The coronavirus pandemic has brought significant challenges to the performing arts sector, as many theatres remain closed and large gatherings are prohibited. But dancers and choreographers are discovering new ways of pursuing their craft, often using technology to share and inform their work. This fall, The National Ballet of Canada is launching a virtual season of digital programming to help lead the effort to stay creative and connected with dance during these unprecedented times.
With Expansive Dances
, each of the company’s three Choreographic Associates created or adapted a solo during a period of social isolation, captured on film by Canadian director Ben Shirinian
. The solos unfold in vast, expansive spaces that juxtapose our current state of confinement, functioning both individually and as a powerful triptych. The films will be released on September 10, 15 and 22. The first video to be released is Robert Binet
's Lake Maligne
, here, he shares his insight on his creation.
Where did you film your solo for Expansive Dances and how does the space influence the piece?
We filmed the solo with First Soloist Spencer Hack
outdoors at Evergreen Brick Works
. This was really exciting for me as when I originally created this work for Company Wayne McGregor
in 2012, it was inspired by the work of Lawren Harris and is so deeply connected to nature. This solo became the jumping off point for The Dreamers Ever Leave You
in 2016 so it was interesting to revisit this work and set it amongst the natural elements that inspired it. Light is so essential in Harris’ painting so to play with natural light was amazing, even if it meant we had to start shooting at 5:00 am!
How does the absence of a live audience change your creative process or the way you think about dance, if at all?
It changes it entirely. Live performance is about risk, chance and the moment-to-moment choices a performer makes to create magic. When working with film, especially through the editing process, you must fix all these choices and decide exactly what you want the work to be, forever. I think of creating ballets as creating an arena for connection and surprise through movement and music so there is always a lot of variables. On film, we have to make different kinds of decisions that narrow the work down to one fixed statement which is a different kind of challenge.