For our first-ever opera-ballet, we are partnering with the Contemporary School of Dance, voted Kitchener-Waterloo's number one dance school 10 years in a row. We interviewed Contemporary School of Dance Faculty Christine Parker-Reid, artistic director, and Kennedy Dale-Johnson, choreographer/teacher, so that the Vera Causa Opera community could get to know them a little better before seeing their amazing talent in our November production of Puccini's The Fairies (Le Villi).
Tell us a little bit about the Contemporary School of Dance! How did it come to be? What is the story behind it all?
Christine: The Contemporary School of Dance (CSD) opened in September of 1997 and we are proud to be celebrating our 22nd year of sharing dance with the KW community. We have a team of eleven faculty providing approximately four hundred dancers of all ages with superb dance training. Our goal is to provide a welcoming, positive, caring atmosphere for all dancers and provide proper, safe dance training to all students, regardless of age or ability. Students have the opportunity to explore the magic of movement, hone their technical dance skills, benefit from a healthy extracurricular activity, gain an appreciation for the art of dance, and make friendships to last a lifetime! The CSD dance company is comprised of students, ages 9-18 interested in more performance opportunities. The Company experience helps to develop a sense of creative confidence, genuine performance, and the ability to learn choreography quickly and adapt to different performing environments. Over the years, students involved in our dance companies have had many exciting opportunities to work with professional dance artists, which has provided a greater understanding of the choreographic process and the value of learning, preserving and performing choreography. The dancers also have the opportunity to create and perform their own choreography at our annual Coffee House performance. Our Dance Company has performed at expos, festivals, corporate events, half-time shows, arts awards banquets, as well as performances with the KW Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Vera Causa Opera this year!
What kinds of different dance lessons are offered at the Contemporary School of Dance?
Christine: In our beautiful four-studio facility, we offer instruction in ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre, acro, and body conditioning.
What is the age range of dancers involved in The Fairies/Le Villi?
Christine: Our dancers range from ages 9-17.
What has it been like to choreograph an opera-ballet? What are some of the differences and challenges of this kind of work?
Christine: It has been exciting to work on the opera-ballet! It is similar to choreographing for a ballet story in many ways, but the singers' voices add another layer/dimension to the music. Sometimes the phrasing of the music can be challenging as it is not always a full set of 4 or 8 counts per bar, and there are many rallentandos, but this helps train the dancers to listen to musical cues.
Kennedy: Working on the opera-ballet has been a wonderful experience. The story has similar characters to some romantic ballets, and it’s been great to choreograph for specific characters and scenes in the opera. The phrasing of the music has definitely been the largest challenge as it’s very fluid with changes in tempo and quality. This large range in musical qualities has given us the opportunity to choreograph a large range of pieces and encourage the students to dance in different ways.
How has it been collaborating with Vera Causa Opera?
Christine: Wonderful - very organized, which we love!
Kennedy: Exciting- An amazing and new experience for CSD dance company. We’ve enjoyed learning more about opera and working on a large production with such a hardworking group of singers and musicians!
What are people going to love about The Fairies/Le Villi?
Christine: I think the audience will appreciate seeing the musicians, singers and dancers performing beautifully together to create a magical story on stage.
Kennedy: I think the audience will love the beautiful voices of the opera and all of the interactions between the dancers and the opera singers.
Here is a complete list of all the amazing faculty from the Contemporary School of Dance who are taking part in The Fairies (Le Villi):
Christine Parker-Reid - Artistic Director Georgina Rombough - Dance Company Director Kennedy Dale-Johnson - Dance Company Assistant
Here at Vera Causa Opera, we are so excited to have found such a talented group of people to join us for this production. We couldn't have asked for better partners to make The Fairies a unique and exciting show!
Don't miss your chance to see the beautiful work from Vera Causa Opera and the Contemporary School of Dance team, November 16th, 17th, and 18th, at Knox Presbyterian Church (50 Erb Street West, Waterloo). Get your tickets today before they are gone!