December Company Spotlight

Dec 21 2017 | Posted in Spotlight

RWB's Filbert the Bear with David Landreth

RWB Announces 2017 Cast of Nutcracker Walk-on Roles

Every year the Royal Winnipeg Ballet invites individuals tied to the local community, such as musicians, professional athletes, and media personalities, to join the RWB Company and School dancers on stage as Nutcracker walk-on roles. This year, the RWB is pleased to welcome 17—and counting, special guests to Nutcracker’s cast.

While many of those filling walk-on roles are used to some facet of a spotlight, being on stage in RWB’s Nutcracker is a memorable first for all.

This year’s roles include the familiar faces of TSN Reporter Sara Orlesky, Nahanni Fontaine, New Democratic Party MLA, and the Juno-award winning David Landreth of The Bros. Landreth. Those in the audience on December 28 will be pleased to see Winnipeg Jets’ Dmitry Kulikov and Adam Lowry grace the stage alongside world-class dancers.

CJNU FM Host Chris Reid, Lennard Taylor, local fashion designer, and RWB Chair Emeritus Jean Giguère will also join the daily cast of 84 dancers.

“One of the best, and perhaps, only good memories of my childhood was the couple of months I was enrolled in ballet,” said Nahanni Fontaine, New Democratic Party MLA. “Ballet made me feel special and talented. A couple of years ago, with the generous support of the RWB, I organized to have over twenty of Manitoba’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls family members attend the Nutcracker - it was a beautiful, and much appreciated, evening. I am beyond excited for the opportunity to participate in this year’s Nutcracker and say ‘Meegwetch’ for the invitation!”

City Councillor and Speaker of Council Devi Sharma will also make a Nutcracker cameo, along with local blogger Monique Andrew (, Cheryl Sharfe of the Canada Council for the Arts, and our Great West Life Colouring Contest and RWB Ballet Ball 2016 winners.

Nutcracker is a holiday staple and one that really anchors the festive season for my family. It feels tremendously special to be invited to be involved in of one of this year’s shows,” said David Landreth of The Bros. Landreth. “I’m really excited and very grateful to be taking part!”


December 21 - 7:00 p.m.
Jean Giguère, Chair Emeritus, RWB Board
Dennis Giguère, Retired Air Canada Pilot
Lennard Taylor, Local Fashion Designer

December 22 - 7:00 p.m.
Sara Orlesky, TSN Reporter
Cheryl Sharfe, Board Member, Canada Council for the Arts

December 23 - 1:00 p.m.
Alexia Balingit, GWL Colouring Contest Winner
Beberly Balingit, GWL Colouring Contest Winner
Brooklynn Warnick, RWB Gala 2016 Contest Winner
Makayla Warnick, RWB Gala 2016 Contest Winner

December 23 - 7:00 p.m.
Nahanni Fontaine, New Democratic Party MLA
December 26 - 4:00 p.m.
Trevor Penner, Marathon Athlete

December 28 - 7:00 p.m.
Dmitry Kulikov, Winnipeg Jets
Adam Lowry, Winnipeg Jets
Devi Sharma, City Councillor

December 29 - 7:00 p.m.
Chris Reid, CJNU FM Host

December 30 1:00 p.m.
Monique Andrew, Style Hunter Fox Blog
David Landreth, The Bros. Landreth

Tickets for Nutcracker start as low as $30.00 for adults and $25.00 for children plus taxes and fees and can be purchased online at, in person through the RWB Customer Service Office at 380 Graham Avenue or by calling 204-956-2792 or toll free 1-800-667-4792. Groups of ten or more should contact the RWB Customer Service Office for more information on group discounts.

How RWB Company Dancers Celebrate the Holiday Season

RWB Company Dancers Group Photo around a Christmas Tree

Jo-Ann Sundermeier

Principal Dancer

Favourite holiday tradition:
My favourite holiday tradition is fairly new, but it will be carried out for years to come. My husband Josh and I love to throw on some Christmas tunes and decorate. On Christmas morning, we watch A Charlie Brown Christmas together while eating pigs in a blanket.

Favourite holiday memory:
My favourite holiday memory is going to my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve for Le Réveillon. Since my mom’s side of the family is French Canadian, we always celebrated by having a huge dinner with the family after midnight, and then opening gifts in the late hours of the night.

Favourite holiday food:
My favorite holiday recipe is tourtière. Nothing describes how amazing it is to eat this dish at the holidays!!! My mom makes a killer tourtière!!

Yayoi Ban


Favorite holiday tradition:
Having “Osechi-ryori” (Specially-prepared New Year’s dishes to be eaten during first three days of January in Japan).

