Mainstage Debut: Crepuscular
September 20, 2022
Vanesa Montoya. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
In advance of The National Ballet of Canada’s November performances of Crepuscular, we asked the creator – Montréal-based dancer and choreographer Vanesa G.R. Montoya – to share her insight on the piece’s evolution, from a commission for the virtual season in 2021 to this fall’s mainstage debut.
Crepuscular has gone through several iterations with the National Ballet. What can you tell us about its evolution?
Many of the changes to Crepuscular were linked to the challenges we faced during the worst times of the pandemic. At first, I had the incredible honour to be invited to create something for the National Ballet’s virtual season. Luckily, as time went by (and after several lockdowns), restrictions eased and the company was able to hold some performances outdoors. I was then presented with the opportunity to adapt the ballet to be performed live as part of Sharing the Stage at Harbourfront Centre in 2021.
After the summer performances I received the wonderful news that the company wanted to add Crepuscular to their repertoire and present it the following season on the mainstage. I could not be more thrilled or grateful for this opportunity!
The inspiration for Crepuscular and its ideas have remained constant, but the ballet has also been evolving, growing and maturing. Revisiting it has given me room to explore the movement on a deeper level and to focus on the details, make some improvements and even expand it a bit.
Tene Ward and Scott McKenzie in Crepuscular at Harbourfront Centre. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
You created Crepuscular during pandemic lockdowns. Revisiting the ballet now, does it feel particular to that time, or has it taken on new meaning?
The inspiration for this piece is based on all the different emotions that can surface when we face the unknown – fear, anxiety, pain, loneliness, curiosity, excitement, love, frustration, spiritual connection, hope, inner peace, dreaming and so on. Also, the need for human connection or to isolate and seek introspection. These feelings are present for all of us at different points in our lives, but for many people they intensified during the pandemic. However, I think it can be interpreted beyond that situation.
Even though Crepuscular was created during the pandemic when public health restrictions were limiting our usual way of functioning in the studio, somehow I was able to navigate the situation so that I didn’t feel too restricted. I tried to avoid large periods of contact and close partnering with several dancers at the same time, but in the end I was able to work on several sections with lots of intricate partnering and contact while also following the safety guidelines.
Vanesa Montoya and Brenna Flaherty in rehearsal for Crepuscular. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
What have you been doing since you first created Crepuscular? What has your return to in-person performance and choreography been like?
After creating Crepuscular, life at work picked up really fast! I am still a very active dancer myself, so I was able to return to full duties as Principal Dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, where I just restaged my biggest creation for the company so far, From the Sun to the Moon. I try to keep time for my own creative projects and to teach ballet and contemporary dance. As an artist, it feels great to be back onstage doing what we love so deeply with no reservations or limitations. It is a breath of fresh air!
Kota Sato and Brenna Flaherty in Crepuscular at Harbourfront Centre. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
Crepuscular is onstage November 9 — 13 with The Collective Agreement and Concerto. Learn more