Ballets de Jazz de Montreal blends the music of Leonard Cohen with beautiful choregraphy in “Dance Me,” Nov. 16 and 17 at the Royal Theatre. Marc Montplaisir/Ballets de Jazz de Montreal

November ‘en pointe’ for ballet fans

Victoria hosting three very diverse major productions during the month

Ballet lovers, this is your month, with the Royal Theatre hosting a suite of three distinct ballets in November.

For purists, do not miss the technical prowess of Moscow Ballet’s Swan Lake on Nov. 12, then on the 30th, catch seasonal favorite The Nutcracker with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Of real interest for this dancer/storyteller is what lies in the middle, on Nov. 16 and 17, when Dance Victoria kicks off its season with Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal’s (BJM) “Dance Me,” inspired by Canada’s very own poet, artist and songwriter, Leonard Cohen.

“This is the biggest, most ambitious creation in the 45-year history of BJM,” says artistic director Louis Robitaille. “I wanted to go further in mixing disciplines to make this different from anything we’ve done before.”

The show promises “a troupe of 14 performing artists in an acrobatic tour de force,” moving through the seasons to reflect the stages of life in a “multidisciplinary show of dance, music, stunning video and lighting effects.”

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My guest for the show will be Grace, my mom, who experienced Cohen in the 1960’s coffee houses of Yorkville in Toronto. These were tight, cozy venues where his presence and bass voice made her bones and soul hum.

Leonard Cohen is iconic. The intimacy of his message, both a personal whisper in your ear and a universal anthem, create a fandom that can be a fierce mother bear. Even the great choreographer Twyla Tharp (The Collaborative Habit) found in working with Bob Dylan’s music that the “possessive fan base” feels “they own him” and perhaps her “Dylan might not be theirs.”

For this reason, I am both excited and a little nervous to see the show. We know the technical ability will be on point with BJM, but perfection in execution without emotional connection, particularly in a Cohen-inspired work, will leave this viewer hungry. True art makes us feel something – the blessed and the broken – so let’s hope they convene in this new work and mirror the man himself.

Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

Insider tip: Tickets are limited for Dance Me; best availability will be for the Saturday, Nov. 17 matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets for all three productions are available at rmts.bc.ca by phone at 250-386-2121 or at the Royal or McPherson box offices.

Monique Salez is owner/operator of Raino Dance in Victoria.

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