ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET PERFORMS A POIGNANT BALLET ABOUT CANADA’S RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SYSTEM
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) delves into one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history in its heart-rending Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation. Commissioned by RWB Artistic Director André Lewis with the support of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the ballet will be performed at the National Arts Centre on January 28, 29 and 30. Based on a story by award winning author Joseph Boyden and staged by acclaimed choreographer Mark Godden, it explores the devastating past of Aboriginal residential school survivors.
In the past century, many generations of Aboriginal children were subjected to atrocities at residential schools. The RWB team decided that these powerful and emotional stories deserved a retelling in dance.
“Dance is a way to communicate and express thoughts, feelings and ideas. For the RWB, this is another way to express the stories and experiences of Indian Residential School survivors and their families”, says André Lewis, RWB Artistic Director. “We hope that in presenting this ballet, we are able to share these stories and the spirit of reconciliation with a wider audience.”
The ballet is about Annie and Gordon, a pair of contemporary First Nations young people coming to terms with a soul-destroying past, and who learn together that without truth, there can be no reconciliation. While the ballet at times relates some searing events from the past, the message that Joseph Boyden wanted to transmit was one of hope. Drawing inspiration from the testimonies and statements gathered from many individuals through the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, he wanted to share with us the courage and strength that these survivors have shown.
The ballet is the outcome of efforts by a team of talented collaborators: Canadian multidisciplinary artist KC Adams, Juno prize-winning composer Christos Hatzis, Inuk throat singer and Polaris Music Prize winner Tanya Tagaq, Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers, costume designer Paul Daigle, projection designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, lighting designer Pierre Lavoie and TRC Honorary Witness Tina Keeper, who is also the show’s associate producer.
Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, premiered in Winnipeg in October 2014 in celebration of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's 75th anniversary, and its Canadian tour begins with three performances in the National Arts Centre's Southam Hall on January 28, 29 and 30 with the NAC Orchestra, conducted by Tadeusz Biernacki, music director at the RWB.
“Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation may be the most important dance mounted by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in its illustrious 75 year history ... It has visibly catalyzed the entire company; I have never seen the RWB dance better.” - Robert Enright, CBC News
ABOUT CANADA’S ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET
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. These qualities keep the company in demand as it presents more than 100 performances every season. Celebrating over 75 years of dance, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet holds the double distinction of being one of Canada’s premier ballet companies and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet was founded in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, and began to tour Canada in 1945. The company received its royal title, the first granted under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1953, and completed its first American tour in 1954. Today, the company spends 20 or more weeks a year on the road, performing in centres large and small.
ABOUT GOING HOME STAR – TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION
Commissioned by Artistic Director André Lewis, Going Home Star - Truth and Reconciliation explores the world of Annie, a young, urban First Nations woman adrift in a contemporary life of youthful excess. But when she meets Gordon, a longhaired trickster disguised as a homeless man, she’s propelled into a world she’s always sensed but never seen. Not only do they travel the streets of this place but also the roads of their ancestors, learning to accept the other’s burdens as the two walk through the past and toward the future. Together, both Annie and Gordon learn that without truth, there is no reconciliation.
GOING HOME STAR – TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION - Creative Team
CHOREOGRAPHY: Mark Godden
STORY: Joseph Boyden
MUSIC: Christos Hatzis
COSTUME DESIGN: Paul Daigle
SET DESIGN: KC Adams
LIGHTING DESIGN: Pierre Lavoie
PROJECTION DESIGN: Sean Nieuwenhuis
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Tina Keeper
DURATION: 1 hour 53 minutes, with one intermission
The NAC presentation of Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation is made possible in part by Ridley Terminals Inc. and is part of the Share the Spirit program. Thanks to this program, tickets are being made available to Indigenous (13+) youth from the Inuit Children’s Center, Urban Aboriginal High School and students studying Aboriginal Studies and their families.
Share the Spirit is made possible through the support of Presenting Sponsor Sun Life Financial, Major Partner Trinity Development Group, Supporting Partners: the Honourable John Manley, P.C. O.C. & Mrs. Judith Manley, as well as other donors who have contributed to Share the Spirit through the NAC Foundation Donors’ Circle.
100 YEARS OF LOSS - THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SYSTEM IN CANADA
From January 14 to 30, the NAC will host the eye-opening bilingual exhibition 100 Years of Loss. Created by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, this exhibition raises awareness and understanding of the history and legacies of the Residential School System in Canada. Through archival photographs and documents, first-person testimonies, and evocative works of art, the exhibition encourages us to learn about this difficult history, to recognize its legacies in our country today, and to contribute our own acts of reconciliation.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
NAC Dance is organising a week of outreach surrounding Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation with Jaime Vargas, Ballet master and Community Outreach Director for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Workshops focusing on cultural exchanges and themes from the ballet will be presented to groups of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth from different schools and centres across the city.
A pre-performance discussion with members of the creative team will take place in the NAC Salon on opening night, January 28 at 7:00 p.m.
TICKETS AND PERFORMANCES
Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet performs in the Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre January 28 to 30. Tickets range from $25 to $109 for adults and $25 to $56.50 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card).
More information: http://nac-cna.ca/en/event/11175
Tickets are available for purchase:
- In person at the NAC Box Office;
- At all Ticketmaster outlets;
- By telephone from Ticketmaster, 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS); and
- Online through the Ticketmaster link on the NAC’s website (www.nac-cna.ca).
A service charge applies on all purchases made through Ticketmaster.