Ana Paula Oioli as Odette in Coastal City Ballet’s current production of “Swan Lake,” which will be performed at Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, June 15. (submitted photo)

ARTS COLUMN

MINTY: Magical ‘Swan Lake’ ballet brought to Surrey’s Bell, a good fit for Coastal City company

Also, in Newton, the Arts Council of Surrey to host a Round Table for Surrey Arts Organizations

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

Does classical ballet have a place in our modern hip-hop world? Katrina Bois, artistic director of Coastal City Ballet, says yes. Absolutely, positively, yes. Newly appointed Bois is excited to stage the iconic classical ballet Swan Lake, with its brilliant principal cast, in her first season leading the company.

“Swan Lake is one of the only ballets that you can see again and again. Whether it’s your first time or your hundredth, the experience is truly magical,” Bois says.

Swan Lake is the highlight of Coastal City Ballet’s 2018-2019 season, and even better – there will be one performance at Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey on June 15, at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices are from $19.95 to $59.95, with discounts for groups of 10 or more. Add a “VIP Experience” to your ticket purchase for $30. The Bell theatre is located at 6250 144th St, inside Sullivan Heights Secondary. For tickets and more show info, visit bellperformingartscentre.com or phone 604-507-6355.

Choreographer Irene Schneider returns to Vancouver to continue her partnership with Coastal City Ballet. “A long friendship has kept me in touch with Li Yaming, founder of Coastal City Ballet, and Katrina Bois. Coming back to Coastal City Ballet to remount Swan Lake is like coming home,” says Schneider.

Swan Lake is one of the most popular classical ballets, with a fairy-tale story and music by Tchaikovsky. It was composed in 1875 and was his’s first ballet score. More than 100 years later it remains a favourite with ballet companies and is regularly performed around the world.

Coastal City Ballet’s production of Swan Lake features a professional principal cast with close connections to the company. Visit the company’s website (coastalcityballet.com) to get all the details, and note that Coastal City dancers come from all over the world. Local talent is included though, as Coastal City’s mandate is to provide performance opportunities for emerging dance artists. Local dancers include Delta’s Kyla Couper (who now teaches at Dance West), Langley’s Sharon Collins and Thys Armstrong from North Vancouver.

• READ MORE: North Delta ballerina to perform in Swan Lake.

Why start a classical ballet company?

“We needed classical, full-length-story ballet in this city,” declares Bois. “No one else really does this.”

Of course we do get The Nutcracker every year from Royal City Youth Ballet and Goh Ballet. Canada’s large ballet companies, like Royal Winnipeg Ballet and National Ballet, cannot afford the trip west very often to present classical ballet productions. Ballet BC, now quite successful, is contemporary in style.

Starting up a ballet company is a daunting project. “We cover all the production costs ourselves,” Bois explains. Ticket sales do not cover the costs, so grants and private funding are always welcome. And theatre space is not only expensive, but difficult to find.

“We are lucky we could secure the Bell theatre this year,” Bois continues. It is larger than Surrey Arts Centre, and also has the required fly space for the background drops (from Europe) that are used.

A larger space means more tickets can be sold. More ballet lovers can have the opportunity to see a full-length ballet. It’s magical and beautiful. It’s ballet. Some things are just timeless, you know.

Funding for arts organizations can come from grants offered by BC Arts Council and the Canada Council. Grants are few and far between, and often arts organizations just don’t know how or where to find the needed funding. Networking and knowledge need a starting platform.

The Arts Council of Surrey is hosting a Round Table for Surrey Arts Organizations on Saturday, June 1 from noon to 3 p.m. at Newton Cultural Centre. The cultural panel includes Liane Davison (Manager of Culture), Todd Ayotte (Cultural Development Co-ordinator) and Kent Gallie (Performing Arts Manager) for the City of Surrey. These are good people and they are committed to assisting arts organizations in breaking down the barriers that these organizations face in qualifying for and securing grants and other funding.

• READ MORE: Surrey Arts Organizations Round Table planned in Newton.

The Round Table will also be a place where we can express our needs and goals which the city can then collate and (hopefully) use when planning Surrey’s 10-year strategic plan for Parks, Recreation, and Culture. It’s important to be part of the discussion. Space is limited, register right now. It is free. Phone 604-594-2700 or email info@artscouncilofsurrey.ca. A strategic plan will be made with or without you. Of course we won’t get all our needs and wants implemented, but if we don’t enter the conversation now, we won’t be part of the plan. Together we will make a difference.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. Email: melminty@telus.net.

MORE MINTY: Love to sing? In Newton, Peace Arch Chorus hits right notes with open house nights.

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