Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet is looking to leave audiences mesmerized as Mark Godden’s Svengali arrives in Vancouver next week. Among the troupe is 23-year-old apprentice Alex Lantz who says that while a fairly dark ballet, audiences will love it because it will make them think.
Taking its inspiration from a film treatment from fellow Winnipegger Guy Maddin, the ballet tells the story of how Svengali, yearning for public recognition, escapes the repression of his mother’s ballet studio to a decadent world, where he finds the beautiful and malleable young dancer Trilby. Under Svengali’s influence, Trilby is transformed into the darling of the ballet world, but her star ultimately rises beyond Svengali’s powerful emotional grasp.
“You don’t leave with a happy, giddy feeling after seeing Svengali,” admitted Lantz. “I have found that while people enjoy it, it does challenge them. It is quite cerebral.”
While a contemporary ballet, Lantz says Svengali is still very much based in ballet traditions that can sometimes be challenging for an audience, but he says the pay-off is worth it.
“The story is told strictly through movement of course and with no speaking it can be challenging for some to find the story and follow it,” he said. “My advice is to go with an open mind. I heard once that ‘dance is the way a heart beats’ and it is so true. You can get so much more of a deeper feeling from watching someone dance than other kinds of art forms.”
Having grown up in an artistic family, it was his interest in tapping into that deeper feeling that ultimately led Lantz to ballet. Considered by some to be a late bloomer in the ballet world, it wasn’t until be turned 17 that he decided he wanted to become a professional and knew he needed to start studying. His choice of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School at that time came from a gut feeling.
“As a company there is a nice amount of diversity and I like the size of the company. It is like a large family. I like the repertoire which has a nice balance of the classical and the contemporary, and I love the touring as I like to visit new places”.
Now in his second and final year as an apprentice, Lantz says he is on pins and needles waiting to hear if he will be offered a full-time role with the company; in the meantime he is content to dance and be on the road with his ballet family.
Royal Winnipeg Ballet: Svengali
The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts
20 – 22 April 2012
Created & choreographed by Mark Godden. With music by Sergei Rachmaninov, Franz Liszt, Philip Glass & Amsterdam Klezmer Band. Visit http://www.rwb.org/svengali for tickets and information.