The newest version of “Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum” as performed by the Alberta Ballet is debuting tonight in Saskatoon, Canada. The Star Phoenix spoke with Joni Mitchell about the production. At the time of the interview, she planned to attend tonight and tomorrow’s show.
“I was so engrossed in the way the world was at that time that it seemed kind of lightweight to me.”
At the time she was approached about the creation of the show, Joni was planning her own art show.
“I had a model of the gallery on the pool table in my living room because I was hanging the show in miniature and working out what pieces would go in. (Alberta Ballet art director and choreographer Jean Grand-Maitre) saw this art show on the table and said, ‘We must put this in the ballet!'”
“‘If’ is a really beautiful part of the ballet. It’s so Canadian, so high-spirited. ‘It’ gets very modern and the kids love it because they get to do contemporary dance. Although Rudyard Kipling’s poem is a hundred years old, it has a terrific contemporary message.”
“In the ’80s, when most of those songs were first written, people just didn’t want to know about it. They thought you were being negative. So the time has come for some of these songs to be heard.”
“Most of what I gave them was emotional instruction, so they understood what they were dancing to, what the songs meant. It brought about an emotional quality to the music that was beautifully illustrated by his choreography — and in a fresh way like I’ve never seen before. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The music just seemed to come alive on stage, which is what ballet is all about.”
From the article: “For the 2009 ballet season, Alberta Ballet has expanded The Fiddle and the Drum to a full-length ballet. Mitchell has added four new songs to the repertoire, including ‘Ethiopia’, which turns attention to African conflicts; ‘Shine’, from her newest album; ‘The Reoccurring Dream’, which warns against consumerism; and the prophetic anthem, ‘Woodstock’.”
“Mainly what I come back to town for now is to see my dad. I’m mostly at the old age home, having dinner with the geriatrics,” she said with a laugh.
“Some of them are the parents of people I knew. Bob Hinitt is there, so that will be nice.”
While in Saskatoon, Mitchell’s favourite haunts include the Bessborough Hotel. “I love the Bessborough. I’ve got a lot of memories there from my teens. I modelled there, our proms were there — I love that hotel!”
“I enjoy taking drives and taking pictures and coming home to paint them. I paint a lot of B.C. and Saskatchewan when I paint, as well as people I know.”