Tours en l'air organizes ballet-themed escorted holidays to see the best companies perform great ballets in beautiful places. You can join a trip from anywhere. A highly knowledgeable balletomane who has enjoyed 100s of performances in over 20 cities around the world,I speak English, French, and German, and am a Travel Industry Council of Ontario certified Travel Counsellor. I also teach ballet appreciation courses. Twitter: @thewordlady Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherine.barber.37
Tours en l'air Ballet Holidays are offered in partnership with CWT Victor Travel, TICO # 1892647

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Robert Tewsley book

If you are interested in buying a book on ROBERT TEWSLEY (www.roberttewsley.com) at a 25% reduction (retail price around 30 Euros, 160 pages, A4, bilingual English-German, including 25 pages of text in either language plus many colour+b/w photos from all over the world)? At the moment this is only a survey to get an idea... For further questions please message Julia Buhrle on Facebook or leave a comment on this blog.

Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz creates piece for Cuban National Ballet

http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/theatre/article/881975--canadian-choreographer-honours-legendary-cuban-ballerina-at-havana-festival

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who knew "wombat" was a colour?

Only in Australia... read this interesting blog about dyeing in The Australian Ballet's wardrobe department.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paris, Amsterdam, great ballet, cute Canadian dancer

I am looking at a spring ballet trip to Paris, but it would have to be over Easter long weekend and I am not sure if that suits people or not, so please let me know.
As you know, I strive to make Tours en l'air trips suit your wishes as much as possible!
It also seemed a shame to be near Holland in tulip season and not to take advantage of it so what I am looking at now is something like this:

April 22 - May 1
6 days Paris, 3 days Amsterdam

Arrive Paris Good Friday, 22nd April, stay till the morning of Thurs 28th

1 Performance of Nureyev's version of Romeo and Juliet (there is another performance of it the same week for the keeners)
1 Performance of Mats Ek's House of Bernarda and A Sort of...
all performances in Paris by Paris Opera Ballet

Mats Ek is a very contemporary choreographer who is a big star on the international ballet scene. Some people LOVE him but he's not everyone's cup of tea so if you'd rather that be made an optional performance, please let me know
Here's a clip of House of Bernarda:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ahcKtpp9nA

Thurs 28th take train (3 hrs) to Amsterdam, to see Dutch National Ballet in a fabulous all Hans van Manen program (teaser here):
http://www.youtube.com/user/HetNationaleBallet#p/search/2/bmQJQ4huh3M
Stay in Amsterdam till Sunday May 1st, with a side trip to the amazing Keukenhof garden 40 minutes away to see the spring flowers in bloom

If we're lucky we could see DNB's recently promoted Canadian (from Regina!) Principal Dancer, Matthew Golding, who as you will see in these videos is a beeYOOtiful turner (not to mention cute as a button) whose somewhat meteoric career path is no surprise:
http://www.youtube.com/user/HetNationaleBallet#p/u/3/ZU_Yc4TZ99Y
http://www.youtube.com/user/HetNationaleBallet#p/search/9/Ra1GA7EZ35M

I think this could be a great trip, but it all depends on whether enough people are available at that time of year so please do get in touch if you're tempted. Remember, you can join a Tours en l'air trip from anywhere, just meet us in Paris.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Stars of the 21st Century

If you're like me, your reaction to seeing a good ballet performance is a toddler-like "Do that AGAIN! I wanna see that AGAIN!"
So, to feed the inner toddler of those of you who were at the Stars of the 21st Century gala in Toronto last night, and as a treat suitable for a leisurely Sunday afternoon for those of you who couldn't make it, I have compiled a YouTube version with many of the pieces and dancers we saw. Enjoy!

Flames of Paris pas de deux with Daniil Simkin:


Les Bourgeois with Daniil Simkin (choreography by Ben Van Cauwenberg):


Caravaggio (choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti) with the Berlin State Ballet

Le Grand pas de deux (choreography by Christian Spuck, here with the dancers who created the piece, Robert Tewsley and Julia Kraemer)

Coppelia pas de deux with Zdenek Konvalina and Bridgett Zehr

Diamonds pas de deux excerpt, here with Houston Ballet

Arepo (choreography by Maurice Bejart) with Alessio Carbone of the Paris Opera Ballet

Don Quixote pas de deux with Denis and Anastasia Matvienko (pdd starts at about the 2 minute mark)

Radio and Juliet (choreography by Edward Clug) with Denis and Anastasia Matvienko


