Maya Tenzer joins Ballet BC for its 2014/15 season. (photo by Michael Slobodian)
Earlier this year, Ballet BC welcomed five new company members, bringing the total to 14, and four new apprentices. Now part of this intimate group is Maya Tenzer, who has joined the company as an apprentice for its 29th season, which begins Nov. 6 with No. 29.
No. 29 features the world première of White Act by Fernando Hernando Magadan, the Ballet BC première of An Instant by Lesley Telford and the reprisal of A.U.R.A. by Jacopo Godani.
“With this program, we will have commissioned 29 new works over the past five years by dance makers from around the world,” said Emily Molnar, Ballet BC artistic director, in a press release. “No. 29 is an evening that will showcase a dynamic and versatile range of dance while offering an engaging experience for audiences. It will grab you, excite you and challenge your ideas of ballet.”
Tenzer, 20, should fit in well with Ballet BC, which prides itself on being “grounded in the rigor and artistry of classical ballet, with an emphasis on innovation and the immediacy of the 21st century.” She joins the company from Arts Umbrella, with whom she studied and worked – with countless choreographers – from age 10.
“I was led to Arts Umbrella through a friend who did the summer intensive there and loved it,” Tenzer told the Independent. “I had begun to dance one year before in Paris, France, where my family had been living for the year. I started out taking one class a week, but I knew the following year I wanted to be doing more. In the many years to come of my training at Arts Umbrella, the school became my home and provided me with invaluable training. At Arts Umbrella, I was given the tools to joy and success in dance and in the world.”
She also trained at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. In a four-week summer intensive, she said, “I danced six days a week with demanding classes and a high level of commitment always demanded. The training there was vital to me. I was exposed to Gaga (a movement language created by Ohad Naharin, the director of Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv) and all the studios there have no mirrors, so I learned to love the freedom of not having the mirror as a distraction while dancing. I felt my individuality and ownership as a dancer take off while there.”
Locally, Tenzer apprenticed, in 2013, with choreographer Justine A. Chambers in the creation of Sphinx, “a solo created in collaboration with contemporary gamelan composer, Michael Tenzer,” according to Chambers’ website.
“For that project, being an apprentice meant acting as a body Justine could look at her movement on,” Tenzer told the JI. “It sometimes meant developing movement with her, and it was above all an amazing opportunity to work alongside Justine, who is an intelligent and generous artist.
“Also, Michael Tenzer is my father! Both my parents are music teachers – my dad at UBC and my mom at Suncrest Elementary School in Burnaby. The creative arts have always been an irreplaceable part of my daily life.”
As has Judaism, “in bringing together … family in a special way. I was never strongly religious but I love the bonds that the traditions of Judaism have made for me,” she said.
On the international front, Tenzer has toured with Arts Umbrella Dance Company, an experience she described as “a joy.”
“I thrive on the relentless schedule and the new experiences,” she said. “Last year, we spent one week in Holland and one week in Italy, taking workshops, rehearsing with NDT (Netherlands Dance Theatre), and preparing our own show. Being tired was a constant but, often, being at your end can be a catalyst for the best kinds of change and improvement.”
And that brings us back to Ballet BC. “Being an apprentice means I have the same schedule and opportunities to work with the incredible people that come to Ballet BC, but that often I will be an understudy for a piece instead of dancing in the first cast,” she explained. “This gives me a chance to learn from the artists of Ballet BC as they work to create the powerful art we see onstage.”
Tenzer spoke of dance as allowing her to connect body and mind. “To practise aligning the two daily, as my job, is a gift and an inspiration,” she said. “The environment at Ballet BC is supportive of being vulnerable and taking risks in order to enter new territory, and this is exciting and a privilege to be a part of.”
No. 29 is at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Nov. 6-8, 8 p.m. Tickets range from $30 to $80 (including service charges) and can be purchased from Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-2787 or ticketmaster.ca.