Hope Muir Shares Her Thoughts on the 2022/23 Season
May 3, 2022
Hope Muir. Image by Karolina Kuras.
Hope Muir has just announced programming for the 2022/23 season, her first as the Joan and Jerry Lozinski Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada. We caught up with her to discuss the challenges of programming amidst the pandemic, showcasing the strengths of the full company and her effort to build creative relationships through new work and acquisitions.
Margaret Atwood. Photo by George Whiteside. Wayne McGregor. Photo by Johan Hallberg-Campbell.
You planned this season in fairly unique circumstances, in a short amount of time and with the pandemic still affecting the dance world globally. What can you tell us about that process?
Seasons are planned several years in advance to accommodate the complex scheduling demands of both companies and creators. The pandemic caused so many delays that we’re now faced with a significant backlog. So, while we’re finally able to premiere MADDADDAM, Wayne McGregor’s new production in collaboration with Margaret Atwood, which was postponed from 2020, there were challenges to securing additional new creations for the company to the degree I had hoped for. That said, I’m very proud of the experience we’re offering to our artists and audiences next season, and I’m encouraged to see the ballet world coming back from the pandemic with an even higher demand for collaborations and creative partnerships.
Wei Wang, Maria Kochetkova and Henry Sidford in Anima Animus. Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.
You’re introducing three new choreographers to the National Ballet repertoire: David Dawson, Alonzo King and Rena Butler. What inspired your choices?
The National Ballet of Canada already has a rich and varied repertoire. My aim is to bring and build meaningful new relationships with diverse choreographic voices that will complement and enhance the experience for our audiences and artists. All three of these works serve as an introduction and the beginning of conversations that I very much look forward to continuing into the future.
David Dawson is someone I have known and admired for a very long time, and I am thrilled to be presenting the Canadian premiere of Anima Animus, an internationally acclaimed work that is sure to challenge and inspire. David is a dancer’s choreographer. This experience will have a real impact on our artists, and I am excited for them to go on that journey and for you to witness the culmination of this artistic endeavour. Alonzo King is a highly respected veteran choreographer who has led his own company LINES Ballet in San Francisco for 40 years. His body of work is expansive, but not well known in Canada. I’m delighted to begin a relationship with him by staging The Collective Agreement, a work that captures his distinctive language, insight into humanity and collaborative spirit and one that he thought would be a good fit for our artists. Finally, the up-and-coming Rena Butler will be creating a world premiere for us to mark the 75th birthday of the American composer John Adams. Rena is enjoying a rapid acceleration of her career right now and it is gratifying to be able to present her work in Canada for the first time.
Jenna Savella, Tanya Howard, Heather Ogden and Alexandra MacDonald in Frame by Frame. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What are some key characteristics of the season as a whole?
There is an emphasis this season on collaboration, which is immediately evident in MADDADDAM and a work like Frame by Frame that pairs the theatrical genius of Robert Lepage with the choreographic language of Guillaume Côté. I want to support Canadian creators such as Vanesa G.R. Montoya, honour the mission of the Choreographic Associate programme and, ultimately, achieve balance in the combination of newer and classical pieces.
George Balanchine’s masterwork Symphony in C and Kenneth MacMillan’s triumphant Concerto will give the full company the opportunity to perform together in our first post-pandemic season, which still feels so empowering after the isolation we all endured.
Several of the full length works we’re performing have been integral to the National Ballet repertoire over the years, including James Kudelka’s Cinderella, and I know that our audiences will be delighted to see them again. This is also true of Romeo and Juliet, whose run was cut short due to the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. It’s important that we fulfill the expectations of our audiences and reward the hard work of our artists.
Harrison James and Heather Ogden in Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What is it like to be in the studios with the dancers of The National Ballet of Canada at last?
The studio is home to me so it’s been wonderful getting to know these amazing artists in a space we all love, understand and feel inspired by. I have such optimism and excitement for the journey ahead.
Hope Muir. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
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