by Jera Wolfe

by Jera Wolfe


In his first work for The National Ballet of Canada, Dora Award-winning choreographer Jera Wolfe has created two separate duets set to the same music by Max Richter and edited together for film. Each duet incorporates small movements and gestures to provide insight into a personal relationship that can never truly be known from the outside. To emphasize this point, Soul is edited to show only half of each six-minute duet, leaving the rest of the relationship private. This moving, poetic work is danced by Principal Dancer Guillaume Côté and First Soloist Tanya Howard and Principal Dancer Harrison James and First Soloist Ben Rudisin. Soul makes its world premiere as part of Spotlight Series, The National Ballet of Canada’s 2020/21 virtual season.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Wolfe found inspiration in his great-grandmother’s experience as a Métis woman who concealed her heritage when she married a Chinese man. As Wolfe explains, “Everyone assumed she was Chinese, so her husband knew far more about her than anyone else. This struck me as an extreme example of what goes on in every relationship in terms of the secrets we share.”
  2. 2Wolfe’s Métis heritage is essential to his life and work. He says: “The Métis people were from two worlds and they connected and created a community, one culture. There’s something really beautiful about that idea and I try to bring it into my life and my choreography and into the way I work.”
  3. 3The duets are set to an instrumental piece called All Human Beings by Max Richter. Wolfe wanted to reflect the ebb and flow of the music, the way it builds with intensity before settling back down again, a rhythm he likens to the rising sun.
  4. 4The new work was choreographed with social distancing regulations in place, requiring a shift in Wolfe’s creative process. Where he would normally work in a hands-on way with the dancers, moving and breathing alongside them, he instead learned to listen, speak and move in an exaggerated way from the front of the studio to achieve connection and understanding.
  5. 5As part of the company’s virtual season, Wolfe’s piece was created specifically for film. He embraced the technology by focusing on smaller, more intimate movements and facial expressions – a closed eye, a slight smile – that might be lost in a traditional theatre setting.


The Choreographer

Toronto-born Jera Wolfe is a choreographer and performer of Métis heritage and is an Associate Artist with Red Sky Performance. He has created new work for multiple companies and festivals, including Fall for Dance North, Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur, Danse Danse, Jacob’s Pillow and The Royal Winnipeg Ballet. He won the 2019 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Original Choreography for Trace by Red Sky Performance.

The Composer

Born in Germany, Max Richter is an influential composer and musician renowned for combining classical tradition with electronic and contemporary music. His high profile solo work and compositions for stage and screen include scores for the British television shows Black Mirror and Peaky Blinders and for the Golden Globe-winning film, Waltz with Bashir.

The Director

For over 25 years, Paul McNulty has worked as an editor, videographer and producer in television and documentary film as well as having partnered with numerous corporate clients, agencies and arts organizations in branding campaigns and productions. McNulty has worked with The National Ballet of Canada since 2013.


Guillaume Côté and Tanya Howard
Harrison James and Ben Rudisin



Jera Wolfe

All Human Beings, Performed by Max Richter, Kiki Layne & Mari Samuelsen
Courtesy of Decca Records, under exclusive license from Universal Music Canada Inc.

Costume Design:
Wardrobe Department, Stacy Dimitropoulos, Wardrobe Supervisor

Lighting Design:
Jeff Logue

Rex Harrington

Lead philanthropic support for Spotlight Series is provided by The Walter Carsen New Creations Fund, with additional support from the Producers' Circle.

The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, The Thor E. and Nicole Eaton Family Charitable Foundation, Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan, Kevin Garland & Roger Garland, C.M., Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, The William & Nona Heaslip Foundation, Anna McCowan Johnson & Donald K. Johnson, O.C., Judy Korthals & Peter Irwin, Mona & Harvey Levenstein, Jerry & Joan Lozinski, The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., The Harry & Lillian Seymour Family Foundation, Gerald Sheff & Shanitha Kachan and The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation.

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