ORIGINALLY CREATED FOR the Paris Opera Ballet, Swedish choreographer Alex Ekman To play 25 performances were sold out at the historic Palais Garnier when it premiered in 2017. Due to its huge popularity, the show was later taped for the screen, which local audiences can see for its Canadian premiere as a hit launch of the 2022-23 Digidance season.
With 36 dancers and interactive sets including metal structures and some 40,000 small green balls, the work is inspired by the childish impulse to take action. The energetic score is by composer Mikael Karlsson, who has worked with Alicia Keys and Lykke Li.
The digital production won the Golden Prague Award for Best Recording of a Live Performance in 2019.
“For our third season, the partners at Digidance wanted to reflect a sense of optimism and hope as the world gradually learns to move forward through the pandemic,” said DanceHouse Artistic and Executive Director and Partner of Jim Smith. Digidance, in a press release. “To play was a natural fit for us to kick off our 2022/23 season, as it exhibits such a beautifully festive and delightfully playful quality. This piece was created before the world even heard of COVID-19, and that feeling of unaffected lightness is just what audiences need right now. Alexander Ekman’s choreography is full of surprises that allow moments of metamorphosis. We look forward to bringing this joyful work to homes across Canada.
Ekman has worked worldwide with companies such as the Compañia Nacional de Danza, the Rhine Opera Ballet and the Royal Swedish Ballet. In 2014, he created his own version of Swan Lake, attracting international attention with some 6,000 liters of water he used. In 2015, he received Sweden’s Medea Prize for Inventor and Renovator, and he won Germany’s Der Faust Theater Prize the following year.
Directed by Tommy Pascal and produced by the Paris Opera Ballet, Bel Air Media and SVT, To play takes about 105 minutes. Digidance’s streaming presentation includes a 10-minute pre-show documentary featuring members of the creative team as well as dancers Stéphane Bullion, Muriel Zusperreguy and Vincent Chaillet.
Digidance is a joint initiative of Canadian dance presenters DanceHouse as well as Harbourfront Center (Toronto), National Arts Center (Ottawa) and Danse Danse (Montreal).