Ballet Kelowna – Elles: Extraordinary Dance Created by Women


Press Release: 

Ballet Kelowna Celebrates the Success of Leading Female Choreographers with
Elles: Extraordinary Dance Created by Women – 

Acclaimed BC-Based Ballet Company Focuses Spotlight on Women’s Artistic Vision with Two World Premieres and Two Previously Commissioned Works

Kelowna, BC – At a time when women’s vision is roaring to the forefront across a range of artistic endeavors, Ballet Kelowna is proud to present work created by some of Canada’s most accomplished female artists in Elles: Extraordinary Dance Created by Women, February 2, 2018 at 7:30pm at the Kelowna Community Theatre. This dynamic and vibrant mixed dance program features two world premieres by celebrated Canadian choreographers Gioconda Barbuto and Alysa Pires – who is making her choreographic debut with Ballet Kelowna, along with Folie à Cinq by Heather Myers and Glas by Gabrielle Lamb.

“In the world of ballet, female choreographers are rare,“ says Ballet Kelowna’s Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando. “As the very first choreographer commissioned to create a new work for Ballet Kelowna back in 2005, I am particularly proud of our company’s history of promoting women. By supporting the artistic development of these female artists, we hope to inspire other companies to do the same. We want our audiences to know that amazing work is being created right here in Kelowna, and that our emphasis on supporting Canadian dance artists needs to be shared across the country.”

The as-yet unnamed world premiere by Giocondo Barbuto will be the fourth work she has created for Ballet Kelowna, following Negotiating Shifts (2008), Capture (2011), and Eight and Sand (2017). An internationally renowned Italian-Canadian dancer and choreographer, Barbuto was a long-time member of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Nederlands Dans Theater III. Trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, The Banff Centre, and under the tutelage of Gladys Forrester in her hometown of Toronto, she was quickly recognized as a versatile and magnetic soloist. Since 1996, Barbuto has pursued her choreographic calling with her oeuvre now counting more than 50 works. Of her contribution to Elles, she says, “I’m excited to return to Ballet Kelowna with a new company work. I hope to bring out the individuality of each artist and gather everyone together in a collective atmosphere that will inspire the score and pace of a brand new creation.”

The second new work on the Elles program is by Alysa Pires, whose roots in Kelowna date back to her grandparents’ relocation from France in the 1960s to found Pires Orchard and help establish Kelowna’s Farmers’ Market. Today, her uncles Joe and Gilbert own Pires Bros Concrete, a Kelowna-based company that serves the entire Okanagan. This is the first time Ballet Kelowna has commissioned Pires to create a work for the company. She says of her dance creation, “Everything feels cold right now: the weather, the news. The world feels like a bleak place. I wanted to make something delightful: a warm, fuzzy, joyful escape. We’re working on a piece that uses Latin Swing and jazz tunes, and channels artists such as Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney, and Perry Como. This piece will help audience members shed the winter blues and inspire everyone to get up and dance, and celebrate even in the darkest of times.”

Pires is an Honours BFA graduate from Ryerson School of Performance and the recipient of the 2015 Jack McAllister Award that recognizes alumni accomplishment. Her company, Alysa Pires Dance Projects, made its critically acclaimed full-length debut with Exterminating Angel at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival. She is currently working with The National Ballet of Canada as part of its Choreographic Workshop.

In 2016, Folie à Cinq was created by esteemed Canadian choreographer Heather Myers through a commission by Ballet Kelowna in collaboration with Toronto’s Continuum Contemporary Music. Michael Oesterle was called upon to compose a multifaceted musical piece based on Folie d’espagne by Jean Bapiste Lully. Described as “quirky and playful,” Folie à Cinq weaves a vibrant, fanciful tale that conjures up the magic and madness of artists past and present. A review in The Dance Current describes the choreography as, “At times cheeky, with the dancers looking directly out to the audience, and filled with quirks, such as a finger-leading motif that had (the reviewer) thinking of the animated fantasy worlds of Tim Burton.” The spirited remount will feature Ballet Kelowna dancers Valentin Chou, Desiree Bortolussi, and Kurt Werner who were in the original cast alongside Yuka Otsuki and Kelsey Hanna, who will be making their debuts in this piece.

A Calgary-born, Vancouver-based dance artist, Myers focuses her creative endeavors on choreographing works for Korzo Theatre in the Netherlands, Atlanta Ballet, Citie Ballet of Edmonton, Taipei National University of the Arts, and Arts Umbrella Dance Company of Vancouver. She is also active in developing independent and solo projects.

Glas was created by American-born choreographer Gabrielle Lamb during The Banff Centre’s 2015 Professional Dance Program where six Ballet Kelowna dancers performed her new creation inspired by the brilliant blue-green colour of Alberta’s Bow River. When trying to find a title for her piece, Lamb came upon the word “glas” from old Irish and Welsh. This term describes everything from pale complexion to tears, shiny metal, fresh vegetation, ice, sea, and fog. For this upcoming presentation of Glas, Ballet Kelowna dancers Valentin Chou, Desiree Bortolussi, and Kurt Werner, who were involved in the original creation of this piece at the Banff Centre, will be joined by new company members Kelsey Hanna and Charlotte Reid.

Lamb trained at the Boston Ballet School before joining Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in 2000. In the years since, she has choreographed for Ballet Memphis, Milwaukee Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, SALT Contemporary Dance, and BalletX. She is currently the choreographer and director of her own company, Pigeonwing Dance.

Prior to Ballet Kelowna’s presentation of Elles: Extraordinary Dance Created by Women, audience members may purchase tickets to an exclusive Pre-Performance Party in the Black Box Theatre at 6pm sponsored by Okanagan Skin Care and Quails’ Gate Winery. Mingle with friends and colleagues while enjoying a glass of Quails’ Gate wine and canapés from Waterfront Catering, listen to visiting choreographers Gioconda Barbuto and Alysa Pires speak about their world premieres, or sit in the wings and watch Ballet Kelowna’s dancers warm-up on stage just before curtain.

Tickets are on sale now at

About Ballet Kelowna (
Founded in 2002, Ballet Kelowna is the sole professional dance company in BC’s Interior. The organization is committed to its role as a leader in the region through encouraging, promoting, and developing Canadian dancers and choreographers. The Company performs annually for more than 10,000 audience members in Kelowna and on tour, and provides unique dance training opportunities and outreach programs. Its Artistic Director and CEO, Simone Orlando, is an award-winning choreographer and former dancer with Ballet BC and The National Ballet of Canada.

LISTING INFORMATION Ballet Kelowna presents Elles: Extraordinary Dance Created by Women
Date: February 2, 2018
Time: 7:30pm
Tickets: Kelowna Tickets
In person: Orchard Park Shopping Centre – 360-2271
Harvey Ave, Kelowna, BC
By phone: 250.862.2867 (Toll free 1.888.974.9170)
Ticket Prices: From $47.50 (Adult), $42.50 (Senior), $27 (Student/Child)
Performance Venue: Kelowna Community Theatre
1375 Water Street, Kelowna, BC
Exclusive Pre-Performance Party: 6pm at the Black Box Theatre in the Kelowna Community Theatre With Wine Reception and Canapés, Artist Talks, & Company Warm-Up Class On Stage. Tickets to the
Pre-Performance Party are $25 + GST per person when purchased with performance tickets. Limited tickets available.

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