February 2015 Company Spotlight

Feb 13 2015 | Posted in Spotlight


Swan Lake’s return to stage also means the return of the quintessential roles that truly define this production. Odette and Odile - the dual role of the regal and innocent White Swan and the scheming and bewitching Black Swan are considered to be the most coveted roles in classical ballet. This year’s return of the beloved classic features two dancers stepping into these roles for the first time.

Well known for her critically-acclaimed performances as Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale, and her recent outstanding debut as Annie in Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, Soloist Sophia Lee is preparing to step into the world of these two contrasting characters for the very first time: the demure white swan, Odette and the deceitful black swan, Odile. “The White Swan is so innocent and shy, and the Black Swan is sly, manipulative and evil,” says Lee between rehearsals.

Of all the roles she has played, Odette/Odile has the widest spectrum of emotion demanded in a single night. “I remember asking Vanessa Lawson what the hardest ballet she ever danced was and she said it was Swan Lake, and I asked her how she got through it. She told me that going into Act III as the Black Swan is like transforming into a new character so it gives you energy. It’s something totally different,” adds Lee.

Alternating with Lee is Royal Winnipeg Ballet Soloist, Yayoi Ban who shone brightly in James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons and as Clara in RWB’s holiday favourite Nutcracker. Lee and Ban will be joined on stage by Principal Dancer Liang Xing and Soloist Dmitri Dovgoselets alternating as Prince Siegfried.

Ban is overjoyed that she would be checking this leading role off of her bucket list and cites Dovgoselets as a dancer she is pleased to partner with for her debut. “He is a great partner, strong and powerful and supportive and calm in the right moments,” says Ban.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Swan Lake runs from March 4-8 at the Centennial Concert Hall. For tickets and information, visit rwb.org.

Soloist Sophia Lee in Swan Lake
Soloist Sophia Lee in Swan Lake


In the first post of her blog series titled “Beyond Ballet: The Pain and Ecstasy of Dance,” Amanda Green shares an intimate look into her life after her injury last season.

The 2013-2014 season was an exciting one for me, dancing with a new partner and amazing repertoire. All was going according to plan until I started to experience some minor knee problems in October of 2013. I started compensating for my knee pain, which led to other weak points in my body. After a while I started to feel severe hip and back pain. I tried my best to maintain my body by focusing on my placement and really being aware of my weight distribution.

Our work load around Nutcracker was fairly heavy in 2013 as we needed to have two full length classical ballets prepared to take on the road. This is not unusual to have multiple ballets on the go, but Nutcracker rehearsals are taxing on the body and many injuries arise. Although it’s not common for dancers to be injured and keep dancing, even though they shouldn’t be.”


RWB Principal Dancers Amanda Green and Liang Xing in Nutcracker, 2013
RWB Principal Dancers Amanda Green and Liang Xing in Nutcracker, 2013; Photo Credit: Dmitri Dovgoselets.


Do dancers have a natural acting ability? We think so! Catch the RWB’s own Artistic Director André Lewis in Sarasvati’s “So You Think You Can Act” on February 18 at the Gas Station Arts Centre.

André has been partnered up with Danielle Savage. The duo will be playing the title characters in Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests by Jessy Ardern. This piece won our first Bake-Off at FemFest 2012 and was fully produced at FemFest 2013. Danielle Savage helped take Troy Westwood to victory last year – can she do the same this year?

To purchase tickets, click here.

Photo Credit: David Cooper
Photo Credit: David Cooper


If you miss André at “So You Think You Can Act,” he’ll be speaking at the 31st Annual Marjorie Ward Lecture at St. John’s College. From St. John’s College:

Artistic Director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, André Lewis stands at the centre of two remarkable tales of reaching one’s artistic potential. Advancing from student to dancer to Artistic Director, Lewis shares the steps that a small, prairie ballet club took to become an international tour de force. Critics cite Lewis’ most recent work, Going Home Star, as quite possibly “the most important ballet produced by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in its 75-year history.” (Holly Harris, Winnipeg Free Press, 2014) – a telling sign that the RWB and Lewis have yet to reach their creative limits. In this Marjorie Ward Lecture, André Lewis shares his thoughts on reaching one’s potential.

Free & open to the Public
Thursday February 26, 2015
at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre
St John’s College
92 Dysart Road


Sweet them off their feet with Swan Lake! Save 30% with our White Rose Package. Offer is valid until February 17 or until 100 tickets are sold - click here for details.


Thanks to our generous donors, the Tutus in Bloom campaign is almost halfway to its goal. CTV Winnipeg stopped by the RWB Wardrobe Department to see the state of our 27 year old tutus, and to get a sneak peek into the newly created ones for the March 4-8 performances of Swan Lake.

Click here to view the clip.


The First Steps Choreographic Competition came to a close on February 14, and the awards have been announced. Congratulations to the following award winning student choreographers:

  • CIBC Award for Innovation: Philippe Larouche for Blink and Miss
  • First Steps Awards: 1st Place: Nicolas Noguera for Game Number 13 2nd Place: Alie Wagar for Sail 3rd Place: Isabella Pisapia for Run Boy Run
  • The Jacqueline Weber Award for Classical Choreography: Anna Benko for Listen Closely
  • Paddy Stone Scholarship: Keaton Leier for Tamashii
  • RWB School Award: Philippe Larouche for Blink and Miss
  • Doreen Macdonald Scholarship: Nicolas Noguera for Game Number 13
  • People’s Choice Award: Jao Woramontri for First Dance
  • Honorable Mention: Nathaniel Moore for The Shadow Shaped by Light

Enjoy these photos of the performances by Leif Norman!