March Company Spotlight

Mar 16 2017 | Posted in

Up next: Vespers!

RWB Company Dancers with Evelyn Hart in Vespers Rehearsal; Photo: David Cooper

Only two months until Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents Vespers, an exciting world premiere by internationally acclaimed choreographer James Kudelka, based on the music of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Vespers”. One of Kudelka’s well-known pieces, The Four Seasons, made its Winnipeg premiere during RWB’s 2013-14 season and has received glowing reviews ever since! With Vespers, we look forward to seeing how Kudelka will combine dramatic atmospheres with creative classical ballet technique, contemporary styles and perspectives on relationships, nature and the spiritual world.

Claudio Monteverdi’s stunning score is performed by a full choir and accompanied by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The ballet is alive with vibrant character, colour and texture with all the richness of a renaissance painting. This emotionally powerful ballet features iconic ballerina Evelyn Hart in a role created especially for her.

Hart described the experience of working with Kudelka on the new work, “Vespers is what dance does best. It will touch you in ways that are unexpected. It is lyrical, mysterious, and evocative without being literal. It gives you a sense of music and movement. It moved me to tears.

Collaborating with Kudelka is a powerhouse creative team: Denis Lavoie (costume design), Karen Rodd (animal head design), Michael Mazzola (lighting design), and Nick Blais (set design).

Don’t miss an opportunity to see Vespers! Running from May 10-14 at the Centennial Concert Hall, tickets begin at only $29 and are available online at, in person through the RWB Customer Service Office at 380 Graham Avenue or by calling 204-956-2792. Groups of ten or more should contact the RWB Customer Service Office for more information on group discounts.

RWB Announces 78th Season

RWB Company Dancer Dmitri Dovgoselets; Photo by Bonnie Holmes

On March 14th, RWB Executive Artistic Director, André Lewis launched ‘A Season of Storytelling’ with a video by acclaimed performing arts photographer David Cooper and performances by Company dancers and RWB Aspirants. The Company’s 78th Season will showcase such well-loved classics as Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, along with works by world-renowned choreographers Twyla Tharp and George Balanchine. Lewis also announced that the Company will return to Canada’s capital this year as it tours its Christmas classic Nutcracker to the National Arts Centre in December and Dracula in the spring.

“Be it spoken, written, or performed, stories connect us with one another,” states Lewis. “Dance allows us to feel and live a story without words. Throughout history we have turned to dance as a way of expressing ourselves, of telling our stories and of connecting with each other. This year our season will take us on journeys through magical lands, where the power of beautifully-told stories will thrill and delight our audiences.”

RWB’s season begins on September 27 in the world of goblins and courageous young heroes with revered choreographer Twyla Tharp’s The Princess & The Goblin. This epic quest, which takes young Princess Irene into the realm of the underworld, received rave reviews upon its world premiere in 2012. It continues to resonate with lovers of fantasy all across North America.

The holidays are once again a time for traditional tales of adventure and enchantment when Nutcracker returns to the stage from December 21-30. This timeless family favourite has become a treasured part of the Christmas season in Winnipeg, and promises to once again entrance audiences young and old.

On February 2, RWB will present Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s Anastasia for one night only. Their largest and grandest full-length spectacle to date promises to add a dash of mystery to RWB’s 78th season.

As no story is complete without a touch of romance, the classical gem The Sleeping Beauty awakens our senses from February 28 – March 4; and in May, drama abounds with a dynamic mixed repertoire programme, featuring renowned works Carmina Burana and Balanchine’s Serenade.

The season will conclude with performances by RWB Aspirants and the dancers of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division, all of whom play an integral part in RWB’s story. Under the direction of Arlene Minkhorst, the School is the foundation upon which the RWB is built. The Company is extremely proud to present On The Edge and Spotlight as part of the 2017-18 season. These diverse showcases celebrate the remarkable talent of young artists from around the world.

“We are thrilled to announce On The Edge as part of the 2017-18 season package as a new addition,” states Minkhorst. “Under the direction of Aspirant Program Director Stéphane Léonard, On The Edge provides the best opportunity to see RWB Aspirants in their element. A dynamic combination of classical and contemporary repertoire, On The Edge is a thrilling showcase of up-and-coming talent.”

Don’t put off getting season tickets any longer- subscription renewals begin on Tuesday, March 21st! Plus, the more you subscribe, the more you save. Please click here for more information, or call us at: 204.956.2792.

Audiences Rave about Alberta Ballet’s Love Lies Bleeding!

Alberta Ballet in Love Lies Bleeding; Photo: Natasha Havrilenko

The verdict is in: sequins, fireworks, and rollerblades belong on stage together. Another large round of applause to the Alberta Ballet for bringing Love Lies Bleeding to the Centennial Concert Hall and dancing up a storm!

As always, thank you to those who attended. We don’t know about you, but we blissfully still have Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s hits playing in our heads…

What are audience members saying on social media?

