January Spotlight

Jan 29 2018 | Posted in

Next up: Ballet Jörgen’s Anastasia!

Photo of a dancer in costume for Ballet Jörgen's Anastasia.

Remembered for charming Winnipeg with Cinderella in 2015, Canada’s Ballet Jörgen returns to present Anastasia on February 2 at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre as part of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s season.

Anastasia was created in celebration of CBJ’s 20th Anniversary and received wide acclaim across North America. CBJ is delighted to bring back this original production, which has been restaged for the company’s 30th Anniversary season and the 100th anniversary of Anastasia’s disappearance.

“The idea for Anastasia grew out of a personal interest in Russian history — Anastasia Nikolaevna was a real historical figure, the rambunctious, free spirited youngest daughter of the last Russian Tsar and a young woman full of personality,” said CBJ Artistic Director Bengt Jörgen. “The story of her life has become a remarkable myth transcending facts, reason, and any attempts to bottle her up in the footnotes of history. The story continues to fascinate people close to 100 years after her disappearance in July 1918.”

The mystery of what happened to the seventeen-year-old Grand Duchess has fascinated people for nearly a century, spanning a multitude of books, movies and musicals. Anastasia is both the tragic story of an innocent girl and the subject of modern mythology, as there is great speculation about what truly happened that fateful summer of 1918. The human drama of a young girl born to privilege and cast out into a world of immense heartache proves an extraordinarily gripping tale. This ballet explores the emotions, aspirations, and affections of this lovable yet controversial character as the world transforms around her.

“We are thrilled to bring Anastasia to Winnipeg during the production’s tenth anniversary year,” said RWB Artistic Director André Lewis. “Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s acclaimed ballet fully complements our 78th season, a Season of Storytelling, with the spirit of this timeless tale.”

With choreography by Bengt Jörgen set to music by Ivan Barbotin, Anastasia is a full-length ballet rich with incredibly detailed costumes, versatile sets, and exquisite lighting. Anastasia takes the audience through the ballrooms of St. Petersburg, to the Russian Revolution, to captivity, and beyond.

Tickets for Anastasia start as low as $30.00, plus taxes and fees, and can be purchased online at www.rwb.org, 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. Please note that the RWB does not sell tickets through any third-party websites.

Come one, come all- free Sharing Dance classes are back in session

Image of

For the fourth year in a row, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School and Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) invite the public to participate in Sharing Dance, a nation-wide movement aiming to improve access to quality dance education for the health of all Canadians. This year, the RWB School is proud to offer free dance classes in two Winnipeg locations.

Every Tuesday from January 30-May 29, FREE dance classes will take place at the RWB at 380 Graham Avenue and the University of Winnipeg Axworthy Health and RecPlex at 350 Spence Street.

Classes at the RWB are taught by Lisa Brooks, a teacher with the RWB School Recreational Division, and are geared towards families (ages 6+) and adults of all ages. These classes will take place from 6:40 PM-7:40 PM.

Classes at the U of W Axworthy Health and RecPlex are geared towards teenagers (ages 10-15), and will take place from 5 PM-6 PM. These classes will be taught by Jaime Vargas, RWB ballet master and community outreach coordinator.

Sharing Dance classes are in preparation for the nation-wide Sharing Dance Day on June 1. Presented by Shaw Communications and funded in part by the Government of Canada, Sharing Dance Day is a public celebration of dance in Canada with a host of live performances leading up to the big finale when participants share this year’s choreography. The 2018 Sharing Dance choreography is a fusion of hip hop and contemporary dance styles. Sharing Dance classes will give participants an opportunity to experience different styles and prepare for the big performance. The routine will be available online to learn at home in early February.

Earth’s natural elements and the art of dance go hand-in-hand for this year’s Sharing Dance choreography theme: environmental stewardship. This year’s choreographers, Eugene Baffoe, or GeNie (as he’s known in the Winnipeg hip hop community) and Michelle Olson came together to create a unique piece of choreography that uses creative movement to tell a story about the relationship between humankind and the environment that surrounds us.

