‘More than just classical ballet’

Maple Ridge dancer Erik Bruendl is in Coastal City Ballet's production of Swan Lake.

Maple Ridge dancer Erik Bruendl will play one of the friends and courtiers of the prince.

Maple Ridge’s Erik Bruendl will be dancing in the Coastal City Ballet’s upcoming production of Swan Lake.

The Thomas Haney secondary graduate started dancing ballet at the age of five. As he grew older, he branched into other genres of dance, including hip hop, jazz and tap. But he was drawn back to ballet.

“The story, the music, the kind of structure and the grace, I don’t know, I fell in love with it as a kid,” said Bruendl.

Most recently, he has been training at Pacific Dance Arts under the direction of Li Yaming, the same director at Coastal City Ballet, and he just finished a four-month contract with Ballet Jörgen Canada for the production of Sleeping Beauty.

In Swan Lake, Bruendl will be playing one of the friends and courtiers of the prince and also the Spanish prince in the third act.

But, he explains, it is a difficult production to put on.

“If you take something like the Spanish prince, for example, you’re not just dancing it, it’s not just classical ballet, but you’re also a character. You have to show to the audience that you are that character,” he explained.

“It’s not like in real life, you can just walk up, shake their hand and say, ‘Hey, I’m from Spain.’ You have to kind of do that in your dancing while still doing the steps and everything else that’s expected of classical ballet,” he added.

Irene Schneider, the choreographer, has given the timeless classic a modern twist for the dance company’s fifth anniversary season.

Schneider, who has created more than 60 ballets that have been presented in opera houses across Germany and around the world, contrasts the human emotion of a romantic love with the realistic and practical love of an arranged marriage.

“The plot’s been reworked basically to make it more believable and more realistic and understandable, especially to newer audiences where this may be their first ballet,” said Bruendl.

In this production of Swan Lake, Odette, the White Swan, comes to Prince Siegfried in a dream, embodying the ideal true love, while Odile, the Black Swan, is presented to Prince Siegfried by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbarth as the woman he is supposed to marry.

The full-length ballet takes place in four acts with music by Pytor Tchaikovsky.

Bruendl says this ballet is perfect for people who have never seen a ballet before or for children who’s only experience with a ballet production is The Nutcracker at Christmas.

“This is a nice accessible production. It’s not too heavy but it still has the hallmarks that you would expect from Swan Lake,” he said.

• Coastal City Ballet presents Swan Lake May 21 at 8 p.m. at the Playhouse Theatre in Vancouver, 600 Hamilton Street and June 10 at 8 p.m. at the Surrey Arts Centre, 13750 88th Avenue.

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