"I believe in cultural diplomacy. And I think that you, the artists, can actually play an important part in bridging us with other countries through your art and with your talent." - Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean
Jeff Herd & Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada Photo:Tim Fennell
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet was honoured to welcome Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, for a visit on Thursday August 26th. The RWB was thrilled to have the opportunity to formally receive Her Excellency while she was in Manitoba on a two-day regional visit.
Together with RWB Board Chair Charlene Rocke and Executive Director Jeff Herd, Artistic Director André Lewis welcomed Her Excellency to the RWB’s Graham Avenue facility at 9:15am and invited her to sign the RWB’s guest book. After a brief introduction to the board and staff, Her Excellency had an opportunity to learn more about the RWB’s rich history and to observe the organization’s distinguished medal display.
The Governor General was then shown to one of the RWB’s state-of-the-art studios where she met with RWB principal dancers Tara Birtwhistle, Vanessa Lawson and Jaime Vargas, Senior Ballet Master Johnny Chang and Music Director and Conductor Tadeusz Biernacki. Here, Her Excellency observed the full Company in morning class. She then toured to RWB’s Wardrobe Department and Pointe Shoe Room for an engaging presentation from Anne Armit, Director of Wardrobe.
Following her tour, Her Excellency met with RWB School Director Arlene Minkhorst, School Director of Operations Debra Zoerb, Associate School Director Jorden Morris and Aspirant Program Director Stéphane Léonard to discuss the School’s innovative 40th Anniversary Connections Tour taking place in Spring 2011 and to view a short multi-media presentation about RWB School’s Aspirant Program. The Governor General was also briefed by Lewis and Herd about the Company’s overseas tour in October to commemorate RWB’s 70th Anniversary.
RWB company dancers and artistic staff with Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada Photo Tim Fennell
This meeting was followed by a reception where the Governor General had the exclusive opportunity to speak one-on-one with the Company dancers. It was here that Her Excellency thanked Company dancers for being such excellent ambassadors for the arts in Canada and around the world.
To conclude her visit, Her Excellency was treated to an excerpt from Carmina Burana performed by the RWB Company in studio. Choreographed by Argentina's Mauricio Wainrot, this dramatic and demanding piece demonstrated the artistry and technical excellence for which the RWB has become known throughout the world.
"Lots of energy. I love it!," Her Excellency exclaimed after the performance. "It’s going to be perfect. I think the people in Israel are going to be thrilled."