En Pointe

November 2021

Behind the Scenes

En Pointe went behind the scenes for a quick chat with the RWB's new Principal artists: Chenxin Liu, Yue Shi and Alanna McAdie.

Chenxin Liu - Principal artist

Born in Chenzhou, China, Chenxin Liu trained at the Beijing Dance Academy before joining the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Aspirant Program. She joined the RWB Company as an Apprentice in 2012 and was promoted to the Corps de Ballet in 2013, Second Soloist in 2017 and Soloist in 2018.

What is the most important trait you have to be successful as an artist?
“I think it’s confidence, and I do as best as I can.”

Describe the best performance you’ve ever put on. What did you learn from it?
“I had a really good performance called La Bayadère, which I remember was my last show. There were some movements that surprised me; that show was much better than the regular rehearsal. I learned everything is possible, just trust my body.”

What is the best thing about your work?
“Dance makes me happy, I love my job.”

Yue Shi – Principal artist

Born in Hebei, China, Yue Shi began studying ballet at the Liaoning Ballet School at the age of 10. Throughout his training, he has participated in many international ballet competitions and garnered several awards. Shi was invited to join the RWB School Aspirant Program when he competed at the Jackson International Ballet Competition.

Where were you when offered the opportunity to become a Principal artist? Whom did you share the news with first? How did you celebrate?
“I was in the studio (410) and our manager told me that I had a meeting with André Lewis and Tara Birtwhistle ... in that meeting André and Tara told me I was being promoted to Principal. I was super happy and shared this news with my family. I celebrated at home with Chenxin, we made a nice dinner together.”

How do you stay strong and fit (mentally and physically) to perform at your peak?
“Try to practice more and take all the suggestions from the artists.”

What are three things about Winnipeg that you love?
“Dance, Snow, Hangout with friends.”

Alanna McAdie - Principal artist

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Alanna McAdie trained at the Edmonton School of Ballet before beginning her professional training with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division. After graduating in 2009, she joined RWB’s Aspirant Program before becoming a Company Apprentice in 2011. McAdie was promoted to Second Soloist in 2015 and First Soloist in 2017.

How do you stay strong and fit (mentally/physically) to perform at your peak?
“Consistency is really important - going through the material and building stamina at a good steady pace. Knowing how physically demanding something will be on stage gives me the guidelines for how much time it takes to get there. Mentally I find it’s important to just approach everything with a really open mind.”

Have you ever forgotten dance steps during a performance?
“One time on tour for Wizard of Oz, we had a double show day and I had performed Dorothy earlier that day…I could tell I was mentally tired but of course you have to tell yourself it’s going to be OK. It was an extremely fast technical trio called Curly Cues and we come flying out of the wing and I blanked. I think I just kept my feet and arms going and at some point, got back on track. I suspect what felt like ages in my head was only a few seconds. It was a scary moment and probably a dancer’s greatest fear.”

First thing that comes to your mind when you think about the RWB?

Nutcracker Magic

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Nutcracker is filled with world-class artists, sets, choreography, costumes, as well as the iconic Tchaikovsky score…and this year, with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra led by Principal Conductor Julian Pellicano. Nutcracker is just the kind of holiday entertainment we all need after living with the pandemic for 19 months!

The RWB's current production, choreographed by Galina Yordanova and Nina Menon in 1999, is set in Canada, on Christmas Eve, 1913, as 12-year-old Clara dreams of being a ballerina. When her nutcracker prince leads her to the magical forest, she becomes the tall and graceful dancer of her dreams. December 2021 marks 22 years since the RWB has performed the Yordanova/Menon version of Nutcracker (performed every year on stage other than in 2006 and 2008 when the show took a hiatus for Peter Pan and in 2020 when the RWB presented The Nutcracker Suite during the pandemic – a digital version of the ballet).

Between watching toys come to life, the Sugar Plum Fairy spreading her magic, and the villainous Mouse King trying to steal Clara's nutcracker, lovingly portrayed by 40 professional artists, and 30 students, this show will satisfy your vivid imagination while leave you wanting more. It is pure escapism at its best. And the Canadian elements cannot be missed – from a hockey game and Mounties on horseback, to the Hudson’s Bay blanket. Coupled with Filbert, the dessert-stealing bear and a host of other characters, this two hour extravaganza, with one intermission, will fly by.

