MARCH SPOTLIGHT 2019

Mar 25 2019 | Posted in Spotlight

Rock, Roll, and Relevé: RWB Partners with Local Roots-Rockers The Bros. Landreth this Week

RWB's Ballet & the Band with RWB Dancers and The Bros. Landreth

The phrase “in concert” comes full circle with an all-new artistic collaboration between Juno-award winning The Bros. Landreth and up-and-coming choreographer Philippe Larouche in Ballet & the Band, a fresh, mixed repertoire addition to the RWB season. Ballet & the Band runs from March 28-30 at the Club Regent Event Centre and showcases Miroirs, an audience favourite by Mark Godden, Bare, a piece by emerging choreographer Jera Wolfe, and Next of Kin, a collaboration with Larouche and local sensation, The Bros. Landreth.​

“At the heart of what we do is a creative spirit and that has always been the driving force behind our choice to pursue music,” said Dave Landreth. “We believe in trying to make honest, beautiful things and we believe that art is a valuable and important part of our society and culture. When we first saw Philippe’s choreography we were moved to tears; it was stunning and resonated deeply with that same creative spirit. He took our music and found a connective tissue between songs that we had never even realized shared a common thread. He built a story from that music and used the rhythm of the human body to express it on stage in a way that is mesmerizing. We had no idea of what would come of this collaboration, but it has far surpassed anything we could have imagined. It’s special, it’s earnest, and it’s something that we are tremendously excited to share with not only our fans, but with anyone who appreciates art.”​

Next of Kin looks at the intergenerational impact of addiction. The story follows Brother, a desperate man in his late twenties, who has been battling with addiction since his teens. As his marriage and his relationship with his sister are affected, he spirals into darkness. There will be English to ASL interpretation for The Bros. Landreth’s lyrics.

“Working with a live band is new to me on a piece of this scale,” said Larouche. “I sat down with The Bros. Landreth a few times to discuss the inspiration behind the album which, along with the lyrics, strongly inspired me to write the story the way I did. They were incredibly open to exploring different themes and ultimately that free-spirited energy allowed the piece to have a life of its own.”​

Both Next of Kin and Bare will make their world premiere at Ballet & the Band, along with Miroirs, set to Maurice Ravel‘s beautiful piano score, premiered in 1995 and subsequently toured Canada with the RWB to standing ovations and critical acclaim.​

Tickets for Ballet & the Band start as low as $30, 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. Groups of ten or more should contact the RWB Customer Service Office for more information on group discounts. Please note that the RWB does not sell tickets through any third-party websites.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet Appoints new School Director

RWB's School Director Stéphane Léonard

The RWB is pleased appointed Stéphane Léonard as the new School Director. As Director, Léonard will oversee the Professional and Recreational Divisions of the world-renowned RWB School and lead the artistic faculty in the education and training of the next generation of dancers and dance teachers.

The RWB conducted an international search for its new School Director, attracting candidates from across the globe. Léonard’s impressive qualifications and experience, together with his deep roots in the Winnipeg community, made him the clear choice to lead the RWB School and set its course for the future.

“I am honoured to have been given this extraordinary opportunity,” said Léonard. “When André Lewis hired me to dance in the RWB Company back in 1998, I thought I’d spend one, maybe two seasons here. It’s 20 years later and I’m still here. I chose to stay each year because the RWB has become my home. I was humbled as an artist in this Company and developed as a teacher in this School. I look forward to building on the great work of my predecessors David Moroni and Arlene Minkhorst and am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this incredible organization.”

A late-comer to the art form, Léonard was working in construction and looking for a hobby when he happened to stumble into a ballet class at the age of 19. A natural in every sense of the word, Léonard began rigorous private training for the next two years in the Vaganova Method. Léonard followed this training by joining the prestigious Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia and graduated two years later in 1992.

Léonard had a successful career on stage, dancing with the National Ballet of Canada, the Rimsky-Korsakov Opera and Ballet Theater, and the RWB. He joined the artistic faculty of the RWB School Professional Division in 2002 and, for the last 16 years, has directed the School’s Aspirant Program.

