Grade eh talent

By David Kenney

Doctors and hockey teams both go south, and the same seems true for our art talent. Keeping home grown talent here is difficult with the U.S. and other countries chalking up the cash for our best. Fat chance you’ll find Jim Carrey in an NFB film now.

Alberta Ballet is trying to halt the migration. Opening their 2001/02 season Fri., Oct. 27 at Jubilee Auditorium, the local company is showcasing its first ever Festival of New Works, with four new Canadian ballets. Festival of New Works’ Tra I Due choreographer and Toronto native Owen Montague is extremely pleased with Alberta Ballet’s use of Canadian Content.

"I think it’s very important for companies to take chances, to give people the opportunity," he says. "Canada needs to start developing what they have, who they have."

In Festival of New Works, Montague is joined by choreographers like Edmonton’s Ronda Nychka, Toronto’s Dominique Dumais, Calgary’s Sabrina Matthews and Finland’s Jorma Elo. Montague says to expect a contrast of high energy to thought-provoking pieces. As for his own piece, Montague grins coyly in explaining Tra I Due.

"My piece is totally opposite [from the others], almost like a Zen lull," he says. "The music is kind of monotone; it doesn’t really accelerate or get slower."

Montague’s 17-minute long ballet features three male and three female dancers. Enhancing the graceful movements is the classical music piece "Arvo Pårt – Fur Alina" by Speigel und Speigel. Instead of matching the bombast of dance with song, Montague says he tried to not live up to the music.

"I wanted to just to let the music carry the rest of it through, carry the dancers through and carry my images through," he says. "The music is so precious, it’s like a gem and you know when you get a piece of music like that it’s kind of nervous to try and live up to something that’s so beautiful and so simplistic."

In compaison to his fellow choreographer’s pieces, Montague says his tend to "slow the heart down."

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