MONTREAL — It begins with a man and a woman. It always does.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens presents “Transfigured Night,” a world premiere production created by Belgian-born choreographer Stijn Celis (pronounced “sten”). The work is presented for six performances from May 15 through 24.
This is the third collaboration between Celis and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Celis previously teamed up with GBC for the 2002 production of “Noces” and the 2003 work “Cinderella (The Last Shoe).”
The current collaboration is dubbed as “a poignant two-part piece about passion and forgiveness, the missing link between mythical and ordinary love.”
“The central theme of the evening is a man and a woman and their relationship to the night,” Celis said. “The night and its many significations.”
To tell the story, Celis employs the entire GBC company, which tallies in at some 30 dancers. The work is a contemporary piece “mixed with classical elements.”
The first part of the piece is titled “Orpheus’ Gaze,” which explores elements of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Celis is using four Viennese composers to accompany the piece.
The second part of the work takes inspiration from a poem written by Richard Dehmel in 1896 as well as a musical composition, also titled “Transfigured Night,” created by Arnold Schoenberg in 1899.
“The poem was like a starting point,” Celis said. “Like the core of the thought process that originated this journey.”
Celis says he is not explicitly transforming the poem to the stage.
“I meander around the poem,” he said. “I use it as an inspiration.”
And for Celis, the music is equally as important as the dance aspect, and, in fact, comes before the choreography.
“After I can have a solid relationship with the music, then I can start adding choreography to it.”
Celis says the timeline from inspiration to stage fruition is one that presents itself.