Ballet Victoria stretches for Carmina Burana

Amanda Radetzky will be one of the many dancers showcased in Ballet Victoria’s Carmena Burana. - Derek Ford
Amanda Radetzky will be one of the many dancers showcased in Ballet Victoria’s Carmena Burana.
— image credit: Derek Ford

Ballet Victoria’s season grand finale is almost always extraordinary, but the group’s 2014 bow is taking it a step above.

That’s because so many elements of BV’s rendition of Carmina Burana have artistic director Paul Destrooper over the moon.

“Carmina is a completely unique beast,” Destrooper said this week. “We have had some incredible season finales before but this one is special indeed.”

This particular performance, which hits Cowichan Theatre’s stage May 9, sees Destrooper working with the classical piece of literature he studied in school, sprinkling in a much-admired Chaucerian feel, while incorporating music of legendary 20th-century German composer Carl Orff.

The kicker is the challenges the director’s faced meshing medieval poetry with a story line saturated in dance.

“The challenges were to keep a thread throughout the work as the texts tend to wander in various directions and refer to many allegorical characters that have no relation with each other,” he said of the 11th- and 12th-century work.

“I focused on themes that are still relevant today and there are many.

“Sometimes the movement is quite literal with the text and sometimes it’s more about the essence of the theme and I follow the music much more. The score can also be a bit repetitive at times and I wanted to keep that old poetry rhythm with the refrain in the choreography without becoming monotonous.”

Orff’s musical mastery plays a big part in the excitement around Carmina, the director noted.

“I have a few musical sections that I love,” he said. “Some songs are haunting and keep echoing in my head. Circa Mea is one of them or In Trutina. The second is a magical duet that will leave you breathless. I get my dose of daily goose bumps just watching Andrea and Matthew rehearse.”

BV’s Andrea Bayne and Matthew Cluff play the young couple developing a relationship.

“I think if you stick to the truth of the emotion of the text and the music, the movement flows out of the dancers body and tugs at one’s heartstrings,” said Destrooper. “If you do that it all works out no matter how literal, abstract or surreal it can sometimes feel. I followed the thread of love, passion in relationships and in daily life both spiritual and physical.

“The voices and intensity of the songs from the softest to the loudest are simply brilliant. I decided to study the poems and play with the themes in them: from the simple allegories to the dark passion and torments created by love and relationships, all the good stuff that brews in mankind’s heart and soul.”

Carmina’s texts are laced with irony and humour and Destrooper has enjoyed the Chaucerian wordsmith style.

He hopes this production will “move” audience members.

“I want to make their heart and soul dance. They should enjoy the beauty of the dancers and their movement as well as enjoy the humour. I want them to experience the poetry of the text through the music and the dance.”


Your ticket

What: Ballet Victoria’s Carmina Burana

When: Friday, May 9, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Where: Cowichan Theatre

Tickets: $40, senior $30, student $20, eyeGo $5 and group rates are available. Call 250-748-7529

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