-“We went to the dance last night. The choreography is amazing. The technique of the dancers are superb. Quite a show!.” –Cecilia Au
-“Absolutely fantastic show! ” –Corinne Mooring

-“Saw the show last night - it was all I expected and more! Had such a great time! Good job to all the dancers and staff who put on this fantastic experience-@chelseaf91
-“Fabulous show!! Hurry and go see it!”-@catfilmon
-“Did not disappoint”-wilde4vw
-“Saw this performance Friday night and I was blown away! An amazing show! A must see!” -@nicoleleclerc50

-“@RWBallet REALLY enjoyed the show. The choreography and performance blew me away. Thanks for bringing this to WPG. Story hit close to home.” -@KalculatedRisk
-“Love Lies Bleeding - best show I’ve seen in a long time! @RWBallet” -@DonnaKorade
-“It’s official every ballet needs drag queens, confetti cannons and roller skates, #loveliesbleeding was fantastic @albertaballet @RWBallet” -@erinriedger
-“@RWBallet Bravo for Love Lies Bleeding. Fabulous w/incredible dancing, beautiful costumes & very powerful storyline. Must-see! #Winnipeg “ -@michelle373737

Escape to Havana Nights, RWB’s 2017 Ballet Ball

RWB Company Dancers Sarah Po Ting Yeung and Thiago Dos Santos; Photo: Rejean Brandt Photography

Join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet at their annual Ballet Ball on April 22nd at the RBC Convention Centre! Mingle with RWB Company dancers, experience live and exciting ballet all under the sexy and sultry skies of a Havana night.

Ballet Ball: Havana Nights kicks off with a cocktail reception at 6 PM, with live music from Papa Mambo Trio, followed by a performance by the RWB Company and School at 7 PM. Havana Nights also features a luxury draw from Independent Jewellers, along with a live and silent auction featuring prizes such as: a Montreal Canadians hockey package, vacations to 2018 Masters Golf Tournament or 2018 US Open, commissioned artwork by Sean William Randall, Dream Car lease from Birchwood Automotive, and a Churchill Polar Bear Excursion.

Keep the lights low and bring your dancing shoes because Havana Nights continues late into the night with an after-party for all Ballet Ball guests with the RWB Company dancers.

Treat yourself to a mini vacation in the city, all while supporting Canada’s oldest ballet company!

For more information, please call the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Development Department at 204.957.3457, email:, or click here.

RWB Embarks on Spring Tours

RWB Company Dancers in Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story; Photo by Réjean Brandt Photography

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is taking two of our most-loved ballets on tour: Swan Lake and Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story!

From March 18th to 19th, the RWB Company will be in Detroit, Michigan performing Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story at the ornate Detroit Opera House.

From March 31st to April 2nd, the RWB Company will take the stage performing Swan Lake with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in Norfolk, Virginia at the Chrysler Hall for the annual Virginia Arts Festival.

Want to see what life is like on tour? Be sure to check the RWB instagram (@rwballet)- RWB Company Manager David Warburton completed an Instagram Takeover as he accompanied the dancers on the Cinderella leg of the tour. Check out all of the great behind-the-scenes videos he posted!

First Steps 2017 Highlights

First Steps Award Recipients with Philippe-Alexandre Jacques; Photo: Jocelyn Unrau

Thank you to all who attend this year’s First Steps performances! As always, we were blown away by the ingenuity of the participating Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division students.

While it was hard to name just one winner for each award, it had to be done! Below are the winners for First Steps 2017—three cheers and congratulations to all!

Honourable Mention: If You Can Dream It, by Anna Smith

3rd place: Resolution, by Cameron Fraser-Monroe

2nd place: Disasterpiece, by Conrad Mueller

1st place: Look Up, by Erin Atkinson

Paddy Stone Scholarship: Last Train To St. Louis, by Karyn Maertens

Jacqueline Weber Award: Élégie, by Jonah Schroeder

Doreen McDonald Scholarship: Thinking Pink, by Sarah Snider

RWB Award: Look Up, by Erin Atkinson

People’s Choice Award: Look Up, by Erin Atkinson

Green Room: The Creative Force behind Vespers’ Costumes

Vespers Costume Sketch by Denis Lavoie

Last month we had the opportunity to sit down with Denis Lavoie, costume designer for Vespers, to tap into the creative process behind Vespers’ dynamic wardrobe!

1. What was it like working with James Kudelka for this piece?
This wasn’t my first working with James; we have been collaborating for about 30 years. However, Vespers is special because we’ve never worked with head masks or religious music. James has specifics that he wants in wardrobe, but at the same time there is a lot of creative freedom.

2. Where did you draw inspiration from for your Vespers costumes?
Music—I wanted to find something that ran parallel to the sound.

3. What are some of the costumes featured in Vespers?
Porcupine, bear, ram, rabbit, fox, cardinal, to name a few. A key point with these costumes is having good proportion with the head, considering the size of the head masks. Due to their size, we try to find costumes that are a bit wider and work with the head’s colour.

4. What are some of the materials used?
Vespers’ wardrobe is typically made of regular clothes, such as silk and velvet.

5. What was your favourite costume to create and why?
I love the horse, it’s very masculine, and the ram. For women’s costumes, the porcupine is my favourite. I worked closely with Karen Rudd, the head mask designer, and she too favoured the porcupine… it was a challenge for her to create the head, as it was a challenge for myself to design the rest of the costume.

6. How did the Vespers wardrobe differ from other costumes you have designed?
James wanted costumes to be very dark. However, I wanted to find an equal complimentary part of colour to accent the darkness. It seems James likely has a deep story behind Vespers, probably a bit sad.

7. Approximately how long, in total, did it take you to complete this wardrobe?
Six weeks, including sketches, although I didn’t work on it full time… I am also not very fast with sketching! I like to go into shops first and find fabric to feel inspired by texture, etc. I can take half a day to go shopping, find something, and then begin to sketch. My inspiration is fabric first.

8. How many staff members did you have helping you?
I work alone in Montreal to sketch. I also buy fabric in Montreal to bring here, which makes it easier for Wardrobe as they don’t have to go out shopping or look online, they have the fabric ready to cut. This is my second time working with the RWB Wardrobe Department—they are a very good team! Alena is fantastic, she is always aware of what we need!

Anything else to add?
My goal is that if we see the piece, if we like the piece, we don’t need to focus on costumes… the costumes should be something that the public sees, but shouldn’t upstage the choreography.