October Company Spotlight

Oct 18 2016 | Posted in Company Spotlight

Under Dracula’s Spell


Principal dancers Sophia Lee and Liang Xing; Photo by Réjean Brandt Photography

Halloween decorations are out, candy is being purchased, and pumpkins are going under the carving knife.

Our 2016-17 season begins with a bang- and a bite- as we take Dracula to stage! Set to a glorious score by Gustav Mahler with opulent sets and costumes, this dark fantasy is faithful to Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, brimming with passion and fearful suspense. The creative team that brought this classic story to life includes renowned choreographer Mark Godden and accomplished costume and set designer: Paul Daigle.

Costumes won’t just be reserved for the stage this time, as we are offering an interactive costume contest for Dracula attendees. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet invites vampires and ghouls of all ages to attend this production in their spookiest attire for a chance to win a walk-on role in RWB’s holiday favourite: Nutcracker. By visiting RWB’s subscription table at the Centennial Concert Hall’s front lobby, patrons in costume will receive a ballot for a chance to win this exciting grand prize. This prize includes: 1 walk-on role experience for the winning patron and two tickets to the show, one for themselves and one for a guest.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet would like to gratefully acknowledge Dracula’s Production Supporter the Richardson Foundation, and Performance Sponsors: Investors Group, Qualico, and Arnold Bros. Transport Inc. The RWB would also like to thank Dracula’s Student Matinee Supporters, Richardson Foundation and In Memory of Peter D. Curry.

What are the critics saying about RWB’s Dracula?

“Spine-chilling monster hit” Winnipeg Free Press, 2010

“… the bloodthirsty ballet has maintained its death grip on audiences’ imaginations since its world premiere by the company in 1998.” Uptown Magazine, 2010

“Brilliant, bold and bloody, this is one RWB “dark fantasy” you simply do not want to miss.” Winnipeg Sun, 2010

Experience Dracula for yourself by purchasing tickets online, in person at 380 Graham Avenue, or by phoning 204-956-2792.

Find more information on the ballet and it’s performances here.

Mystery at the Nutcracker


Countless audiences have fallen in love with the characters of Nutcracker. Audiences watch with wide eyes when characters bustle about in The Stahlbaum Home, as docile object come to life, and as Clara transcends time.

Adding to the wonder and whimsy of Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Nutcracker is the addition of someone new! Who will it be? Stay tuned for the character release in an upcoming Company Spotlight- you just may find your new favourite character!

Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s International Audition Tour Takes Flight


Day 1 of the International Audition Tour in Saskatoon, SK; Photo by Lindsay McKnight

Our 2016-2017 International Audition Tour began on October 12th with our first stop being Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. For the month of October we will be touring through Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Kelowna in search of ballerinas for one of our three Professional Division Programs: Ballet Academic, Aspirant Program, and Teacher Training Program. Remember, video auditions are accepted for those who cannot attend in-person. To find out more about our International Audition Tour, please click here.

Rewind to Manitoba Dance Day


Manitoba Dance Day Choreographers and Participants; Photo by Natasha Havrilenko

Sundays at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet are typically busy for our Recreation Division; however, we saw an especially packed building on Sunday, October 2nd. Aside from conducing auditions for Nutcracker, we opened our doors to Dance Downtown’s Manitoba Dance Day. In conjunction with Dance Manitoba and Rainbow Stage, we partook in this free, fun-filled afternoon as part of Culture Days 2016.

Judging by the turnout and smiling faces, we can say that the event was a success—even Filbert learned a new step or two! Thank you to our choreographers: Romeo Suban, Alissa Lee, Eugene Baffoe, and to all who made Manitoba Dance Day happen!

Please click here to watch our event coverage on Global News.

Sound of the Symphony: Q + A with RWB’s Music Director and Conductor, Tadeusz Biernacki


Tadeusz Biernacki conducting; Photo courtesy of

We took a moment to sit down with Tadeusz Biernacki, Music Director and Conductor for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, to discuss the important, unseen component of Dracula: the music.

RWB: How soon does the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) receive music before a RWB show? What is it like working with WSO before the show?
TD: The WSO gets music within a month ahead of time. From there, we just have two rehearsals then we have to be ready for the dress rehearsal. So, there are two short rehearsals to get through the music and then next is the dress rehearsals and then the performances. It’s the same with our Minneapolis show coming up —the orchestra has about six weeks to look at it. We included cd’s so they can listen to the music and then access the music through Dropbox for downloading.
The WSO is one of the best in Canada. They are extremely flexible—they are able to play the classical, ballet, opera, pop—anything, at the highest level. They are really, really good.
For our Dracula show in Minneapolis, we are getting a local orchestra consisting mainly of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and some other freelancers.

RWB: How does orchestra compliment this ballet?
TD: The sound that you’re getting from a live orchestra isn’t just from one speaker, one place- it’s from all over. You hear it from 65 different sources and it all blends in this spectacular way. It creates a soundscape which sounds totally different than a recording; you get the energy from all the musicians, and you can sense that energy.
Our musicians, our principal players in the symphony, take great pride in delivering this music in the best possible way- and they will shape it in the best possible way. With recordings, sometimes you get a very generic way of playing. With the elasticity of the WSO, you can play with that a lot, you get different dynamic levels of sections. You have flexible tempo changes which are very important for the dancers and for the choreography—you have a synchronization with the choreography which you cannot obtain with mechanical music.
The overall soundscape in the environment of the Concert Hall is something which you cannot duplicate with any kind of recording.

RWB: What are the challenges of pairing live music with live dance?
TD: The challenges are making sure the live music works for the dancers, making sure the tempos are correct and that they can do the choreography without any problem. There’s a saying: “there are only two tempos in the ballet: one is too slow, one is too fast.” We are always trying to make sure we use the one that works, the one that makes it possible for the dancers to do their job.
Dancers do certain things at different tempos, slower or faster, or they need more space between certain sections. Since we have different casts in our ballet, we have to know the choreography well- we keep an eye on the dancers and see where they are. Are they in sync with the music? We need to slow down to help them catch up if they are late; if they are ahead of us then we can try to go faster to catch up. It’s like having a conversation with them, or a little duet. The sound of the symphony has to match with what the dancers do. It’s not just two different, unconnected things- it takes two to tango. It is like we are part of the dancing as well.

RWB: Is there anything you want to add?
TD: This is not just one symphony, there are sections from three different huge compositions by Mahler: Symphony #1, #2, and #9. There’s a very famous piece of music that’s the third movement of the first symphony, which is Mahler’s version of Frère Jacques. It’s a famous piece in music literature; he was able to compose something for the whole symphony using a very simple cannon. Except it is not in a major key like the typical one, he put it in a minor key.
Mahler jumps from one style to another. He was a genius in that way where he could think of it and then put it on paper and make it happen. It [Frère Jacques] is often used in music education, you talk to the kids about how a simple musical idea can be incorporated into the orchestra world and then how you can play with this.

Mark Your Calendars, RWB’s AGM is Approaching

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet invites you to our Annual General Meeting!


The Royal Winnipeg Ballet: 380 Graham Avenue
Founders’ Studio (Studio 116)


Wednesday, November 2nd
11 AM – 12 PM

A special performance by Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company Dancers and Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Professional Division Students will precede the business meeting