Elite Syncopations
with New Work by Alysa Pires
& New Work by Siphesihle November
& After the Rain

March 23 – 27, 2022

Elite Syncopations
with New Work by Alysa Pires
& New Work by Siphesihle November
& After the Rain

March 23 – 27, 2022
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Elite Syncopations

Overview

Sir Kenneth MacMillan created Elite Syncopations for The Royal Ballet in 1974 during his tenure there as Artistic Director. The score features ragtime favourites by Scott Joplin and other composers of the era, played onstage by musicians participating in the dancehall scene. The choreography is flirtatious with an air of spontaneity and carries the influence of social dances of the 1920s.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1The National Ballet of Canada first performed Elite Syncopations in 1978 shortly after it was created and it has been one of the most popular works in the company repertoire ever since.
     
  2. 2Playful, hand-painted unitards designed by Ian Spurling add to the carnival atmosphere. Each one is unique, with some featuring arrows, buttons, stripes or stars. Spurling also designed costumes for Freddie Mercury of Queen.
     
  3. 3MacMillan, who is acclaimed for the psychological depth of ballets like Manon, intended for Elite Syncopations to be light and sweet.
     
  4. 4The musicians are part of the performance. A 12-piece band with piano and a conductor play on a riser at the back of the stage, fronted by footlights.
     
  5. 5Elite Syncopations has the feel of a dance concert, with dancers and musicians sitting down casually to watch one another when not performing themselves.
Elite Syncopations

McGee Maddox and Xiao Nan Yu in Elite Syncopations. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The Choreographer

Sir Kenneth MacMillan was a leading choreographer of the 20th century. He was Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet from 1970 to 1977 and Principal Choreographer from 1977 to 1992. His ballets are renowned for their drama, character development and elegance, with major works including Romeo and Juliet, Manon and Mayerling. He was knighted in 1983.

The Composer

Born in Texas in 1867, composer and musician Scott Joplin was celebrated as “the king of ragtime,” and created multiple ragtime pieces, two operas and a ballet in his lifetime. His Maple Leaf Rag is considered a definitive expression of the genre.

New Work by Alysa Pires

Overview

Choreographic Associate Alysa Pires creates dynamic, emotionally complex works combining classical with contemporary elements. Her work for The National Ballet of Canada includes The Other Side, which she created for The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize in 2019, and her acclaimed piece In Between, which premiered with the Choreographic Workshop in 2018 and was remounted for the MAD HOT BALLET gala performance later that year. Pires’ new work for the 2021/22 season promises more of her eclectic movement vocabulary and shines a light on Canadian choreographic talent.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Alysa Pires was appointed Choreographic Associate with The National Ballet of Canada in 2019. 
     
  2. 2Pires began her association with the National Ballet through the Choreographic Workshop, which she describes as “the catalyst for many other career opportunities that followed, both inside the company and out.”
     
  3. 3Working closely with the National Ballet has allowed Pires to observe some of her favourite choreographers at work, including William Forsythe and fellow Canadian Crystal Pite.
     
  4. 4Pires’ growing body of work for the National Ballet includes two innovative dance films for the 2020/21 virtual season, a solo adaptation of In Between and a new piece for Principal Dancer Piotr Stanczyk, in a state of vanishing.
     
  5. 5In 2019, Pires created Frenzied Order for the National Ballet’s YOU dance programme. The piece was scheduled to appear in London, England as part of The Royal Ballet’s International Draft Works programme in 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Alysa Pires

Alysa Pires in rehearsal. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

The Choreographer

Alysa Pires is an alumna of The National Ballet of Canada’s Choreographic Workshop and has created works for such companies as Ballet Kelowna, Ballet Edmonton, Ballet Jörgen, and New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute. Her company, Alysa Pires Dance Projects, made its full-length debut with Exterminating Angel at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2016.

New Work by Siphesihle November

Overview

This world premiere marks newly promoted Principal Dancer Siphesihle November’s choreographic debut for the company’s main stage following the short work he created for the RBC Apprentices as part of YOU dance in the 2020/21 season. A striking and joyous dancer, November frequently shares his choreography online through his social media platforms. His new work is another milestone in an exciting career that has seen him lauded as a bright light in dance today.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1November grew up in South Africa with a love for street dancing. He was spotted by a dance teacher who encouraged his talent and was later sponsored by a Canadian family to attend Canada’s National Ballet School at the age of 12.
     
