All NAC performances and events cancelled until Monday April 27, 2020

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet

The Wizard of Oz

Some stories are timeless, and for me The Wizard of Oz is a prime example. When RWB Artistic Director André Lewis spoke to us about their new project with choreography by Septime Webre (now Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet), we immediately jumped on board. While as spectators we’ll enjoy the classic story of Dorothy’s adventures in the magical Land of Oz being played out with sophisticated choreography, we’ll also be dazzled by the incredible costumes and design elements – complete with the flying Witch – that the company has invested into this beautiful production. It’s a story of hope, friendship, and rising above adversity: fitting themes for the ballet and for all generations.

Enjoy the world of NAC Dance!

You’re off to see the Wizard!

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is thrilled to present  Septime Webre’s The Wizard of Oz. This production is filled with all the familiarity of the classic movie – Dorothy and Toto’s landing in Oz, joining forces with three unlikely heroes, traveling to the Emerald City to see the Wizard, and their triumph over the Wicked Witch – yet realized with a bold, new spectacle of music, costumes, sets, projections, and special effects.

The Wizard of Oz has been in the works for the past two years and is a co-production between the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Kansas City Ballet, and the Colorado Ballet. This production required a collaborative team of 120, not including dancers, to bring Webre’s vision to life. The musical score, composed by Matthew Pierce, is 471 pages long and features three percussion players playing 35 different percussion instruments, one of those being a wind machine.

Set designer Michael B. Raiford created the set to give the feeling of looking down into a tornado. Trad A. Burns, lighting designer, created an environment where 300 light cues take place using over 1,000 channels of lights.

Puppet designer Nicholas Mahon created nearly 20 puppets, including a mechanical Toto. The RWB Wardrobe Department spent nearly 7,000 hours in total building costume designer Liz Vandal’s The Wizard of Oz costumes in-house. There are nearly 200 costumes, all that have been hand-sewn and hand-dyed at the RWB.

The Wizard of Oz design team created the perfect canvas for the RWB to immerse you, our audience, in the famed tale.

Along with the talented artists of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, 22 young dancers from Ottawa-Gatineau are featured in this production. These talented performers from across the region were rehearsed by Janice Messam and appear as baby ballerinas, grasshoppers and poppyseeds.

Special thanks to The School of Dance for their support on the audition and rehearsal process.

Thank you for joining us. This performance wouldn’t be possible without your enduring support.

The Making of  The Wizard of Oz

A note from Choreographer Septime Webre

My relationship with all things Oz, in four easy steps:

1. I grew up in the Bahamas until I was about 12, and every Sunday, driving to a small missionary church my family attended, we’d pass a tiny greying abandoned house plopped in the brush near a beach. We called it Dorothy’s house and it looked as though a Caribbean hurricane had dropped it there, like Dorothy’s house landing in Munchkinland. My siblings and I were obsessed with the Oz books and read every book in the series multiple times.

2. When I was 12 years old, we moved to South Texas, and my brothers and sister and I bought a whole suite of marionettes for 99 cents each in Mexico. We spent the whole summer re-costuming these string puppets to create a full cast of Oz, and we painted elaborate backdrops to fit the full-sized puppet house my parents had ordered for us from FAO Schwartz. We created what we thought was a rather extravagant puppet version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which we toured all over South Texas – from nursing homes, to orphanages, to church bazaars.

3. A few years later, in my late teens, I ran a youth summer program for the local Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with the Texas School for the Blind and a social service agency which provided support for kids with Down Syndrome. That summer, I directed a production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with the majority of the principal roles played by blind teens and the Munchkins played by youth with Down Syndrome. It was such a celebration of humanity.

4. And now, Oz, the ballet. Over the years, I had toyed with working on a ballet adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but had resisted –both the book and the film are such perfect works of art and I wasn’t quite sure I could illuminate anything about the story that hadn’t been said by the source material. But over time I realized the marvelous characters invented by Frank Baum beg to be danced, and that so much could still be discovered using our metaphorical language of ballet. I’ve been living with this magical tale for so long, working on this ballet has been like coming home. And there’s no place like it…

A note from the Composer

Music or choreography, what comes first? People ask this frequently when they witness a new ballet. Music, the simple answer, has always preceded choreography in the collaboration Septime and I have enjoyed through five full length ballets. Septime crafts a libretto that defines a sequence of storytelling moments and dances and I translate the psychology of the narrative and the muscular movement into music. Dancers need a rhythm to move to and a melody to inspire them. Anything can be an inspiration: a snip of song, a dance step, a simple count, a painting, a tone of voice, an episode from a television series, a character description. Free association and improvisation shape the creative process and this spontaneity is the reason for our success. Studio time with Septime follows, where I humbly witness the mysterious kinesthesia and “listen” to the dancer’s moving song.

