The world premiere of Emma Bovary marks an exciting first partnership between The National Ballet of Canada and award-winning choreographer, director and dancer, Helen Pickett. Pickett combines a striking physical vocabulary with sensitivity to the human condition, and she is breaking new ground in narrative ballet. Emma Bovary is a psychological exploration of the lead character from Gustave Flaubert’s 19th-century novel, Madame Bovary, his influential depiction of a young woman disillusioned by life.
Born in California, Helen Pickett spent over a decade at Frankfurt Ballet under the direction of William Forsythe and is trained in method acting, somatic techniques and film. Pickett has worked as an actress with the Wooster Group in New York City and created more than 60 works internationally, including her award-winning ballets The Crucible, Camino Real and The Exiled. Pickett was Resident Choreographer of Atlanta Ballet from 2012 to 2017, received her MFA from Hollins University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Her recent commissions internationally include American Ballet Theatre, Het Nationale Ballet and Boston Ballet.
Peter Salem is in high demand as a composer for contemporary ballet, film and television. He has collaborated previously with choreographer Helen Pickett on The Crucible and Camino Real and he has worked with such companies as Hong Kong National Ballet and English National Ballet. Salem composed the award-winning music for the popular BBC television programs Call the Midwife, Cider with Rosie and Five Daughters.
“Pickett is a contemporary ballet choreographer of substance, with deep convictions, an effervescent sense of humour and a wide-ranging intellect.” – Dance International
“Helen Pickett seals her reputation as a masterful creator of narrative ballet” – The Review Hub
“Choreographer Helen Pickett approaches her art in an intellectual way.” – WBUR, Boston
After 25 years with The National Ballet of Canada, Piotr Stanczyk will retire from his role as Principal Dancer. In honour of his illustrious career, Artistic Director Hope Muir has acquired Passion by James Kudelka, a formative figure from Stanczyk’s career, for his farewell performance. Created for Houston Ballet in 2013, Passion is a love story whose meticulous structure mirrors the music, the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano in D, Op. 61a. Two couples – one classical, the other contemporary – weave within the Corps de Ballet like musical themes, evoking complex relationships of passion.
James Kudelka served as Resident Choreographer of The National Ballet of Canada following his nine years as Artistic Director. He creates works of incredible musicality and vision for companies internationally, from original full-length ballets to short contemporary works and remounted classics. Kudelka was Resident Choreographer of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie from 2008 to 2020.
German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most influential figures in the history of music, bridging the Classical and Romantic eras with his unforgettable works. He is renowned for his piano sonatas, string quartets and symphonies, with his ground-breaking Eroica Symphony considered a defining work.
“Passion is a study in contrast – classic versus modern, romantic fantasy versus lusty reality.” – Houston Press
James Bonas & Helen Pickett
Helen Pickett & James Bonas
Music and Sound:
Set and Costume Design:
World Premiere: The National Ballet of Canada, Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, November 10, 2023
Produced and Commissioned by The National Ballet of Canada.
Lead philanthropic support for Emma Bovary is provided by The Anna McCowan-Johnson New Creations Fund and The Producers’ Circle.
The Producers’ Circle: Gail & Mark Appel, John & Claudine Bailey, Inger Bartlett & Marshal Stearns, Laura Dinner & Richard Rooney, Gail Drummond & Bob Dorrance, 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 Lozinski, O.C. & Joan Lozinski, O.C., The Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, C.C., Julie Medland, Sandra Pitblado, C.M. & Jim Pitblado, C.M., The Harry & Lillian Seymour Family Foundation and The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation.
Ludwig van Beethoven, Concerto for Piano in D, Op. 61A, First Movement
World Premiere: Houston Ballet, Houston, Texas, September 5, 2013
The National Ballet of Canada Premiere: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, November 10, 2023
Passion is generously supported by The Gail Hutchison Fund.
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