November Company Spotlight

Nov 29 2017 | Posted in

RWB Presents Nutcracker

RWB Company Dancers in costume, smiling with young children

RWB’s Nutcracker goes on Tour in Ottawa Dec 6-10! We are so excited to be taking this show on the road, and to be bringing one of our favourite performances to another audience.

For everyone here at home in Winnipeg, not to worry! Our Dancers will be back in plenty of time for our own performances of Nutcracker, Dec 21 - 30.

Our Story Wrap Up

RWB Company Dancers in

​“It is an absolute privilege to present Our Story, a historically-rich performance in celebration of Canadian choreographers in honour of Canada’s 150th. Each of these choreographers have played a part in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s repertoire through our nearly 80-year history. I have had the privilege of working with many of them – first as a dancer, and then as Artistic Director- and can speak firsthand to how these six choreographers have impacted the RWB.

​Our Story has already reunited members of the RWB community. While in the studio preparing for our mixed-repertoire show, we had a visit from two RWB alumni: Arnette Av Paul, ballet dancer and wife of the late Brian Macdonald, and Laura Graham, RWB Company dancer for a decade. Laura brought her experience with Jacques Lemay’s Le Jazz Hot to the studio while Annette shared her knowledge of Brian Macdonald’s Pas D-Action with RWB Company dancers.

It has been a delight to capture RWB’s history in the work of Canadian choreographers of the past and present. We are thrilled to invite patrons into the intimate setting of our Founders Studio to experience an unforgettable celebration of dance.”​

Take a look at what people had to say about the show!


  • “Our Story was such a great idea! I loved the range of styles and moods. Congrats to everyone involved” –Amy Shaw
  • “Loved it on Thursday.” –Ellen Kruger
  • “ “Belong” was beautiful! RWB’s program of Canadian choreographers was a varied & wonderful evening of dance .” –Ellen Kruger
  • “Awesome that a Brian MacDonald piece is being shown!! And also… all those other world class choreographers that are a huge part of the RWB’s history!” –Anton Pasquarella
  • “(Belong is) My all-time favourite pas de deux!! I used to go to the IMAX theatre whenever they screened “Heartland” just to see this piece with its gripping music.” –Susan Best


  • “Belong… One of my most memorable RWB experiences! Thank you!” -@g_l_connor
  • “Looking so forward to seeing this.” -@carmanjohnston


  • “What a special performance today FOR #OURSTORY” -@quantum_dance
  • “@PeterQuanz Thank you again for straight against the light I cross – I could watch this entrancing piece again and again! #WpgDance @RWBallet” -@Hazell_1S2LLs
  • “You should check out this show – if you can! It’s wonderfully diverse and thoroughly engaging!” -@simeonrusnak
  • “Brilliant performances! #OurStory @RWBallet Choreography by Quanz @Q_dance Lemay Vesak Macdonald Godden @CanadaCouncil” -@csharfe

Blogs / News Outlets

  • “Brilliant performances! #OurStory @RWBallet Choreography by Quanz @Q_dance Lemay Vesak Macdonald Godden @CanadaCouncil” -@csharfe
  • “For 78 years, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet has led the charge in the worldwide dance community as Canada’s oldest ballet company, as well as the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America. The RWB celebrates that rich legacy with Our Story, taking balletomanes on a pirouette down memory lane with an eclectic mixed bill showcasing six Canadian choreographers who have left their footprints on the company.“ –Winnipeg Free Press
  • “Being able to celebrate the company and its history right at its home in such an intimate theatre lent an air of intimacy and a feeling of family that made the show even more enjoyable. “ –An Historian About Town

Audition Tour Update

RWB Dancer Liam Saito

Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division’s Audition Tour has hosted 14 out of the 18 auditions for this year’s annual tour! The Audition Tour had its first stop in Winnipeg on Friday, November 17th and will return on January 19th in search of dancers intent on a professional career in dance or the desire to teach dance.

Auditions will be held for the Ballet Academic Program, Aspirant Program, and Teacher Training Program. We encourage all those interested who are 10 years of age or older to participate regardless of your dance background or skill level! Please note that our advance registration discount expires at 9 AM on January 18th, 2018.

