Arts + Culture » Dance

La vie on stage

Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada brings the legend of Edith Piaf to life.

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Piaf
Friday, January 23 at 7:30pm
Rebecca Cohn, 6101 University Avenue


Known as The Little Sparrow for her distinct voice, petite stature and wide eyes, songbird Edith Piaf has been transformed by Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada into a production by Igor Dobrovolskiy. "I blended classical elements of the ballet with her typical movements—arms strong, hands motioning. It's how she speaks with an audience. I almost forget she's in pointe shoes," he says.

Dancer Olga Petiteau brings Piaf's trademark movements to life. Abandoned at birth by her mother, raised by in a brothel and encouraged to sing by her street acrobat father, Piaf's story is steeped in heartbreak and melancholy. Piaf features iconic songs "La Vie en rose," "Non, je ne regrette rien" and "L'Hymne à l'amour," with classical pieces from Fauré and Chopin.

For Dobrovolskiy, his love affair with Piaf began long ago. His mother played Piaf on the turntable, and despite not understanding a word, he was taken by her voice. "I was caught by the energy. It stayed in my head my whole life," he says. "I've read books about her and listened to all her recordings. Then time came to make a ballet."

Petiteau can't remember a time without Piaf, as she grew up in Paris. "We have an idea of who she is in our memory," says Petiteau. "There was so much to learn about her, especially her history, such a difficult and hard life. My mom always played her songs at home. In France, she is a legend. It's an honour to be able to do this."


Piaf montage excerpts from Louisdionne on Vimeo.

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