The White Stripes + National Ballet = Chroma

My love for the White Stripes has induced me to do many things, from waiting outside the Winter Garden for hours for the chance to glimpse that man's glorious porcelain skin up close, to tricking me into liking country music, but this is the first time the promise of Jack White has lured me to the ballet.

The National Ballet of Canada is currently presenting Chroma & Serenade & Emergence; a beautiful triptych of contrasting pieces over an evening.

The draw for me was Chroma, a modern ballet set to three White Stripes songs orchestrated by British composer Joby Talbot, and two original songs created by Talbot. (I won't tell you which White Stripes songs, because I don't want to ruin the surprise, but The National Ballet's website is happy to.)

Wayne McGregor, an acclaimed British modern dance choreographer, created the piece while in residence at the Royal Ballet in London in 2006. This is just the second time the ballet has been produced, making its North American premiere in Toronto this week.

The modern dance and music of Chroma is put into stark relief by the second piece of the evening, Serenade, the classic Ballanchine ballet choreographed to Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C Major. And both, in my opinion, are outshone by Emergence, the 2008 multi-Dora Award winning piece from Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite, who uses sound effects and vocalizations by the dancers rather than an orchestra to create an urgent, spellbinding piece that brings the show to a furiously paced and mesmerizing end.

Chroma & Serenade & Emergence is an excellent introduction to ballet for the untrained eye (e.g. myself), for its three short pieces have a great breadth of style, design and pacing, never allowing even those with short attention spans to get bored. The three pieces are each very different, but in their own way highlight the grace, athleticism and beauty of the National Ballet's wonderful company and their mastery of movement. (The fact that the piece has had glowing reviews from dance writers across the city proves that it's also up to the standard of trained eyes as well.)

Of course, a significant highlight of a visit to the National Ballet is the opportunity to get dolled up, and to see and be seen at the gleaming glass and beech Four Seasons Centre, which remains pleasantly posh while not at all stuffy.

Part of the welcoming aspect of the ballet is the chance for plebes like me to purchase tickets at reasonable prices.Full price tickets range from $21.50 to $151.50, but by taking advantage of DanceBreak, patrons under 30 can purchase rush tickets for $30, giving me the chance to sit in a $120 seat for $30. Standing room only tickets are also available on the day of performances, and are $12 - an amazing deal if you don't mind not wearing heels to the ballet and are comfortable standing for the duration.

The National Ballet's Chroma & Serenade & Emergence, runs Nov 24 - 28 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. Tickets $21.50-$151.50, with $30 DanceBreak tickets for patrons under 30, and $12 standing room only tickets.

Writing by Tanya Doroslovac

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