Students are auditioning to gain acceptance into the Professional Division Summer Session (July 2018) in Winnipeg, which serves as the second audition phase to gain acceptance into Regular Session (September 201 to June 2019).

Students that are unable to attend audition can submit a video audition until May 2018.
Returning this year is a master class open to ballet students regardless of if they audition!
For more information on the master class and auditions, please visit:

Nutcracker at the Airport

RWB Dancers dressed in Mice Costumes, holding a giant carrot.

RWB Dancers in costume, on stage

The RWB kicked off the Christmas season a bit early this year, as the Company transformed the arrivals hall at Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport with an impromptu performance of Nutcracker. The performance was part of West Jet Airlines’ 12 Flights of Christmas, this year’s edition of West Jet’s annual Christmas Miracle.

The performance began on a stage, but quickly moved to take over the arrivals area, as Clara, and her Nutcracker, aided by toy soldiers, staged an epic battle against scurrying mice armed with cannons and carrots. The mice were led by the evil Mouse King who leapt from the baggage carousel to join the fray. The twenty minute performance concluded with the dance of the snowflakes who were joined on stage by frolicking polar bears, Drosselmeier and Clara and her Nutcracker Prince.

It was certainly a change of pace for the dancers, said the ballet’s principal dancer Jo-Anne Sundermeier. “Being out here without the stage lights, it’s a little bit more intimate in a way, even though it’s a huge space,” Sundermeier said. “You can really see everyone and see everyone’s reaction.”

Following the performance, West Jet’s “Blue Santa” showed up atop a luggage carousel for a special delivery of presents earmarked for each of the jet’s passengers, including stuffed polar bears, gift cards, tickets to the ballet, and, of course, their luggage.

Interview with RWB’s Clara in Nutcracker

Elisha Woo, Level 3 student in the RWB School Professional Division, cast as young Clara in this year’s Nutcracker

Elisha Woo, a level 3 student in the RWB School Professional Division, is playing the part of young Clara in this years Nutcracker! We had the chance to sit down with Elisha and talk to her about the dancers she looks up to, other roles she’d love to perform on day, and what she loves about performing the role of young Clara.

When did you come to the RWB School?
I came to the RWB School in 2009.

Besides Nutcracker, what is your favourite stage show?
Aside from Nutcracker, I like Peter Pan, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Pas D’ Action.

Who do you look up to as a dancer and why?
Some of my favourites include: Sophia Lee, Elizabeth Lamont, Chenxin Liu, Saeka Shirai, Evelyn Hart, Yosuke Mino, Yue Shi, Jo-Ann Sundermeier, Dmitri Dovgoselets, and Anastasia Stashkevich because they each have a different quality in their dance that I would like to bring to my own dancing. Plus, they are all great people.

What do you love about your character, Clara?
Probably her personality which is strong yet tender-hearted. She goes from dreaming about her prince to saving him.

What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
The biggest challenge is always maintaining character by being Clara, instead of me performing Clara.

If you could play any other character in Nutcracker, who would it be?
I would want to play the older Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, do the Chinese dance, and dance as an older party girl.

What’s the last thing you do before you step on stage and before the curtain goes up?
My good luck ritual, which is: I say a quick prayer to God, say good luck to myself in as many different languages as I know. While I say good luck, I close my eyes and count to ten while I take eight deep breaths.

David Moroni School Endowment Fund supports aspiring young dancers like Elisha Woo to complete their education at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and go on to dance, choreograph and teach in Canada and around the world. The DMSF was established in honour of David Moroni, founder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division, to continue to provide future generations of dancers with world class ballet training, facilities, and performance opportunities to achieve their dreams.

The Story of Us

RWB Dancers Jo-Ann Sundermeier and Josh Reynolds on their wedding day.

Principal Dancer Jo-Ann Sundermeier and Soloist Josh Reynolds share their story. How they met, fell in love and got married on World Ballet Day.

How did you meet?

We met in San Francisco. Both of us were dancing with the same company, Smuin Ballet.

