I’m en route to see the New York City Ballet in Orange County–four programs in two days. But I’ve just got time to post my Chronicle review of the National Ballet of Canada, which closes a Cal Performances run on Sunday:

“A mood of discovery percolated Thursday night through UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, as the Bay Area greeted the National Ballet of Canada for the first time in 13 years.

The National is both a familiar name and something of a mystery in these parts. The troupe of 55-plus dancers rarely tours America despite its proximity in Toronto, but local audiences know the work of Artistic Director James Kudelka through his many commissions for San Francisco Ballet. This was the first chance to see how Kudelka has reshaped the storied National since taking the helm in 1996. The region’s ballet dignitaries turned out in force and curiosity ran thick.

If the National evolved only as a showcase for Kudelka’s prolific talents, that might, on the strength of the Cal Performances program repeating tonight and Sunday, be purpose enough. The evening was stacked with three Kudelka works, none a more fitting introduction to his distinctive voice than the world premiere solo, “Chacony.” ”

As Mary Ellen Hunt stresses in her review for the Contra Costa Times (which I’ll post here later), Greta Hodgkinson was the big discovery, absolutely scintillating in the “Summer” section of “The Four Seasons.”

Now time to hit the road.

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