intention that suggests more than the idea presented.

How did you choose the music?

EM: I was immediately taken by this piece, called Plainscapes by Peteris Vask, which Graeme proposed. It’s a vocalise for 30 singers that’s very intimate and evocative. It’s only 14 to 16 minutes long, depending on the tempo it’s played at. It is, in my opinion, a beautiful and very human score. The music presented a very specific world to me and as a choreographer, having something so specific in the space to work with helps me learn things that I would not have otherwise.

What themes do you explore in ‘when you left’?

EM: To me, when you left is about memory, or loss of memory, and the concept of memory being a landscape of images. When those images disappear, there is an urgency to hold on and a reluctance to let go. I’m creating a space that is inspired by the structure of the music. The full company of 16 dancers is moving as a collective energy, with the notion that they’re always dancing with another person. Their focus is not just in their immediate space, but as far as they feel, beyond the walls that they’re in. For example, walking into a room while remembering something that happened in the past, and at the same time sensing that someone is knocking on a door in another room. Their focus is in different places, the past, present and future.

What new choreographic ideas do you explore in this piece?

EM: More than in previous works, I’m playing with pause and repetition, and exploring how we can keep building off of and redistributing one theme or phrase. Compounding these through the accumulation of movement, we’ve created repeating loops that express a sense of urgency, something growing and then leaving. Sometimes I would disrupt a certain phrase by taking one thing and putting it elsewhere in order to get better sequencing or more vibrant timings. I love disrupting things, but to do it well takes time to hone. I think I’ve been able to do that in this work, while keeping the harmony that I intended.

What were the challenges of creating this piece?

EM: I’ve never made such a short piece for such a large group, so dealing with the trajectory of time was a challenge. Because when you left focuses on the relationship of individuals within a collective energy, it was a challenge trying to cultivate and maintain a certain collectivity, while staying very true to the individual self. It’s very tricky actually, the more you simplify it the harder it gets.

Livona Ellis and Brandon Alley in rehearsal. Photo by Michael Slobodian.