Ballet and I haven’t always gotten along. For me, it’s sorta like that cousin you see at family reunions. You understand why people like them, but you just don’t. But add in a remarkable talent like k.d. lang and a ballet inspired and choreographed to her music, is almost too good to pass up.
This week, Alberta Ballet opened the curtains to their new show Balletlujah. The show continues what has become a series of productions over the years that have featured the music of icons like Elton John and Joni Mitchell. It’s pop culture meets ballet and it’s oh so good.
The show weaves a simple story of love, one could probably assume a true story of one of K.D’s earliest loves. Based heavily and beautifully in the prairies, the show tells the tale of two young women falling in love, but luckily it avoids the tired pratfalls of disapproving parents or enraged boyfriends. Like I said, this story is simply about love, speed bumps, heartbreak and all. It’s rare for a story to not highlight how “strange” or “dangerous” such a love could be. But while it may be rare, it’s also genuine. I get the sense that k.d. never cared that people cared that she was gay, which is a powerful story alone, even before you had in the beautiful dancers of the Alberta Ballet. At just over 90 minutes, the show also moves swiftly and nicely through K.D’s epic catalogue of songs. In some instances, the songs work so well, you could almost wonder if they were written specifically for Balletlujah. But of course, as you know, they weren’t. Like any show would, they make you wait for Hallelujah until the very end, but it’s worth ever moment.
If you’re like me and tend to be intimidated or maybe even annoyed by ballet, I really think Balletlujah is worth your time and money (Main floor seats start at just $29). Of course, I’m sure ballet purists hate shows like these, because I don’t think the choreography was based solely on classical ballet. Actually seasons of watching So You Think You Can Dance have taught me that I probably saw some contemporary or modern dance moves thrown into the mix. But thanks to a story that you can follow, I sometimes forgot that I was even at the ballet. And from a marketing stand point, maybe it doesn’t hurt to do shows that are more welcoming of the general public, as opposed to performing shows simply for ballet aficionados. If it gets people like me through the doors, with any luck, I’ll be hooked enough to come check out the rest of the season.
Truthfully, I’m happy and surprised that the show resonated with me the way that it did. Not once, but twice, I had two hearty cries, brought up by the seamless and practically perfect production. I’m never embarrassed to cry at shows. Hey, I’m an emotional guy. But for some reason, it feels better when I cry at shows that pack wonderful and heartfelt wallops like Balletlujah did. The show offers up an inside look into the psyche and soul of K.D Lang, for many, the same way her music always has.