Favorite holiday memory:
Our family used to go watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day every year. In Japan, sunrise on New Year’s Day is believed to bring luck.

Favorite holiday food:
“Ozoni” Ozoni is a Japanese traditional soup which contains rice cakes and vegetables.

Alanna McAdie


Favorite holiday tradition:
Dancing in Nutcracker is my favourite holiday tradition! I love returning to the roles each year and making them better and more interesting! And the music always puts me into the holiday spirit.

Favorite holiday memory:
Two memories stand out. The year I got an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas, I wanted that thing soooooo bad. Also, the first Christmas I spent in my house. My family was all there and they watched me perform Nutcracker and I got to be with them for Christmas.

Favorite holiday food:
Ina Garten’s fruitcake cookies

Josh Reynolds


Favourite holiday tradition:
As a child we would always open one present Christmas Eve from the family and then the rest after Santa came.

Favourite holiday memory:
My sister and I would always try to stay up and listen for Santa ... and every year we convinced ourselves we heard him and then would fall asleep as quick as possible.

Favourite holiday food:
We always made turkey and mashed potatoes every Christmas Day. Everyone would bring a million sides and we would just eat all day and nap.

Ryan Vetter

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
My favourite holiday tradition is decorating the apartment with my husband.

Favourite holiday memory:
My favourite holiday memory is one year when my family got snowed in together.

Favourite holiday recipe:
My favourite holiday recipe is anything my sister makes for the holidays!

Stephan Possin

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
Jaimi Deleau’s parents’ annual Christmas Eve party.

Favourite holiday memory:
Spending Christmas with my closest friends of the RWB.

Favourite holiday food:
Mrs. Deleau’s snickerdoodles.

Stephan Azulay

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
Christmas crackers at Christmas lunch and dinner.

Favourite holiday memory:
I have too many to choose from, so any memory with food in it.

Favourite holiday food:
My family makes two Portuguese pastries during Christmas that I love: pastéis de batata doce and rissóis de camarão.

Saeka Shirai

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
The first shrine visit of the New Year (Hatsumoude)

Favourite holiday memory:
Christmas shopping

Favourite holiday food:
Japanese traditional New Year’s dish (Osechi ryori)

Yoshiko Kamikusa

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
I don’t really have one but spending quality time with my family and having a nice dinner together is the best!

Favourite holiday memory:
When I finished opening night of Nutcracker as a student in Vancouver and experienced my first snow in Canada. It was my first year in Canada (I moved from Hawaii) so it was really special!

Favourite holiday food:
Snowball cookies.

Katie Bonnell

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
Baking with my mom while listening to The Muppet Family Christmas soundtrack.

Favourite holiday memory:
One year when I was younger it hadn’t snowed once all winter, but we woke up to snow on Christmas morning. It was magical!

Favourite holiday food:
There’s too many to pick just one! Chelsea buns, chocolate clusters, and cranberry meatballs are at the top of my list and are all recipes that have been passed down through generations on both sides of my family.

Jaimi Deleau

Corps de Ballet

Favourite holiday tradition:
My favorite holiday tradition is opening my stocking with my two brothers on Christmas morning.

Favourite holiday memory:
My favorite holiday memory is skating on the hockey rink my dad made in our backyard.

Favourite holiday food:
My favorite holiday recipe is my granny’s Christmas sugar cookies.

Liam Saito


Favourite holiday tradition:
Putting up and decorating a Christmas tree.

Favourite holiday memory:
Sledding with my siblings and cousins in Vermont.

Favourite holiday food:
My grandmother’s pecan pie.

The Season of Giving

Montage of RWB Highlights in 2017

Thank you to all who made 2017 a spectacular year - we really couldn’t do it without you!

In 2017, our community of donors helped:

  • Welcome Evelyn Hart back to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet stage in the World Premiere of Vespers
  • Bring ballet to the local community with events like Ballet In The Park
  • Represent Winnipeg on stage at the Canada 150 celebrations in Winnipeg and Mexico City
  • And so much more!

Your donation makes a difference at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and has a lasting impact in the community. Please make your donation before December 31st to ensure your 2017 Charitable Tax Receipt!

Donating is easy! You can donate:

  • Online at
  • By phoning 204.956.0183
  • In person at 380 Graham Avenue
  • Or mail your donation to: Royal Winnipeg Ballet Development Department 380 Graham Avenue Winnipeg, MB, R3C 4H2

For more information on making a gift, please contact: Katherine Suplevé, Individual Giving Officer, at 204.957.3471 or

Thank you for your support. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Spotlight on RWB School Alumnus: Nina Menon, Choreographer for Nutcracker

Nina Menon performing at Ballet in the Park, in 1993

The world is buzzing with different holiday traditions this time of year and one of the most popular is NUTCRACKER! The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s version of Nutcracker celebrated its world premiere on December 2, 1999 and co-choreographer Nina Menon is still involved with the RWB today!