Olson is a member of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation (Yukon) and the Artistic Director of Raven Spirit Dance. Olson studied dance at the University of New Mexico, Banff Centre for the Arts in Aboriginal Dance and furthered her performance training with Full Circle First Nations as an Ensemble member. Olson works in areas of dance, theatre and opera as a choreographer, performer and movement coach and her work has been seen on stages across Canada.

Baffoe is the artistic director of B.O.S.S Dance Team, a freestyle battle dancer, and teacher in the RWB School Recreational Division. Trained in hip hop for over a decade, Baffoe has been teaching, choreographing, and directing at a professional level for more than eight years.

“I am honored to once again be one of this year’s choreographers for the official Sharing Dance routine,” said Baffoe. “This year I teamed up with the incredible Michelle Olson for what we believe to be an inspiring piece that addresses a topic near and dear to all of us: our planet. The piece explores the radical changes of our environment, climate and seasons, and our role in it all. What we have done, what we are doing, and what we can do to bring harmony back to it all.”

The music for this year’s routine was created by Eugene Draw, Jeff Antoine Cote, Marie Michelle Beausoleil, and Scott Jackson. Before launching the choreography, NBS is hosting a “Name That Tune” contest where the public votes between four options to name the song. Click here to hear a clip of the track and song title shortlist. Vote for your favourite by commenting below!

FREE Sharing Dance classes will open for registration forty-five minutes before the start of the first class. Participants are invited to fill out a registration form in person before class.

Click here for this year’s Sharing Dance poster and here for last year’s Sharing Dance Day video. To learn more about Sharing Dance, please visit rwb.org/sharingdance, sharingdance.ca, or call the RWB School Office at 204. 957.3467.

Au revoir, Nutcracker!

Image of RWB Dancers in Nutcracker, 2017

The holiday season certainly shone merry and bright thanks to Nutcracker and all those who attended. Our performances at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa put the house capacity’s average percentile at 98.86% with 13,038 people in attendance at our Ottawa performances!

Curious to see what others thought of 2017’s Nutcracker?


  • “Thank you RWB for another great Nutcracker performance. My granddaughter and I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to go again next December!” –Gaye Letkeman
  • “My first time and it was exciting and memorable. Thank you very much.” –Coreena Keeley


  • “Another year of wonderful performances! Thank you @rwballet!” -@tinkvanderhooft
  • “Thumbs up for the great show!!” -@ruchirandasiri
  • “A wonderful performance today! @rwballet Just outstanding.” -@natcelchan
  • “Loved the show!!!!!!!” -@my_name_is_the_amy


  • “Everhett loved his FIRST #RWBNutcracker @RWBallet He said “#BestBalletEver!” He loved Filbert the Bear, polar bears, reindeer, hockey, music & dance! #SantaKnowsBest #WinnipegHolidayTradition #Winnipeg” -@empowercanadian
  • “Adding NHL players to a ballet is the most awesomely Winnipeg thing ever. It’s a Guy Maddin film just waiting to happen.” -@ThePuckHag
  • “A jewel our Royal Winnipeg Ballet! #Royals” -@susie_parker
  • “A pleasure to have seen today’s @RWBallet performance of The Nutcracker. Wonderful to see such fantastic dancing and to hear the incredible @WpgSymphony!” -@chloefilson
  • “@RWBallet The Nutcracker is still the best way to kick off the holidays.” -@jongleusepro

Winnipeg Free Press:

  • • “Sundermeier’s solid classical technique is matched equally by her razor-sharp comic acting skills — at one point in the first act, she was spied gaily swinging a bottle of booze during the always wonderful Christmas Party scene she lights up every time.”
  • Please click here to read the rest of Holly Harris’ review!


Image of RWB Dancer in costume.

Ballet Ball 2018 welcomes you to The Emerald City, an evening of glamour, opulence and enchantment on April 28, 2018 at the Fairmont Winnipeg.

Mingle with our Company dancers and let the experience of live ballet sweep you down the yellow brick road to the magical land of OZ.

Four hundred guests from Winnipeg’s corporate and cultural communities will pull back the curtain at Fairmont Winnipeg; gathered to share in an opulent meal, bid on luxury items in silent and live auctions, and watch, close-up, a performance by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Company dancers.

