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Calgary couple dances out of the spotlight in new Bowie ballet

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WATCH: This Valentine’s Day will be extra special for one creative Calgary couple. As Gil Tucker shows us, they’re marking a major milestone as part of a new show inspired by a music legend. – Feb 8, 2022

This Valentine’s Day will be extra special for one creative Calgary couple.

They’re marking a major milestone as part of a new ballet inspired by a music legend.

Veteran Alberta Ballet (AB) dancers Kelley and Reilley McKinlay will be performing together for the last time in AB’s world premiere production of “PHI,” based on the music of David Bowie.

Read more: Remembering David Bowie: a timeline of his music, life and love

It marks an end to years onstage together at AB.

“It’s the classic story: we met in the studio, then sitting next to each other on the bus when we were traveling,” Reilley said. “You know, the usual.”

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“Then it just evolved and fostered from there,” Kelley said.

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Both of them are now looking forward to celebrating the latest in a long line of Valentine’s Days.

Read more: Alberta Ballet retells ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ through Western Canadian lens

“We’ve been together for 13 years, married for six and we have two children: a 3-year-old daughter Jules and a 1-year-old son Remy,” Reilley said.

AB Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maitre spent years creating PHI using Bowie’s music as a springboard.

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“Exploring the themes that were so dear to him. This idea of humanity dissolving into our technology, that we are disappearing in these technologies, and a lot of the lyrics from Bowie actually supported this narrative, this question that we’re asking in the ballet,” Grand-Maitre said.

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PHI runs March 10 to 19 in Calgary, with performances in Edmonton from March 31 to April 2.

Read more: Longtime Alberta Ballet artistic director leaving behind a legacy

And while Grand-Maitre is sorry to see Kelley and Reilley McKinlay leaving AB, he’s glad to have played a role in their love story.

“Ballet is an amazing place for romance: the dancers spend so much time together touring and rehearsing, it’s inevitable that some of them fall in love,” Grand-Maitre said.

“I feel like I now have about 30 grandchildren at Alberta Ballet,” he added with a laugh.

And it appears that two of those “grandchildren” may be following in their parents’ footsteps.

“Jules is a hardcore ballerina at three (years old) already and she’s teaching Remy,” Reilley said. “So dance will always be a part of our lives, that’s for sure.”

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