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RWB School Professional Division Students

perform for over 500 students in one school

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RWB School Professional Division Students at Garden City Collegiate. Photos by Michelle Blais

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School Professional Division students travelled and performed throughout Winnipeg to ten participating schools from November 20-24, 2023, for Concert Hour Ballet (CHB), an annual tradition that has been a cornerstone of the Professional Division program for nearly 50 years.

One of the schools the RWB visited was Garden City Collegiate, which houses the Seven Oaks Performing Arts Centre. On Wednesday, November 22, a grand total of 34 RWB dancers, technical crew, staff and a bus driver dropped by this school to perform Études (choreography by Harald Lander), Hands Swollen with Grace (choreography by Gabriela Rehak, RWB School Resident Choreographer), The Sleeping Beauty excerpts (choreography by Galina Yordanova after Marius Petipa) and Wind Beneath My Wing (choreography by Gabriela Rehak).

The audience was made up of more than 500 students, over half of which were dance students, bussed in from surrounding schools with dance programs. The students enjoyed the performance and were extremely supportive and engaged. Reaction ranged from: “Their muscles were huge!” “It was fantastic! I loved every part!” to “I cried!” and “Every dance told a story, and it really lifted my heart.”

Through CHB, school students learn that dance is a form of communication and creativity. They also learn how to analyze dance and are exposed to the athleticism and professionalism of young artists.

According to Stéphane Léonard, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Director: “This dynamic program has the dual goal of presenting dance to new audiences – particularly those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see a live performance by the RWB Company – and allowing professional dance students to experience the demands of performing and touring first-hand.”

School dance teacher Tara Smith was eager to greet the RWB troupe: “The Concert Hour Ballet performance was a fabulous experience for dance students from across the division. The students were actively engaged throughout the performance and were quick to enthusiastically express their enjoyment. Many of our students would not have access to the world of ballet without this program. It was a powerful experience for them to watch students, not unlike themselves, perform such beautiful dance works. I am so grateful for this opportunity.”