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Film studies student produces 50-year retrospective for Alberta Ballet

Kristen Larsen’s work to be screened this week before performances of Alice in Wonderland; ticket discount for UCalgary community

Film studies student Kristin Larsen has produced a short film for Alberta Ballet, marking the organization’s 50th anniversary. Photo by Juergen Amft Photography

By Heath McCoy

A 21-year-old film studies student put her lifelong passion for ballet to perfect use when she was tapped by Alberta Ballet to co-produce and edit a video celebrating the venerable organization’s 50th anniversary.

The short film will be screened at the Jubilee Auditorium this week, March 16-18, before performances of the ballet company’s production of Alice in Wonderland. It will also be shown March 24-25 in Edmonton for performances there.

“It was a wonderful opportunity,” says Kristin Larsen, the third-year film studies student, also minoring in English, who produced the 50th anniversary retrospective. “It’s a dream come true. You imagine these things for yourself, but you never know just how you’re going to achieve them. This is a big break and it feels really special.” 

Larsen has long been involved with the Alberta Ballet. A dancer herself since the age of three, she began dancing with the company when she was 10 years old, even appearing in its popular performances of The Nutcracker. For the last several years she has also volunteered with the organization, teaching ballet to small children at its preschool summer camps.

Artistic director takes a chance on budding filmmaker

Larsen's mother, Carol Larsen, also volunteers for Alberta Ballet and when she caught wind that the company’s artistic director Jean Grand-Maître was looking to produce a 50th anniversary video, the proud mother let him know that he had a budding and talented young filmmaker within the Alberta Ballet family. Grand-Maître decided to take a chance on Larsen. He says he was won over by her “talent and passion.”

“Kristin became a precious resource,” he says. “With only 12 minutes available, she had to capture the essence of this dance company, its history, its major players and also give us a glimpse of Alberta Ballet’s substantial artistic legacy.”

Indeed, the short film is a worthy and tasteful tribute, telling the story of Alberta Ballet’s 50-year history through insightful interviews with dancers and artistic directors past and present. Larsen makes great use of the Alberta Ballet’s archival footage.

Final product is 'clear and inspiring'

“Kristin has successfully woven all these narratives together in a clear and inspiring way, plus she has managed to infuse her work with poetry and emotion,” says Grand-Maître.

He adds: “The film has become a very precious historical artifact in itself. It is the only existing document which records the visions of every previous artistic director of the Alberta Ballet and its two founders, Ruth Carse and Muriel Taylor.”

Larsen says she was honoured to be given such an important responsibility.

“I wanted to convey this amazing legacy and also the idea of the company moving forward for the next 50 years,” she says. “Ballet is an older art form and sometimes I think people take it for granted, but Alberta Ballet is so important to Calgary. I tried to get that feeling across.” 

UCalgary community can get reduced-cost tickets for Alice in Wonderland

One of the special activities being offered as both UCalgary and Alberta Ballet mark our milestone 50th years is UCalgary Evening with Alberta Ballet. Our UCalgary community, including alumni, is invited to enjoy a 25-per-cent reduction on tickets for Alice In Wonderland in both Calgary and in Edmonton.

These special tickets can be purchased online by entering promo code UOFCALICE25. (Purchasers will be prompted to set up an online account with Arts Commons in order to purchase tickets. This step will require entering contact information, but you can opt out of receiving emails.)