RWB Spotlight - September

Sep 23 2019 | Posted in Spotlight

Witness the Canadian premiere of Greg Horsman’s La Bayadère

This new co-production between Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet, and RWB is a must-see classic, re-imagined! Set in 1855 India, this story of eternal love impeded by the cruel manipulations of others, is the epitome of the classic story ballet.

Solor, son of the Maharajah of Koch Bihar, has pledged his undying love to the beautiful Nikiya, a bayadère (temple dancer). When he is forced by his father to marry the Governor-General’s daughter, a string of tragic consequences is unleashed.

This sumptuous new production of La Bayadère will sweep you into the exotic world of the 19th century British Raj. Within a cauldron of colonial politics, glittering balls and opium-fuelled dreams, Solor and Nikiya are entwined through life, death and the ghostly Kingdom of the Shades.

Choreographer Greg Horseman set out to give the movement in this production the feel of a more realistic India by including classical Indian movement and style for the temple dancers (bayadères). There are many layers of La Bayadère and through his choreography, Greg kept all of the iconic key elements of the traditional story including the Kingdom of Shades; one of the most memorable ensembles in all of classical ballet.

La Bayadère premieres October 2 – October 6, 2019. Tickets start as low as $30 plus taxes and fees, and can be purchased online at, 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.

Mark your calendars; RWB’s AGM is approaching!

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet invites you to our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, September 25. The meeting will take place at 11 AM at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, 380 Graham Avenue in the Founders’ Studio on the main floor. A short performance will precede the meeting so feel free to arrive early for some morning entertainment. Refreshments to follow.

A tapestry of talent: Audition Tour ahead!

From October 16 – January 26, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division will hold auditions across Canada and into the U.S. in search of new talent. Auditions are the first step for students hoping to join one of the RWB School’s three full-time professional programs: Ballet Academic (grade 5 and up), Aspirant (post-secondary), and Teacher Training (post-secondary).

Auditions include a Q & A session as well as a master class in some cities. Students who are unable to attend an audition may submit a video application online, which will be accepted until May 1, 2020.

“The audition tour is an amazing opportunity to witness the incredible work that teachers of dance are doing across the country”, says Stéphane Léonard, RWB School Director. “We want to honour their amazing work, and help their pupils reach their highest potential. Aside from recruiting talented artists, the audition tour is a wonderful chance to connect with local dance communities through holding master classes for both auditioning and non-auditioning ballet students.”

Currently, an average of 70 percent of the RWB Company dancers are graduates of the RWB School, with over half of the RWB’s artistic school leadership being RWB School alumni.

RWB Welcomes Julian Pellicano as their new Principal Conductor

Conductor Julian Pellicano has rapidly established himself as a leading interpreter of music across a broad spectrum of genres, traditions, and time periods. Whether it be traditional and contemporary symphonic repertoire, classical and modern ballet, opera, films live with orchestra, pops, musical theater, multi-media productions, workshops, or his carefully programmed concerts for young listeners, Julian brings an incisive musicality and collaborative spirit to every performance.

Julian’s 2019 - 2020 season marks his first as the Principal Conductor of the prestigious Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Julian has also risen to the role of Associate Conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, after six seasons as the orchestra’s Resident Conductor. Additionally, Julian will guest conduct the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Cincinnati Symphony with Cincinnati Ballet, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and will return to the Vancouver Symphony, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, where he will be conducting on tour with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

We sat down with Julian to learn more about his love for conducting, and to hear what his experience has been like so far working with RWB.

RWB: What drew you into the life of music?
Julian: Being a musician is something I know I’ve wanted to do since I was about 10 or 11 years old. To me it’s a calling and a feeling that there’s nothing else I could be doing. That being said, I’ve been lucky to have so many great teachers and mentors along the way who have helped to show me a path to a life in music.

RWB: What has your experience been like so far conducting for RWB?
Julian: It has been an absolute dream. I’ve conducted four productions with the RWB before taking on the role of Principal Conductor and one of the many reasons I am so excited about my new appointment is because I have this wonderful opportunity to perform with some of the most incredible dancers in the ballet world and be on the podium with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, a world-class orchestra I truly feel at home with, since I am also their Associate Conductor. If that’s not enough, the artistic team and staff at the RWB are so collegial and artistically dynamic that I feel like there is simply great art to be made with this company and I’m honoured to be a part of it.

RWB: What’s one of the most exciting things about conducting a ballet?
Julian: Just knowing the coordination of what is happening on stage and the live music coming from the orchestra pit rests in my hands is an incredible thrill. Most audience members probably only see the top of my head (if even that because I’m not so tall), but if they were watching from the stage they would notice that I basically have my eyes on the stage for 90 percent of the performance, watching the dancers’ movements, their pacing, and especially their feet! Precision counts as I attempt to coordinate the 67 musicians of the Winnipeg Symphony with the dancers’ every gesture, and since it is all done live, things are not always the same from performance to performance. So I also need to be on my toes (pun intended!)

RWB: What are some of the next few RWB shows you’re looking forward to conducting this season?
Julian: I’m looking forward to all of our performances, since they are all so different, but it will be my first time conducting one of the classics of the repertory, La Bayadère, in an exceptional new production never before seen in Winnipeg, so this will be special for me. I will also conduct Moulin Rouge in February, and I feel a really close connection to the music in this ballet since it not only features some wonderful orchestra music by Offenbach, Debussy and many others, but involves the music of Astor Piazzolla, one of the most legendary masters of the Argentinian bandoneon. Among other instruments I also play the accordion, which is similar to the bandoneon, and I’ve always been so inspired by Piazzola. I jump at any chance to perform his music. Finally, I will go on tour with the RWB to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa to perform The Wizard of Oz. I conducted the Canadian premiere performances last season in Winnipeg, and absolutely fell in love with this ballet, so I couldn’t be happier to have a chance to do it again with our dancers.