As the Aspirant Program Director, Léonard has been a vibrant and essential part of the RWB. Working with emerging artists to refine and grow their technique and artistry, Léonard has helped countless young people acquire the skills and experience they need to be successful in the world of professional dance. Recent alumni of the Program include RWB Principal dancer Sophia Lee, Soloists Yayoi Ban, Chenxin Liu, and Alanna McAdie, among many others. Léonard has also staged and choreographed notable pieces of repertoire for the RWB School such as Les Corsaires, La Fille mal gardee, and The Misadventures of Pinocchio.

Please click here for photos of Léonard and here for a video on Léonard.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet Reveals Milestone 80th Season

RWB Company Dancers posing in a brick and wooden building, wearing white long tutus.

On March 20 RWB Artistic Director and CEO André Lewis, along with RWB Associate Artistic Director Tara Birtwhistle, proudly launched the world-renowned organization’s milestone 80th anniversary season, a season that demonstrates the Company’s claim that ‘Our home is the Prairies, the world is our stage.’ The 80th season includes premieres, classics, and audience favourites at home, as well as a busy touring schedule that will take the Company across Canada, into the US, and Mexico.

RWB’s season commences with a treasured tradition that spans over four decades, Ballet in the Park. This free, family-friendly event has grown to be a staple in many Winnipeggers’ summers and showcases performances by the RWB Company dancers, as well as the RWB School Professional and Recreational Division students. Ballet in the Park runs from July 24- July 26 and offers attendees the unique opportunity to watch world-class ballet under the prairie sky.

The RWB’s season of mainstage productions opens with the Canadian premiere of Greg Horsman’s La Bayadère, a co-production between Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Set in India in 1855, the unequivocal elegance of classical ballet is highlighted in this hypnotic tale of love, murder, and vengeful judgement by the gods. La Bayadère, which has never been performed in full by the RWB, will run from October 2-6 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

The legendary Evelyn Hart returns for the Company’s 80th anniversary in Four Old Legs, a new piece from choreographer James Kudelka that will be performed in the intimate setting of RWB’s Founders’ Studio from November 21-23. Hart dances alongside Zhenya Cerneacov in a performance celebrating time, memory, and experience with the premise that growing old is something better practiced by the young.

Nutcracker returns to the Centennial Concert Hall stage from December 19-28 to perfectly capture the essence of the holiday season. The wonder and whimsy of Galina Yordanova and Nina Menon’s choreography pairs beautifully alongside energetic crescendos to tell the story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. Nutcracker celebrates its own anniversary as the RWB’s Canadian prairie version of this timeless piece graces the stage for its 20th year.

The RWB welcomes 2020 with a flurry of high kicks as Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet charms Winnipeg once again. Drawn to Paris by the city’s passion, a flame fueled by the hearts of lovers and the souls of poets Matthew and Nathalie tempt fate as they seek love and destiny at the infamous cabaret – The Moulin Rouge®. Seen and adored by over 125,000 people across North America, Europe, and Asia, a renewed version of Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet returns to the Centennial Concert Hall from February 26- March 1.

A true nod to the organization’s illustrious past, the RWB’s season of mainstage performances ends with 80 Years – A Retrospective. This mixed-repertoire production runs from May 6-10 at the Centennial Concert Hall and illuminates three artistic directors whose vision each had a momentous role in the RWB’s history. Agnes de Mille’s exuberant and amusing Rodeo celebrates Arnold Spohr, Mark Godden’s one-act masterpiece Angels in the Architecture pays tribute to John Meehan, and Toer van Schayk’s Seventh Symphony, first set by the Dutch National Ballet, honours Henny Jurriens.

The season will wrap up with RWB School Professional Division’s year-end performances: Spotlight and On the Edge. Spotlight, which runs from May 21-23 at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, invites the audience to get pleasantly tangled in the pinks, blues, and yellows of a summer maypole as the Professional Division students weave a heartfelt tale of young love in La Fille mal gardée. Set against the backdrop of an enchanting golden countryside, this comedic production will charm and delight audiences of all ages.

On the Edge runs from June 10-12 and closes the RWB’s milestone season with an evening of classical, neoclassical, and modern repertoire featuring inspiring new work by some of the country’s most up-and-coming choreographers. See the next generation of dancers before they take the world by storm! On the Edge gives audiences a front-row seat to experience the passion and intensity of RWB School Aspirants during this diverse programme of new creations and timeless classics.

