Alberta Ballet is fumbling towards ecstasy

First there was Elton and then Joni.  Now Sarah McLachlan joins the ranks of Alberta Ballet’s exclusive club in Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, the latest in its series of dance productions centered around the nostalgic hits of music icons.

No doubt an attempt to drag ballet away from the classical music and stiff tutus of its roots into the 21st century, shows like the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, or earlier works featuring the music of Sir Elton John and Joni Mitchell, are helping to make dance more relevant with music that audiences can find an easier emotional connection.

Choreographed by Alberta Ballet’s Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maitre, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is described as a dance dedicated to women, a theme that is perfectly fitting for McLachlan’s trademark heartbreaking and emotional lyrics.

“This exciting portrait of a living musical icon is a compelling exploration of a woman’s journey to emotional maturity,”  says Ballet BC Artistic Director Emily Molnar.

Alberta Ballet presents Fumbling Towards Ecstacy inspired and featuring the music of Sarah McLachlan.

Alberta Ballet presents Fumbling Towards Ecstacy inspired and featuring the music of Sarah McLachlan.

“We adopted the title from one of Sarah’s most highly acclaimed albums,” says Grand-Maitre. “I felt an immediate affection for it since I believe it succinctly describes my personal dance vernacular.  If Sarah’s characters do find ecstasy but not necessarily without a struggle, so do my imagined swirling, dancing figures.”

Despite being named after what is perhaps McLachlan’s best-known album, Grand-Maitre has also sampled songs from her larger discography including favourites “Hold On”, “Vox”, “Building a Mystery” and “Ice Cream”, allowing Fumbling Towards Ecstasy to trace McLachlan’s musical journey at the same time as telling this imagined story.

Forming the soundtrack to several generations’ first loves and heartbreaks, audiences will no doubt have a tough time not singing along too loudly as they watch a ballet inspired by those works.

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Nov 14-16, 2013.  Tickets are available online.

Andrea LoewenAndrea is a theatre-maker, yoga instructor, writer and ally to the LGBTQ community in Vancouver. She spends her days as the Communications Manager for Pacific Theatre, and is Co-Artistic Producer for Xua Xua Productions, a founding member of Les Petites Taquines Dance Theatre, and the marketing chair for the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards Society. She writes a weekly column for and freelances as a yoga instructor and choreographer. When she has some down time she enjoys some green tea and quality time with her cat, Miss Gertie Marie.

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