En Pointe 07 - May 16

May 16 2020 | Posted in Blog, En Pointe

A Heartfelt Gift from the RWB Dancers

Company dancers of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet have released a special performance of Angels in the Architecture on YouTube. In the video, the dancers perform Mark Godden’s beloved choreography from inside their homes and deliver a heartfelt message thanking everyone for their unending support during this time. The segment is a testament to the moving power of dance and an artist’s need to create. Unable to dance and rehearse together, the dancers still came together to create something magical.

“After the cancellation of 80 Years – A Retrospective, I was sad,” recalls Alanna McAdie, Soloist with the RWB. “Sad for the alumni who were supposed to come together for the celebration, sad for the dancers who were retiring and had their season cut short, and I was sad for all the dancers excited to perform something new.”

“I’ve never experienced anything like this is my entire life,” says Yosuke Mino, Soloist with the RWB. “When the show was cancelled, everyone’s emotions were so raw. It felt surreal, but as the news sank in, we began looking for proper closure to the season.”

In the search for closure, Yosuke and Alanna came across an online video that showed the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing Aaron Copland’s song, “Appalachian Spring,” from their homes. The song was an interpretation of a Shaker hymn, originally created for the ballet Angels in the Architecture, one of the ballets to be featured in 80 Years – A Retrospective

“It just brought us to tears,” says Alanna, who first saw the video earlier this year. “We thought, maybe there’s a way we could do something like that?”

Alanna and Yosuke presented the video to the rest of the RWB dancers in their online group chat room. The initial response was encouraging. Even one of the dancers who is recovering from an injury asked to take part. It seemed that everyone was looking for a way to keep dancing, but the process of performing at home was a challenge.

“Everyone felt that it was something they wanted to be a part of, but a lot of people were struggling to find space to dance,” says Alanna. “Everyone was really open to asking if they could adjust something, and we had to modify the choreography to accommodate a small space.”

There was also the difficult task of learning the choreography remotely. Fortunately, some dancers had performed the piece and others had rehearsed it during the season, but the act of performing new steps on your own was difficult for many.

“We usually can watch each other in a studio and follow the music together, but in this case we were all alone in our rooms,” says Yosuke. “When you’re dancing by yourself it’s very hard to make a unified move. This ballet is designed to create a sense of unity, so being away from each other was one of the biggest challenges.”

Although challenging, the dancers also found the recording process very fulfilling, and when the videos were edited together everyone felt an immediate sense of pride in their work.

“I am proud of what we accomplished,” says Alanna. “As dancers we are used to being told where to go and what to do, but in this case, we made all those decisions together.”

“It gave us all a tiny bit of hope for what we could do in the future,” says Yosuke.

For the time being, social distancing measures are here to stay. The new reality thrust upon us by COVID-19 may change the way dancers rehearse and perform in the immediate future, but their desire to dance remains. This incredible project was made by the RWB dancers for everyone whose love of dance burns as brightly as theirs, and they hope it brings you as much joy as performing it did to them.

On behalf of everyone at the RWB, please enjoy this special video performance