The happiness of the music in this ballet is a direct reflection of the working relationship Septime and I have. The mélange of influences creating the joy span the decades, 1920’s Big Band, 1950’s Cool Jazz, 1970’s Glam Rock, late 1970’s Disco and 1980’s New Wave.

L. Frank Baum’s story of Dorothy and the 1939 film spurred the creation of this collaborative project that required an open mind, an open heart, a fantastical spirit and an unrestrained imagination.


Synopsis

Kansas

It is morning on Uncle Henry and Aunt Em’s farm in Kansas and the farmhands goof off between chores, ignoring Dorothy, who feels unappreciated and dreams of a place far away. Their unpleasant neighbor, Miss Gulch arrives to complain about Dorothy’s little dog, Toto, threatening to take him away. Toto escapes and Dorothy runs away with him. On the road, Dorothy meets a showman, Professor Marvel, who urges her to return to the farm as a twister approaches.

The Twister & Munchkinland

Dorothy is lifted into the sky by the twister and travels for what seems like an eternity. Suddenly, she plops to the ground with a thud. The twister has taken her to the Land of Oz, where she meets the Munchkins and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Dorothy’s bed has fallen upon the Witch of the East, killing her, and freeing the Munchkins from her power. As the Munchkins celebrate, the Wicked Witch of the West arrives to claim her sister’s magical ruby slippers, and avenge her sister’s death. But in a flash, the ruby slippers appear on Dorothy’s feet, thwarting the Witch… for the moment. Dorothy wants to go home to Kansas. The Munchkins tell Dorothy that, surely the Wizard of Oz will help her, and she sets off down the Yellow Brick Road towards the Emerald City to find him.

Along the Yellow Brick Road

Along the way, Dorothy and Toto meet three new friends who need help: a Scarecrow whose head is  full of straw; a Tin Man with an empty chest, and a Lion who is afraid of his own tail. Dorothy invites them to join her to see if the Wizard can help them too. When the Wicked Witch fails to intimidate Dorothy and her friends, she creates a beautiful field of poppies whose scent is poisonous. Glinda causes it to snow, and the poppies melt away, revealing the gates of the Emerald City. Dorothy and her friends boldly knock on the gates but the Guard with the Green Whiskers and his Assistant send them away.

The Emerald City

The Guard sees that Dorothy is wearing the ruby slippers and assumes she must be a person of great importance. He welcomes the friends into the Emerald City. As they are preparing to meet the Wizard, the Witch flies by with another warning to Dorothy: give her those slippers! Unsettled, the group is led into the Wizard’s throne room where they ask for his help. He tells them that to prove themselves worthy of his assistance they must bring him the broom stick of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Winged Monkeys and the Witch’s Castle   

Dorothy and her friends depart in haste, and as they make their way to the Witch’s Castle, they are set upon by the Witch’s Winged Monkeys who capture Dorothy and Toto. The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, sneak into the castle to try to free Dorothy and Toto, who have been imprisoned by the Witch and the Winkies, her slaves. Amid the chaos, the Witch makes a grab for the ruby slippers and Dorothy defends herself by throwing a bucket of water on the Witch, who melts into nothingness. The friends take her broomstick and return to the Emerald City.

The Humbug and Dorothy’s Return Home

In the Throne Room, the Wizard is reluctant to help Dorothy and her friends, when Toto discovers a befuddled man behind an emerald wall: it turns out that the Wizard is a humbug. He’s not a wizard at all, but an ordinary man from Kansas who found himself in Oz after he lost control of his hot-air balloon. The Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion impatiently remind him that he promised to help them, but the Wizard points out that they don’t need his help—they have already shown brains, heart and courage beyond measure. As for Dorothy, he tells her that he will take Toto and her to Kansas himself in his hot-air balloon. As they prepare to depart, Toto runs off, and Dorothy chases him, but it’s too late—the wind has already taken the Wizard, leaving Dorothy and Toto behind.

Glinda appears, telling Dorothy that her ruby slippers will take her home. Dorothy says farewell to her friends, and with the aid of the slippers, wills herself home.