Katherine Barber
Tours en l'air
Ballet Holidays

GET MORE BALLET OUT OF LIFE

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dream of the Red Chamber

Last night I attended a performance of the Beijing Friendship Dance Company in what was billed as a "fusion of Chinese folk dance and classical ballet". I don't know anything about Chinese folk dance, so I can't say how unlike it this was, but it didn't strike me as being very balletic, apart from the occasional fouette turn, tour a la seconde, or grand jete tossed in sometimes incongruously. The women were not on pointe. The story is of a young man who loves one woman but is tricked into marrying another. It is also supposed to show his rebellion against the strictures of feudal society, but this was definitely not clear from the ballet. There was not much character development through the choreography. Bizarrely, the synopsis in Chinese and fractured English ("Witnessing the Wang Xifeng punishing a servant girl for the engaged herself secretly, Baoyu is vexed and worried") was read out over the music at the beginning of each scene.
The costumes were colourful and beautiful and the high point for me was a lovely fan dance for the corps.
As for the music, by Su Cong, it was a strange mishmash of western classical, Chinese, what sounded like country and western at some points, and pop. There was no transition from one chunk to the next. Su Cong has apparently composed for a lot of movies, and this was evident in the score. The steady electronic bass thumping was most irritating. This was exacerbated by the fact that the music was a recording and played too loud. Su Cong seems to have never met an instrument he didn't like, and he put them all into this ballet. At one point near the end I found myself wishing the music would stop.... and then it did! Just at the dramatic high point of the ballet, when the hero discovers he's been tricked and launches into an anguished solo. Kudos to Zhang Jin for carrying on with full intensity, with no music to back him up. Then the stage went black, backstage voices were heard followed by the sound of a CD being fastforwarded; the lights came back on and Zhang Jin had to start again towards the end of his solo.
Another bizarre thing happened during the curtain calls. After all the dancers had taken their bows, the choreographer and company director, Zhao Ming, came on... and proceeded to do a long grand allegro variation. A man of about 50, he seemed determined to prove he could still do grands jetes en tournant, any number of pirouettes, and many other tricks. The crowd went wild. What a limelight hogger! The valiant Zhang Jin looked on straightfaced but I am sure he was thinking, "Hey, how come he's getting all the applause? I'm the one who kept this ballet afloat when the music died!!!"

Friday, October 8, 2010

Get in touch with your inner ballerina

I was chatting last night with a fellow National Ballet of Canada volunteer who told me that she had been inspired by the fact that I, though not in the first flush of youth, take ballet classes, to sign up herself for beginner classes last year. She is absolutely thrilled with it. She finds it improves her balance and muscle tone and feeds her aesthetic sense in a way other exercise classes don't. It's great for flexibility too. All these things become more important the older you get. So my advice to everyone is: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO LEARN BALLET!!! Try it. You'll love it. Don't worry if you don't have the perfect body. You don't have to wear a revealing black leotard and pink tights. Yoga wear or sweats are fine. You won't be in a class where other people knock off quintuple pirouettes (or even any pirouettes to start with!) to make you feel inadequate. You will all be beginners together. In Toronto, try Metro Movement or Canada's National Ballet School.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A morning at the National Ballet of Canada

My U of Toronto School of Continuing Studies students and I had a great time visiting the Walter Carsen Centre for The National Ballet of Canada this morning. After a brief visit to the set model room where we saw set models for Don Quixote, The Merry Widow, and Nutcracker, we had a quick look at the wigs and then visited the wardrobe department. I have the highest admiration for the creative people in wardrobe who transform the designers' sketches into beautiful costumes that work with the dancers. Repairs on Don Quixote costumes are underway, replacing dead elastic on tutu bottoms and generally refurbishing. We saw a Snow Queen tutu up close, laden with the brocade and trim that is so characteristic of Santo Loquasto's designs. Then it was off to see the centre section of the dancers' daily class, taught by Rex Harrington (what a treat). After having Lorna Geddes, amazingly a 50-year veteran of the company (so youthful looking she must have started dancing before she was born!) explain the inner workings of pointe shoes, it was back to the studio to see ballet mistress Mandy-Jayne Richardson imparting the secrets of Balanchine style to the corps in Serenade. "Let the poetry of the music inhabit your whole body and heart and soul," she told them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love this tutu!


Madeleine Eastoe wearing Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude costume. Photography Jo Duck. Make-up Nicola Snell for Napoleon Perdis

This picture is from The Australian Ballet's new "My Favourite Tutu" calendar (available through their website). I love the funky tutus in William Forsythe's Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, which is a dazzling display of ballet virtuosity (with that Forsythe twist) performed to Schubert's Great C Major Symphony played at breakneck speed. If a ballet company near you ever performs it, GO SEE IT!!
For more info on the tutu calendar, visit the Australian Ballet's excellent blog, Behind Ballet.