Aug 25 2014 | Posted in

Director’s Message

We are thrilled to be celebrating the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s 75th anniversary. In this issue of Connections we look at highlights of this milestone anniversary, some new campaigns to help raise funds for two very special projects and honoring David Moroni C.M., founder of the RWB School Professional Division.

As a donor and supporter of the RWB, we would like to hear from you. Let us know your stories and memories of the RWB. Your feedback and suggestions are important and enable us to provide content that is of interest and relevant to you. - Susan Fraser, Director of Development

Celebrating 75 years

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet is welcoming its 2014/15 season and reflecting on 75 years of history, a milestone anniversary that we are very proud to achieve.

As the RWB enters its anniversary season, we’re focused on celebrating our past, and looking forward to our future.

The RWB had its inception in 1939, when immigrant English dance teachers Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally came to Winnipeg and founded The Winnipeg Ballet Club, which, in 1941 was renamed the Winnipeg Ballet. In 1953, the company received the first Royal charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II, and became the first “Royal” ballet company of the British Commonwealth. In 1962, RWB opened its General Division School and by 1970, the internationally recognized Professional Division School was created.

Throughout the evolution of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet - both as an internationally acclaimed company and a world- renowned school - a long list of noted artistic directors, choreographers, artists and dancers have added to the RWB’s rich history. The list includes RWB Artistic Director Emeritus Arnold Spohr, prima ballerina Evelyn Hart, her partner and former principal dancer David Peregrine, principal dancers Tara Birtwhistle and Vanessa Lawson, founder of the RWB School Professional Division, David Moroni, C.M., choreographers Mark Godden, Twyla Tharp, James Kudelka, and current Artistic Director André Lewis.

But it is truly because of our donors, supporters and dedicated audience that we are able to celebrate this milestone anniversary.

“From the capital campaign for our current building at 380 Graham Avenue, to supporting our new creations, to our Alumni who work persistently to preserve our history through our archives department, to our Women’s Committee who dedicate their time volunteering and fundraising, to simply being a loyal patron – your support and dedication has helped to bring the RWB to 75 years,” says Executive Director, Jeff Herd.

“Our 75th anniversary is about celebrating our rich history, and looking forward to the next 75 years. Without our many supporters, this organization would cease to exist, let alone be so successful. I hope you will join us this season in celebrating our collective achievements.”

The 2014/15 season brings with it an exciting selection of breathtaking ballet – a mix of beloved classics and new works. The cornerstone of the season is the world premiere of Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, with a story by internationally recognized author Joseph Boyden. The season also includes family favourite and holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, the classic and ethereal Swan Lake and The Faerie Queen - A Ballet Based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In May, the RWB School Professional Division presents La Bayadère: Kingdom of the Shades + Ballet Vignettes. This is the first time that a performance by the RWB School Professional Division is offered as part of the Company season.

The RWB is also taking its 75th anniversary celebrations on tour with national and international stops. In mid-October, the RWB is returning to Asia with a tour of Mainland China, with stops in more than 10 cities including Shanghai, Guanzhou, Ji’nan and more.

Join the RWB for its 75th Anniversary celebrations. For more information visit

New Ways to Give: China Tour + Tutus in Bloom

This summer, the RWB unveiled two new fundraising campaigns – Tutus in Bloom and China Tour. Both campaigns were created to give our donors an inside look at the expenses associated with running a world-class ballet company.


Did you know that our tutus are created to last 20 to 25 years? With the announcement of Swan Lake returning to the stage during the 75th Anniversary Season, the RWB Wardrobe department knew that they would have to build new tutus to replace those first made nearly 25 years ago. It will cost approximately $60,000 and 60 hours of labour to replace 28 tutus required for this production.

By donating $2,000 or more, you will become the sponsor of a stunning new tutu. As a Tutu Sponsor, your name will be sewn into it so that our dancers and future swans may enjoy and appreciate your generosity for many years to come.

So far, the campaign has raised $15,270 enabling us to replace seven tutus. There are only 21 more to go! See your donations at work when Swan Lake hits the stage from March 4 to 8, 2015.

To make a donation to our Tutus in Bloom campaign, visit TUTUS IN BLOOM or call 204.957.3457.

Photo Credit: Bruce Monk
Photo Credit: Bruce Monk


This October, the RWB is touring Asia for the first time since 2004. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work involved bringing 26 dancers, 10 artistic staff and crew members to China.

