RWB Spotlight - November

Nov 19 2019 | Posted in Blog

DON’T MISS EVELYN HART DELIVER PERFECTION IN FOUR OLD LEGS

Perhaps the most celebrated ballerina to ever dance with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Evelyn Hart, is poised to deliver an incredible performance in Four Old Legs, a brand-new ballet, created by critically acclaimed choreographer James Kudelka. This duet stars Hart, and highly regarded dance artist Zhenya Cerneacov, in a moving, hour-long ballet that explores the devastating toll that time takes on love.

Running from November 21 to November 24, Four Old Legs will leave audiences breathless as the brightly burning fires of young love turn to cinders before them. Kudelka’s brilliant choreography, performed as only Hart and Cerneacov can, comes alive on the stage. Featuring an eclectic mix of instantly recognizable music, Four Old Legs is a triumph of storytelling that will sweep you off your feet.

Four Old Legs features the return of world-renowned ballerina Evelyn Hart to her former home at the RWB Founders’ Studio. Hart danced with the RWB Company for three decades. She became the first Canadian to win gold at the Varna International Ballet Competition, in 1980, and, in 1983, Hart was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, before becoming Companion in 1994.

Today, Hart is widely recognized as a prima ballerina, a title she shares with only three other Canadian-born dancers, of which Hart is the only one still performing. Four Old Legs marks the first time in years that Hart’s brand of ballet excellence will be on display in Manitoba. Don’t miss your opportunity to watch homegrown legend, Evelyn Hart, perform this never-before-seen ballet.

Seats for Four Old Legs are selling quickly. Tickets can be purchased online at www.rwb.org, in person through the RWB Box 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 Box Office for more information on group discounts, based on availability. Please note that the RWB does not sell tickets through any third-party websites. Get your tickets today!

Remembering Kathleen Richardson: A Celebration of Life – Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A true proponent of the arts and well-known philanthropist, Kathleen Margaret Richardson had been an important member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet family since it opened in 1939. Her passing in September, at age 91, has deeply resonated within the Winnipeg arts community and beyond.

A celebration of life will be held for Miss Richardson, on Tuesday, November 19th at The Fairmont Winnipeg. The reception will begin at 4:00pm and remarks beginning at 5:00pm. All are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Miss Richardson may be made to Royal Winnipeg Ballet through our website or to Dalnavert Museum through The Winnipeg Foundation.

As one of the first students to take classes through the Winnipeg Ballet Club, the school that would later become the RWB, Miss Richardson developed a deep love and appreciation for the ballet. She saw the potential of a world-class ballet company in Winnipeg and realized what it could bring to the city.

Although passionate about dance, Miss Richardson would eventually pursue a different path, but her unwavering commitment to the company remained. She would go on to serve as President of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Board of Directors, from 1957 to 1961, after which she continued to serve as honourary President until she passed away.

Miss Richardson was more than a savvy businesswoman and lover of the arts. She was also a community leader, one who championed many of Winnipeg’s cultural endeavours, and a believer in hard work. In the 1970s, Miss Richardson was often seen selling tickets to fundraising events in the public area of the convention centre. Though she could have bought all the tickets herself, Miss Richardson instead sat at the table along with other volunteers and encouraged passersby to support the RWB.

Always preferring to remain anonymous, Miss Richardson’s extraordinary generosity improved organizations, communities, and the lives of others across Canada. She believed strongly in the words often quoted by her mother, Muriel Richardson, “Unto whom much is given, much is also required,” words that Miss Richardson chose to live by.

CEO & Artistic Director of the RWB, André Lewis, has fond memories of Miss Richardson. “She was very humble, very quiet, and unassuming,” said Lewis, citing her numerous contributions to the arts. “Everyone she met was instantly captivated by Kathleen’s charm, wit, and grace. We developed a close relationship over the years,” Lewis said, “She is dearly missed today.”

Miss Richardson was instrumental in securing a permanent home for the RWB. In 1986, she chaired the RWB’s Capital Campaign, which raised $5.5 million in private contributions for the $10.3 million project, which resulted in our magnificent building opening its doors in 1988.

Before she passed away, Miss Richardson was awarded the Order of Manitoba and appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, the third highest honour a Canadian civilian could receive. She also received the RCA Medal, awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the development and promotion of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Her time with the RWB was one of incredible growth for the company, wherein we reached new heights of international recognition and acclaim. For this reason, and many more, we are honoured to dedicate our 80th anniversary season to the life of Miss Richardson, and we will continue to celebrate her memory for years to come.

