On the Grandstand Stage
The TransAlta Grandstand Show is an evening highlight throughout the ten days of the Calgary Stampede. Some 250 000 spectators cap their day at the rodeo and on the midway with a ticket to this event, a stunning series of dance, song and a firework finale. The 2017 Grandstand Show, Together, was the third year that Alberta Ballet joined the Grandstand Show cast.
The Company previously performed an homage to Prince (2016) and selections from Love Lies Bleeding, a ballet based on the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin (2015). This past year, Alberta Ballet danced to the much-loved Leonard Cohen anthem, Hallelujah.
The Stampede production is getting to be a familiar event for the dancers, and they’ve learned how to prepare for the large outdoor stage. It’s a tremendous difference from their traditional venue, the Jubilee Auditorium.
Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maitre is a strong believer in the Grandstand Show as an opportunity for the Company. The production helps the Ballet reach new audiences, but it’s also a unique challenge for the Ballet’s dancers.
“We rehearse these Grandstand ballets in our studio, which is not even a quarter of the size of the TransAlta stage. The dancers have to multiply everything they learn by threes. Every step they take has to be three times as huge and their jumps so much higher.” The dancers focus not only on scaling their movements to a larger stage but also on mastering their technique at the greater scale.
Grand-Maitre is well aware of the athletic excellence the dancers bring to the performance: “It's a real killer for the dancers because it's like putting a magnifying glass on their ballet. I wouldn't ask them to do much more than five or six minutes!"