The 2011-12 season of the Les Grands Ballets has already been too memorable to be forgotten. The first two performances of the season, Claudel/Rodin and The Nutcracker, were both spectacular for different reasons.

As both a former ballet dancer and student of art history and women’s studies, Rodin/Claudel vividly depicts the life and sculpture of one of my favourite artists, Camille Claudel. I was invited to the final, sold out show by the Canadian Council for Canadian American Relations, which gave me the chance to meet the choreographer, Peter Quanz. Claudel is too often known through her tempestuous relationship with fellow sculptor Auguste Rodin (Thinking Man). Quanz’s choreography tells a more erudite and nuanced take on this French sculptor. The much remarked upon sculptural design of the dancers’ bodies that characterizes this ballet is the backdrop to a tale not only of love but also of the familial consequences of unequal gender relations. Watch out for the return of this ballet!

In December, mini-zurbaine Maggie and I took in The Nutcracker. While I have danced in The Nutcracker many times, I had actually never seen it as an audience member. This colourful and energetic spectacle is full of changing, magical characters, perfect for keeping the attention of a smaller person. Maggie was transfixed by the dancers, with a special delight in the baking ballerinas twirling out cupcakes. Like all the children in the theater, she was very excited to see the younger dancers from the Montreal area.

Mark your calendars for the shows in the coming months, including Swan Lake performed by the National Ballet of Ukraine (March 8-11), the contemporary ballets Noces and The Rite of Spring at the Soiree Stravinski (March 22-24 and March 29-31), the energetic contemporary pieces performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (April 19-21), and finally, The Little Prince, Didy Veldman’s (Carmen) new ballet based on the novel (May 3-5 and May 10-12). We will let you know what Maggie thinks of this sure-hit for both adults and children.

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