Along with the season’s repertoire, the RWB announced that they will be honouring their anniversary season by launching a costume exhibit that will be displayed throughout Winnipeg, will host an Alumni Weekend for former RWB dancers, staff, and students and introduce the RWB Honour Roll to celebrate individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the organization

. Lewis revealed that Resident Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Julian Pellicano will serve as Principal Conductor for the RWB throughout their 80th season.

To purchase tickets for the 2019/20 season
Season subscriptions are now available 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. Patrons can purchase the three or six pack subscription until October 1, 2019; the choose-your-own packages will be available from August 2019-February 2020. Subscriptions start at just $120 and subscribers benefit from saving 40% on Nutcracker adult tickets, saving 10% on additional tickets for friends and family, 10% off merchandise, flexible payment options, free ticket exchanges, invitations to open rehearsals, behind-the-scenes newsletters, and more. Single tickets go on sale July 24, 2019.

Annual Choreographer Competition a “First” for many Students

RWB School Professional Division Students in Chasing Visions

The 2019 RWB School First Steps Choreographic Competition was filled with incredibly creative minds, talented dancers, and dedicated jury members. It featured classical, neoclassical and contemporary pieces all danced to a soundtrack that was unique and impactful to the choreographers and executed on stage beautifully by their peers.

As always, we were blown away by the creativity and dedication of the participating RWB Professional Division students. We appreciate all the hard work our Artistic Coordinator Nicole Coppens did with the students over the past year and so grateful to the creative minds of our jurors: Paula Blair, Nicole Kepp, Sophia Lee, Todd Martin, Craig Ramsay and Ari Weinberg – they did not have an easy job!

Below are the winners for First Steps 2019—three cheers and congratulations to all!

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Award
Chasing Visions by Sophie Willett

1st
I Don’t Need to Know by Logan Savard

2nd
Chasing Visions by Sophie Willett

3rd
Aspects of Introversion by Tayte Brown

Honourable Mentions
Empowered by Meghan Sangster
In the Dark by Ethan Ribeiro

Jacqueline Web Award for Classical Choreography
Despondence by Alexander Castro

The People’s Choice
(An incredibly close result between 4 pieces and 1 vote determined the tied winners)
I Don’t Need to Know by Logan Savard
Chasing Visions by Sophie Willett

The Doreen Macdonald Scholarship
Despondence by Alexander Castro

The Paddy Stone Scholarship
See ME by Lauren Voros

Greenroom: Ballerinas and their Bands

RWB Dancers Liam Caines and Alanna McAdie in a dance pose, on a dimly lit stage, in front of stage lights

In the spirit of our upcoming show, Ballet & the Band, RWB dancers reminisce on some of their favourite concerts!

SOPHIA LEE
The most memorable concert for me was the Arcade Fire concert I attended in 2014.

DMITRI DOVGOSELETS
The Scorpions concert in Kiev in 1997.

JO-ANN SUNDERMEIER
Seeing Bruno Mars outside of City Hall in San Francisco. We didn’t have tickets, but you could see all the action and hear it from the rooftop of our apartment.

YOSUKE MINO
Coldplay in Tokyo.

JOSH REYNOLDS
The concerts at Snug Harbor in New Orleans. It is an old and famous Jazz club up on Frenchman Street and no matter who we see there, it is always incredible and very intimate. We have been to see “Delfeayo Marsalis presents The Uptown Jazz Orchestra” many, many times.

RYAN VETTER
Seeing Céline Dion in Winnipeg my first year in the RWB School- I won free tickets to the show!

JAIMI DELEAU
My most memorable concert was the first concert I ever went to. It was the Hillary Duff concert that I went to with my mom!

STEPHAN AZULAY
Plastic Beach tour by the Gorillaz in Melbourne. BEST SHOW EVER!

PETER LANCKSWEERDT
Probably a Dream Theater concert in Paris. I went there with a good friend of mine and it was a very last-minute decision. Dream Theater played extremely well, even more so than on their recorded albums. They are one of the leading progressive metal bands and they played away all the clichés about metal just being some noise.

ERIN ATKINSON
My most memorable concert was Tash Sultana Flow State tour. She’s also my favourite artist at the moment.