Approaching nearly 35 years with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, 15 of them as artistic director, André Lewis has spent the majority of his career with Canada’s first professional dance company, whose growth he has nurtured on stages at home and around the world.
A native of Gatineau, Québec, André Lewis began his dance training in Ottawa before being accepted into the Professional Division at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1975. Under the direction of David Moroni he trained there until 1979, when he was asked to join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company. Known for his strength as a soloist and as a partner, Lewis enjoyed an accomplished career as a dancer for over ten years, performing with the RWB until 1990.
Throughout his professional dance career, Lewis had the opportunity to perform an array of diverse repertoire by esteemed choreographers including Rudi van Dantzig, Jiří
Kylián, Dame Alicia Markova, Agnes de Mille and Galina Yordanova. Some of his signature roles include Gunther in Nutcracker, Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, and Jamie Paul in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. He also appeared as a guest artist numerous times in companies throughout North America, Asia and Russia. His film and television credits include Romeo & Juliet (CBC), Firebird (Greece National Television), The Big Top (CBC/PRIMEDIA) and Belong Pas de Deux (IMAX).
In 1996, Lewis was appointed artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet after having served as associate artistic director for the previous five years. Since then, Lewis has been the driving force behind the new and innovative works that have dramatically rejuvenated the Company’s repertoire. As artistic director, Lewis has sought out original creations and commissioned choreographers from around the world, consistently revitalizing RWB’s performance seasons. In 1998 he commissioned Mark Godden’s blockbuster production Dracula and was instrumental in the 1999 creation of a new Nutcracker for the Company. In 2002, Lewis brought to Winnipeg the thrilling and passionate Carmina Burana by Argentinean choreographer Mauricio Wainrot and presented a new version of The Sleeping Beauty with redesigned set and costumes. In 2003, he commissioned choreographer Mark Godden to create a new ballet based on the opera The Magic Flute, which was later made into a film and won a Gemini award for Best Performing Arts Ensemble in 2006. Committed to presenting diverse and creative works, in 2004 Lewis brought in choreographer Val Caniparoli to create A Cinderella Story, a retro retelling of the beloved fairy tale set to a jazzy score.
More recently, Lewis commissioned choreographer and RWB alumnus Jorden Morris to create Peter Pan for the Company. Premiering in Winnipeg in December 2006, Peter Pan was hailed “One of the prettiest ballets in the RWB repertoire...” by The Globe and Mail. In 2009, for RWB’s 70th anniversary, Lewis commissioned Morris to create another new work, Moulin Rouge – The Ballet after the famous Parisian cabaret, which set record attendance levels at every performance and was the highest grossing show in RWB’s history.
In addition to his position as artistic director, Lewis is a sought-after ballet instructor and has guest taught throughout Europe and in Japan. He has set the ballet Romeo & Juliet on companies around the world, including Ballet de Marseille (France), Maggio Danza (Italy), Hong Kong Ballet and the Greek National Ballet.