Ballet Kelowna: MAMBO and Other Works

Ballet Kelowna: MAMBO and Other Works

Location: Imperial Theatre

Date: Sunday, February 27, 2022

Show Starts: 7:30 PM

Tickets: $37.50 adults | $32.50 subscribers

The MAMBO and Other Works program features a meticulous blend of contemporary and neo classical works by Canada’s leading dance makers. With the thrilling tango-inspired Cuatro Estaciones by Simone Orlando, Guillaume Cote’s mesmerizing Bolero, and Alysa Pires’ vivacious audience favourite MAMBO, this high energy program promises to please a wide range of spectators.

Founded in 2002, and under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO (AD/CEO) Simone Orlando since 2014, Ballet Kelowna delivers compelling and inspiring performances to regional, national, and international audiences. The Company presents numerous styles of dance from Canada’s finest emerging and established choreographers, and embraces the precision and athleticism of ballet technique to create original new works that captivate and engage today’s diverse audiences.



McKeely Borger is a member of the Saskatchewan Métis Nation from Regina, Canada. She pursued her dance career at Adelphi University in New York under full Merit Scholarship, Coastal City Ballet in Vancouver, Atlanta Ballet, and in France at Le Ballet de l’Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Metropole as a soloist. She was an Original Cast Member of the MainStage production of Mickey & the Magician at Disneyland Paris in 2016. Ms. Borger spent the past two years in Florida with Ballet Palm Beach, dancing roles such as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and in Balanchine’s Who Cares? as the ‘One and Only’. Happy to be back in Canada, this is her third season with Ballet Kelowna!

Desiree Bortolussi KELOWNA, BC

Desiree Bortolussi is a graduate of The Canadian School of Ballet and has performed in 14 productions of CSB’s The Nutcracker with appearances in many principal roles. Ms. Bortolussi has participated in summer dance programs at Canada’s National Ballet School, the Boston Ballet School, the Cincinnati Ballet School, and the School of Alberta Ballet. She has also studied at the Okanagan Summer Dance Intensive program under Paul Destrooper and Stephane Leonard. During summer 2015, Ms. Bortolussi took part in The Banff Centre’s Summer Professional Dance Program where she worked with choreographer Gabrielle Lamb and Lindsay Fischer. With Ballet Kelowna, Ms. Bortolussi has worked with David LaHay, Brian Macdonald, Simone Orlando, Heather Myers, and James Kudelka.  This is Ms. Bortolussi’s tenth season with Ballet Kelowna.

Kelsey Hanna CALGARY, AB

Kelsey Hanna has attended summer dance programs at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, and the School of Alberta Ballet. In 2013, she entered the Professional Graduate Program at the School of Alberta Ballet, training under Murray Kilgour and Edmund Stripe. While with the school she participated in tours throughout Alberta, showcasing the joys of ballet and performing professional repertoire. Ms. Hanna danced with Citie Ballet for two seasons under the direction of Jorden Morris. She has performed a diverse repertoire of choreography ranging from Les Sylphides to original contemporary work by Alysa Pires. Ms. Hanna has also competed in festivals and competitions around the world, including the 2014 International Genée competition in Antwerp, Belgium. This is Ms. Hanna’s fifth season with Ballet Kelowna.

Emily Murray  SUDBURY, ON

Originally from Sudbury Ontario, Emily Murray completed her training at Canada’s National Ballet School and subsequently was invited to attend their Post-Secondary Program. During her time at the school and through other summer programs at the Australian Ballet School and Ballet Jörgen’s Junior Company Intensive, Ms. Murray was able to work with choreographers such as James Kudelka, Peggy Baker, Bengt Jorgen, Hannah Kiel and Jera Wolfe. She has also had the chance to dance works by George Balanchine, John Neumeier and Ramon Oller. Ms. Murray is very excited to be joining Ballet Kelowna’s Emerging Artist Program and pursuing her love of dance!


Donaldo Nava began his professional training at the National School of Classical and Contemporary Dance in Mexico City. He moved to Victoria, Canada to continue his training and graduated from the Victoria Academy of Ballet (VAB) Post-Secondary Bridge Program in 2019. Mr. Nava worked with many guest teachers including Alysa Pires (Alysa Pires Dance Projects), Jorden Morris (former Artistic Director, Citie Ballet), John Alleyne (former Artistic Director, Ballet BC) and Christopher Anderson (Associate Artistic Director, Alberta Ballet). He has performed with Ballet Kelowna in John Alleyne’s A Streetcar Named Desire in May 2018 and again on tour in October 2018. This is Mr. Nava’s third season with Ballet Kelowna.

Yuka Otsuki HYOGO, JAPAN

Yuka Otsuki moved to Victoria, BC from Japan when she was 15 years old to further her training at the Victoria Academy of Ballet in their Professional Training Program.  In June 2017, she graduated from their Post-Secondary Bridge Program.  While at Victoria Academy of Ballet, Ms. Otsuki was fortunate to work with many guest teachers such as Adam Sklute (Ballet West), Bengt Jorgen (Ballet Jorgen), Kristen Wicklund (Ballet BC), Wen Wei Wang (Wen Wei Dance) and Alysa Pires (Alysa Pires Dance Project).  Ms. Otsuki placed in the top 12 in the Youth America Grand Prix semi-finals in Seattle, Washington in 2015 and 2017.

Seiji Suzuki MIE, JAPAN 

Seiji Suzuki moved to Victoria, BC from Mie, Japan to attend the Professional Training Program at the Victoria Academy of Ballet, graduating from their Post-Secondary Bridge Program in June 2017. In 2014, Mr. Suzuki received a scholarship to participate in the International Summer School in Melbourne, Australia hosted by Cecchetti Ballet Australia. He was chosen for featured roles in The Gift by Ballet Victoria, The Nutcracker by Alberta Ballet, and guest artist with Island Circus Space. This is Mr. Suzuki’s fifth season with Ballet Kelowna.


Kurt Werner graduated from The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Program. He has danced in the work of George Balanchine, Michel Fokine, William Forsythe, James Kudelka, John Neumeier, and Arthur Saint-Léon. Mr. Werner received the Brian Macdonald Dance Award and participated in The Banff Centre’s 2015 Summer Professional Dance Program. During his time with Ballet Kelowna, Mr. Werner has been featured in works by Simone Orlando, David LaHay, James Kudelka, Heather Myers, Shawn Hounsell, Kay Armstrong, Brian Macdonald and Brydon Paige. This is Mr. Werner’s tenth season with Ballet Kelowna.



Simone Orlando


Simone Orlando completed her dance training at Canada’s National Ballet School and subsequently joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1989. In 1996, she joined Ballet British Columbia under the direction of John Alleyne where she danced for 13 years as one of the company’s most celebrated principal artists.  

Ms. Orlando’s choreographic explorations began in 1997. Praised for her mature and sensitive ideas, vision, musicality, and delineation of movement and space, she has received numerous commissions including those from Ballet BC, Toronto Dance Theatre, and Ballet Kelowna. Ms. Orlando is the recipient of a 2004 Vancouver Arts Award, the 2006 Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award, a 2009 Fellowship Initiative Grant from the New York Choreographic Institute, and the 2013 Pretty Creatives International Choreographic Award. 

In June 2014, Ms. Orlando graduated with distinction from the Business Management program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and was appointed Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna effective September 1, 2014. During her tenure at Ballet Kelowna, Ms. Orlando has brought 30 new works into the Company’s repertoire. She was the recipient of the City of Kelowna’s 2017 Honor in the Arts Award and she was appointed to the BC Arts Council’s Board of Directors in 2018. 

Guillaume Côté 

Guillaume Côté studied at Canada’s National Ballet School and joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1999. He quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 2004. 

Since then, Mr. Côté has danced most of the major classical roles with The National Ballet of Canada and has been the leading male figure of the company. He has also had many leading roles created especially for him and has worked closely with such dance icons as Roland Petit, John Neumeier, William Forsythe, Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky and Crystal Pite.

As a guest artist, Mr. Côté has danced with a number of the world’s most important companies including The Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Theatre, American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Teatro alla Scala, English National Ballet, the Mikhailosky Theater of St-Petersburg, Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, and the Berlin’s Staatsoper. 

In 2013, in addition to his position as a Principal Dancer, Mr. Côté assumed the role of Choreographic Associate with The National Ballet of Canada. Since then, eight of his pieces entered the company’s repertoire including most recently Being and Nothingness performed on an international tour to Russia.  His first full-length ballet Le Petit Prince was presented by The National Ballet to sold-out houses in 2016. In 2018, Mr. Côté created in collaboration with the famed Director Robert Lepage, Frame by Frame, a new full-length evening. 

In 2011, Mr. Côté was awarded “La médaille de l’Assemblée Nationale du Québec” for his work in the arts.  In September 2014, Mr. Côté was named the Artistic Director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, the largest summer dance festival in Canada.   

 Alysa Pires

Canadian choreographer Alysa Pires has created works for companies such as the National Ballet of Canada, Ballet Kelowna, Ballet Edmonton, Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, Ryerson University, and more. 

Ms. Pires began working with The National Ballet of Canada as part of their Choreographic Workshop. The resulting ballet, In Between, premiered as part of FIVE CREATIONS in January 2018 and was subsequently performed at the company’s MADHOTBALLET Gala. She then represented the company at the 13th International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize and was appointed Choreographic Associate in 2019.

Her first commission for Ballet Kelowna, MAMBO, was presented as part of the 2018 Fall for Dance North Festival in Toronto and the China Arts Expo in Beijing. Ms. Pires twice participated in New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute (Spring and Fall 2019) and was one of the 2017 winners of Northwest Dance Project’s International Choreographic Competition. She also creates under the umbrella of Alysa Pires Dance Projects, which made its critically acclaimed full-length debut with Exterminating Angel at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival. 

Upcoming projects include the world premiere of Pires’ Macbeth for Ballet Kelowna, the company’s first full-length commission.

Ms. Pires is an Honours BFA graduate from the Ryerson School of Performance and was the recipient of the 2015 Jack McAllister Award, which recognizes alumni accomplishment.


Contemporary ballet

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