Eating well and promoting the arts have important things in common. Let me explain.
If you want to eat healthy food, make sure that fruits and vegetables are in the front of your refrigerator. Why? People gravitate to what is closest to them.
The same goes for the arts. If you want a large number of people to attend artistic performances – be it the ballet, musical concerts or gallery showings – then you should organize them in easy to reach spots.
For more than 25 years, Ballet Jörgen has been working on making ballet as accessible as possible. That is why this coming Saturday, March 29, they will perform Romeo and Juliet at Centrepointe Theatre.
“Our focus is on making sure everybody has access to high-quality ballet . . . [and] to serve underserved areas, which includes the suburban regions,” says Bengt Jörgen, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Jörgen, in a phone interview.
With many – if not most – shows taking place in the downtown core, many art-loving suburbanites often do not attend performances that they may otherwise have gone to.
“Sometimes it takes two hours in rush hour traffic to go from Mississauga to downtown Toronto,” says the Toronto-based Jörgen. “Nobody in their right mind will put their family through that, plus the cost (of tickets).”
When performing in Ottawa, Ballet Jörgen makes a point of coming to Nepean or Orleans. This makes complete sense when you consider their aim of serving areas that have less access to the arts.
If you live in Centretown or the Glebe, you can easily eat at home after work and still make a ballet show at the National Arts Centre at 7:30 or 8 pm.
If you live in Kanata or Gloucester, however, going to the NAC – or any other downtown show for that matter – often requires eating out for dinner and paying for parking, which just adds to the cost of attending a performance.
Saturday’s performance of Romeo and Juliet is choreographed by Jörgen, and will include young local dancers from the Ottawa area.
“[This ballet] seems to work really well for teenagers and up,” says Jörgen, when asked if the show will appeal to families, before adding that it could also appeal to audiences as young as 11 or 12.
This interest from younger audiences is one of the reasons for Ballet Jörgen’s success: One-third of their audience is under the age of 18, which is critical for creating a new generation of art lovers.
Having gown to the fifth largest dance organisation in Canada, and the second largest ballet company in Ontario, Ballet Jörgen hold’s more than 600 events annually, including more than 120 performances.
In total, they reach about 50,000 people per year across Canada and northern United States, in performances that allow audiences in suburban, inner-city neighbourhoods and rurual areas to appreciate the ballet.
“We realise that there is a great appetite for classical work,” says Jörgen.
Ballet Jörgen perform at Centrepointe Theatre (101 Centrepointe Drive) on Saturday, March 29, at 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $41.