RWB SCHOOL AUDITION TOUR – DEFINING TALENT

The RWB’s Public Relations Coordinator Dustin Rodgers sat down with School Director Stèphane Lèonard recently to try and answer the illusive question of `what is talent?’ He shares his insights in this opinion piece.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division auditions are underway for the 2020-21 season. The tour, which runs from October to January, spans the country, from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island, and includes stops in the United States. When the tour is complete, hundreds of dancers will have taken part in auditions.

Inside the audition guide provided to each participant, it states that students will be accepted solely based on talent. Talent, however, is an elusive concept; no one is born a dancer, so what does it mean to be “talented”?

There is a desire to think of talent as something we have inside us from birth. There may in fact be some skill or ability that we excel at from a young age, but even the best dancers in the world must study and practice for years to achieve success. Some would go so far as to argue that their diligence, not their natural ability, is what sets them above the competition.

There are few innate gifts that define a dancer, and most of them can be developed by dedicated students. Clearly there is more to talent than what comes naturally. The first thing that comes to mind is athleticism. Dancers must have excellent balance, strength, dexterity, and stamina, not to mention the ability to move their body without losing their sense of rhythm. Physical prowess, however, is far from the only quality that makes someone an ideal fit for the RWB.

Professionality, personality, expression, and intuition are all key attributes of talent, so is the ability to recognize and target areas of weakness that all new dancers start out with. Hard work is a central tenant of the process, and the way individuals deal with imperfections or challenges during the audition process is also a point of consideration. Additionally, self-confidence is one of the most powerful traits a dancer can possess, and being able to exude that can be a deciding factor in selecting new students.

“Whenever we have an auditioning dancer, we look at a combination of internal and external attributes that make each dancer distinct and remarkable,” says School Director, Stephane Leonard, “there are certainly physical attributes required for classical ballet, but when you are auditioning at a young age those are often not established yet. We encourage dancers of all ages and skill levels to attend an audition for the life experience and because if dancing is something you truly want to dedicate your life towards, we can help.”

For Manitoban’s looking to prove their talent, the RWB auditions are taking place on Friday, January 24, in Winnipeg at 380 Graham Ave. All registrations must be received by Thursday, January 23, at 9am. If students missed or were unable to attend their local audition, the RWB accepts submissions online as well. Visit rwb.org/auditions to review the requirements and submit your video audition materials.

Good luck to all the participants auditioning this year and remember—you aren’t just born talented, you build it!

GREENROOM: RWB’S GOING HOME STAR STUNS AUDIENCES AT FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL CERVANTINO

Last month, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) performed Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation on tour in Mexico at the Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC), one of the largest arts festivals in the world. Canada was named the guest country of honour at the festival this year, which focused on Indigenous creation, diversity, and innovative artistic approaches.

Held in Guanajuato, the prestigious FIC showcases many performing arts from around the world. The RWB was honoured to be part of a Canadian delegation that delivered seventeen music, dance, and theatre shows from artists across Canada. Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation was one of the featured programs at the festival. More than 2,700 people attended our performances, including a matinee attended by over 600 secondary school students. Viewers were moved to tears by the profound story, which depicts of the emotions and experiences, told and untold, of residential school Survivors and their families.

Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation was produced with the support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), and features choreography by Mark Godden. The creative team behind Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation included Canadian novelist and TRC Honorary Witness Joseph Boyden, Cree actor, producer, former Member of Parliament, and TRC Honorary Witness, Tina Keeper. The ballet also features an original, Juno-winning score composed by Christos Hatzis and includes appearances from Juno-winning Inuk Throat Singer, Tanya Tagaq, Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers.

Mexico has its own complicated and painful history with colonization. Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation was particularly well received because reconciliation was recently named a national priority by the incoming Mexican government. A delegation of indigenous artists from Mexico attended the performances and were deeply affected by the ballet. The many tears that were wiped away during the performance made it clear that the topic of reconciliation is intensely meaningful and impactful for people all over the world.

It is a tremendous privilege for the RWB to present this ground-breaking work before an international audience. The RWB is always looking for opportunities to bring unique stories such as Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation to a broader audience, and we are proud to bring this important work to the world stage. It is our hope that sharing the emotional and often traumatic stories contained in this work will lead to better outcomes for indigenous peoples at home and around the world.