Ballet Victoria,Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons & Other Works
 March 10, 2012, Cowichan Theatre, Duncan
March 16-18, 2012, McPherson Playhouse, Victoria

Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos conjure thoughts of stately baroque music in 18th century European courts. Imagine a fusion of Vivaldi’s violin masterpiece with the sights, sounds, movements and cultural textures of Canada’s Pacific Northwest.

Ballet Victoria’s 4 Seasons & Other Works, the company’s third show of the season, is a multi-dimensional tribute to the beauty and poetry of British Columbia’s coastal culture, with a blend of dance, live classical music, poetry and paintings by local artists.

In the title work, Pablo Diemecke and his ensemble will perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Haunting Haikus written by poet laureate Linda Rogers will be read by the BC’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Steven L. Point. And the traditional First Nations art of Tom Hunt, Dylan Thomas, Rande Cook and LessLIE will also provide the visual complement to the dance.

“I wanted to celebrate the beauty of our home and showcase the wonderful artists who live here,” said artistic director and choreographer Paul Destrooper of his troupe’s sumptuous new dance. “I know my dancers celebrate the community as do I and…we promise a medley for the senses that will recharge your soul.”

The show opened on March 10th in Duncan, BC’s Cowichan Theatre, where one review called it “a riot of diverse motion and feeling” and said “Ballet Victoria used a crowbar of imagination and movement to pry open senses numbed by mass media.”  Next stop is Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse on March 16-18, then the tour continues to Saltspring Island (March 25) and Courtenay (March 30).

The first half of the program begins with a new work called Twelve, set to Chopin’s Preludes and performed live by internationally renowned concert pianist Sarah Hagan. This compelling dance was created by international artist Sandrine Cassini, the company’s award-winning new ballerina and choreographer.

“The music is so inspiring it kind of creates images of movements by itself,” said Cassini in a recent interview. “I listened to Chopin all my life, and he was always a great source of inspiration. His music can take you away so easily. I read a lot about his life and tried also to put glimpses of it in the piece, but nothing narrative, just some touches.

“Maybe I’ll be the only one to know!” she added with a smile.

Sandrine Cassini

Cassini, who was born in Nice, France, was only 16 years old when she won the coveted professional prize at the Prix de Lausanne. Since then she has danced with the Paris Opera Ballet, the Monte Carlo Ballet, the Hamburg Ballet, the Zurich Ballet, Ballet BC, the National Theater Mannheim, the Alberta Ballet and Bejart Ballet Lausanne (whew!), prior to joining Ballet Victoria in 2011.

“Working at Paris Opera was a dream come true and it was a dream in lots of ways,” recalled Cassini, who has danced in all the classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle and La Bayadère. “Watching the great stars work and train, being inspired by them. Working with (Rudolf ) Nureyev just before he died. Taking a bow with him in front of the stage, (and then he was) carried by the two principals as he couldn’t stand anymore. Working with Jerome Robbins, and dancing on that magical stage.”

Cassini has danced many classical and contemporary lead roles by world-renowned choreographers to rave reviews and has choreographed several works in Europe and North America.  As the company’s new principal dancer and choreographer, Cassini and Destrooper created a new work for the company last season (the Jacques Brel Belgian Songs), and she recently performed in the company’s last show, Cinderella and the Fairy Tale Ball.

“Joining ballet Victoria after Bejart is definitely a big move,” said Cassini, “but I came back to BC (my dream!) to work with one of my oldest friends, to choreograph on a regular basis, and to bring my experience to younger dancers (even if I don’t feel any gap between us).

“My experience so far had been great. I love those dancers, there are so many different personalities in the studio and each of them is so unique as an artist and as a person…the company has an amazing potential to keep on growing.”

Ballet Victoria’s final show of the season, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Other Works, will open in May.