Nina graduated from the RWB School Ballet Academic Program in 1989 and began her career with the Company as an apprentice; she danced in the Corps de Ballet until 1995 when she debut her career as a choreographer in the RWB Company choreography competition called Fast Forward.

This past summer, Nina attended the Teachers’ Summer Workshop here at 380 Graham Avenue where dance educators from across North America spent one week in Winnipeg honing their skills. Nina has been teaching at the Sheila Parkins academie de danse et de musique since 2009 which is the host studio for RWB School Professional Division’s auditions in Montreal on January 9th.

Each year the RWB School travels the globe in search of talented dancers, choreographers and teachers to join one of three full time programs: Ballet Academic (Ages 10+), Aspirant (Post Secondary) and Teacher Training.

Auditions are being held in Winnipeg on Friday, January 19th and we encourage all young dancers to audition. We will also host a master class led by RWB Artistic Faculty which is open to all dancers!

For more information, please visit

A Fond Farewell to Dr. Alice Cheatley

Dr. Alice Cheatley

Dr. Cheatley played a key role at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and created a long-lasting impression. It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Cheatley on November 20th, 2017.

Her connection to the RWB School began in January 1981 when she announced at a School committee meeting that she was “considering accepting a contract with the ballet for consultation on the future direction of academic education for the Profession Division students”. In September of that year, she was successful in reducing the School fees by half. Dr. Cheatley also wrote “A Proposal for Academic Vocational Arts Programme Continuing Academic High School Education and Professional Dance Training”.

While serving as Chair of the School Committee, the Professional Division Programme became accredited on a permanent basis in 1985. It was first temporarily accredited as a pilot project in May of 1983. In 1993, the School created a scholarship in her name, the Dr. Alice Cheatley Award.

Dr. Cheatley retired from the Board in September 1997, after which she became an Honourary Council Member.

To read Dr. Alice Cheatley’s obituary, please click here.

Ballet In Bloom for the Holidays

Image of a rose bouquet with chocolates and a stuffed bear

Looking to give a holiday host gift, complete your Christmas table, or simply treat yourself this season? Please consider Bloomex for your holiday floral needs! Twenty percent of the purchase price goes directly to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in support of enriching the human experience by teaching, creating and performing outstanding dance. Remember, delivery is available across Canada!

Product Pages:

Ballet in Bloom 1
Send 12 long-stemmed classic red roses complimented by fresh holiday greens, such as cedar and fir, to bring fragrance and beauty to any home this year. Bouquet comes with a full-sized holiday greeting card for your personal message.

Ballet in Bloom 2
Send gorgeous long-stemmed roses, complimented by holiday greens, and delight any recipient this holiday. Package includes 12 beautiful long-stemmed roses accented by fresh evergreens, along with a vase and a full-sized holiday greeting card.

Ballet in Bloom 3
Treat them to even more gifts with this lovely holiday package! Includes 12 gorgeous long-stemmed roses accented by fresh holiday evergreens, combined with a vase, a full-sized holiday greeting card, and decadent Belgian truffles.

Ballet in Bloom 4
Combine the beauty of roses with even more items for the ultimate combination of treats and a truly special gift! Package includes 12 long-stemmed roses accented by fresh holiday greens, a vase, a full-sized greeting card, delicious Belgian truffles, and a cuddly teddy bear.

For more information or to make your purchase, please click here.

The Green Room

Nutcracker Through the Ages

Holiday traditions gleam with nostalgia and come in all formats- be it what you make for breakfast on Christmas morning to what music you listen to while wrapping presents. Traditions are often a comforting routine, one that is welcomed without question. For many, attending Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker is among their holiday traditions.

A true dance through the ages, Nutcracker’s origin dates to 1892 when E. TA Hoffman published The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a short story. However, it wasn’t until 1954 when Nutcracker was performed as a full-length ballet by a New York City ballet company.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s history with Nutcracker began in 1972; however, it was a much different performance compared to what you see on stage today. From 1972 to 1999, the RWB performed choreographer John Neumeier’s Nutcracker, which focused more on a birthday party.

Nutcracker remains a staple in holiday tradition by staying true to what ignites the child in all of us. Updates, such as staging and characters, keep the element of surprise alive.

Traditions evoke feelings of comfort and nostalgia and, in this ever-changing technology landscape, it feels good to have an element of routine available during the holidays. Take a moment to scroll through our Nutcracker photo gallery to see how Nutcracker has evolved through the years—it may even evoke your own nostalgia!