April 25, 2019

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RWB celebrates 80th year with big titles

Ballet takes centre stage at home and on road in Canada and U.S.

<p>Dmitri Dovgoselets and Elizabeth Lamont perform the Clair de Lune pas de deux on Wednesday evening as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet unveiled its milestone 80th season.</p></p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dmitri Dovgoselets and Elizabeth Lamont perform the Clair de Lune pas de deux on Wednesday evening as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet unveiled its milestone 80th season.

The world-renowned Royal Winnipeg Ballet has adopted a new slogan for the 2019-20 season, which also happens to be the company’s 80th birthday year — “Our home is the Prairies, the world is our stage.”

And the repertoire for the upcoming season, announced Wednesday night, falls right in line with that idea, highlighting works that represent the company’s history in Winnipeg, but also it’s reach internationally.

“This is our 80th season, who would have thought?” said André Lewis, the artistic director and CEO of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

“What two ladies started almost 80 years ago is still here and ticking, ticking super strongly.”

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The world-renowned Royal Winnipeg Ballet has adopted a new slogan for the 2019-20 season, which also happens to be the company’s 80th birthday year — "Our home is the Prairies, the world is our stage."

And the repertoire for the upcoming season, announced Wednesday night, falls right in line with that idea, highlighting works that represent the company’s history in Winnipeg, but also it’s reach internationally.

"This is our 80th season, who would have thought?" said André Lewis, the artistic director and CEO of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

"What two ladies started almost 80 years ago is still here and ticking, ticking super strongly."

In keeping with that feeling of tradition, the 2019-20 season officially kicks off with Ballet in the Park — an event RWB has put on for more than four decades — on July 24-26 at the Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park.

The company’s mainstage productions open with the Canadian première of Greg Horsman’s La Bayadère, a co-production between Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet and the RWB, which runs Oct. 2-6 at Centennial Concert Hall. Set in 1855 India and filled with love, murder and vengeful judgment by the gods, La Bayadère often considered one of the greatest works in classical ballet history — has never before been performed in full by the RWB.

Following that, a familiar face will grace the stage in Four Old Legs. The legendary Evelyn Hart stars in the new piece, which is to be performed at the intimate RWB Founders’ Studio from Nov. 21-23.

"We’re thrilled that we’ve rebuilt the connection between Evelyn and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. And we’re very much in her heart and she is very much in ours," Lewis said.

There are a few more familiar titles peppering the 2019-20 season, including the RWB’s Prairie-inspired version of the holiday classic Nutcracker, which runs Dec.19-28 at Centennial Concert Hall, and Moulin Rouge® — The Ballet, which returns to the concert hall Feb. 26-Mar. 1, 2020.

The RWB’s final piece of the season will be a mixed-repertoire production titled 80 YearsA Retrospective, which highlights the work of three of the company’s most influential artistic directors: Arnold Spohr, Henny Jurriëns and John Meehan.

Spohr was first a dancer with the RWB before becoming artistic director from 1958-1988, during which time the company rose to international fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Canada’s highest honour in the performing arts, for his lifetime contribution to dance, and died in 2010 at age 86.

Spohr was succeeded by principal dancer Jurriëns, who held the role of artistic director for just one year before he was killed in a car accident in April 1989. Meehan, an Australian dancer, choreographer and professor, then stepped in to be artistic director from 1990-93. Lewis has been at the helm for the past 25 years.

The troupe’s School Professional Division will host two year-end performances. It presents La Fille mal gardée as its Spotlight performance from May 21- 23, 2020, at the RMTC’s John Hirsch Mainstage, and On The Edge June 10-12, 2020, at the Founders’ Studio.

The RWB is also hitting the road hard next season, touring nationally with Nutcracker and in both Canada and the U.S. with The Wizard of Oz and Going Home StarTruth and Reconciliation.

Along with the dance program, the RWB will also be honouring the 80th season by launching a costume exhibit that will displayed throughout the city, as well as hosting an alumni weekend for former dancers, students and staff at which the RWB Honour Roll will be introduced.

The honour roll celebrates those who have made extraordinary contributions to the organization.

Tickets for the upcoming season are available at the RWB office at 380 Graham Ave. or by phoning 204-956-2792 or 1-800-5667-4792. More information is available at rwb.org.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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