Ballet and music fans at home and abroad are eagerly awaiting Thursday evening's premiere of the Alberta Ballet production set to the artwork and music of Joni Mitchell.
The evening program, entitled Dancing Joni and Other Works, is set for Calgary's Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium and will include the debut of The Fiddle and The Drum — a ballet created by Mitchell and acclaimed choreographer Jean Grand-Maître — as well as a performance of George Balanchine's Serenade.
Grand-Maître, Alberta Ballet's artistic director, said the multimedia collaboration that has sparked interest across Canada, the U.S. and Europe was a project that piqued Mitchell's interestright from the start.
"The idea of putting dance and visual arts and her music together at the same time on a stage was something that interested her a lot," he told CBC News on Thursday afternoon.
However, the Canadian music icon nixed Grand-Maître's initial idea ofcreating a work based on the life of the Alberta-born, Saskatchewan-raised singer-songwriter and artist.
"That didn't interest her as much as a ballet about more relevant issues concerning the environment and the wars and the aggression going on worldwide today," he said, adding that they took inspiration from one of Mitchell's recent visual art exhibitions in Los Angeles, where she now lives.
"These are themes she has been intensely preoccupied with in the past decade and certainly this ballet is a continuation of these concerns," he said.
Mitchell selected nine songs from over her wide-ranging musical career for The Fiddle and The Drum, including three new compositions that will be heard for the first time ever on Thursday night.
She also created a video installation to be projected above the dancers, with whom she has been rehearsing, Grand-Maître said.
"It's been a very intimate and powerful collaboration."
A CHUM television crew will film The Fiddle and The Drum for an upcoming one-hour television special.
Dancing Joni runs in Calgary through Saturday, before moving to Edmonton for a two-night run at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on Feb. 16 and 17.