Northrop Dance Presents MOULIN ROUGE- The Ballet 10/17
Northrop Dance at the University of Minnesota unveils the World Premiere of Moulin Rouge - The Ballet, based on the story of the most celebrated cabaret in history. Created by Canadian superstar choreographer, Jorden Morris, the stage will transform with the signature RWB cinematic flair. Matthew and Nathalie will tempt the fates of Paris in seek of love and destiny in the turn of the century Paris when pomp and excess ran hand in hand with poverty and hardship, and the heady elixir of personal freedom bred lifestyles that were often reckless and addictive. Versatile and technically amazing artists exemplify the contemporary and classical tango and the illustrious energy of the Can-Can.
Moulin Rouge - The Ballet follows Matthew, a young painter who finds himself in Paris, in love and in trouble. Matthew arrives in Paris full of wonder and anticipation; he yearns to experience the Bohemian lifestyle and "la belle époque." As we follow Matthew deeper into Paris, we are exposed to the darker lifestyles and harsh realities of the city. Matthew's innocence brings him to the City of Light, and his love takes him deep into the Paris underground. At the same time Nathalie is trapped in the underground and searching for a way to find the light above. This story is about love, and the unpredictable webs it can weave.
The production will have a very cinematic look, as a camera lens opening into a world where the journey takes place. The choreography and sets provide different images and angles, including a fade and focus on Matthew at the end.
The choreography in this production requires strong and versatile artists. The launderettes dancing will be on pointe and technically challenging. The Tango cafe is a large company scene that involves intricate partnering and strong dancing in the contemporary and classical tango style. Principal and soloist roles have pas de deux's, solo variations, as well as complex character identities to develop and cultivate.
Founded in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet holds the double distinction of being Canada's premier ballet company and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.
André Lewis | Artistic Director
After more than two decades of involvement with the RWB, Lewis was named Artistic Director in 1996. His career with the company started in 1975 when he entered the RWB School, and then joined the company in 1979. He was then asked to be a part of the artistic staff in 1984, and was named Associate Artistic Director in 1990, and was named Interim Artistic Director in 1995.
Lewis was born in Quebec, and started his ballet schooling at the Classical Ballet Studio in Ottawa. He then moved on to the Professional Division of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Lewis joined the company as a corps de ballet member and was soon after promoted to soloist in 1982.
Lewis has used his role as Artistic Director to revitalize the company's work. Some of the works he has commissioned are: Dracula, The Sleeping Beauty, Anna Karenina, and A Cinderella Story.
Lewis has appeared as a guest artist throughout the world, including the opening Gala performance of the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, Le Don des Etoiles in Montreal, a special gala honoring Holland's Queen Beatrix, and a gala performance in Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall.
Lewis has travelled to many countries, including Italy, France, Japan, Germany and Greece to teach and coach. He currently lives in Winnipeg with his wife, former RWB dancer Caroline Gruber, and their two children.
Jorden Morris | Choreographer
Morris started as a principal dancer, but then retired to study choreography. He went to NYU for a summer to study dance and theatre arts, and also studied early French choreography during this time with Claude Bessy and Serge Golovine from the Paris Opera.
Morris' first work was The Three Musketeers for the RWB School Director David Moroni in 1999. He then choreographed Elle est Quatre in 2000 for the Alabama School of Fine Arts, which was later taken to the Birmingham Arts Festival as well.
André Lewis has commissioned multiple works from Morris, including two works for the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 2000 which were performed by RWB and broadcast nationally on CBC television. Morris' work with RWB does not limit itself to the company only - he has also worked with the RWB School on projects.
In 2003, Morris transformed a popular kid's show called "The Toy Castle" into an interactive live dance performance. The performance sold out multiple times during it's run. He starred in the TV series, and was nominated for a Genie Award in 2003 for the performance.
Morris choreographed a work called Miss Independent for Principal of the RWB Recreational Division dancer, Kelly Bale, in 2004. The piece took top honors at the Manitoba Provincial Dance Festival.
Tara Birtwhistle | Principal Dancer
Birtwhistle was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, but grew up in Alberta. She began her professional dance training at the RWB School of Ballet, Professional Division. She graduated in 1991, and joined RWB as a corps de ballet. She was promoted to soloist in 1995, and in 2000 became a principal dancer.
Birtwhistle's style consists of chameleon-like qualities and versatility. Among her past roles are 'Lucy' in Dracula, 'Rita Joe' in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, 'Myrtha' in Giselle, and 'Juliet' in Romeo and Juliet.
