By Candice G. Ball
Evelyn Hart’s mother, Maxine, received her Mother’s Day gift early this year: she watched her 61-year-old daughter perform in the world premiere of James Kudelka’s Vespers.
Based on the music of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Vespers,” the atmospheric ballet pays homage to humankind’s relationship with the natural and spiritual world. Vespers means evening prayer and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Winnipeg-based vocal group Camerata Nova brought the ethereal score to life.
Acclaimed Canadian choreographer Kudelka conjures up a mythological, magical world where animals and people live in harmony. Although there is no linear “storyline” to Part 1, Kudelka creates dramatic atmospheres where animals—portrayed by dancers wearing vivid animal masks, including a ram, bear, horse, cardinal, hawk, mallard, pig, porcupine, fox and rabbit—mesmerize the human characters. Combining classical ballet technique and contemporary styles, Kudelka’s masterful choreography captures the mystique and beauty of the animal world. The effect is mythical and powerful, transporting the audience to an idyllic world before the Fall.
Part 2 takes place in a contemporary urban world after the Fall and Hart appears as Everywoman. Hart’s mother wasn’t the only one excited to see her daughter perform in a role created especially for the iconic dancer. Hart received applause from the audience as soon as she appeared on the stage during Part 2. Her frame may be willowy, but her role in the Canadian dancer world is huge—she is the greatest name in Canadian dance.
Hart uses her gift for portraying dramatic characters as Everywoman—a female figure with such fine-tuned intuition and knowledge that she can communicate with the animal world. Performing in soft ballet shoes, Hart commands the audience’s attention as she dances and soars in lifts where she appears as light and graceful as a tiny bird. The narrative in Part 2 evokes ritual, sex and death, but most importantly it portrays people and animals coexisting with joy and harmony.
Vespers celebrates Everywoman’s powerful connection to animals and nature. It is a wonderful celebration of female intuition. As the nature comes to life and animals have their babies, Vespers is the perfect Mother’s Day celebration, not just for Evelyn Hart’s mother but for all mothers. Hart is the greatest name in the Canadian dance world—Vespers is a must-see cultural event.
Vespers runs May 10-14. For show times and ticket information, please see the RWB box office and website.
Running Time: Running Time: 1:38 (Act 1: 44 minutes / Intermission: 20 minutes / Act 2: 34 minutes)
Buy tickets at RWB.ORG 204.956.2792