Volume 91, Issue 48

Friday, November 21, 1997

party poop


Dancing from Winnepeg to London

By Carey Weinberg
Gazette Staff

London is in for a rare treat as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet tiptoes its athletic and artistic monarchy into town.

Beginning in 1939 as The Winnipeg Ballet Club, the RWB was the first company in the commonwealth granted the Royal charter by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov have performed for RWB in its 58 year history and presently have London-trained Evelyn Hart at the heart of the company.

Jorden Morris also provides heart for the RWB and has been doing so for over 10 years. What keeps him going? "A combination of a lot of things," he says. "You have to love travel, you have to love the theatre style of life, you have enjoy working very hard, the audience definitely plays a large part of it.

"Feeding off the energy of the audience – if they're totally silent you can just feel their concentration. The self satisfaction of going up there alone and knowing its you in front of 2,000 people – just surviving it night after night is satisfaction enough." He said actually getting a progressively better response or performing better than the choreographer had dreamed are a few of the reasons which drive Morris, who has 'Tybalt' in Romeo and Juliet, 'The Antagonist' in Stoolgame and 'Alborada del Gracioso' in Miroirs to his credit, to perform.

"There's that magical element you can't put your finger on that makes you go after it time and time again because maybe, one of those times, you will be able to put your finger on it," Morris says of the elusive 'it' which pulls artists onto the stage, or into their paintings. But he feels the goal within the journey and not at any particular end.

"Its not something done with a stop-and-start date. It's about doing the best you can with what you have and finding the little bonus perks along the way."

Maurice Ravel's music thematically based the movements on five poems that the piece Miroirs is scored to. In the first movement "the dancers appear to be moths flying in and out of the light – it's very ingenious choreography that way," claims Morris of choreographer Mark Godden's creation. The second movement witnesses sorrowful birds in pas de deux. The third movement mimics the sails on a boat in and out of the waves. The fourth movement is Jorden's role entitled morning song of the jester. "Picture him early in the morning in the court trying to write some prose for the Queen and running into writer's block – it's quite a humourous piece." The final movement has a small woman between two men emulating a bell.

Jorden describes the pieces in greater detail, "Five little vignettes or musical poems. Very directly translated with wonderful choreography. Shows with some of the best dance to come out of this decade." Working with Godden, who receives critical acclaim wherever he and the dancers perform, is "an adventure" Morris says.

"Godden demands a lot from the dancers. But as he matures as a choreographer, he's getting much better at arriving at his final destination of thought with the physicality. He's a very energetic and very inspiring choreographer to work with."

Morris, albeit reluctantly, discussed his own merits which help augment the voice of the RWB.

"I think the real challenge as an artist and real fulfillment, comes when there's a mental and emotional growth that also happens which pushes the envelope of exactly what you are trying to get across to the audience – and how you are feeling as that happens is also important.

"It's certainly something that as you get older, as you mature as an artist, you start to find more of the emotional content ties in better with the technical stuff. The key is to put both of those together and not have an artistic show or technical show. Your performance combines all of that and it's all intertwined and connected and not severed. When your performance becomes severed it's not an entity of its own. I've been feeling some of that so far this season."

Godden has theatre background. "It's always nice to have a variance, then you can taste new things and try new things and then take elements from all the different types of productions and then funnel all of that into what you're doing at the moment. The more resources you have, the better off you are."

"I found that dance was just as physically demanding, but it had these wonderful outlets for emotional and mental expression and adventure."

Morris says what sets resident guest artist and prima ballerina apart is sheer perfection. "She demands from everybody that she works with. She's such a dedicated person – an endless source of energy."

Morris brings with him his own brand of energy developed and aged like fine wine over his 10 years working in the RWB. You can come and taste it for yourself tomorrow at 8 p.m. at Alumni Hall.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997