The lists are endless, deadlines loom, and I am getting two hours less of sleep daily thanks to my youngest’s new early morning rowing team regimen. (If you see a hooded, uncombed creature squinting at you on the road, it’s me, the 5am chauffeur and yes, I am contemplating Red Bull.)
Collapse is not possible. But a good prescription for escape is an outing to the ballet. A quick check on casting for the National Ballet’s Giselle, on this week through Sunday in Toronto, and it was done. Two of Canada’s finest artists, Guillaume Côté and Greta Hodgkinson, were starring opening night and Christmas lists can wait another day.
Greta as the innocent peasant in first act was pleasant enough. But the second act of Giselle packs more punch when the ethereal Wilis take over: these are female spirits who have been jilted before their wedding day and rise from their graves at night. Under the moonlight, they seek men for revenge and force them to dance to their deaths. Think Dancing with the Stars without the make up and silicone. It is here that the great and wondrous Ms. Hodgkinson demonstrates mastery in every nuance. Over 20 years on stage and she is a wizard. Hodgkinson is now 38 and a mother of a young son. If this is what motherhood does to a dancer, then ye waifs in your tutus, go forth and multiply.
As for her partner, I will admit my bias before another word: I have a thing for Guillaume Côté. I have to share him with all the best ballet companies in the world, for all of them have asked him to be a guest artist at one time or another. He is simply the best male dancer I have seen in the 3 decades I have been attending the ballet. Daring and charismatic in one moment, soulful in another…I have yet to see him repeat himself. A one-time holiday tradition in our household was the December outing to The Nutcracker. Our daughter was often dancing in the production as one of the many students used for various scenes involving children so we had extra incentive to attend. It was in those years that I first discovered this talented young man from Lac-St-Jean, Quebec. I saw every soloist dance the part of the Nutcracker Prince and not one had the power or panache of Côte. He is also a talented musician and composer and that sense of musical timing is evident as he interprets the musical scores of each ballet.
This fall, Côte was featured in a short film shown at TIFF. I offer it here to you as your Thursday treat because Santa doesn’t come for another 19 days. Enjoy!