Special to the Record
Paul Destrooper’s restless, questing artistic spirit compels him to keep creating.
That’s why the artistic director and choreographer of Ballet Victoria will visit the Sid Williams Theatre this month with Amadeus – Dances With Wolfgang, a significantly reinvented version of an earlier rendition.
Since Amadeus debuted to standing ovations in 2013, Destrooper has reimagined almost half the ballet to illustrate the artistic passion within Mozart, Freddy Mercury and also Destrooper himself.
It was his idea to use the music of singer Mercury and his band Queen alongside the sounds of Mozart.
“It looks at the creation process,” Destrooper says in an interview from Victoria. “We see him (Mozart) write music; we see him dance to music; we see the dancers becoming (musical) notes; we see the dancers becoming instruments…
“We see the development of a character that goes from success and enjoying tremendous growth but also creating jealousy and animosity, and dealing with that.”
As Mozart’s tale continues, the audience sees him “at the end of his life almost being consumed by the art form … and the lifestyle, which is where the parallel is drawn between Mozart and Freddy Mercury.
“Both men knew the end was near, and both men kept creating and performing until the end.”
In its 12th season, Ballet Victoria has produced more than 50 new works. Originality is central to the 12-dancer troupe’s mission statement.
“I’m trying to bring ballet into this century and I think it’s important to keep creating new work instead of doing the old classics over and over like everybody else,” Destrooper explains.
In an effort to do this in Dances With Wolfgang, Destrooper uses other modern music that includes contemporary renditions of Mozart scores (Dollie de Luxe’s rock opera Queen of the Night and a hip-hop version of Concerto Grosso). Adele’s Skyfall sung live by dancer Andrea Bayne is part of the second act.
“That draws an audience that’s younger and introduces them to some of the pieces by Mozart that they may not know.”
When Ballet Victoria performs at schools, Destrooper notices that young students enjoy classical music.
He admits it’s tough to maintain a ballet company in a city the size of Victoria.
“The critical mass of audiences is very small … in a very competitive market. That’s why we need to tour.”
Besides Victoria and Courtenay, Ballet Victoria is performing this work in North Vancouver and Duncan.
The hard work of Destrooper and his dancers, including principle performers Matthew Cluff as Amadeus and Andrea Bayne as his muse, was rewarded with overwhelming applause in Victoria, Destrooper reports.
“The audience was on their feet asking for more. We had some pretty amazing curtain calls, so we were thrilled about that.”
The response gratified him, because he wants to trigger an emotional response in audiences and because he puts so much of himself into what he loves.
“It’s like seven days a week, 24-7,” he admits. It’s all-consuming. I’m pretty much married to the art form.”
Amadeus – Dances With Wolfgang is meant for a large stage, but Destrooper vows his troupe will make it work at the Sid.
He also says this production appeals to different kinds of people.
“Anybody can come and see this. We have grandmothers and grandchildren, husbands and wives, all coming to the show.”
Ballet Victoria performs March 27 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Sid Williams Theatre Society’s Blue Circle Series. For tickets, visit sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the Sid box office at 442 Cliffe Ave. in Courtenay.