The biggest draw comes in seeing the RWB’s Company of artists. Their precision and elegance is something to behold – simply magical. Highlights include the Grand Pas, performed exquisitely on opening night by Elizabeth Lamont & Yue Shi and the Chinese dance performed beautifully by Alanna McAdie. The Arabian dance from Katie Bonnell and Stephan Azulay is nothing less than mesmerizing, and Liam Caines brings a wonderfully skilled and joyful performance to the role of Drosselmeier. Note: Casting is subject to change.

The RWB would like to thank our Premier Sponsor of Nutcracker - Canada Life and Arts Partner - Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

What do you love most about performing Nutcracker?

Chenxin Liu

“I love performing in Nutcracker as I get to do the role of Clara every year; it’s a fun and challenging role to work on. Nutcracker is a holiday show; when we get to do Nutcracker, this means Christmas is coming.”

Alanna McAdie

“I love the familiarity of coming back to it every year. As much as it’s a tradition for the audience, it’s a tradition for us to come back to these steps. Because we do more performances of the Nutcracker, there are lots of chances to improve on a role and really develop as an artist.”

Yue Shi

“I love the story of the Nutcracker, and I enjoyed dancing to the prince of the Nutcracker. It's a challenging role, and I like challenges.”

Fun Facts:

  • Brian Perchaluk, the scenic designer, was a Gemini Award winner before designing the Nutcracker, his first RWB production.
  • The RWB’s Wardrobe Department make each costume in-house, sewing precious details by hand.
  • Nutcracker has about 35 tutus in the show alone, and it can take up to 50 hours to create just one snowflake tutu.
  • To transform the Nutcracker stage into a winter wonderland is no small feat. To make Nutcracker happen, 34 stagehands are needed for setup while 26 stagehands are staffed for the duration of the production.
  • There are 18 fly cues that move 32 pieces of scenery, with the final minutes of Nutcracker requiring three major scene changes.

WOW! New Home

In 1996 the headline was “Capital Campaign Brings Dream of a Student Residence to Life” and 25 years later the headline is “Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet Expands Illustrious Campus with Historic Construction Project.” The RWB has come a long way.

In less than 30 days, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) will open the doors to 225 Edmonton Street, a new home-away-from-home for the young artists training in the RWB School Professional Division and an expansion of the illustrious RWB studios for all dancers. This safe, supportive, and functional environment will house both dance education and boarding services, combining modern program delivery and long-term operational sustainability.

This five-level contemporary facility is built on top of the existing RWB parkade and connects to the RWB studios through an enclose and secure passageway. It includes dance and fitness studios, classrooms, recreation and relaxation spaces, an outdoor greenspace, and expanded food service program, and more – all in the spirit of balancing professional training with livability and student comfort.

The design and construction process was overseen by RWB School Director Stéphane Léonard: “Providing aspiring dancers with a brand-new place to learn and grow that was specifically designed for them is incredible! As the world changes, we must change with it. Today’s best practices with respect to child safety and child development were the driving forces in the design exercise, which I know will be a comfort to student families making the sometimes-difficult decision to send their children away from home to pursue their dreams. This is going to be a beautiful place where young people from around the world will develop their artistry and their characters and cultivate friendships that will last a lifetime.”

This $15 million project and signature building is the result of a joint effort between the RWB and True North Real Estate Development, designed by Architecture49 and built by PCL Construction. The RWB is grateful to the countless individuals who contributed to the original student residence and elevated the training for young artists around the world and is also grateful to the organizations and the many supporters for helping make this new vision a reality.

Auditions are underway across the country so the RWB is appealing to all potential dancers to seize the opportunity to live and train in a state-of-the-art complex, guided by a highly professional faculty. Students can virtually audition from anywhere in the country and those who are unable to attend may send in a video application, which will be accepted until May 1, 2022. Following the audition process, students recognized as having potential for professional training are invited to attend Summer Session. Throughout the month of July 2022 in Winnipeg, Summer Session allows students to experience life at the RWB firsthand. Students who are a fit for one of the RWB School’s professional programs will be accepted into Regular Session, which runs from September 2022 to June 2023. Check out rwb.org/auditions for more details.

