Peer Ristine and Sydney Olsen perform in the Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet’s upcoming production, Close/Apart, at Malaspina Theatre on April 20. (Photo courtesy Kurt Knock)

Contemporary ballet in Nanaimo will delve into gender dynamics

Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet presents ‘Close/Apart’ at Malaspina Theatre on Saturday, April 20

Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet’s latest production explores the relationship between men and women over the course of history, and hints at what the future may hold for the sexes.

“We had a lot of group discussions about it and figured that this would be a really interesting topic to delve into dance-wise,” NCB artistic director Chantelle Norris said. “The hardest part was just trying to make sure that it was balanced out, that it wasn’t just one-sided. We really wanted to show the male aspect of things, as well as the female aspect of things.”

Norris said developing the program was a challenge at first, but “it almost started to write itself” as the dancers came forward with their own ideas. That production, Close/Apart, comes to Malaspina Theatre on April 20.

Peer Ristine is the company’s only male dancer and helped provide a male point of view at those brainstorming sessions. He said the male-female dichotomy is a relatable theme.

“I think there’s been recently lots of polarity between the male and female … and Chantelle’s show is just going to highlight that and kind of bring forth an empathetic idea and solution, but it’s not so age-old,” he said. “I really have connected more so with this concept than, say, some really technical ballet in which I’m playing a narrative.”

“We need to start embracing and accepting our differences instead of using them against each other,” noted dancer Lana Nepomuceno.

Like last year’s production, which depicted the rising influence of technology, Close/Apart is told chronologically, from the preindustrial era to the modern day and reflecting the roles and relationships of the sexes at those times.

“We decided to lay off of the special effects this year a little bit just because the story is emotionally based and we wanted the dance to speak for itself,” Norris said. “So we really didn’t need the bells and whistles that we had last year.”

Norris said she’s impressed with the program that she and her dancers created. She said she hopes Close/Apart prompts viewers to further consider the state of gender relations.

“They amaze me all the time because they’re so young but they have such deep, thoughtful views on things,” she said of her pupils. “[It’s] always a surprise to hear what they have to say, but they blew me away. And a lot of the show is them and their thoughts and where they thought things started off and where they think things are going.”

WHAT’S ON … Nanaimo Contemporary Ballet presents Close/Apart at Malaspina Theatre on Saturday, April 20 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. General admission is $21, $16 for children under 10, $12 for seniors over 65. Available at

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