October Company Spotlight

Oct 25 2017 | Posted in Company Spotlight

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet Honours Canada’s 150th

Timeline of the performances being featured in Our Story

​In honour of Canada’s 150th, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is proud to present Our Story on November 16, 17 and 19th in RWB’s Founders’ Studio at 380 Graham Avenue. Our Story is a special performance in celebration of Canadian choreographers – each of whom have played a part in RWB’s repertoire through our nearly 80-year history. The performance will include Mark Godden’s Miroirs, Belong by Norbert Vesak, and a brand-new piece by Peter Quanz. All repertoire will be performed by RWB Company dancers.

​Quanz, graduate of the RWB School Professional Division and esteemed choreographer for ballet companies around the world, has created a piece specifically for Our Story. His highly-anticipated work is sure to be one of the highlights of RWB’s mixed-repertoire show.

​Vesak, the most internationally acclaimed choreographer of his time, was appointed the official choreographer of the RWB in 1975. The pas de deux from Belong is known as the signature piece of Evelyn Hart, iconic Canadian ballerina. Hart and former RWB Company Dancer David Peregrine danced this excerpt at the 1980 Varna Ballet Competition where Hart won the gold medal and Pergerine won bronze.

Reflecting on her experience with Belong, Hart says “the key to this pas de deux is the connection between the partners. The steps have to be done with an automatic trust. A trust that is both physical and emotional. For those 10 minutes that you’re on stage, you’re creating a very personal experience for you and your partner. It is something very personal. The sheer intimacy between the two individuals is something that no one can take away.”​

​Dancing Belong in Our Story is RWB Principal Dancer Dmitri Dovgoselets and RWB Second Soloist Chenxin Liu.

​Our Story also includes Jacques Lemay’s Le Jazz Hot, which premiered in 1985, Shawn Hounsell’s LED, which premiered in 2008, and Brian Macdonald’s Pas D’Action, which premiered in 1964.

RWB Artistic Director André Lewis says “the RWB’s story spans nearly eight decades. These featured choreographers have played a pivotal role in our history and we are eager to once again perform their work.”​

A limited amount of tickets are on sale now at www.rwb.org, in person through the RWB Box Office at 380 Graham Avenue or by calling 204-956-2792. We hope to see you there!​

Goodbye Goblins!

RWB Dancers and Students from the RWB School in The Princess and the Goblin.

​Thank you to all joined us on the magical journey through the garden party and into the goblin underworld in Twyla Tharp’s The Princess and The Goblin. We hope adults and children alike enjoyed the performance as much as we enjoyed putting it on!

Read what attendees had to say on social media:​

FACEBOOK

  • “Yes she (Jo-Ann Sundermeier) was amazing and suitably menacing. Loved the goblins as they grew from frightening to humourous and the children were delightful. In a word it was Superb!” –Christine Duyck
  • “Morley and Casey were so great!!... the company was good too. ” –Tali Breanne
  • “Enjoyed the show last night. One of my favourites so far.” –Elizabeth Clayton
  • “Thank you RWB for an outstanding performance! Once again absolute delight! ” –Saravia Boutique”

INSTAGRAM

  • “So much fun! -@michelleh373
  • “The show was AMAZING!!! My first ballet!” –http.ilena

TWITTER

  • “Took in The Princess and the Goblin last night. So much fun. Sharing Dance outside afterwards was the perfect ending. Bravo to all.” -@saintandy1972
  • “Hosted a preshow chat with Ballet Master Tara Birtwhistle with @RWBallet this evening. Then got to see the view from the stage! Thanks, RWB!” -@ChrisReidVoice
  • “It’s time for The Princess and the Goblin and I’m even going to go backstage after!! Ballet nerd…” -@anhistorianblog
  • “It was fantastic! Love the fact that story has their own version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for comic relief from the evil characters.” -@michelle373737
  • “Delighted to attend @RWBallet enchanting season opener “The Princess and the Goblin”. Beautiful, breathtaking performance!” -@Min_CathyCox

While we are sad to bid Curdie, Blu, and Stella adieu, we are excited to bring the rest of our 2017/18 season to the stage!​

Read what Winnipeg Free Press Columnist Holly Harris had to say about her experience at Twyla Tharp’s The Princess and The Goblin here.​

The RWB School Illuminates Winnipeg During Nuit Blanche

RWB School's RD Students performing at Nuit Blanche

On Saturday, September 30th, the RWB School Recreational Division students shared their love of dance as part of Nuit Blanche, one of Winnipeg’s biggest annual cultural celebrations. The event, which took place from dusk to dawn, has been held since 2010 and attracts thousands of people to St. Boniface, Downtown, and the Exchange District.

RWB students performed the 2017 Sharing Dance routine at a series of roaming glow-in-the-dark flash mob performances from 8 PM – 1O PM. The crew started at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet building on 380 Graham Avenue before heading to the Marketlands Mural at 151 Princess Street and the Centennial Concert Hall on Main Street. The students ended with a final flash mob at Old Market Square in the Exchange District.

What is Sharing Dance? Sharing Dance is the RWB School’s leading community outreach initiative that was initially created by Canada’s National Ballet School. The program provides FREE dance programming for all Canadians to get healthy, active and artistically engaged.

The Sharing Dance 2017 choreography that was performed was created through an exciting artistic collaboration of four Canadian dancers from culturally diverse backgrounds in celebration of Canada 150. Winnipeg’s own Eugene Baffoe, known in the hip hop community as “GeNie”, was one of the artists behind the dynamic work that gives voice – and movement – to Canada’s youthfulness and multicultural mosaic.

Students learned the dance routine earlier in the year, as part of Sharing Dance Day, but revived the choreography for the night.

RWB School Launches new ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s Program

Photo of Jacqui Ladwig

The all-new ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s kicked off on October 6th at the Central Church of Christ, 170 St. Mary’s Rd. This program runs every Friday at 10 AM until December 1 and is made possible with the support of Parkinson Canada.

“Parkinson Canada is thrilled that the RWB School is bringing ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s to life in Winnipeg this fall,” said Donna Greening, Parkinson Canada Community Development and Administrative Coordinator. “Manitobans with Parkinson’s are thirsty for activity-based programs to help improve their balance, range of motion, gait and overall health in fun and challenging ways…and this program fits the bill! Those with Parkinson’s who took part in recent demonstrations at local support groups overwhelmingly gave it a huge thumbs-up!”

ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s is $100 total for the eight-week session. Registration forms are available on the RWB School website at rwb.org/explorabilityparkinsons and can be submitted by phone (204-957-3467), email (school@rwb.org ) or through the School Office at 380 Graham Ave.

The original program was developed in 2009 by Jacqui Ladwig, RWB School Recreational Division faculty and former Recreational Division School Principal. Due to its success and the support of Parkinson Canada, the program is able to expand to another group of individuals.

“ExplorAbility is a wonderfully rewarding program for myself as a teacher, as well as my students,” said Ladwig. “Together we explore dance and challenge our bodies to move in new and different ways. It brings me great joy to see our students show support, understanding and compassion to one another throughout the class.”

Both programs promote individual development for adults of different abilities and needs, with ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s designed specifically for adults living with Parkinson’s disease. All classes are focused on developing body awareness, self-expression, posture and alignment in a creative and supportive environment. Wheelchairs, walkers, and other devices are welcome.

For further information about ExplorAbility and ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s, please call 204-957-3467.

“He believed in the potential our class had from day one,” students reflect on their time in studio with David Moroni

Group photo of Level 7 and Aspirant students from the RWB School

David Moroni C.M.,O.M., D.Litt, founder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division, remains dedicated to the School long after his retirement as Director. This past summer, Moroni visited the RWB School to teach Level 7 and Aspirant male students and left a lasting impression among them.

Kolbie and Liam, first-year Aspirants, chatted with the RWB about themselves as dancers and their invaluable experience in the studio this summer with Moroni.

When did you start dancing?

Kolbie: I started at age 15 in British Columbia and came to the RWB School in Level 5.

Liam: I started dancing recreationally at age 4 in Regina. I started professional dance school around 15 years old at the National Ballet School, followed by coming to the RWB School in Level 6.

What drew you to dance?

Kolbie: I was involved in a lot of sports before dance; however, I found them unfulfilling—they all followed a strict linear fashion. My mom tricked me into going to my first ballet class—turns out I loved it!

Liam: I started because of my oldest brother, who went from contemporary dance to ballroom, before retiring from dance. I remained dancing because I liked becoming different characters and learning different styles — you can become anything on stage or in rehearsal.

