Ballet dancers return to the stage at Calgary's Jubilee Auditorium
Alberta Ballet is back after a forced hiatus due to the pandemic and it's starting with a fan favourite, Swan Lake, that opens Oct. 21.
It tells the tale of Prince Siegfried and the Swan Queen and is considered a hallmark of classical ballet.
The ballet company had originally intended to perform Swan Lake in its 2019/20 season and the empty seats at the Jubilee will be filled with many patrons who purchased tickets as far back as the summer 2019.
Co-artistic director Christopher Anderson says society has been without the emotional power of live performance a long time and Swan Lake is deeply expressive and passionate.
"I would say that the version that we are sharing now is a far more intimate and vulnerable interpretation but it's really living and breathing with them, I see myself as a guide more than anything," said Anderson.
He's been challenged preparing for the show by pandemic restrictions.
"We've been everywhere from our studios closed to open for single dancers," he said. "We've recorded a series of classes that they can access digitally and then we've gone from working in groups of two to three to four and then eventually before we came into the Jubilee, we were all the way up to groups of 15."
This iconic production also ushers in a new era for Alberta Ballet that includes a new vision to create impact all over the province and an endowment campaign to support these goals.
"Arts organizations needs an endowment," said co-artistic director Jean Grand-Maître. "Because they're saying in the coming decades hundreds of us will disappear without those endowments so it makes us very vulnerable to the future."
Grand-Maître says the campaign kicked off with a $3 million donation from supporter Barbara Palmer.
"We were asking some of our major donors during the pandemic to sustain us," he said. "I think something happened magical throughout all the hardships of the pandemic, it opened the hearts of a lot of people and so donations have been coming in, in the way I haven't seen in 20 years."
As a resident company of the Jubilee Auditorium, Alberta Ballet is following the Jubilee’s COVID-19 health and safety policies. The facility will operate at full capacity for performances under the Restriction Exemption Program and will follow all requirements, municipal and provincial, for in-person events.
"Come in show either your proof of vaccination or the QR code, we are set up to scan, or a negative rapid test, if that's the route that you that you're going and then line up at the bar, grab a drink, go to your seat and enjoy the show," said the Jubilee's acting general manager Scott Mctavish.
Alberta Ballet has also implemented a Relaxed Refund Policy for the duration of the 2021-22 season to give patrons greater flexibility as they consider returning to live events.
Swan Lake will run at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary from Oct. 21 to 30, and in Edmonton at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium from Nov. 5 to 7.
Tickets are available at AlbertaBallet.com.