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ballet

Top 5 Arts & Food Pairings

Get dinner and a show by pairing a performance with a masterpiece meal at one of these local restaurants.

Housemade pastas at The Mitchell Block are the perfect prelude to curtain raising at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Try tender agnolotti stuffed with sweet potato and sage bathed in brown butter.
• 173 McDermot Ave, 204-949-9032

The oldest continually running theatre company in Canada, Le Cercle Moliere delights with whimsical French language performances. Stop in at the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain before a show and dine on filling tourtiere covered in maple cream sauce at Stella’s bright, welcoming space.
• 340 Provencher Blvd, 204-447-8393

Make a pitstop at the Saddlery on Market, steps from the Centennial Concert Hall, before watching one of Winnipeg’s most venerated arts institutions perform. Roasted beet and goat cheese salad (pictured) will have feet tapping even before the Royal Winnipeg Ballet takes stage.
• 114 Market Ave, 204-615-1898

Magical adventures unfold on the Manitoba Theatre for Young People stage. Take advantage of the theatre’s location at The Forks and slurp up a plate of spaghetti bolognese at the Old Spaghetti Factory inside the Johnston Terminal.
• 25 Forks Market Rd, 204-957-1391

At the Winnipeg Art Gallery, glimpses of Wanda Koop’s work grace the walls. After touring the exhibits, head to the museum’s penthouse level, where Table restaurant serves scrumptious exhibit-inspired lunches.
• 300 Memorial Blvd, 204-948-0085

Must-See Performances in November and December

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER ARE FULL OF EXCITING PERFORMANCES FROM BALLET TO ACROBATICS TO MAGIC, AND MORE  

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The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions merges acrobatics with the art of cooking. Photo by by Alexandre Galliez.

Mirvish Productions, Toronto’s largest theatre company, is closing out 2016 with a program of more esoteric—yet still ambitious—shows to complement its typical grander-scale fare. The 7 Fingers Cuisine and Confessions (November 1 to December 4), for instance, blends acrobatics and cooking in a theatrical feast for the senses, while Fight Night (November 4 to 20) concocts an immersive exploration of democracy—just in time for the fireworks of the U.S. presidential election. And there’s more spectacle to be found in The Illusionists (starts December 13), which features awe-inspiring tricks by seven of the world’s top magicians.

Aligator Pie, Soulpepper

Soulpepper’s Alligator Pie is fun for the whole family. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

The spotlight also shines on sleight of hand courtesy of Soulpepper Theatre Company and magic maestro David Ben’s Hocus Pocus (starts December 10). Equally inventive—and family-friendly—are Rose (December 16, 17, and 22), a concert presentation based on The World Is Round, a children’s book by Gertrude Stein, and Alligator Pie (starts December 27), an award-winning adaptation of Dennis Lee’s poems. 

And for more adult-oriented fare, turn to the Canadian Stage and Daniel MacIvor. His solo show, Who Killed Spalding Gray? (November 30 to December 11), combines the Canadian playwright’s uniquely disarming scripting with some of the titular character’s famed monologues in an interrogation of truth and fiction.

ENCORE PERFORMANCES

A pair of repertory remounts round out the National Ballet of Canada’s year-end slate—alongside its annual production of The Nutcracker (December 10 to 31), naturally. Most recently performed in 2014, James Kudelka’s Cinderella (November 12 to 20) offers a thoroughly modern interpretation of the age-old fairy tale, and later, the expressive Onegin (November 23 to 27)—John Cranko’s adaptation of the Pushkin novel, Eugene Onegin—aims for emotional and psychological nuance even while its dancers push the boundaries of what the human body can do.

Sharing the Four Seasons Centre stage with the National Ballet means that the Canadian Opera Company has for the time being ceded the spotlight, but the COC presents a great reason to return in 2017: its ever-popular production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (January 19 to February 24).

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTES

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Itzhak Perlman enchants audiences with his performances of beloved movie scores.

The popular music of previous centuries—that is, classical music—is always in vogue with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. But the venerated ensemble keeps up with the times, too, by presenting contemporary scores. Among this winter’s biggest tickets are Itzhak Perlman’s “Cinema Serenade” (November 22)—in which the famed violinist performs themes from films, including Cinema Paradiso, Sabrina and Schindler’s List—and screenings of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring with live TSO accompaniment (December 1 to 3). Christmas classics also get an airing in variety show-style concerts hosted by Colin Mochrie (December 9 to 11) and Jann Arden (December 13 and 14).

Meanwhile, another hallowed musical institution hones in on jazz. The Royal Conservatory’s Koerner Hall schedule features the likes of Joe Lovano’s quintet with Afro-Cuban piano legend Chucho Valdés (November 9), a cabaret-style pairing of vocalists Laila Biali and Pilar (December 1), and explorations of the trio format with threesomes led by pianist Stefano Bollani, bassist Roberto Occhipinti (both November 18), organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophonist Christine Jensen (both December 10).

—Craig Moy

Triple threat tete-a-tete

Winnipeg is renowned as an arts and culture mecca, and a good portion of that reputation is attributable to well established and prolific music, dance and theatre companies. Where Winnipeg sat down with the tours de force behind the big three to learn what drives them to create and entertain. 

By Erin Bend

In a competitive modern entertainment market with an instant gratification YouTube mentality arts pillars Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Theatre Centre and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet offer a modern nostalgic escape rooted in tradition. Settle in as the house lights dim and surrender your consciousness to the relentless imaginations of these three men.

Leading the WSO with passion

When selecting music for a WSO season, Alexander Mickelthwate considers classic factors such as country of origin (a healthy mix of American and Germanic is optimal) and a good blend of soloist performances for various instruments.

WSO Music Director Alexander Mickelthwate

During his tenure, the spirited leader has continued to honour the classics while simultaneously broadening the orchestra’s contemporary choices far past stagnant offerings of swing and Sinatra. Fresh collaborations with local bands such as The Lytics and The Waking Eyes, contemporary works enhanced by visuals,  and an Indigenous Music Festival have been titillating die hard orchestra fans and seducing new patrons.

A relative newcomer, Mickelthwate has fallen in love with Winnipeg and raves about its sophisticated arts audience. He hypothesizes its healthy arts appetite is an outcome of epic winters and Continental European ancestry.

His impassioned outlook has yielded outside acknowledgment—the WSO has been invited to play New York City’s renowned Carnegie Hall in two years.

Mickelthwate’s successes flow from the connection he’s able to create with audiences, “I think that music is pure emotion, if you really get into it. If you listen to a radio song it is really short, but if you go into a Tchaikovsky symphony, the music flows right to your emotional centre.”

Making theatre thrive on the prairies

“Planning seasons is really the only thing I do that I don’t delegate. I’ll consult, and I am forever doodling seasons,” Steven Schipper humbly admits. The MTC Artistic Director aims to challenge artists and enthrall audiences each year, within budget of course. Fully aware that not all folks equally savour Shakespeare, Schipper’s goal is to offer everyone’s favourite type of play at least once per season.

MTC Artistic Director Steven Schipper

He’s called upon to imagine the world’s zeitgeist two years in advance. The perfectionist recalls triumphing at this task only once, when a joyful playbill themed to buoy spirits coincided with an economic downturn.

Schipper shoulders the responsibility of being all things theatrical to the people of Manitoba, assessing this small market as a challenge he’s proud to rise to.

“It’s thanks to our forefathers and mothers who created institutions like MTC, RWB and WSO, and said ‘we are not going to be a stop on the road, we are going to create our own indigenous arts institutions’, and now generations later we are all thriving.”

One can see a direct link back to people who began these, the community that gave it life.

Assembling ballet’s parts

André Lewis take his creative cues from his surroundings: “I’ve always felt that Winnipeg has a romantic outlook on life.” He cites our open skies, great prairie lakes and medley of classic and modern architecture as elements that influence audience psyche. Also a level of tradition that remains from city founders’ European roots.

He designs the RWB’s seasons to achieve a cohesive balance among expressions of classic, contemporary, and broad-based appealing works, such as Dracula and Moulin Rouge. Accessible, big name ballets attract the broader audiences, which the RWB desires to transform into dance devotees.

Lewis fuels his artistic fire with the energy of other creatives—observing dancers and choreographers. “I’m not a creator myself,” he explains, “I don’t make ballets, but I sure know how to assemble people to do that. I’ve done it for 18 years.”

RWB Artistic Director Andre Lewis

The longevity of his passion mirrors the timeless form of ballet dance. Parameters define ballet as a style, and dancers try to improve within them, while other forms of dance like hip hop and modern are more idiosyncratic. This is why Lewis knows ballet is immortal, “Ballet is the lingua franca of dance in a way because each generation has been able to add to it.”

Winnipeg has been redefining music, theatre and art for generations and with the likes of these three artistic powerhouses driving the community we will be revelling in the magic of the arts for generations to come.

Weekend Roundup: July 13 to 15

Friday: See artist-designed tutus and much more at the Design Exchange (photo by Setareh Sarmadi and Marta Ryczko)

Friday, July 13
Get an insider’s look into the history of the the country’s most prominent dance company, as the Design Exhange presents 60 Years of Designing the Ballet. The exclusive exhibition tells the story of the National Ballet of Canada through set pieces, paintings, videos and archival wardrobes, including 60 iconic tutus for the troupe’s diamond anniversary.

The hallowed grounds of Fort York play host to a vaunted group of electronic musicians tonight as dubstep hero Skrillex brings his Full Flex Express tour to town. Accompanying the popular DJ/producer are a handful of cohorts including Montreal’s Grimes and Philly-based DJ Diplo.

The Soundclash Festival kicks off tonight at Harbourfront Centre, with dance and musical performances ongoing throughout the weekend. This evening you’re invited to feel the funky Afrobeat as Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou takes the stage for its Canadian debut. (more…)

Hot Date: World Class Ballet

The Kirov ballet company performs "La Bayadère." Photo credit: Valentin Baranovsky.

Feb. 24 to 27. The world-famous Kirov Ballet will dance at the National Arts Centre this weekend, performing a dazzling interpretation of La Bayadère. The Russian company is known as one of the best classical ballet companies in the world – and it’s earned it. With formidable production values, an instinct for spectacle, and outstanding performers, this troupe is not to be missed. They will serve up six performances of this dramatic story of forbidden love between an Indian Prince and a humble temple dancer.