Alberta Ballet’s production of All of Us features the music of the Tragically Hip and is inspired by the band. With choreography by Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maitre, the production was set to capture the spirit of the Hip, paired with the powerful movement of ballet. It missed the mark by a mile. Though the narrative was a separate story from the music, they didn’t really seems to interrelate and the story was flat and uninspiring. Overall the production was underwhelming.
All of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic world where two groups of humans are fighting to survive. There is the group that represents hatred and greed – the Hannibal Clan led by Hannibal (Kelley McKinlay) and the group of compassion and kindness – the Hadrien Clan led by Hadrien (Garett Groat). A couple in the Hadrien Clan, Cordelia (Luna Sasaki) are Abraham (John Canfield) are kidnapped by the Hannibal Clan and Abraham is murdered. A war breaks out and there are few survivors, but they find hope in the ashes.
The production design is impressive, especially of note is the projection design by Adam Larsen and the lighting design by Pierre Lavoie. Combined they draw a landscape that is darkened by smoke and gives the production a dangerous edge. The set design by Mark Eugster is imaginative for a post-apocalyptic world. Costume designer Anne-Seguin Poirier worked hard to distinguish the two clans and creating a dark grunge look for the Hannibal Clan. Her makeup and wig work is great in the production.
Grand-Maitre’s choreography had some high notes. The duet between Hannibal and Cordelia is strong with some intense lifts. The dancers had a couple synchronicity issues, but overall their movement was strong and lithe. The Hadrien Clan’s group dance to Ahead by a Century was quite lovely. The choreography was quite simple overall, though the fight choreography was complex.
The narrative seemed to be created separately from the music. Or the company took specific lines from each song to build the story. They didn’t seem to relate all that well, as in it didn’t really capture the spirit of The Tragically Hip as artists. All of Us is supposed to explore these words from Gord Downie: “I always have a glimmer of hopefulness, even in collapse.” It was disheartening to see this captured within the themes of sexual assault, jealousy of that assault and taking the positives from that. Though it is just a story, for a contemporary ballet and two years of development, the company could have explored something much deeper and missed the opportunity to create a world that was more different from the one we live in. They could have illustrated hopeful and collapse in a more intriguing fashion.
All of Us felt more like a narrative glued to the Tragically Hip’s music rather than a work of art born and created from it.
Alberta Ballet’s presentation of All of Us runs until May 6th in Calgary and May 10-12 in Edmonton. More information can be found online.
Photo Credit: John McGrath