The National Ballet of Canada Presents Onegin at the NAC

When one thinks of the ballet often images of pink tulle adorned princesses and swans capture our imagination. We think of pointe shoes and pirouettes and the uplifting and often predictable music of Tchaikovsky. The colours are pastel and the dancers live in the space of the air. They jump without any sound. They have elastic bodies, present themselves as a delightful perfections with modest and elegant smiles as they finish their 32 fouette turns on stage.

The National Ballet’s upcoming performance of Oregin is a wonderful alternative to the preconceived ideas around ballet.

Principal dancers McGee Maddox and Xiao Nan Yu.

Based on Pushkin’s the 19th century novel Eugene Onegin, this ballet offers a cerebral journey into a male mind of unreciprocated love, and love lost. Here is finally a ballet celebrating men as the main character and rejoicing in their virtuosic abilities during this three act classic choreographed by John Cranko. Far from the etherealness of pointe shoes, we enter into the dark and deep mind of the main character Eugene Onegin, where the dancer must achieve a tremendous amount of psychological dramatic interpretation, and the nuances and complex character development must be played out alongside with some of the most challenging dance for men in classical dance repertoire.  

Principal dancer McGee Maddox performs this piece opening night at the NAC on January 19, 2017, and stated to me during an interview that this ballet is very difficult to cast due to the strong mastery of male technique. It is intensely physically demanding. The pas de deuxs are not only emotional, but they are athletic and tremendously difficult as the substantial characters play out their emotional confusions throughout the evening.

A “must see” for all dance enthusiasts and literary lovers. The National Ballet’s Onegin is at the NAC January 19-21, 2017.