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‘FOR EVER,’ A Full Evening of Works by Medhi Walerski

Ballet BC’s season finale celebrates its trailblazing Artistic Director with two acclaimed works and a world premiere, plus an exciting creative collaboration.

 

Following a season of sold-out houses, record-breaking fundraising campaigns, and rave reviews from critics and audiences alike, Ballet BC returns to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for three nights only, May 9/10/11. The season finale is a full evening of three works from Artistic Director and French choreographer Medhi Walerski, including Chamber and SWAY—both new to Ballet BC’s repertoire—as well as a world premiere, his sixth for the company since first being commissioned in 2011. 

“I have been a part of Ballet BC for almost 15 years, so it brings me great pride to share each of these works with our audiences who have given so much to me over the years,” says Medhi Walerski. “I am now at a point in my career, and in my trajectory with this company, where I deeply value the community we have built. Vancouver has absolutely become a global centre for dance creation, and I feel more fortunate than ever to have the opportunity to contribute to that, and to work next to some inspiring, like-minded artistic collaborators along the way.”

Just announced, the landmark evening will also feature a new creative collaborator for Walerski, the internationally acclaimed visual artist Lyle XOX. Known for work that combines his experience in art, fashion, design and make-up artistry to create striking images using his own face and body as canvas and plinth, Lyle XOX creates facial sculptures and adornments to design fictional characters that defy gender, cultural and beauty norms. Each photographed portrait is a study in contrast and fantasy, with humour and irony woven throughout. Born out of conversations between the Vancouver-based artists about the act of creation and the similarities between their backgrounds and practices, the collaboration between Walerski and Lyle XOX promises to be a first-of-its-kind experience for Vancouver audiences.

“From a young age, I have been fascinated by movement and the power of dance,” says Lyle XOX. “Generally speaking, my own work is an independent practice. For those reasons and more, the opportunity to collaborate with Medhi and Ballet BC is a rare thrill. Diving into this project has brought inspiration, fuelled creativity, and deepened my appreciation for an art form that I greatly admire. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”

Chamber is one of Walerski’s most acclaimed and largest-scale works to date. Named one of the LA Times’ top performances of 2013, the piece is a visually rich echo of what Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” provokes in the choreographer’s imagination. Danced by a large ensemble to a stunning score by decorated British composer Joby Talbot, Chamber is a primal, ritualistic work which seeks to balance order and chaos—ultimately underlining the duality between the collective and the individual. Originally co-commissioned by Nederlands Dans Theater, Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina, Den Norske Opera & Ballett Oslo, and the Music Center of Los Angeles as part of the centenary celebrations of Stravinsky’s iconic piece of music, this is the first time it will be shared with Canadian audiences. 

SWAY, a North American premiere for seven dancers, also joins Ballet BC’s repertoire at FOR EVER. Originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater 2 in 2019, the piece is inspired by Emily Dickinson’s 1862 poem ‘“Hope” is the thing with feathers,’ and set to a gorgeous composition by frequent collaborator, the Belgian composer Adrien Cronet, as well as a selection from Bach. SWAY invokes the lyrical movement language Walerski has become known for, and is an ode to movement and its ability to communicate without words.

The evening concludes with a long-awaited world premiere, Walerski’s sixth with the company and his second new creation since becoming Artistic Director, following the success of just BEFORE right AFTER (2022). Still largely under wraps, the anticipated work is set to music by Bach and will feature the entire company—20 dancers.

 

ABOUT MEDHI WALERSKI

Medhi Walerski became Artistic Director of Ballet BC in July 2020. Raised in France, he trained in Normandy with Laurie Bokobza and Christine Caroly before joining the Conservatoire Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris. Walerski danced at the Paris Opera Ballet and the Ballet du Rhin before joining the Nederlands Dans Theater in 2001. For more than a decade he was an integral part of the company, contributing to the creative, innovative style that NDT is famed for. He was awarded the Dutch dance prize VSCD Zwaan in 2013. Walerski has worked closely with many renowned choreographers, creating alongside and performing works by Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev, Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, Crystal Pite, Johan Inger, and Wayne McGregor among others. Since his choreographic debut in 2008, he has created numerous acclaimed works for NDT and Ballet BC including Petite Cérémonie (2011), Chamber (2012), GARDEN (2016) and Silent Tides (2021), as well as works for Bern Ballet, Goteborg Ballet, the Ballet State of Georgia, StaatBallet Hannover, Staattheater Wiesbaden and Charlotte Ballet. 

 

ABOUT LYLE XOX

After growing up in a small town of less than 200 people in rural Saskatchewan, Lyle relocated to Vancouver, attended Blanche MacDonald Centre for Applied Design, and worked for MAC Cosmetics for over fifteen years. In 2019, he was named one of the Vogue World 100 (the top 100 people selected by Vogue Magazine for pushing boundaries of art, beauty and style, released his book Lyle XOX: Head of Design published by Rizzoli New York and launched at Bergdorf Goodman. Later that year, Lyle was hosted by both the Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf and Cirque du Soleil to witness his process. CBC produced a full-length documentary, Random is my Favourite Colour, released in July, and three months later his book won an International Photography Award. Lyle XOX has been featured in numerous international publications including ArtNet, Vogue Italia, Surface, V, New York Times, L’Officiel, DAZED, Montecristo and many others.  He has given artist talks in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, Taiwan and Amsterdam. In addition, Lyle XOX collaborated with renowned musician and performer FKA Twigs, and within the year created a campaign for the prestigious South Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster and completed commissions for luxury brands Gucci, Comme des Garcon and Maison Margiela.

 

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