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The National Ballet of Canada

February 1, 2019
Jillian Vanstone and Harrison James in The Dream. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic2.jpg

The Dream


Reviewed January 31, 2019

NAC Southam Hall, Ottawa          

(Repeat performances February 1 & 2, 8 p.m.)

The National Ballet’s The Dream is, well, downright dreamy! Created by the former renowned British choreographer Frederick Ashton in 1964, The Dream is based on William Shakespeare’s 16th century romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

With its cast of fairies and sprites juxtaposed with a group of Athenian aristocratic lovers, the story is rife with celebration, romance, blunder and wit (it is Shakespeare after all). It’s the kind of fantastical and whimsical story that translates so well to ballet.

Ashton originally choreographed the fairly short one-act ballet as a Victorian fantasy to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, focusing on the Fairyland story and the four confused lovers who get lost in the forest. The larger-than-life personalities of Oberon and Titania, Puck and Bottom are there, as well as a bevy of fairies and rustics besides, brought to grandeur by the talented artists of the National Ballet.

David Walker’s lush fairytale set of a moonlit forest and sparkling aquamarine-coloured costumes, and the accompanying playful Felix Mendelssohn score add a magical ambiance to this amusing and bizarre otherworldly story.

The Dream comes at the end of a triple-bill evening of dance presented by the National Ballet in celebration of the National Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary. The National, then in its youth (it’s now nearly 70 years old) appeared on stage when the NAC first opened in June 1969.

The other two works on stage this week represent the old and the new: George Balanchine’s neo-classic Apollo, one of the Russian-born choreographer’s earliest collaborations with Igor Stravinsky (first performed in 1928), which tells the tale of the young god of music and his three muses; and New York City choreographer Justin Peck’s 2013 Paz de la Jolla, a colourful two-part nostalgic summer seaside romp that hints of youth in an earlier era (when swimsuits were fairly modest).

NBC paz de la jolla

Paz de la Jolla


From → Ballet

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