Reflecting the Community: The Royal Winnipeg Ballet Turns 75

RWB's Chenxin Liu and Liam Caines in rehearsal. Vince Pahkala, Courtesy RWB.

In October, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet kicks off its 75th-anniversary season with a thought-provoking world premiere. Going Home Star: A Story of Truth and Reconciliation is inspired by The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, an organization that examines the cultural trauma of the nation's Indian Residential Schools—a compulsory education program that targeted and isolated indigenous children so that they might better assimilate into nonnative culture.

RWB's artistic director André Lewis approached former resident choreographer Mark Godden about making the new ballet. Godden immediately built a diverse team of artistic collaborators, tapping indigenous author Joseph Boyden to write an original story and members of the Northern Cree Singers to perform alongside the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The ballet follows a young woman named Annie grappling with her identity and the history of injustice experienced by Canada's aboriginal people. "I needed support from Winnipeg's indigenous population to go forward with the project," says Lewis. "We need to represent who we are in Manitoba."

Though the ballet veers from the rest of RWB's anniversary season (a mostly classical lineup that includes Swan Lake and Cinderella), Lewis is optimistic that ballet-goers will be receptive. "The purpose of the company is not to make social change. It's to enrich the human experience through outstanding dance," he says. "But anything worth doing will have confrontational aspects."

Ballet Stars
Karolina Kuras, Courtesy NBoC

It's hard to imagine the National Ballet of Canada without ballerina Greta Hodgkinson. Yet this week NBoC announced that the longtime company star will take her final bow in March, as Marguerite in Sir Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand.

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Sponsored by BLOCH
Courtesy BLOCH

Today's ballet dancer needs a lot from a pointe shoe. "What I did 20 years ago is not what these dancers are doing now," says New York City Ballet shoe manager Linnette Roe. "They are expected to go harder, longer days. They are expected to go from sneakers, to pointe shoes, to character shoes, to barefoot and back to pointe shoes all in a day."

The team at BLOCH developed their line of Stretch Pointe shoes to address dancer's most common complaints about the fit and performance of their pointe shoes. "It's a scientific take on the pointe shoe," says Roe. Dancers are taking notice and Stretch Pointe shoes are now worn by stars like American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston, who stars in BLOCH's latest campaign for the shoes.

We dug into the details of Stretch Pointe's most game-changing features:

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Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)

Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:

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Viral Videos

What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.

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