RWB: As someone who’s well travelled, what’s one thing you like about living in Winnipeg?
Julian: I’m originally from just outside of New York City. I’ve done a lot of traveling and moving around and when I came to Winnipeg six years ago to take on the post of Resident Conductor with the Winnipeg Symphony, I really didn’t know what to expect. I love the fact Winnipeg affords it’s residents with a great quality of life with wonderful culture and activities, and how liveable the city is being easy to get around, and how I still think skating on a frozen river is absolutely magical. But the thing I look forward to the most in Winnipeg is being with my wife and our two wonderful daughters. I’m very proud to call Winnipeg home!

On pointe for an exciting year of recreation division dance!

New Recreation Division staff members for the 2019/20 season includes:

  • Erika Delponte, former RWB Company dancer will teach in the Intensive Training Program (ITP) and Pre-Primary ballet
  • Sara Goodman, a full time RD faculty member who will be teaching in Jazz, Hip Hop, and Dance Ensembles
  • Tracy Tomchuk, teaching conditioning to our ITP students and Hip Hop

Principal, Nicole Kepp has added 10 week workshops for students ages 13 and up that are designed to build versatile dancers and allow them to explore outside of their full time classes.

Tap for Musical Theatre, taught by Stratford performer and Rainbow Stage choreographer/performer, Matthew Armet is a class aimed to introduce the necessary tap skills required to perform in professional musical theatre productions. Matthew’s stage experience and love for Tap creates the perfect opportunity for students to learn from an industry professional. Students must have a minimum 5 years of dance experience and understand basic terminology as this class will move quickly and is geared to the intermediate/advanced dancer.

Flamenco, will be an exciting new class this season taught by RWB Artistic Faculty Magdalena McGregor. Miss Maggie recently travelled this summer to Jerez De La Frontera, Seville and Madrid in Spain. While there she had the opportunity to see professional dancers, singers and guitarists perform in tableaux, take advanced workshops and study under professional dancers and choreographers Marta de Troya and Pilar Ogalla.

Interested in learning how choreography is created? Students are invited to register for Choreography Composition. Students will learn the fundamentals of creating a dance and have the opportunity to explore their creativity over the 10 week session. RWB School artistic faculty Claire Marshall has worked with the school’s Professional Division and Teacher Training Program in this capacity and is excited to be able to offer this class to our Recreational Division students again this season.

For our adult students, a Musical Theatre class for all levels has been added to the schedule on Wednesday nights, you can join RWB Artistic Faculty Laura Kolisnyk and brush up on your stage skills.

Our ExplorAbility program begins September 25 and is designed for adults with different abilities and ExplorAbility for Parkinson’s is designed for individuals living with Parkinson’s begins on September 20. Both programs are specifically designed to focus on developing body awareness, self-expression, posture, and alignment, all in a creative and supportive environment and led by Jacqui Ladwig. Registration is open throughout the sessions.

Greenroom: RWB Company dancers share how they prepare for show week, preferred performance styles, and favourite set designs from our upcoming show, La Bayadère

Show week is an exciting time for any production. After months of hard work, long hours, and dedication, it’s a great feeling to finally see everything come together and to live out what you’ve been working towards. It takes many people in different roles to make a production come to fruition, but there’s no doubt our RWB Company dancers work especially hard to bring guests an unforgettable performance each night. Below some of our dancers share what they do to get ready for show week.

RWB: What’s one thing you do to prepare for show week?

Sarah Davey
Meal prep! The last thing I want to be doing during show week is cook, but I also need to make sure my body is getting the fuel it needs so it’s important for me to make sure my meals are prepared ahead of time.

Jaimi Deleau
I always listen to the music of the ballet I am going to perform and visualize the choreography, how I am going to dance it, and how best to get into character depending on the role.

Katie Simpson
I like to prioritize my daily routine to ensure I’m getting lots of sleep and nourishing my body with my favourite, nutrient-dense foods.

A story ballet is a show style that ballet goers are most familiar with. It’s a show in which the dancers each play one specific character, and there’s a single story complete with a setting, plot, conflict, and some sort of resolution; not always a happy ending. A mixed rep ballet however, is a combination of different performances shorter in length, often prepared by different choreographers to make up one full show. Some of these performances have a specific short story, while others are simply about the movement.

RWB: Do you prefer to perform a story ballet or mixed rep?

Jenna Burns
Story ballet; I love playing a single character. Also, because I’m a sucker for the classics!

Yayoi Ban
I love performing a story ballet. Especially one with lots of drama like La Bayadère!

Joshua Hidson
I don’t think I could choose one over the other! Any performance that allows me to lose myself in a certain character or idea is one I’ll enjoy dancing.

La Bayadère is a story set in 1855 India about true love, arranged marriages, and war. Opening night is October 2, 2019, and you can be sure our dancers are hard at work preparing to bring you an extraordinary performance. While our dancers have a passion for movement, they also enjoy being able to embrace different costume pieces that help them tell a story, along with performing on sets that really transport the show to another time in another place.

RWB: What’s your favourite set design or costume from La Bayadère?

Sophia Lee
My favourite costumes are worn by the two lead female characters. Many of the costumes of La Bayadère are very exotic, intricate and have gorgeous colours.

Yayoi Ban
I love the set of Act II, for the ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ scene.