Legendary singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is working on an new artistic venture - a ballet. Canadian-born Mitchell, whose songs include A Case of You and Both Sides Now, is working with Jean Grand-Maitre of the Alberta Ballet in Canada on a new dance work entitled The Fiddle and the Drum. The ballet is set to Mitchell's songs; she has also been working on the set designs, which will feature video projected on to three canvasses behind the dancers.
Notoriously reclusive, Mitchell has been out of the public spotlight for several years. In 2002 she announced that she had stopped recording new music altogether, and has since given few concerts, except to small audiences. Instead she has devoted more time to her painting, and made only a few public appearances to speak, mostly on environmental issues.
All of which means that expectations surrounding the new ballet have been intense. "We're seeing interest in the creation of a ballet unlike anything we've ever seen in the history of the company," Grand-Maitre told Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail.
The ballet, which receives its premiere on February 8 in Calgary and will be broadcast on Canadian TV, features nine of Mitchell's songs and will focus on issues of human conflict and the environment. "As an artist creating today," says Mitchell, "quite frankly, I can see no other subject matter that is of more importance now. We need people to awaken to this reality."
For Grand-Maitre, the collaboration "has renewed my faith in the relation between art and life. Ms Mitchell's selfless and gentle participation will most likely be the highlight of my entire career."