2 min

Spring in their step

The National Ballet of Canada’s spring season is light, upbeat, young and, well, springy.

It kicks off at the Hummingbird Centre on Sat, Apr 28 with Madame Butterfly by the Australian choreographer Stanton Welch. “It’s a traditional ballet in that it focuses on storytelling, but it’s from the perspective of a younger choreographer,” says artistic director James Kudelka.

“This is Welch’s first full length ballet, but I think he handles the story very, very well – especially the cultural differences between Japanese and American characters.”

It is paired with Serenade by George Balanchine. “Serenade is plotless but it evokes similar emotions [to Madame Butterfly] of romance and love,” says Peter Ottman, who juggles hats at the National Ballet as assistant to the artistic director, ballet master and choreologist (recording choreographic scores).

“It’s one of Blanchine’s most beautiful ballets ,” says Ottman, “complete with sweeping movements and long tutus.”

Next up is the spring mixed program opening on Wed, May 2 featuring three ballets: Septet, A Delicate Battle and Theme And Variations.

“With Septet, [choreographer] John Alleyne has found a new kind of maturity, it’s not just about violence and harshness like his earlier work,” says Kudelka. “It’s a gentle piece about love.”

Theme And Variations is another ballet by the 20th-century master George Balanchine.. “It’s a company piece that will please the tutu-buying public,” says Kudelka. “It remains one of the most difficult in our repertoire and will satisfy both the public and the dancers in its complexity.”

A Delicate Battle is a new work by the company’s second soloist, 25-year-old Matjash Mrozewski. “I’m taking a bit of a risk,” says Kudelka about programming Mrozewski, “but it’s not about how old you are but how mature your work is and from what I’ve seen he’s ready for it.”

Kudelka himself choreographed for a major venue at Mrozewski’s age and understands the importance of rising to a challenge early on.

Showcasing younger artists typifies the spirit of the National Ballet’s spring season. “The season has both contemporary and traditional work,” says Kudelka, “but most of it has been interpreted by fresh, younger minds having their say about what this art form is all about.”

Madame Butterfly and Serenade run Sat, Apr 28 and 29 and May 8 to 12 at 7:30pm. A Delicate Battle, with Theme And Variations and Septet, runs Wed, May 2 to 6 at 7:30pm, with a 2pm Sunday matinee. Tickets cost $26 to $96. All performances are at the Hummingbird Centre (1 Front St E); call (416) 345-9595.