A new Victoria dance and music production is aiming to bring the sights and sounds of Paris to Vancouver Island just in time for Valentine’s Day, and it all starts in Nanaimo.
The show, entitled La Vie en Rose, debuts at the Port Theatre on Feb. 12 before heading to Campbell River later in the week and ultimately wrapping up in Victoria.
The show’s repertoire includes pieces by French composers like Maurice Ravel and Jules Massenet, while also featuring international composers, such as Antonio Vivaldi and Johannes Brahms.
The works range from classical to modern.
Violinist Pablo Diemecke helped develop the program. He said French music, like the language, must be performed in the right accent. He said, “it has to sound French.”
“There’s a certain style in French music, also in the way you play the music,” Diemecke said. “And for me to produce that sound it [takes] a little more air… It’s like when you speak the language and you have to change the way you pronounce things a little bit. The music is similar to that.”
Some of the pieces will be performed by the musicians alone, while others will feature accompaniment from Ashley Evans and Ian Szkolak, principal dancers with Victoria’s Ballet Étoile Canada ballet company. Evans also choreographed the four dance numbers.
“They all have a different flavour and they’re mainly dictated by the music,” she explained. “So the four pieces were inspired by the music, so there isn’t necessarily a story, but each one is different type of relationship between the couple dancing.”
To keep with the themes of Paris and romance, Evans noted that one of the dances is inspired by the couple in Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Kiss, to music by Ravel. Another piece, featuring music by Astor Piazzolla, an Argentine composer who studied in Paris, combines the footwork and steps of tango with those of ballet.
Evans said there are hopes to develop the production further and take it to more theatres, which she said is doable due to its small touring ensemble.
“It’s really lovely to have the live music,” she said. “Some of the pieces that I have performed before were to recorded music, so I’ve adjusted the choreography and the flavour of the piece a little bit to suit the new dynamic and new artistry that Pablo and (pianist Tony Booker) are bringing to the pieces. Because it’s quite different having them perform live to dancing to a recording.”
WHAT’S ON … Renee James Productions presents La Vie en Rose at the Port Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55 for VIP, $44 for adults, $35 for seniors, $23 for students with valid ID, $17 for children 12 and under. Groups of 10 or more save 10 per cent.