Royal Winnipeg Ballet creates new work about residential school stories

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WINNIPEG - The Royal Winnipeg Ballet will present a new work this season inspired by the stories heard by Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Artistic director Andre Lewis and executive director Jeff Herd announced the lineup for the company's 75th anniversary season Thursday.

It will open Oct. 1 with "A Story of Truth and Reconciliation," created by choreographer Mark Godden, novelist Joseph Boyden, multimedia artist K.C. Adams, costume designer Paul Daigle and Juno Award-winning composer Christos Hatzis.

The dancers will be accompanied by Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and the Northern Cree Singers while actress and politician Tina Keeper and her sister, Joy Keeper, will act as consultants for the production.

The commission looking into abuse at Canada's residential schools for aboriginals recently wrapped up four years' worth of public hearings at more than 300 communities.

The commission has heard from thousands of victims who recounted stories of cruelty and abuse while in forced attendance at the church-run schools.

The rest of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's season will include performances of "Nutcracker," "Swan Lake," "The Faerie Queen, A Ballet Based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream," "La Bayadere: Kingdom of the Shades and Ballet Vignettes," and "Q Dance," a mixed repertoire program.

Herd said the 2014/15 season will be a special one for the 75-year-old ballet.

"This is a milestone in our history that we are very proud to have achieved," he said in a release.

"We endeavour to continue with the creative spirit that our city is so well known for. We are proud to call Winnipeg home and excited to present new creations and enduring classics for our home audiences and to represent Winnipeg around the world.”

He said the RWB will also play host to Canada’s Ballet Jörgen as they present an innovative take on the classic fairy tale, "Cinderella," on Feb. 7, 2015.

Organizations: Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Swan Lake Ballet Based on A Midsummer Nights Dream Shades and Ballet Vignettes Canadas Ballet Jörgen

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Canada, Cree

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