Choreographer Mark Godden created the lead role of 'Queen of the Night' for Birtwhistle for the world premiere production of The Magic Flute. The piece was later adapted for a film for which she and RWB won a Gemini for Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program. Godden also set the role of Dracula's 'Lucy' for Birtwhistle, and again she was nominated for a Gemini Award for her performance in a screen adaptation of that ballet.
The dancer performed for the Queen of England during the Queen's 2002 visit to Canada. She's performed with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and The London Philharmonic Orchestra during a 21-city tour of A Royal Christmas, as well. In 2006, Birtwhistle partnered with Jaime Vargas at the International Stars of Ballet 2006 in Tokyo, Japan.
Vanessa Lawson | Principal Dancer
Lawson was born in Alberta, and at the age of 16, left to study at the RWB School of Ballet. She received the Prince Edward Award and graduated in 1996 with distinction. She joined the company following graduation as an apprentice, was promoted in 2002, and became a principal dancer in 2005.
Lawson's first principal role was the lead role in David Nixon's Butterfly. She was also the lead role in Giselle during the 2001/02 season, which became one of her favorite roles. Lawson especially loves performing Balanchine ballets, along with the athleticism, precision, musicality they demand.
Lawson's most recent guest artist work was dancing two pas de deux with Jaime Vargas at a gala performance with the Campania National de Danza in Mexico City.
Other roles that Lawson has performed have been 'Clara' in Nutcracker, 'Tinker Bell' in Peter Pan, and 'Princess Aurora' in The Sleeping Beauty.
Gael Lambiotte | Principal Dancer
Born in Brussels, Belgium, Gael Lambiotte completed his dance training at the School of the Royal Ballet of Flanders. During his dance career, he has danced with the Ballet du Grand Theatre de Bordeaux in France, the Dutch National Ballet, Boston Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, and others.
Lambiotte has performed many classical ballets including Nutracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Giselle, Swan Lake, and Onegin, along with many others. He has also performed various Balanchine ballets.
Among the dance awards Lambiotte has been nominated for have been the Dutch television cultural award, the Nijinsky Award, and three nominations for the "Prix Benois de la Dance." In 1998 he won the Alexandra Radius Award for best dancer of the year. He has performed as special guest artist internationally, including with the Royal Ballet of London during their 2002 tour.
Lambiotte joined the RWB as principal dancer for the 2007/08 season. His first role in the company was 'Escamillo' in the world premiere of Carmen, The Passion.
Jaime Vargas | Principal Dancer
Vargas was born in Mexico City, and began his training at 14 years old at the Centro de Arte y Ballet in Mexico City. He also studied at the London Studio Centre in England, and the Australian Ballet School.
Vargas received various scholarships and grants that allowed him to travel around the world dancing. He started his professional career with the Campania Nacional de Danza in Mexico City in 1989, but has performed with many other companies since then, including La Jeune Ballet de France, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, and Ballet de Monterrey.
Vargas joined the RWB in 2004 as a principal dancer. Some of his roles with the RWB included 'Prince Siegfried' in Swan Lake, 'Captain Hook' in Peter Pan, and the title role in Dracula.
Competing internationally, Vargas has won multiple awards including the Silver Medal at the Fifth International Dance Festival in Paris, France, in 1992. He was a finalist in the first and second International Dance Competitions in Nagoya, Japan, and silver medalist at the First National Ballet Competition in Guadalajara, Mexico. Vargas was also recognized for his contribution to the improvement of Mexico's art by the Mexican Union of Journalists and Critics in Theatre and Music in 1994.
Anne Armit | Costume Designer
Anne Armit was born in St. Andrews, Scotland but moved to Ottawa at age four. She attended Seneca College in 1972, was named Student Designer of the Year in 1975 and was awarded a scholarship to the Ontario College of Art.
After graduation, she worked for one year in the fashion industry before obtaining work as a seamstress at the St. Lawrence Centre. Anne also freelanced for organizations such as The National Ballet of Canada, Shaw Festival, Stratford Festival, Charlottetown Festival, the National Arts Centre and the Canadian Opera Company. A promotion to Junior Cutter at the St. Lawrence Centre was followed by an offer of employment from The National Ballet of Canada.
From 1979 to 1989 Anne owned her own business creating costumes for film, television and theatre, including the contract for Cats. She joined Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1989 as Director of Wardrobe and this position has given her the opportunity to travel and design productions such as L.I.F.E., La Bayadère, Raymonda, Creaturehood and more.