Dorothy awakens to finds herself at home in Kansas, with Toto asleep at her feet.

The Wizard of Oz Fun Facts

  • The mélange of influences for composer Matthew Pierce’s score draws inspiration from the 1920’s, Big Band, 1950’s Cool Jazz, 1970’s Glam, Rock, late 1970’s Disco and 1980’s New Wave.
  • There are 112 hats and approx. 250 costumes, all of which were hand-sewn and hand-dyed at the RWB.
  • Approximately 3,000 to 3,500 metres of 120 types of fabric were used to create The Wizard of Oz costumes.
  • The RWB Wardrobe Department painted 115 pairs of shoes for this production.
  • Each dancer has approximately four to six pairs of coloured pointe shoes for this production.
  • There are at least 60 costume changes throughout The Wizard of Oz.
  • There will be eight flying effects executed by multiple characters including the Wicked Witch and Flying Monkeys.
  • Two state-of-the-art projectors are used for the  animations, which are an integral design element that help provide atmosphere and dimensionality.
  • The set is created to make the audience feel they are looking down into a tornado.
  • There are a total of 300 feet of LED lights lining the Southam Hall stage.
  • There are between 175 and 200 crystals on one ruby pointe shoe alone.
  • There are three types of stones used on the ruby pointe shoe (AB red, a basic red and short red); the three come together to add dimension.
  • It took over 11 hours to make one ruby pointe shoe (half an hour to dye, five hours to dry, six hours to apply the stones, and time for the stones to set).

About the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Founded in 1939, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) holds the double distinction of being Canada’s premier ballet company and one of the oldest ballet companies in North America. Versatility, technical excellence and a captivating style are the trademarks of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, qualities that have garnered both critical and audience acclaim. RWB’s superlative standards keep the Company in demand around the globe as it presents more than 150 performances every season across Canada and in the U.S., South America, Europe, the Middle East, Russia, Japan, Asia and Mexico. Under the artistic direction of André Lewis for 22 years, the Company is said to have never looked more resplendent, more assured, and more ravishing.

Cast and Characters

DOROTHY
Sophia Lee (23, 25 mat)/
Alanna McAdie (24, 25 eve)

MISS GULCH, WICKED WITCH
Jaimi Deleau (23, 25 mat)
Sarah Davey (24, 25 eve)

AUNT EM, GLINDA, EMERALD BALLERINA
Yayoi Ban (23, 25 mat)
Elizabeth Lamont (24, 25 eve)

UNCLE HENRY, EMERALD OFFICER
Tristan Dobrowney (23, 25 mat)
Peter Lancksweerdt (24, 25 eve)

FARMHAND, SCARECROWL   
Stephan Azulay (23, 25 mat)
Yue Shi (24, 25 eve)

FARMHAND, TIN MAN
Yosuke Mino (23, 25 mat)
Ryan Vetter (24, 25 eve)

FARMHAND, LION
Liam Caines (23, 25 mat)
Tristan Dobrowney (24, 25 eve)

PROF. MARVEL, GREEN WHISKERS, WIZARD
Dmitri Dovgoselets

WIZARD’S APPRENTICE
Logan Shaw

TOTO
Jenna Burns

KANSAS PUPPETEERS
Yue Shi (23, 25 mat)
Stephan Azulay (24, 25 eve)

Liam Saito
Jenna Burns
Joshua Hidson
Peter Lancksweerdt
Bryce Taylor

Ryan Vetter (23, 25 mat)
Yosuke Mino (24, 25 eve)

Michel Lavoie
Parker Long

Tristan Dobrowney (23, 25 mat)
Liam Caines (24, 25 eve)

MUNCHKIN LADIES
Amanda Solheim
Elena Dobrowna

Katie Bonnell (23, 25 mat)
Jaimi Deleau (24, 25 eve)

Katie Simpson

Sarah Joan Smith (23, 25 mat)
Chenxin Liu (24, 25 eve)

MUNCHKIN MEN
Tristan Dobrowney (23, 25 mat)
Liam Caines (24, 25 eve)

Parker Long
Bryce Taylor
Stephan Azulay (24, 25 eve)
Joshua Hidson
Michel Lavoie

CURLY CUES
Alanna McAdie (23, 25 mat)
Sarah Joan Smith (24, 25 eve)

Chenxin Liu (23, 25 mat)
Katie Bonnell (24, 25 eve)

