Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 11/2/2016 (1403 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The 2016-17 Royal Winnipeg Ballet season is shaping up to be a suspenseful one if the company’s season announcement is any indication.
There’s suspense onstage as the 77-year-old company opens the season Oct. 26 with one of its landmark works, Dracula.
There’s even more suspense off the stage —"an innovative new creation" is scheduled for March 1-5, 2017, but details remained hush-hush during Wednesday’s season-announcement press conference at the newly renovated studio at the RWB’s headquarters on Graham Avenue.
Artistic director André Lewis hoped to be able to announce all the details of the unnamed world première ballet on Wednesday, but behind-the-scenes negotiations with artistic and financial partners prevented him from letting the cat out of the bag, he said. Instead, details are scheduled to be revealed during an international announcement in May.
"I can assure you that people will not be disappointed," a tight-lipped Lewis said after his presentation.
The unnamed work follows a new tradition, started under Lewis’s tenure as the RWB’s artistic director, of the company producing full-length ballets of its own creation. The tradition began in 1998 with Dracula, and Lewis remembers the artistic and financial risk the company undertook to bring the work, choreographed by Mark Godden, to the stage.
"Immense relief for sure, and pride as we had accomplished something at the time no one else was doing," Lewis said. "Dracula heralded a new era."
At the press conference, RWB’s Liang Xing and Sarah Davey performed a scene from Dracula, with Xing’s vampire lifting Davey’s Lucy from her coffin and seducing her before biting her neck. Lucy, in turn, bites Dracula’s wrist before he escorts her to her crypt before vanishing.
A second world première, Vespers, is scheduled for May 10-14. The ballet is based on Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 work of the same name, and marks the return to the RWB of choreographer James Kudelka, who is the artist-in-residence at the National Ballet of Canada and that company’s former artistic director.
"It’s a major coup for us. James is a much sought-after choreographer," Lewis said.
Dracula, Vespers and the RWB’s traditional holiday production of Nutcracker provide for three ballets linked to popular dates on the calendar. That’s no coincidence, but it’s more than just a sure-fire way to fill the seats, Lewis said.
"It’s really to find a connection with the community," Lewis said. "Dracula at Halloween is a good connection, and Nutcracker at Christmas is a good connection and Vespers at Easter is also a good connection."
He then hinted that the unnamed ballet for March will have a similar connection.
Nutcracker takes the stage Dec. 22-31. A mixed program that includes Agnes de Mille’s Rodeoand Angels in the Architecture, which is set to the music of Aaron Copland, is scheduled for Jan. 27 and 28, 2017. A Q Dance production of contemporary dance is scheduled for March 30-April 1, 2017 and Spotlight, a production by the RWB School’s Professional Division, takes place May 25-27, 2017 at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
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