Royal Winnipeg Ballet
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, based in Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

, Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, is Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

's oldest ballet company
Ballet company
A ballet company is a group of dancers who perform ballet, plus managerial and support staff. Most major ballet companies employ dancers on a year-round basis, except in the United States, where contracts for part of the year are the norm...

 and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...


It was founded in 1939 as the "Winnipeg Ballet Club" by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally. The name was changed to the "Winnipeg Ballet" in 1941 and the company began touring Canada in 1945. In 1948, with the initiative of the Winnipeg Ballet, the Canadian Ballet Festival
Canadian Ballet Festival
The Canadian Ballet Festival was an annual event staged in Canada from 1948 to 1954 that brought together various Canadian dance companies to generate public interest in classical dance. Prior to the festivals, it was difficult for professional Canadian dancers to earn a living by practicing their...

 was formed.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet was granted its royal title in 1953, the first granted under the reign of Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 II. It completed its first American tour in 1954. In June that year the RWB's rented premises were devastated by fire; the company's entire stock of costumes, original music, choreographic scores and sets was destroyed. Conductor Eric Wild
Eric Wild (conductor)
Eric Lees Wild was a Canadian conductor, trumpeter, arranger, and composer.-Life and career:Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Wild studied conducting and arranging at the University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor of Music in 1932...

 served as the company's music director from 1955-1962.

Today, the company spends 20 or more weeks a year on the road, presenting more than 100 performances every year in centres large and small. The company also mounts four productions a year in Winnipeg's premier performing arts venue, the Centennial Concert Hall. The company solidified its reputation under the artistic directorship of Arnold Spohr
Arnold Spohr
Arnold Theodore Spohr, was a Canadian ballet dancer, choreographer, and artistic director.Spohr was born in Rhein, Saskatchewan...

 from 1958 to 1988. André Lewis is the current artistic director; he was appointed in 1996.

The dancer most associated with the RWB has been Evelyn Hart
Evelyn Hart
Evelyn Anne Hart, CC, OM, FRSC is a Canadian ballerina and former principal dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.Born in Toronto, Ontario, she studied dance at the Dorothy Carter School of Dance in London, Ontario and later on at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School...

, but also included many other notable dancers including Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Mikhail Nikolaevich Baryshnikov is a Soviet and American dancer, choreographer, and actor, often cited alongside Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolf Nureyev as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century. After a promising start in the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad, he defected to Canada in 1974...

. Born in Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, in 1956, Hart made her professional debut with the RWB in 1976. In 1980 she was awarded the bronze medal at the World Ballet Concours in Japan,and the gold medal at the prestigious International Competition in Varna
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, where she also received the Exceptional Artistic Achievement Award. She was awarded the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 in 1983. She left the RWB in 2005.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Professional Division is an exclusive, full-time classical ballet training program for students in grades 6 through 12. The school includes approximately 70 young dancers, selected from around the world, and graduates have international careers in top companies in Canada and abroad. The current building opened in January, 1988.

In 2002, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's interpretation of the story of Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

, choreographed by Mark Godden, was filmed in a made for television titled Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary
Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary is a 2002 horror film directed by Guy Maddin. It is a silent interpretation of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's take of Bram Stoker's Dracula...

directed by Guy Maddin
Guy Maddin
Guy Maddin, OM is a Canadian screenwriter, director, cinematographer and film editor of both features and short films from Winnipeg, Manitoba...

. The film eventually was released theatrically.

principal dancers

  • Tara Birtwhistle
  • Vanessa Lawson

  • Gael Lambiotte
  • Reyneris Reye
  • Jaime Vargas


  • Emily Grizzell
  • Jennifer Welsman
    Jennifer Welsman
    Jennifer Welsman was born in Pentiction, British Columbia. At an early age, she got involved in dance at the Penticton School of Dance, later becoming a member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1993....

  • Amanda Green
  • Jo-Ann Sundermeier

  • Dmitri Dovgoselets
  • Alexander Gamayunov
  • Yōsuke Mino

second soloists

  • Carrie Broda

  • Amar Dhaliwal

See also

  • Monarchy in Manitoba
    Monarchy in Manitoba
    By the arrangements of the Canadian federation, Canada's monarchy operates in Manitoba as the core of the province's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. As such, the Crown within Manitoba's jurisdiction is referred to as the Crown in Right of Manitoba, Her Majesty in Right of Manitoba, or...


External links

  • Royal Winnipeg Ballet at The Canadian Encyclopedia
    The Canadian Encyclopedia
    The Canadian Encyclopedia is a source of information on Canada. It is available online, at no cost. The Canadian Encyclopedia is available in both English and French and includes some 14,000 articles in each language on a wide variety of subjects including history, popular culture, events, people,...

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