With four new dancers and four new apprentices, Ballet BC bursts into its 29th season with the aptly named program, No. 29.

Dancers Emily Chessa and Scott Fowler in An Instant.  Photo by Michael Slobodian

Dancers Emily Chessa and Scott Fowler in An Instant. Photo by Michael Slobodian

Queen Elizabeth Theater, Vancouver – November 8, 2014.

The dancers of Ballet BC treated the audience, a full house, to a performance full of energy and enthusiasm, presence and commitment.  Their coherence as an ensemble is noteworthy, considering the flush of new members, and reflect the dancers’ openness and receptiveness to one another under the thoughtful guidance of its Artistic Director, Emily Molnar.

Jacopo Godani’s A.U.R.A (Anarchist Unit Related to Art), which premiered at Ballet BC in 2012, set up the evening’s explosive start.  The choreography depicts confrontation and conflict between the minority and the clan, amplified by deliberately uncomfortable-looking forms of undulating spines and right-angled wrists on port-de-bras arms yanked far behind the dancers’ heads.  But for the dancers, the choreography is pure pleasure – a full body massage that articulates every muscle and stretches the range of motion in their joints.  As an ensemble, the dancers establish an irrevocable presence, and bring us far, far away from the comfort of classical ballet.

For the world premiere of White Act, choreographed by Fernando Hernando Magadan, the company hauled out all of its fourteen members and four apprentices.  It’s Magadan’s first choreography with pointe, which could explain the brevity of pointe vocabulary that was mainly restricted to bourrés.  Allusions to Romantic ballets that inspired the piece were as fleeting as Sylphide’s ghost.  The piece picked up with Nederlands Dans Theater-style dynamism (the company where Magadan was a dancer for some time) which the dancers punched out with gusto.

Capping off the evening was the world premier of An Instant, choreographed by Lesley Telford, which explores the intensity of moments before and after life-altering incidents of chance.  While the piece continued to draw on the ensemble’s physicality, it stood out from the evening’s other works for the moments of intimacy it created between the dancers and the audience.  Livona Ellis, who shone with vigor and athleticism in the first two pieces, revealed a more meditative maturity in this one.  She explained, “(Telford) gave us a lot of freedom to put in our own emotions and interpretations, it was a real collaboration.”  Harmonious phrasing in the ensemble complimented emotive individuals, including Emily Chessa, who captured her role with honesty and generosity.

The audience, standing in applause, eagerly anticipates the next show.