Join in supporting the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and help us ensure that we continue our mission of enriching the human experience by teaching, creating and performing outstanding dance.

To reserve your tickets, please contact Nicki Kirton at 204.957.3457 or email: nkirton@rwb.org.

Tickets are now on sale for First Steps

RWB School Professional Division students in First Steps

First Steps, a choreography first for many dance students, returns to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Founders’ Studio from February 14-17.

Since 1990, First Steps has given RWB School Professional Division students an opportunity to create original choreography, overseeing all creative elements including music, lighting, costuming, and dancer selection. The competition is open to the public to view and is a tremendous opportunity for students to present their original pieces and receive feedback on their work from a group of talented professionals in the dance community.

Tickets for First Steps are available by visiting rwb.org, 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. Adult tickets are $15, student/senior/child tickets are $10, and tickets to the final performance and awards reception are $28 for everyone.

Please click here to watch a video on students’ inspiration behind their First Steps choreography.

Three months and 17 audition-stops later…

Image of RWB Audition Tour in Winnipeg

Thank you to everyone who joined us on our 2017/18 Audition Tour. It was terrific to see such enthusiasm from those who came out to audition and participate in our master classes.

It isn’t too late for those still interested in auditioning for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division, as we will be accepting DVD auditions until May 1st.

On top of sending your audition DVD by email and mail, dancers can now audition through the world’s largest arts network: Acceptd. Dancers are encouraged to submit their applications through this platform. Click here to review requirements and submit video audition materials.

Dates and locations for our 2018/19 Audition Tour will be announced in August!


“I am extremely happy and very touched to consider her one of my colleagues.”- David Moroni reflects on Dr. Alice Cheatley

Images of David Moroni and Dr. Alice Cheatley

In last month’s Spotlight, we touched briefly on Dr. Alice’s role with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. This month we had the opportunity to chat with David Moroni, C.M., founder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division, on his memories of Dr. Alice.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet: What is your working history with Dr. Alice?

David Moroni: It all began when we were touring for Concert Hour Ballet. We visited the school where Dr. Alice was principal. She greeted us beautifully- very elegant. Dr. Alice ensured that her students behaved themselves when we were visiting. I immediately realized this was someone who was very serious about what she supported, in this case, ballet.

She seemed to have fallen in love with ballet at some point in her life; she really was taken with Concert Hour Ballet and that it was being presented at her school for her children.

It was a gift for us to perform to the students and we continued to perform at her school annually. We were always greeted by a keen, curious, and kind Dr. Alice who made us feel so very welcome.

Dr. Alice grew to become directly connected to the Ballet by chairing the School Committee. All of Dr. Alice’s positive attributes translated into the Ballet. She was one of a handful of those who understood the importance of education to young dance students. She understood how integral it was for young people to become well-educated dancers as they needed to be able to look to a second career after retiring from dance.

Dr. Alice knew that it was essential for children in the School to have a connection to the Board of Education to further their education—her voice was instrumental in convincing people on the purpose of education. Dr. Alice was a natural educator; I admired her greatly and we got along beautifully.

RWB: How would you describe Dr. Alice to someone who hasn’t met her?

DM: She was Intelligent and headstrong; elegant with a distinct presence. Dr. Alice was one to socialize well—it was easy to feel her charm. Dr. Alice had a certain formality about her, yet was approachable. I know that she could laugh at a good joke like nobody else… she had a great sense of humor. You would know Dr. Alice was present immediately upon walking into the room.

Dr. Alice was a great listener and a strong supporter. She was not at all afraid to stand up for what she believed in. Dr. Alice loved to entertain. She held many gatherings at her home, hosting both students and staff. She was one whose interest in everyone went beyond school. Dr. Alice loved to create a welcoming atmosphere in her home. Here, we had the pleasure of meeting her supportive husband Bruce. She was overall a grand lady.

RWB: Anything else to add?

DM: Coming from a fellow recipient of the Order or Canada, I think Dr. Alice is among the most deserving of this honor. I consider Dr. Alice to be a founding member of the RWB School Professional Division.

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