The RWB will be performing two of its iconic productions while overseas – Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet. That means there are two shipping containers full of set pieces, props and lighting, 175 costumes and over 100 pointe shoes to take on this milestone international tour.

You can help us get there by visiting our CHINA TOUR or calling 204.957.3457.

To discuss possible sponsorship opportunities, please contact Susan Fraser, Director of Development:



Things, Antiques & Gifts will hold their annual Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, September 6 from 9am - 2pm.

Rain or shine! All proceeds go to the RWB.
913 Corydon Avenue 204.284.7331

School Showcases

The end of spring brought an exciting energy to the RWB Building as our Professional Division and Recreational Division students held their year-end showcases: In Concert, Dance Spectrum 1 + 2, Spring Concert and On the Edge. Congratulations to all our students on their incredible year. We look forward to seeing you return in the fall.

Of course, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Professional Division would not have achieved its international reputation and success without its Founder, David Moroni, C.M. David Moroni founded the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1970 and was School Director for 34 years. The legacy of David Moroni and the RWB School can be seen in its graduates including Evelyn Hart, David Peregrine, Peter Quanz to name a few as well as the majority of current RWB Company Dancers.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is overjoyed that David Moroni received an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from the University of Winnipeg during its Spring Convocation. This award not only recognizes David Moroni’s commitment to the RWB, but to the significance of the RWB School in Winnipeg. A private reception was held at the home of Jean & Dennis Giguère and was attended by RWB Alumni, staff and friends. Congratulations David Moroni!

Celebrate David Moroni and the Professional Division by making a donation to the David Moroni School Endowment Fund. The fund was established to ensure the long-term health and stability of the RWB School’s Professional Division.

For more information, please contact Susan Fraser, Director of Development:


In Concert

Each year, the RWB School Professional Division holds In Concert, their year-end showcase. This year, students performed the light and comedic love story, La Fille Mal Gardée from May 14 to 17 at the Shaw Performing Arts Centre. This ballet was an excellent opportunity for our rising young artists from the RWB Ballet Academic Program to showcase their talent and their training.

In Concert is sponsored by Investors Group which supports the RWB School in a variety of ways including Concert Hour Ballet Winnipeg, Student Financial Aid Fund and the National Scholarship Program which helps bring one talented student from each province in Canada to the RWB Professional Division Summer Session.

“Investors Group is a long-time supporter of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in the development of aspiring young dancers from around the world,” says John Wiltshire, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Investors Group. “We are pleased that Investors Group is able to help showcase the talents of these students.”

Thank you to Investors Group and all of our RWB School Sponsors for their continuous support!

Photo Credit: Bruce Monk
Photo Credit: Bruce Monk


Patron’s Circle members took part in Dinner in the Wings on opening night of Mixed Programme. The highlight of the evening was the pre-show chat with James Kudelka, former Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada and choreographer of The Four Seasons.

Another exciting moment at the RWB was a visit from her Royal Highness, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall on May 25. Her Royal Highness witnessed a pas de deux from RWB Professional Division Students Akanbi Babatunde and Saeka Shirai as well as two of our community outreach programs including Explorability. Explorability is a class designed to give adults with varied movement abilities the opportunity to explore dance and self-expression.

Our community outreach programs are very important to the RWB as we believe everyone should have the opportunity to express themselves through dance.

To support our outreach activities, contact Graciela Najenson, Individual Giving Manager:


Photo Credit: Vince Pahkala
Photo Credit: Vince Pahkala

Mad About Ballet Gala

The RWB held its Annual Gala on April 12 at the Delta Winnipeg. Over 220 guests mixed and mingled with RWB Company Dancers, ate an exquisite meal and enjoyed the energetic performances from all areas of the RWB including students from the Professional and Recreational Divisions as well as the Company Dancers.

Guests were also treated to an appearance by local legend, Ron Paley who played the Tango Pas de Deux from Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story. It was a piece that truly captured the sophisticated essence of the 1960s. Thanks to your generous support, this year`s gala raised over $99,000! Your support has enabled the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to continue to present the highest standard of excellence in Canadian dance to communities across our country and around the world. It has also provided opportunities for aspiring young dancers to pursue their dream and achieve their potential as our future artists.

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor, TD Bank Group for their continuous support of our Annual Gala. Save the Date for the Diamond Gala, April 18, 2015. To reserve your tickets and tables, please contact Lesley Lewis:


Photo Credit: Samantha Katz
Photo Credit: Samantha Katz