Alanna McAdie, a 2009 Ballet Academic Program graduate, Aspirant Program alumna, and Principal Company artist sums it up well: "The beauty of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is in our integration. We have many studios, and they are always being shared between School and Company. The ability to witness Company dancers working every day helped me see my goals as a student, and the teachers at the RWB School helped me achieve those dreams. Every teacher pours their hearts into their work and every student matters. I am very grateful for the training I received at the RWB School."

The audition tour has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada and the Manitoba Arts Council. The RWB also recognizes IG Wealth Management as the presenting sponsor of auditions and for providing scholarships for one student from every province to attend Summer Session each year.

Heart of Dance

Sydney Mangilit is synonymous with the heart of dance. It’s in her blood as well as in her feet! She began dancing in 2003 at Royal Dance at the Forks. Around the age of 8, Sydney and friends decided to move to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for ballet classes in the Recreational Division. She began level 2 ballet with Nicole Kepp and Beginner 8-11 Tap with Aimee Brasko.

The following year Sydney did level 3 Ballet with Nicole Kepp, level 4 Tap and Junior Tap Ensemble with Aimee Brasko. The ensemble program is by invitation only. Sydney may have been intimidated at first as she was the “new kid on the block”, however she fit right in and ended up dancing with this group for years. They competed at Extreme Dance (Sydney’s first dance competition and convention ever), Manitoba Dance Festival and the RWB’s Ballet in the Park.

Sydney moved on to Level 4 Ballet with Suzanne André and Level 5 Tap and Junior Tap Dance Ensemble with Aimee Brasko. Next up was Ballet Level 5A with Rachelle Vermette and Tap Level 6 with Aimee Brasko. Meanwhile in school, she played clarinet in band class, ran track, joined the photography club and the school leadership program.

Now in Grade 8, Sydney joined Ballet Level 5B with Nicole Kepp. She also did Pointe Level 5B with Rachelle Vermette, Teen Jazz with Kira Kjear, Tap Level 7A/B and Intermediate Tap Dance Ensemble with Aimee Brasko. She returned to Ensemble too. The piece for the year was called, “Shout!” and the group performed it at the RWB’s Ballet in the Park.

Sydney moved on to Level 6A with Marijka Stanowych, Level 5B Pointe with Jacqui Ladwig as well as Level 8 Tap and Senior Tap Dance Ensemble with Darilyn Burdeniuk. The piece that year was called, “Pause”, and is one of Sydney’s favourites to perform to this day. Meanwhile, she enrolled in Sisler High School’s accelerated program, earned the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) award and finished on the Honour Roll.

In grade 10, Sydney took Level 6B Ballet with Katrin Benedictson and Marijka Stanowych, Pointe Level 6/7 with Jacqui Ladwig as well as Tap Level 8B and Senior Tap Dance Ensemble with Darilyn Burdeniuk. Sydney continued to excel in school and danced on Sisler’s Most Wanted team.

At the RWB, Sydney completed Level 6B/7A Ballet with Katrin Benedictson and Marijka Stanowych as well as Level 8B Tap and Senior Tap Dance Ensemble with Darilyn Burdeniuk. By this time, Sydney had developed many friendships at the RWB and the group would often come straight to the Ballet after school, sit at the same tables, as well as eat early dinners and do homework together before class.

In Grade 12, Sydney completed Ballet Level 7B/8 with Katrin Benedictson and in school was the Grad committee co-chair, picked up weightlifting and again finished on the honour roll, receiving University entrance scholarships.

Sydney is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Chemical Engineering at Ryerson University. She hopes to work in cosmetics upon graduating. She is also working at the RWB as an assistant in School administration. She took an Adult Summer Dance Class this past summer and is taking hip hop now (and says “it’s awesome”)! Early on, Sydney has learned the art of balance and managing competing priorities.

Sydney Mangilit is an exceptional young woman with a bright future. Dance is part of who she has become. She doesn’t need wings to fly, as Sydney has a heart that flies for dance and for life. She is passionate about dance and her overall passion is also reflected in her academic, professional and personal growth and success. The RWB’s Recreational Division has so much to offer to young people and people of all ages – and it’s fun at the same time. Just ask Sydney!

"Going Home Star" Journey

This En Pointe story is designed as a 3-part series revolving around the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s “Going Home Star” journey. Part 1 focuses on the beginnings - the commissioning of Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, the signing of the City of Winnipeg’s Accord and the RWB’s ongoing commitment.

