Charelle Thibault has always dreamed of creating a ballet for Vivaldi's The Four Seasons.
“It's been on my mind for years,” says the Nova Scotia choreographer, bringing her new original ballet Vivaldi's Four Seasons on June 24, 7:30 p.m., to the Sir James Dunn Theatre, Halifax.
“The Four Seasons really interested me because visually it can be quite captivating. Each season has its originality. I've always loved the music, and I knew it was music you could do so much with.”
Unlike Swan, the version of Swan Lake she brought to Halifax last year, or Nutcracker, which she produces annually in Clare, there is “not an official ballet for The Four Seasons, so you're much more free to do what you want.”
Vivaldi wrote The Four Seasons in the early 18th century to musically evoke each season. Thibault, working with her dancers in Charelle's School of Movement based at Université Sainte-Anne, created contemporary movement with ballet for each season.
“The movement fits the music and the season. With winter, the hands are very stiff, very icy. Obviously, spring is pinks and greens, and bright and cheerful. The choreography is really beautiful, delicate, but it's more difficult for me to do this pretty piece because my style is more aggressive.
“Fall is a lot of arms — to me, the arms are representing the branches, the leaves, a lot of really striking arm movement."
She and costume designer Carmen Maillet struggled with how to represent summer.
“Our summer costume is so simple, but honestly, I think it is the most captivating. We have a great big drape of yellow and gold over us, so when we turn the material moves.
"Summer, it's a lot of turning and a lot of arms because of the costume."
Thibault is pleased with this piece for 15 dancers ranging in age from seven to about 50.
“The costumes are beautiful, the choreography is unique and the music is really beautiful. I was able to capture what I wanted and to be able to portray each season through dance and costumes and slide projections.
“My biggest challenge was worrying if I'd get it done. We had six months to choreograph this, and I did it. It's always a risk.”
This time, she is opening a show in Halifax without first running it in Clare. (Vivaldi's Four Seasons is staged at the Marc Lescarbot Theatre, Université Sainte-Anne, Nov. 24, 25 and 26.)
“It's a little scary to open it in Halifax,” says Thibault.
Swan was the first show she brought to the city. “It did OK for my first time. I knew it wasn't going to be sold out; the Halifax audience hasn't known too much about me.
“This year, I'm getting more press and people who went last year loved it and most likely will want to see it again. I'm hoping this year it does better.”
She has also been promoting Vivaldi's Four Seasons on Instagram (thibaultcharelle) where people can see images of the costumes and movement.
Thibault's next original ballet, not coming to Halifax, is Cats, “which might be my last show,” says Thibault. She has been accepted into McMaster University's program for addictions counselling, which starts in July.
She is always going to teach dance, she adds, and she still loves to perform.
“Of course, I'm 44 and I can still perform, and I'll perform as long as I can.”
Tickets to Vivaldi's Four Seasons are $28.75 and $23 for students, including taxes, at the Dalhousie Arts Centre box office in person, online or by calling 902-494-3820 or 1-800-874-1669.