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Soraya Stories

Director Selects: A conversation with Ballet BC Artistic Director Medhi Walerski

By Thor Steingraber

On a recent trip to Vancouver, I spent a couple of days at the new facility that houses Ballet BC – its offices and extensive dance studios on multiple sunlit floors of Granville Island. The entire building was abuzz in preparations for TWO WORLD PREMIERES that will be performed at The Soraya on May 6, 2023. While each of the new pieces shares the company’s 20 dancers, there are two different choreographers (one from Israel, and the other a Swede who lives in Spain), and double the work happening everywhere else throughout the building, including the costume shop where custom outfits were being created for each dancer.

On my first day there, the topic of music was top of mind – one choreographer was using multiple pieces of music, and the other had not decided if he would use any. In fact, the second choreographer had been experimenting with the dancers themselves providing a live soundtrack through a series of vocalizations (think humming and chanting). These are important decisions that impact the rest of the process. Should we mic the dancers if they vocalize? These questions are always more complicated than they appear on the surface.

In addition to observing major excerpts of the new pieces in rehearsal, I spent hours in meetings, addressing all the challenges and opportunities of new creations and also preparing for the weeklong rehearsals in Northridge. Inarguably my favorite part of the trip was the time spent in conversation with the company’s Artistic Director, Medhi Walerski. We discussed the new pieces, and in particular, the two distinct masterminds behind them – choreographers Roy Assaf and Johan Inger.

This video captures some excerpts of that conversation with Medhi.


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