Part 2 will speak to the RWB’s invaluable relationships and activities with helpers, knowledge workers and elders Barbara Bruce and Charlotte Nolin, as well as the RWB’s Indigenous Advisory Circle members, Kevin Lamoureux, Tara Letwiniuk, Albert McLeod and Danielle Morrison.

And Part 3 will come full circle and weave in the voices and sentiments of Jaimi Deleau, Company artist, Kate Fennell, Managing Director of the RWB School, David Warburton, Company Managing Director, Tara Birtwhistle, Associate Artistic Director, and André Lewis, Artistic Director & CEO, all of whom have been pivotal leaders in the RWB organization journey.

Part 1

Going Home Star was first envisioned by the late Cree elder and activist Mary Richard and André Lewis. Multi-talented Tina Keeper and some of Canada’s top artistic talents, including acclaimed choreographer Mark Godden, esteemed Métis scenic designer KC Adams and Juno Award-winning composer Christos Hatzis joined the top-notch team. The late Ted Fontaine, former chief of the Sagkeeng Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba was also a key player; Fontaine maintained the ballet helped his own healing and that it was a positive experience to see this performance. The ballet also featured the music of Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers.

Commissioned by André Lewis, Going Home Star is a representation of the emotions and experiences both told and untold by residential school survivors and their families. “Through Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation, we had the opportunity to share residential school stories and the spirit of reconciliation with a wider audience; however, to this day, we recognize there is much to be done to strengthen our relationship with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people and we are eager to take those steps,” said RWB Artistic Director and CEO André Lewis.

Fast forwarding to June 2018, the RWB joined over one hundred organizations, as partners, in signing the City of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, an endeavour in accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action. It also sought to build partnerships with community elders and collaborate with Indigenous and Non-Indigenous artists to set commitments and take meaningful actions.

When Mary Richard passed away several years ago, the RWB lost a dear friend and mentor; the same was true when Ted Fontaine passed away in May 2021. Both were important inspirations on the RWB journey. Fontaine was also instrumental in educating Company artists and staff about his personal experience as a residential school survivor; he joined the RWB for rehearsals of the production; he was influential in facilitating how artists told the story. His influence helped to transform the RWB organization – from cultural awareness training, sweat lodges and smudging, to pipe ceremonies, traditional feasting and the formation of the RWB Indigenous Advisory Circle.

The challenge for the RWB was how to translate Going Home Star and its commitment to truth and reconciliation into a new way of doing things throughout the organization. Stay tuned for Part 2 In January 2022.

Alice in Wonderland

Support the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Over the past year and a half, there have been many times our return may have felt impossible, and we thank our supporters today for making it a reality.

Because of our donors and their extraordinary generosity and support, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet is back on stage for live performances at the Centennial Concert Hall. We hope you will consider making a gift again, as we celebrate the holiday season.

In the months to come, as we emerge from the pandemic, your donation will help ensure the RWB’s strength, recovery, and success.

RWB Online Holiday Store

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet is delighted to announce our holiday line of RWB merchandise and we’ve got a garment style for everyone! Together with our newly minted Official Merchandise Provider, Printed Shirts, we launched an online pop-up store this week.

The store is open until midnight CST, December 5, 2021. Follow the link below to find out more details about the merchandise, delivery options…and to make your purchase!

RWB Merch Photo Shoot - Brady Corps


December 18 - 28

Our homegrown Nutcracker returns to delight audiences of all ages this holiday season. Follow young Clara and her Prince as they are ambushed by the mischievous Mouse King, walk through a winter wonderland filled with shimmering snowflakes, and arrive in the court of the dazzling Sugar Plum Fairy.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

On now Until December 31st

The world premiere of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is unlike any school performance you’ve seen before. One of the largest productions ever choreographed at the RWB School, the students use the art of dance to tell their version of what really took place in Wonderland.

The Sleeping Beauty

Feburary 23 - 27

Reawaken your sense of wonder with this bewitching take on the popular fairy tale. When the maleficent Carabosse lays a curse on the newborn Princess Aurora that casts her into a century-long slumber, only the power of love can compel her back home.

On the Edge Tour

April 18 - May 2

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet Aspirants will take the On the Edge Tour across Manitoba, where the next generation of dancers will showcase a sublime and powerful repertoire for audiences of all ages in performances hosted by schools and communities.