by Paula Citron
George Balanchine’s Symphony in C
Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia
Twyla Tharp’s In The Upper Room
National Ballet of Canada Fall Mixed Program
At the Four Seasons Centre until Nov. 9
The new work to the National Ballet’s repertoire is Twyla Tharp’s 1986 In The Upper Room. The piece is about the desperation to attain a higher plane of existence.
The stage is transformed into a shimmering otherworld through criss-cross shafts of light cutting through smoke. In Norma Kamali’s costume design, the more red, the more enlightenment. Minimalist composer Philip Glass’s driving, relentless music propels the ferocity of the dance.
The ballet metaphor is less enlightened Stompers in running shoes and the more enlightened Ballet Cadre with the women on point. The choreography itself is fast, furious and constantly changing. This is a ballet that demands repeated viewings to come to grips with its many layers.
The other pieces on the program are Balanchine’s Symphony in C (1947) set to Bizet’s youthful score, and Christopher Wheeldon’s droll Polyphonia (2001) to Ligeti piano music. Both difficult pieces are danced with distinction.
The National’s fall mixed program continues at the Four Seasons Centre until Nov. 9.