New Choreographic Voices
February 11, 2021


Part of The National Ballet of Canada’s 2020/21 virtual season, Spotlight Series features curated digital presentations of new and existing work. The Series reflects the company's ongoing commitment to commission new work, even during these challenging times. Artistic Director Karen Kain says, “It has been a true joy curating this series for our digital stage, pursuing vibrant, unique creations and working with new choreographic voices.”

Spotlight Series includes seven commissioned dance films shot by acclaimed directors for digital presentation. The world premieres are by renowned Canadian dancemakers, four of whom are making choreographic debuts with the company: Jera Wolfe, Kevin A. Ormsby, Jennifer Archibald and Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya.

The shooting schedule was postponed due to the most recent lockdown in Ontario. Release dates of the films will be announced shortly.

Soul by Jera Wolfe

Jera Wolfe is Associate Artist at Red Sky Performance, a Toronto-based company devoted to contemporary Indigenous performance. A choreographer and dancer of Métis heritage, Wolfe has created powerful new work for companies and festivals around the world, including Fall for Dance North, Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In 2019, he won the prestigious Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Original Choreography for Trace, a work inspired by Indigenous sky and star stories.

In Soul, his first work for the National Ballet, Wolfe asks how the intricacies of private relationships manifest in the body – in movements, expressions and touch – making brilliant use of film technology to show that the full scope of a relationship can never be known from the outside. To do this, he choreographed two separate duets to the same piece of music by Max Richter. Each duet will be filmed and they will be edited together as one, creating a gorgeous meditation on the intimacy of relationships as worlds unto themselves.

“The audience will see roughly half of each duet,” Wolfe explains. “This reinforces that you can’t know everything about a relationship. The things that they’ve experienced privately are what makes them special. It’s a simple concept but very powerful.”

Learn more about Soul > 

Trase Pa by Kevin A. Ormsby

For his choreographic debut with the National Ballet, Kevin A. Ormsby created an eclectic trio about the lived experiences or ancestries that dancers, musicians and audiences bring to the shared space of dance. The theme also emerges in the music, “Traces,” by Haitian-born, Montreal-based composer David Bontemps.

“David is interested in ancestry,” Ormsby says. “He’s taken several musical structures and movements from Haiti to compose the work. I’m interested in the ways in which we arrive in a creative space to do the work that we do as dancers. What are the ancestries and the things that we carry into that space?”

Ormsby, who is Artistic Director of Toronto’s KasheDance, uses a diverse choreographic vocabulary to infuse the dancers’ natural movements with contemporary dance and ballet. His creative process was deeply collaborative. He even invited the dancers to articulate their approach to the music and choreography in writing.

“I had the best time in the studio with the dancers, just thinking about the stage as a responsive space, an observing space. How do we contemplate our own impact on the world? How do we observe others in space?”

Learn more about Trase Pa >

New Works by Jennifer Archibald and Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya

Once the current lockdown ends, Jennifer Archibald and Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya will begin working in the studio on their new pieces.

Toronto-born choreographer Jennifer Archibald creates bold new work combining emotion, storytelling and, in her words, “the unapologetic ferociousness of Hip Hop.”

Learn more about Jennifer Archibald’s new work >

The work of Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya, Principal Dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, features a unique blend of classical and contemporary aesthetics and her affinity for classical music.

Learn more about Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya’s new work >

Kevin A. Ormsby in rehearsal for Trase Pa. Photo by Paul McNulty.
Kevin A. Ormsby. Jera Wolfe. Photos by Karolina Kuras.
Jennifer Archibald. Photo by Anders J. Larsson.
Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

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