These Facts About Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Are On Point(e)

January 27, 2024
Les Grands Ballet Canadiens

Dance your way through these featured facts about Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Dancing Beethoven to be performed with a live, local orchestra on Sat, Feb 17 and Sun, Feb 18 at Northrop.

The Minneapolis STRINGenius Symphony will perform the dramatic score, directed by the acclaimed principal conductor of  Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Orchestra, Dina Gilbert. Read more about how the orchestra comes together for a performance such as Dancing Beethoven in this article from the Star Tribune: "In Minneapolis, the players are extraordinary."

Video Still from: Complete, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Garrett Smith, Beethoven 5th Symphony

Fire and Ice

Highly decorated and in-demand choreographer Garrett Smith is a hot commodity, with at least one work meant to be performed in the cold. Smith co-choreographed a Swan Lake production on ice at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow—featuring dancers, acrobats, and Olympic figure skaters, including Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko and prima ballerina Olga Smirnova. You can get a sense of his choreography for more traditional stages, including a snippet of Complete set to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5, and on the Feb 17-18 Northrop Dancing Beethoven program, on his YouTube channel. Born in Salt Lake City, UT, Garrett’s work with prestigious dance companies around the world, including Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Houston Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, and Teatro alla Scala di Milano, has earned him numerous awards.

Uwe Scholz

Uwe Scholz. Photo by Andreas Birkigt.

Eternal Encore

The late Uwe Scholz choreographed Symphony No. 7, the second part of the Feb 17-18 Northrop Dancing Beethoven program, for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1991 and it is considered his masterpiece. He revised the work and, as the director and chief choreographer, brought it to the Leipzig Ballet in 1993. Scholz began dancing at just four years old, developing an affinity for ballet along with his passion for music. Influenced by his lifelong mentor Marcia Haydée, Scholz choreographed his first piece Serenade for 5+1 at the age of 18. The talented German dancer and choreographer passed away in 2004 at just 45 years old, having choreographed more than 100 works.

Conductor Dina Gilbert leads the orchestra

Conductor Dina Gilbert. Photo by Sasha Onyshchenko.

An Unbeatable Combination

For the Northrop performances, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens will be dancing to live music provided by the Minneapolis STRINGenius Symphony—a talented group of local musicians, many of whom play for The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra. Leading them for the performances will be highly acclaimed principal conductor of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens Orchestra Dina Gilbert, currently Music Director of the Kamloops Symphony (British-Columbia) and of the Orchestre symphonique de l'Estuaire (Québec). Few artistic experiences are more electric than those that bring exceptional musicians and world-class dancers together.

Drawing from Peanuts creator Charles Shultz of Schroder at the piano playing Beethoven

© PNTS courtesy, Peanuts, Inc
 

Beethoven’s Everlasting Presence in Minnesota Culture

Beethoven (1770-1827) is undeniably one of the most famous composers of all time—and that means he has a commanding presence in much of popular culture. The composer is certainly important in the Peanuts comic strip created by Twin Cities native Charles M. Schulz. In Peanuts, piano-playing prodigy Schroeder will have you know that Beethoven is the “answer to life.” Meanwhile, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 can be heard in a variety of films and television shows—including (but not limited to) the 1980 premiere of the documentary series Cosmos, The Kings Speech, Mr. Hollands Opus, an episode of Seinfeld, and in the 1974 special It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

Tetyana Martyanova and Dane Holland

Dancers: Tetyana Martyanova and Dane Holland. Photo by Bérenger Zyla.

Alphabetically Elite Repertoire

The list of works performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens since the company’s founding in 1957 includes at least one work starting with each letter of the alphabet—except for Z. First on the alphabetical list is A Soldier’s Song, choreographed by Milko Šparemblek. Last on the list is Your Self, choreographed by Ukrainian-born Tetyana Martyanova—who was a member of the company from 2011-13 and rejoined in 2017.

Acknowledments

PNC Bank logo
Minnesota State Arts Board logo
Canada Council for the Arts logo
Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec logo

Sponsored by PNC Bank.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and of the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec.