CANADA’S ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET APPOINTS NEW SCHOOL DIRECTOR
Acclaimed dancer and teacher selected after extensive international search
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) has appointed Stéphane Léonard as the new School Director effective immediately. As Director, Léonard will oversee the Professional and Recreational Divisions of the world-renowned RWB School and lead the artistic faculty in the education and training of the next generation of dancers and dance teachers.
The RWB conducted an international search for its new School Director, attracting candidates from across the globe. Léonard’s impressive qualifications and experience, together with his deep roots in the Winnipeg community, made him the clear choice to lead the RWB School and set its course for the future.
“I am honoured to have been given this extraordinary opportunity,” said Léonard. “When André Lewis hired me to dance in the RWB Company back in 1998, I thought I’d spend one, maybe two seasons here. It’s 20 years later and I’m still here. I chose to stay each year because the RWB has become my home. I was humbled as an artist in this Company and developed as a teacher in this School. I look forward to building on the great work of my predecessors David Moroni and Arlene Minkhorst and am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this incredible organization.”
A late-comer to the art form, Léonard was working in construction and looking for a hobby when he happened to stumble into a ballet class at the age of 19. A natural in every sense of the word, Léonard began rigorous private training for the next two years in the Vaganova Method. Léonard followed this training by joining the prestigious Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia and graduated two years later in 1992.
Léonard had a successful career on stage, dancing with the National Ballet of Canada, the Rimsky-Korsakov Opera and Ballet Theater, and the RWB. He joined the artistic faculty of the RWB School Professional Division in 2002 and, for the last 16 years, has directed the School’s Aspirant Program.
As the Aspirant Program Director, Léonard has been a vibrant and essential part of the RWB. Working with emerging artists to refine and grow their technique and artistry, Léonard has helped countless young people acquire the skills and experience they need to be successful in the world of professional dance. Recent alumni of the Program include RWB Principal dancer Sophia Lee, Soloists Yayoi Ban, Chenxin Liu, and Alanna McAdie, among many others. Léonard has also staged and choreographed notable pieces of repertoire for the RWB School such as Les Corsaires, La Fille mal gardee, and The Misadventures of Pinocchio.
“I couldn’t be happier that Stéphane Léonard is our new School Director,” said RWB Artistic Director and CEO André Lewis. “I have had the great fortune of working closely with Stéphane for many years, and I know him to be a person of tremendous character and integrity. He is extremely passionate about the art form, and keen to share his wisdom and experience with all of the young artists in his care. He is, without question, a true artist and the right person for the job, and I look forward to seeing his vision for dance education and training at the RWB realized.”
Please click here for a video on Léonard.