Volte to make a piece of Stampede historyA story about love and triumph told with aerial acrobatics, pyrotechnics, and locally-grown talent, 2011’s Translate Grandstand show, Volte, is set to capture the imaginations and hearts of the 10,000+ nightly audiences at the Calgary Stampede.
180 performers, an original score by Emmy winner David Pierce, and the unprecedented addition of a pair of black stallions is making this year’s production one of the biggest yet.
Dave Kelly, TV personality and host of the show, explains the premise behind Volte. “(Volte), which is a Italian word, is a circle were you would bring in a horse to do something impressive, and we built on that and turned the stage into a 'garden of imagination' where anything can happen.”
The Stampede’s Young Canadians play an integral part with 180 singers and dancers ranging from 7-20 years old in the production.
In order to be a part of the Grandstand Show, each Young Canadian is required to audition regardless of their involvement in the group. A mix of junior, apprentice and senior performers make up the yearly cast.
Sadie Groves, a Young Canadian in Volte, describes her experience with the youth group as “the best three years of her life.”
The fourteen year-old has been in previous TransAlta Grandstand Shows and loves performing in front of large crowds.
“Performing in front of 20,000 people is….exhilarating,” she explains. “They all came to see you, so you have to got out and do your best.”
The Young Canadians will undergo over 1,800 costume changes during the 75 minute show and perform a variety of dance routines, breath-taking aerial acrobatics, and other Cirque du Soleil inspired acts.With the original score done by Alberta’s own Emmy winning composer, Dave Pierce, the audience should expect a musical production of Olympic proportions.
“The musical score is much larger than it’s ever been before,” Pierce states. “It has a large symphonic feel, as well as hip-hop and dance elements which are woven together in the musical theme that is really on a world-class scale."
The collaborative effort between Grandstand Show producer Bill Avery, the Stampede’s creative team, and Pierce is essential to ensuring the music suits the production perfectly.
“Music drives the show in the sense that you start with a clean slate every year. We experiment with the theme to make a grand sounding show that speaks to everybody in different ways.”
One of the biggest challenges involved with Volte has been the new addition a live equine segment into the show.
Stampede trick rider Niki Cammaert Flundra, and her two black stallions, Seed and Sunny, will star in the first-ever animal segment of the TransAlta Grandstand Show.
The routine which Flundra describes as “liberty horse work” will not use saddles and bridles. Liberty training teaches the animals to respond to Flundra’s voice in order to perform certain actions without physical contact. With safety being the biggest issue of the inclusion of any live animal act, Flundra is taking every precaution necessary to ensure that the horses and performers will never be put into any sort of danger during the show.
“Months of preparation have gone into being able to take them out of their natural environment into something like this and adding pyrotechnics, lights, and 200 Young Canadians. The horses are handling it very well but it’s been the most challenging thing I have ever done,” the trick rider said.
Special mats and shoes have been made for the team to ensure mobility across the slippery surface of the Grandstand Stage. The 2011 TransAlta Grandstand Show, Volte, runs every night of the Calgary Stampede after the GMC Rangleland Derby.