Orpheus Alive & Chaconne Primer
by Karen Kain
November 11, 2019

I am thrilled to be presenting this exciting premiere. Robert Binet is currently Choreographic Associate at The National Ballet of Canada and creates innovative, multidisciplinary work for ballet companies around the world. I have programmed Orpheus Alive with the company premiere of George Balanchine’s Chaconne, a very different ballet to Robert’s but also based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.
The Greek Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus is a gifted musician from ancient Greek mythology. One of the most popular stories about him and one that has many incarnations across all artistic disciplines involves his beloved Eurydice and her untimely death. In his grief, Orpheus follows Eurydice to the underworld where he uses music to bargain with the gods for her salvation. The gods agree but with a crucial warning: If Orpheus looks back at Eurydice as they ascend to earth, he will lose her forever. Tragically, Orpheus succumbs to the temptation and he loses Eurydice for a second time.
Orpheus Alive
Robert takes a new approach to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, setting it in the present day and making Orpheus a woman and Eurydice a man. He also introduces speaking roles for the dancers, created in partnership with Canadian playwright Rosamund Small, and he commissioned a brilliant new score from the exciting young composer, Missy Mazzoli. The result feels distinctly contemporary and human and very much about the power of art.

In Chaconne, the story of Orpheus and Eurydice informs the direction and quality of George Balanchine’s choreography but it is never the main event. With Balanchine, the emphasis is on musicality and the beauty of dance for its own sake. And what dancing! Chaconne features ethereal pas de deux, regal ensemble choreography and fast footwork. Created for New York City Ballet in 1976 with his famous muse, Suzanne Farrell, as the female lead, we were privileged to have Suzanne with us in the studio to stage this gorgeous work on the company and I am so pleased to introduce Toronto audiences to its splendour for the very first time.

Orpheus Alive & Chaconne is onstage November 15 –  21, 2019.


Robert Binet on Orpheus Alive

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