What was your first dance costume?

Kolbie: I can’t quite remember my first dance costume, but I know it wasn’t pretty! A long time ago I used to do gymnastics. My first gymnastics costume had silver, sparkly pants that were too short so I had to attach elastic bands that pulled the pants down to my feet.

Liam: I was a card in Alice In Wonderland. I wore a chef’s hat with a heart, a tunic, and a stick—I remember being very proud of walking on stage with that! Another memorable costume was dancing in Pinocchio with my dad in a local show.

What is a favourite memory from your time with David Moroni this summer?

Kolbie: My favorite comment from Mr. Moroni came halfway through the program when we were tired. Mr. Moroni launched into a pep talk saying “you need to treat corrections like golden nuggets. You take the golden nuggets, put them in your pocket and save them. One day throughout your career, you will be able to melt them down to make a golden goblet that will hold your talent.” That was so inventive and interestingly beautiful—it worked!

Liam: He always had something to say! Mr. Moroni specifically spoke about working hard and being in this industry. What I like most about him is that he believed in the potential that our class had from day one. He was very strict about us stretching our knees at barre every day and every day I felt the improvement. He worked us hard; he taught with a blend of positive reinforcement and corrections.

In terms of techniques and teaching, what are your takeaways?

Liam: I never noticed how many times I didn’t stretch my knees until I took his class! One moment I really remember was in a pas de deux class where Mr. Moroni was talking to the students and said “if you are shy, you are in the wrong business”. There was a silence that filled the room and Mr. Moroni told us a story about this time he was auditioning where he knew his stage presence was the reason he got the role.

What would you tell kids who are auditioning for the RWB School Professional Division?

Kolbie: Bring a parka! You’ll stay here longer than you think.

The David Moroni School Endowment Fund was established in honour of David Moroni, upon his retirement as RWB School Director, after 35 years at its helm. The DMSEF ensures the long-term health and stability of the Professional Division and enables the RWB School to continue cultivating the dedicated and creative spirit of its young artists.

From now till November 30th, 2017 the Government of Canada will match up to 100% of donations made to the DMSEF. By donating today, you will increase the impact of your gift, reaching the lives of not one but many young dancers.

For more information on the David Moroni School Endowment Fund, please click here.

Greenroom: Mark Godden: The Man Behind Miroirs

Dancers in Miroirs

Rewind to 1995, a new artistic director just stepped into their role at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Mark Godden had just returned to Montreal, his hometown, after departing from the RWB Company. Godden speaks of this time as being transitional; the creation of Miroirs was a pivotal point in his development as a choreographer.

Being a twenty-five-minute long piece, Godden had approximately 15 days in the studio with dancers before it was time for production week. Godden notes that while it was a very positive experience returning to the talented dancers of the RWB, he needed to have a deep understanding of Miroirs to instruct in such a short timeframe.

When asked about favourite memories of Miroirs, Godden speaks of the time spent in the studio, working out solutions with the dancers. Godden notes that “dancers are the engineers of choreography,” specifically recalling the difficult ending in “sad birds”, a section of Miroirs, where a dancer must act as a perched bird on top of another dancers’ legs.

Miroirs was the first piece that Godden let run its course without any changes. From the studio until opening night, Godden let Miroirs come to fruition without altering—he didn’t question anything. Since Godden was known to reconstruct his choreography overnight, this change of pace was a bold juxtaposition.

Godden likens instructing dancers to a good conversation. Godden points out that “dancers can evolve a role when they are generous and creative with it. The dancers make you think fast when they allow ideas to infiltrate their body and mind.”

Godden’s main source of inspiration for this five-part ballet is Maurice Ravel’s piano score of the same name. Audience members will be fascinated by how Godden plays with contrasting and matching shapes, specifically how Godden creates an “X” with the dancers, another fond in-studio moment that he reflects on.

An interesting tidbit? No dancer can dance in more than one section. Godden structed the ballet to keep all roles separate, which can be uncommon in choreographing a piece for an entire ballet company.

Catch RWB Company dancers bring Miroirs to life once again on November 16th, 17th & 19th. A limited amount of tickets are on sale now at www.rwb.org, in person through the RWB Box Office at 380 Graham Avenue or by calling 204-956-2792. We hope to see you there!