The National Ballet of Canada at Harbourfront Centre
by Caroline Dickie
August 2, 2022
Kota Sato at Harbourfront Centre. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
After a well-deserved summer break, the dancers of The National Ballet of Canada will take the stage at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre on August 16, 2022 for a week of free outdoor performances, dance classes and engaging conversation as part of Sharing the Stage, a community initiative that sees the company partnering with Toronto-based dance artists.
The official start to the 2022/23 season, Sharing the Stage extends the National Ballet’s rich tradition of performing outdoors. For 20 years, from 1971 through 1991, the company performed at the former Ontario Place site in Toronto and from 2003 to 2005, at Harbourfront Centre under the title Ballet by the Water. These shows gave audiences a chance to discover or remain engaged with the National Ballet through the offseason summer months and experience a selection of company repertoire in a totally new way.
This is the second summer the National Ballet is in residence at Harbourfront Centre through Sharing the Stage, a format that builds on the company’s history of outdoor performance to serve the forward-looking work of community engagement and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. With free programming and open-air performance spaces, Harbourfront removes several barriers to access, while the diverse roster of participants supports and shares the work of local dance artists and companies in a wide range of styles.
Artists of the Ballet at Ontario Place, 1978. Photo by Barry Gray.
Executive Director Barry Hughson says: “Sharing the Stage is part of the National Ballet’s ongoing commitment to amplify the work of diverse Canadian dance artists while sharing the stage with National Ballet artists in a large-scale free public event. These performances, discussions and classes reflect the exceptional work being offered in our richly diverse dance community and will be showcased on Toronto’s beautiful waterfront at the Harbourfront Centre.”
Featured this summer are CreativAction Micro-Commissions from Natasha Powell and Ethan Colangelo along with guest companies Holla Jazz, Rock Bottom Movement, Tanveer Alam and Samantha Sutherland, who will rehearse and perform new work developed through the Creation Residencies programme, which operates from the National Ballet’s studios at The Walter Carsen Centre. The repertoire has been curated by Hope Muir, Joan and Jerry Lozinski Artistic Director, and Robert Binet, Curator and Producer, CreativAction and Special Initiatives.
“The programming for Sharing the Stage centres around new creation in all forms of dance because embarking on a creative process together is the best way to build trusting and longstanding relationships,” says Binet. “We are so proud to be presenting these brilliant artists alongside new creations and favourites from our repertoire as we know they will inspire and invigorate our dancers and the audience.”
Rebekah Rimsay and Aleksandar Antonijevic in Napoli, 2003. Photo by Bruce Zinger.
Each day begins with class on stage, followed by rehearsals, free drop-in classes and the interactive segment “Show + Tell,” in which choreographers discuss their works in progress. The activities conclude with nightly performances of one of two mixed programmes featuring shorter works and excerpts from the company repertoire along with new creations by guest companies. There will even be a nod to the excitement of the upcoming fall season.
"There is an intentional connectivity in the programming of the National Ballet’s Sharing the Stage repertoire this August,” says Muir. “These works represent both a breadth and a balance of choreographic voices, made manifest by the National Ballet’s artists and by the guest companies that I am honoured to have joining us.
"The two excerpts from Chroma will tease Wayne McGregor’s distinct choreographic voice in advance of the November 2022 world premiere of his new MADDADDAM. Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain and a pas de deux from Karen Kain’s Swan Lake were both very successful works from this past season that we are now able to share with a new audience. And we will premiere two short pieces by Canadian choreographers Natasha Powell and Ethan Colangelo. These works will complement and contrast with the guest companies that the National Ballet will share the stage with each evening. We are thrilled to partner with Harbourfront Centre on this initiative. There will be something for everyone, all to be experienced in a unique outdoor setting.”
For more information about Sharing the Stage at Harbourfront Centre, including full programme details, please visit: https://national.ballet.ca/Productions/Harbourfront