Elizabeth Lamont (23, 25 mat)
Yayoi Ban (24, 25 eve)

RUFFIANS
Peter Lancksweerdt

Yue Shi (23, 25 mat)
Bryce Taylor (24, 25 eve)

Liam Saito

YELLOW BRICK ROADIES
Peter Lancksweerdt
Parker Long
Bryce Taylor
Michel Lavoie

Ryan Vetter (23, 25 mat)
Stephan Azulay (24, 25 eve)

Joshua Hidson

Tristan Dobrowney (23, 25 mat)
Yosuke Mino (24, 25 eve)

Liam Saito         

TREES
Amanda Solheim
Sarah Joan Smith
Katie Simpson

FEMALE POPPIES
Elizabeth Lamont (23, 25 mat)
Yayoi Ban (24, 25 eve)

Sarah Davey (23, 25 mat)
Jaimi Deleau (24, 25 eve)

Sarah Joan Smith
Chenxin Liu
Katie Bonnell
Elena Dobrowna
Amanda Solheim
Katie Simpson

MALE POPPIES
Tristan Dobrowney (23, 25 mat)
Yosuke Mino (24, 25 eve)

Parker Long
Peter Lancksweerdt
Bryce Taylor
Liam Saito

Ryan Vetter (23, 25 mat)
Liam Caines (24, 25 eve)

Michel Lavoie
Joshua Hidson

POSER LADIES
Katie Bonnell
Sarah Joan Smith
Amanda Solheim
Elena Dobrowna
Katie Simpson

POSER MEN
Liam Saito (23, 25 mat)
Liam Caines (24, 25 eve)

Bryce Taylor 
Michel Lavoie
Parker Long
Joshua Hidson

BELL HOPS
Peter Lancksweerdt (23, 25 mat)
Liam Saito (24, 25 eve)

Ryan Vetter (23, 25 mat)
Yosuke Mino (24, 25 eve)

POP CORN GIRLS
Chenxin Liu

Alanna McAdie (23, 25 mat)
Yayoi Ban (24, 25 eve)

WINGED MONKEYS
Liam Saito
Joshua Hidson
Parker Long

MONKEY PUPPETEERS
Ryan Vetter (23, 25 mat)
Yosuke Mino (24, 25 eve)

Yue Shi (23, 25 mat)
Stephan Azulay (24, 25 eve)

Amanda Solheim
Bryce Taylor
Peter Lancksweerdt
Michel Lavoie

Katie Simpson (23, 25 mat)
Liam Caines (24, 25 eve)

Elena Dobrowna
Sarah Joan Smith

WINKIE MEN
Michel Lavoie

Yue Shi (23, 25 mat)
Stephan Azulay (24, 25 eve)

Bryce Taylor
Peter Lancksweerdt

WINKIE WOMEN
Chenxin Liu
Sarah Joan Smith

Sarah Davey (23, 25 mat)
Jaimi Deleau (24, 25 eve)

Katie Bonnell

Elizabeth Lamont (23, 25 mat)
Yayoi Ban (24, 25 eve)

Amanda Solheim
Elena Dobrowna
Katie Simpson

BABY BALLERINAS
Mia McIntyre
Frida Pohl
Piper Davies
Janna Matoussova
Sophie Legault
Brianna Ross
Natasha Kleman
Sarah Zaugg

POPPYSEEDS
Mathilde Simard
Victoria Noisette
Cierra DeJong
Maïka Lalonde
Nora Beshai-Moubarak
Julie Metrailler
Dava Fleming
Claire Trickey

GRASSHOPPERS
Angie Di Iorio
Ella Langis
Zoë Walters
Hannah Kreft
Émélie Garneau
Clara Shaleseveeve

Credits

Story lines and visual elements from the classic motion picture provided by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.

The ballet production of The Wizard of Oz is a joint commission by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, and Colorado Ballet.

WORLD PREMIERE: October 12, 2018 in Kansas City by Kansas City Ballet

CANADIAN PREMIERE: May 1, 2019 in Winnipeg by Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Creative Team

Original Story: L. Frank Baum, (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900)

Choreography: Septime Webre

Music Composition: Matthew Pierce

Scenic Design: Michael Raiford

Costume Design: Liz Vandal

Lighting Design: Trad A. Burns

Projection Design: Aaron Rhyne

Puppetry Design: Nicholas Mahon

Design Coordination: Trad A. Burns

Staging: Philippe Larouche & Kristi Capps


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