En Pointe 17 — RWB Soloist Soars in Special Canada Day Broadcast
An exceptional dancer with the RWB for more than a decade, Alanna McAdie has continually delivered stunning performances across her many roles with the company. As a soloist, Alanna spent her career establishing herself as one of Canada’s leading ballerinas, so when the CBC put out a call for dancers to join their Canada Day Together celebration, it’s no surprise the RWB recommended her.
Canada Day Together was a special commemorative livestreamed event hosted by Serena Ryder and Pierre-Yves Lord which aired on July 1st, 2020. The two-hour special featured original artistic collaborations by artists from all over the country, including performances from Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, The Sheepdogs and many more. The live show typically takes place in Ottawa to a crowd of thousands, but the event was moved online in an effort to quell the spread of COVID-19.
The call for dancers pertained to Alexandra Stréliski’s performance of “Burnout Fugue,” a Juno award winning song from the classical pianist’s 2018 album Inscape. Upon accepting, Alanna was asked to create original choreography for the piece which she would perform live in Montreal alongside two other incredible dancers, Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya, Principal Dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and Guillaume Côté, Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada. To add to the challenge, each piece had to be created separately and performed while respecting social distancing recommendations.
Alanna is no stranger to special projects. In the spring, after the cancellation of 80 Years – A Retrospective, Alanna was one of the RWB Company Dancers behind the Angels in the Architecture tribute. In June, Alanna performed a pas de deux from Moulin Rouge®—The Ballet on Almighty Voices, the online miniseries created by actor and philanthropist Tom Jackson to support the performing arts in the wake of COVID-19.Then a week later, she helped create Lazy Tuesday, the special video from RWB Principal Conductor Julian Pellicano and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra musician Momoko Matsumura, and was a part of the dancer-driven collaboration with The Bros. Landreth in July.
“I knew I wanted to stay involved in dance in any capacity that I could, and when things like this come out of the blue, I like to jump in and take advantage of it,” says Alanna, who began working on the choreography for “Burnout Fugue” after meeting the other dancers to discuss its themes. “The music had a lot of emotion. It sort of builds up, I think we all understood that. It all seemed to fit together really well.”
In the performance, which is available on YouTube, the dancers effortlessly glide through their steps while the music builds to a powerful crescendo. The segment is airtight, completely dense with emotion, and a beautiful reminder of the power of artistic expression.
“I was very honoured to represent the company in such a big way,” says Alanna, who views the pandemic as the reason she was able to participate. “It was a wonderful opportunity that wouldn’t have come about in any other circumstance.”
Since the July 1st performance, which was broadcast from Montreal, Alanna has continued to share her talent and abilities as a dancer by teaching classes at the RWB School Professional and Recreational Divisions. The trip to Montreal meant Alanna had to teach the first two weeks of class from quarantine, an experience that would be surreal under the best of circumstances. The ballerina, however, quickly adjusted to the new normal and soon felt just as confident in her ability to teach remotely as she did in-person.
“You have to be adaptable,” says Alanna, giving her best advice to all dancers. “You can accomplish a lot on Zoom. I was skeptical at first, but it went really well.”
Overall, the experiences of the summer have helped Alanna build new skills and explore territory she never thought possible. From the numerous video performances, to her first choreography credit and teaching positions, the last few months have been a time of incredible growth and change for the soloist. It’s surprising that what Alanna is most looking forward to is returning to the stage with the RWB.
“I’m so grateful to have had these experiences,” says Alanna reflectively, “but I really miss being on stage. I just keep imagining what the first performance will be like. I love that feeling, and I love being able to share it with the audience. That’s the thing I miss the most.”
Perhaps, on second thought, Alanna’s desire to return to the stage isn’t that surprising at all.