Shannon Lovelace | Costume Designer
Winnipeg visual artist and costume designer Shannon Lovelace received her training at the University of Manitoba and Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. In 1980 she
graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts.
Since returning to Winnipeg in 1981 Shannon has exhibited her paintings extensively in North America and abroad. Her paintings are currently represented by Art Mode Gallery in Ottawa.
In 1993 she began her association with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, working as milliner, decorator, dyer and designer. Moulin Rouge - The Ballet is the third full length ballet she has designed for the RWB. In 2001, she designed David Nixon's Butterfly, followed by co-designing The Sleeping Beauty with Anne Armit. Her other works include designs for RWB's Fast Forward, numerous pieces for the Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy, designs for Koba family entertainment group and others.
Shannon has worked in the film industry as sketch artist, illustrator and costumer, but her real love remains in the world of dance.
Her life studies and portraits can be found in private and corporate collections including Wood Gundy, KPMG LLP, Government offices and CP Calgary, Alberta. She is a longtime member of the Mentoring Artists for Women's Arts.
Andrew Beck | Set & Properties Design
Andrew Beck was born in Staffordshire, England in 1961 and was brought to Winnipeg as a child in 1967. He was educated in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Manitoba and completed a thesis of painted steel sculptures in 1983. Since that time he has worked on landscape painting and steel sculptures, which have been exhibited in parallel and commercial galleries across Canada. His work is included in private and public collections such as at Great-West Life, Power Corporation, Manitoba Legislature and Manitoba Arts Council Art Bank.
In addition to his own work Andrew has worked as a scenic artist and designer for 15 years. In this capacity he has worked at Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Theatre Centre and Rainbow Stage. Other credits include the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards and the TV series Falcon Beach.
Pierre Lavoie | Lighting Design
Pierre has been active in dance since 1982, first in Toronto as stage manager for most of the city's modern dance companies, then in Montreal for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. There he had the great opportunity to work closely with his mentor, lighting designer Nick Cernovitch. Pierre started designing lights in the 90's for Margie Gillis and has since
designed every new work in her repertoire. He also creates lights for many independent modern dance artists in Montreal. Pierre's versatility is seen in how easily he can sustain both modern and classical vocabulary.
He has designed to rave reviews at Alberta Ballet where he is resident lighting designer, and for Christopher Wheeldon's Midsummer Night's Dream, Val Caniparoli's Lady of the Camellias and Jean Grand-Maitre's Carmen, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliette and just this past February the acclaimed Fiddle and the Drum with Joni Mitchell. Other ballet credits include Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Taming of the Shrew and Nutcracker at Boston Ballet, Cinderella at Milwaukee Ballet and a mixed jazz program at Ballet Memphis.
Pierre has also ventured into the world of music where he has designed the lighting for the last three creations of tango music septet Ensemble Romulo Larréa; Homage to Astor Piazzola , Tango for La Milonga and Tango for a Century. For opera he designed the world premiere of Facing South in Toronto, Norma and Rigoletto at Pacific Opera in Victoria and Romeo and Juliette for the Opéra de Québec.
Pierre has previously designed for three Royal Winnipeg Ballet productions; Mark Godden's As Above, So Below and The Magic Flute and André Prokovsky's Anna
Rick Skene | Dramaturge
As dramaturge for the RWB's production of Moulin Rouge - The Ballet, Rick Skene draws upon his extensive experience as a theatre and film professional. Rick is a highly respected playwright, director and physical theatre specialist (MTC, Theatre Projects, Rainbow Stage, PTE, MTYP, SIR, Manitoba Opera, RWB) having worked in professional theatre for over 30 years. He is also considered to be the leading stage fight choreographer and film stunt coordinator/second unit director in Manitoba with over 140 film and television credits. Along with his diverse professional endeavors Rick has taught at the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre & Film since 1986 where he specializes in physical theatre, acting, stage combat and film.
A performance preview between Northrop Director, Ben Johnson, Costume designers Anne Armit and Shannon Lovelace, and Set Designer, Andrew Beck. Held in the basement of Northrop in Studio Four. Seating is limited to capacity.
Individual Northrop Dance tickets ($10-$65) on sale through the Northrop Ticket Office at 612-624-2345, or room 105 Northrop, 84 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, or by ordering online at northrop.umn.edu. Ask for available discounts. U of M students may purchase $10 tickets per ID at any time in designated seating, and may purchase two rush tickets ($10) per ID in any seating area on the day of the performance. Season tickets are also on sale now ($40-$200). Visit Northrop for more information.