Ballet Jorgen‘s Anastasia is making its way around the country, and if you missed its Toronto stop on Saturday, you missed quite the treat. Audiences packed into the Toronto Centre for The Arts to see Bengt Jorgen’s intricately choreographed tale about the infamous Russian Grand Duchess, which follows the four years leading up to that fateful day in 1918 when she disappeared forever.
Jorgen is known for his eccentric ballets, but with Anastasia he decided to play it slightly reserved. He reveals the narrative through a grandmother reading her granddaughter a story, and the show follows this fairy tale theme with Anastasia’s pretty costumes and pink set designs. But where Jorgen shines is during his portrayal of times of conflict. Audience members audibly gasped during the scenes where the Russian revolutionaries clashed with the military. The powerful, strong, rugged choreography was definitely a strong juxtaposition to the delicate femininity of Anastasia’s scenes. The music, composed by Russian-Canadian composer Ivan Barbotin, complemented the choreography perfectly, and it is just a shame that there was no live orchestra to give these chaotic scenes the earth-shattering crescendos that they deserved.
Jorgen was sure to have a bit of fun, as well. In one scene, the revolutionaries are kicking back at the bar after a good bit of, well, revolutionizing, and of course, they celebrate through an amazing dance sequence. His choreography incorporates traditional Russian dancing, break dancing, and table dancing, and the entire cast on stage at this moment were giving it their all. It’s scenes like this that prove why Ballet Jorgen is second only to the National Ballet of Canada in this province.
The performances, however, weren’t flawless. Synchronicity was off quite a bit during certain sequences, and the male lead just wasn’t as strong as we had wanted him to be. True, the story is about Anastasia, but her strength and character needed a compliment from the character of Dimitri, and she just wasn’t getting it.
Regardless, it was a delight, and we look forward to the Jorgen tour of The Nutcracker. It starts in Windsor on November 27th, and sees the Christmas classic performing around the GTA, including shows in Mississauga and Brampton. Or, you can check out an intimate performance of excerpts from The Nutcracker in Jorgen’s studio which includes a light dinner and coffee for $25.00 on November 22nd.
You may remember we held a haiku contest to win tickets to see Anastasia. Who would have known that you Torontoist readers were such talented haiku poets? The entries were so good that we had a difficult time picking just one winner — so we picked three to win a pair of tickets to the show.
The winning haikus were:
I love the ballet,
remembering past stage frights,
make boyfriend go too.
Twinkle, Twinkle Toes.
I love a man in pantyhose.
A hundred-six years
A tough slog it’s been for me
I, the grand duchess
-by lee c
Congratulations, guys, you are officially award-winning haiku poets. Thanks to all those who entered, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more chances to win.
Photos courtesy of Ballet Jorgen.