  2. 2His path to The National Ballet of Canada is captured in Vikram Dasgupta’s acclaimed documentary, Beyond Moving.
     
  3. 3In 2017, at the age of 19, November made his choreographic debut with a short work for Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan.
     
  4. 4November’s choreography reflects his athleticism and versatility as a dancer, often pairing classical ballet with jazz, hip-hop and street dance moves set to Kwaito, a form of South African house music.
     
  5. 5Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite created a featured role for November in her recent work, Angels’ Atlas, which had its world premiere with the National Ballet in 2020.
Siphesihle November

Siphesihle November. Photo by Karolina Kuras.

The Choreographer

Siphesihle November was born in Zolani, South Africa and trained at Canada’s National Ballet School. He joined The National Ballet of Canada as a member of the Corps de Ballet in 2017, was promoted to First Soloist in 2020 and Principal Dancer in 2021. He won The International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize in 2019.

After the Rain

Overview

Christopher Wheeldon, acclaimed choreographer of The Winter’s Tale and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, created After the Rain for New York City Ballet in 2005. A moving and poetic ballet in two parts, the first section is set to Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa and features three couples. For the second section, only one couple returns, and performs a haunting pas de deux set to Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel. This final pas de deux is often staged alone. The National Ballet will present the full work for this exciting company premiere.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1The National Ballet will present the full version of After the Rain. Many companies only perform the final pas de deux as a standalone piece.
     
  2. 2Wheeldon created the final pas de deux for Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto of New York City Ballet on the occasion of Soto’s retirement.
     
  3. 3The pas de deux is spare yet beautiful, qualities matched by the minimal costumes. The woman wears her hair loose and dances in soft shoes. Wendy Whelan has described it in terms of stripping away all excess, “taking off the skin and bones and getting down to the spirit.”
     
  4. 4Each part of After the Rain is set to a celebrated piece of music by Arvo Pärt, the first to Tabula Rasa and the second to Spiegel im Spiegel (“mirror in the mirror”), whose emotion and sensitivity the pas de deux shares.
     
  5. 5Wheeldon has said the ballet was created quickly, in just three rehearsals, with little thought to the enormous impact it would have: “I didn’t quite understand as we were making it what kind of poetic moment was being created.”
After the Rain

Yuan Yuan Tan and Luke Ingham of San Francisco Ballet in After The Rain. Photo by Erik Tomasson. Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet.

The Choreographer

Christopher Wheeldon is Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet, former Resident Choreographer of New York City Ballet and a former dancer with both companies. He is now a multi-award-winning choreographer creating work internationally for ballet, theatre and film. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2016.

The Composer

Arvo Pärt is an Estonian composer who developed a musical language called “tintinnabuli” following his research into chant music. Many of his works are based on liturgical texts and prayers, with significant compositions including Credo and Tabula Rasa.

Credits

Elite Syncopations

Choreography:
Sir Kenneth MacMillan

Music:
Scott Joplin, Scott Hayden, Paul Pratt, Joseph F. Lamb, Max Morath, Donald Ashwander and Robert Hampton
Sunflower Slow Drag is arranged by D.S. de Lisle, edited by Gunther Schuler;
Elite Syncopations and Stop-Time Rag are arranged by George Sponhaltz;
The Cascades is arranged by E.J. stark, edited by Gunther Schuler;
Ragtime Nightingale, Bethena, Friday Night and Cataract Rag are arranged by Robert Docker;
The Golden Hours is used by arrangement with Hollis Music Inc.

Costume Design:
Ian Spurling

Lighting Design:
William Bundy

By arrangement with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Reproduced from the Benesh Notation Score by Monica Parker

Premiere: The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, London, UK, October 7, 1974
The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: Toronto, November 10, 1978

New Work by Alysa Pires

Choreography:
Alysa Pires

Music:
TBC

Set Design:
TBC

Costume Design:
TBC

Lighting Design:
TBC

Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, March 23, 2022

Produced and commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada.

New Work by Siphesihle November

Choreography:
Siphesihle November

Music:
TBC

Set Design:
TBC

Costume Design:
TBC

Lighting Design:
TBC

Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, March 23, 2022

Produced and commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada.

New Work by Alysa Pires
New Work by Siphesihle November
Supported by 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.

 

After the Rain

Choreography:
Christopher Wheeldon

Music:
Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa (1977) (First movement - "Ludus") and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978)

Costumes:
Holly Hynes

Lighting:
Mark Stanley

Premiere: New York State Theater, New York, January 22, 2005
The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, March 23, 2022

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