Overall it must be questioned whether ballet is the right medium for a biographical tribute. Ballet by the limits of its nature is only able to give a broad brushstroke, a stylized impression of what a person stood for. Details of historical context, complex personal stories and exploration of inner drive fall by the wayside; all questions you seek in a biographical treatment remain opaque. In “Frame by Frame” a new ballet for the National Ballet of Canada directed by Robert LePage and choreographed Guillaume Côté, ballet was interspersed with film and overlaid with interactive effects by Ex Machina, yet it remained a fragmentary picture of their subject, Norman McLaren.
Harrison James and Heather Ogden in “Frame by Frame.” Photograph by Karolina Kuras
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE