09/16/2011 03:42 EDT | Updated 11/16/2011 05:12 EST

National Ballet begins Western tour

The National Ballet begins touring Western Canada on Friday, making up for a tour that was cancelled two years ago as the economic downturn threatened funding for arts organizations.

A mixed program of contemporary dance is planned for dates over the next three weeks in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and Winnipeg.

Touring without the orchestra

For the first time, the Toronto-based National Ballet of Canada is touring without an orchestra, a cost-saving measure artistic director Karen Kain says is necessary.

“I’m disappointed about that, but it is just the reality of the world right now and what we can afford to do,” Kain told CBC News.

The cost of touring 50 dancers, along with support staff and crew is more than $1 million, and she said the company will be happy if it just recoups the cost of the tour.

Kain says Western Canadian audiences are going to see something fresh and unexpected on the tour. The four contemporary dances on the bill:

- The Man in Black by Toronto’s James Kudelka.

- Emergence by Vancouver’s Crystal Pite.

- the second detail by Frankfurt-based William Forsythe.

- Other Dances by American Jerome Robbins.

“I hope the audiences will discover another side of the National Ballet of Canada that perhaps that they hadn’t seen before,” Kain said.

Riskier program

She admits it’s a riskier program than a full-length classical ballet.

“It’s risky in that people will buy a ticket for Swan Lake much more easily than they will buy a ticket for a program of mixed different ballets because the titles don’t have the same resonance with them,” she said.

The National’s program is included with subscriptions for the Alberta Ballet and Ballet BC.

She said it was a difficult decision for the National Ballet to cancel its Western Canadian tour two years ago, but she believes it was the right thing to do.

“Two years ago, I think we all remember that we were falling into the worst recession in 60 years and it was a really terrifying time. …We were wondering how we could expect everyone across the country to see the ballet, under those circumstances,” she said.

The tour dates:

- Sept. 15 – 17: Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Calgary.

- Sept. 19 – 20, 2011 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton.

- Sept. 23 – 25, 2011 Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Sept. 27 – 28.

- The Royal Theatre, Victoria, B.C.

- Sept. 30: The Port Theatre, Nanaimo, B.C.

- Oct. 4, 2011: Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg,