Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Ballet in the Park! Ballet in the Park is a fantastic event that happens every summer in Winnipeg- the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company, Professional Division, and Recreational Division all perform in a free event at our biggest park for three evenings. I think that it is a brilliant event- it exposes the community to ballet for those who are intimidated or can’t afford it, it allows us to see a different piece that usually isn’t in the season, and it takes advantage of the beautiful weather in the summer. Yes, we have ridiculously cold winters. However, we also have ridiculously hot summers, with temperatures upwards of 35°C. So, what were we treated to this year?
The show began with the Professional Division dancing an excerpt from Paquita. If you recall from my post in June, the PD division performed Paquita at their year end show. It is one of my favourite ballets, and I was super excited to see it again! I loved being able to see it with a different trio of dancers. The costumes are gorgeous as ever, and it showcased the pure talent that the PD has to offer. Although many people don’t know it, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School is a world-class training school, and performances like this prove it!
The RWB is making a big push for the Nutcracker this year. They have been calling subscribers early, sending out emails, and offering deals. (I can guarantee that I will be going, but I need to see dates before I can book!) In addition to that, they performed the Snow Pas de Deux from the Nutcracker! I love the Nutcracker, I think it’s a brilliant ballet that is written off by a lot of people. Any chance that I get to see any part of it, I take! Alanna McAdie was lovely as Clara- strong but sweet, you felt like you were arriving in the Sugar Fairy’s Kingdom even though it was July! Although I heard a few people chuckle when they introduced this bit of Christmas in July, I think that the RWB made a great choice in showing this!
The Professional Division provided their Ballet in the Park staple- their demonstration of ballet technique. It is nothing new for me, but I love to people watch during this! They demonstrate basic jumps, turns, and extensions that are common in ballet and look easy but in actuality take years of intensive training to achieve. I would love to see them walk through a short piece at some point!
This is what happens when you let go of a fish dive….
The last piece was the second half of Val Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story! This is possibly the most entertaining and fun ballet that I have personally seen. It is set in the the 1950s, and is arranged by a Winnipeg jazz legend, Ron Paley. I know that a lot of people feel that ballet is stodgy and difficult to connect with, but it is impossible to say that about A Cinderella Story. It is fun and grounded and relate-able while being entirely exciting and energising! Jo-Ann Sundermeier and Liang Xing as Nancy and Bob were perfect to watch, and their experience lent an authority and emotion to the piece that is often missing in ballet.
We entered at the party- the couples dancing to Ron Paley’s jazz. Seeing the different couples dance, and then men and women separately, we got to know all of their character’s personalities! The stepmother and stepsisters enter the party, and chaos ensues- until Nancy walks in. All eyes are on Nancy, including Bob’s. They have a wonderful time, until the clock strikes midnight.
Nancy is back at home, being beat up by her stepsisters. The 1950s TV announcer lets us know that Bob is looking for the girl from the party in the pink and black dress, which leads to every woman in a shockingly pink and black dress! Nancy and Bob are reunited, and the animals finish off the show. (Hard to explain that part, but the costumes are fantastic.)
Overall, this was probably one of the best years of Ballet in the Park- if I had had to pay for this show, I still would not have been disappointed in the least. Ballet means so much to me, and I love any event that makes it more accessible. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is untouchable for me currently!
As a sidenote, I entered a contest that the RWB is having! You had to take a ballet inspired picture at the park, and tag it. I’m really hoping that I have a shot at winning, I would love to win tickets to the RWB’s production of Dracula in the fall!
What is your favourite form of live entertainment?