What was your first impression of him/her?

JOSH: She walked into the Ballet studio wearing white bedroom slippers, and I thought she was hilarious! But she is also beautiful and smart.
JO: My first impressions of him were in the ballet studio, which he came across very professional, but could still have a sense of humor about things. I also remember thinking, wow, this guy is in great shape!

Tell about your first date and/or a memorable date.

Our first memorable “date” was a walk around San Francisco. We walked and talked, and ended up at Coit Tower. The stairs to get up there are a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it when you get to the top!

Favourite moment on stage together?

We were fortunate enough to be cast to dance Michael Smuin’s Romeo and Juliet together. To be able to express how you truly feel about one another, and be that vulnerable in front of an audience is a very special thing.

Do you have a favourite piece to dance together?

Any chance we get to dance together is a wonderful experience.

What do you love about him/her?

JOSH: I love her kindness and her understanding, and her strength.
JO: I love his genuine heart, and his sense of humor.

What do you look forward to in the rest of your life together? Hopes, dreams, etc

Sharing the stage together as long as we can. Adventures together. Quiet moments at home together. Enjoying life, wherever it takes us.

What will you remember most about the day you got married?

JOSH: I will always remember how beautiful she looked in the sun, and how lucky I am that she agreed to spend her life with me.
JO: I will always remember how I felt. My heart, so full of love, knowing that I was marrying my true love. It was perfect!

The Green Room

50 Years of Things

Photo from outside of

The Women’s Committee has cause to celebrate this month; Things, their specialty boutique, turns 50!

Things, was established by the Women’s Committee in 1967 and offers both donated and consigned items including many beautiful vintage and contemporary collectibles, china, crystal, jewelry, furniture and linens. Entirely volunteer-run, it is the longest running continuous fundraiser for the arts in Canada.

The RWB had the opportunity to sit down with the Women’s Committee and learn a bit more about the team and how Things has evolved through the years.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet: Fifty years is a significant milestone. How long has your longest-standing member been on the Committee?

Women’s Committee: The Women’s Committee was established many years before the shop came to be. Our two longest serving current members have been here since 1961 - 56 years. Our second longest member has been with us since 1990.

RWB: What do the majority of the members do outside of the Committee?

WC: The majority of members are retired or work part time and they come from a variety of career paths, such as business, government agencies, educators, and arts and culture sectors.

The Women’s Committee is made up of like-minded people who are committed to giving back to their community. They support the arts through their commitment to the Women’s Committee and RWB. It is a very dedicated group with many of our members also contributing to other organizations in the city.

RWB: What are some main ways in which the Committee and Things, have evolved over 50 years?

WC: Certainly the trends of what merchandise is the most prominent for display and sales has changed, as well as our use of technology. This year we moved over to the use of electronic barcode technology so we can spend time engaging with the customer instead of manually writing out receipts. Also, the display process helps us attract people to certain kinds of objects. And our use of social media is bringing us into the 21st century in a very unique way! We sold an item to someone in Ohio thanks to social media.

Another aspect that is evolving is how we designate roles and responsibilities. One of the challenges in any organization that is dependent on volunteers is how to sustain people’s commitment and let them work in their comfort levels, while having an organization whose structure meets the needs of a changing market. To that end, our organization looked at restructuring our committees. We now have a more participative structure and leadership team, and open communication. We make sure we continue to evolve and don’t just stay with old traditional ways of marketing.

RWB: What is one of your fondest memories from Things?

WC: One year a young 20-something woman came in around Christmas and admired a beautiful necklace. She tried it on and walked around the shop in it but it was very expensive. She said to the clerk, “It is way beyond my means but it’s sure a beauty” and handed it back. The next day unbeknownst to the young woman, her mother walked in and purchased the necklace to give as a gift to her daughter. A few days later, the young woman returned to the shop and was disappointed to see that the necklace had been sold. Our staff did not let on that they knew she was in for a special surprise and would be a very happy person on Christmas day!

Things is located at 913 Corydon Avenue and is open Monday-Saturday from 10 AM – 4 PM.