Eighteen Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School Professional Division students, a tour manager, two technicians, a single wardrobe staff, and one residence staff member are hitting the road for a twelve-day-long tour around Manitoba and northwestern Ontario for their Concert Hour Ballet (CHB), a tradition that has been a cornerstone of the Professional Division program for over 45 years, and thanks to the Golden Prairie Arts Council, Carman Collegiate is lucky enough to be one of the stops.
17 performances are taking place in venues across the prairies from November 12-24, as the CHB provides a unique experience for both dance students and audiences.
Citizens of Carman, along with Brandon and Kenora, Ont., have the rare opportunity of witnessing a World Premiere by multi award-winning choreographer Mark Godden during the open-to-the-public CHB performances. Godden, a graduate of the RWB School Professional Division and critically-acclaimed artist, created a contemporary piece, The Marshmallow Test, on senior level Professional Division students this past summer.
“The Marshmallow Test is an experiment conducted on young children to test delayed gratification. It’s also an old story: sacrifice now, in the present, for something better in the future,” says Godden. “The dance and movement ideas for this ballet spring forth from the body’s dilemma of wanting something now, while the mind works overtime to convince the body to wait. It is an internal tug-of-war, but, it’s also a chance to sublimate the moment.”
Aside from Godden’s The Marshmallow Test, attendees will be treated to experts from notable ballets such as Giselle, Swan Lake, and Harlequinade, among others. This dynamic mixed-repertoire program has the dual goal of sharing dance with new audiences – particularly those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see a live performance – and allowing professional dance students to experience the demands of performing and touring first-hand. On top of the performances, attendees are privy to a lecture demonstration that gives them a look into a day in the life of a dancer.
“My first experience with CHB was as a Professional Division student,” says Godden. “Years later, and being commissioned to choreograph for CHB, I am reminded of the kids that attended those performances and how they squirmed and shifted while sitting on the gymnasium floor before the show started. It was difficult for them to remain still – they were excited.”
While the RWB School Professional Division students are learning the ropes of touring and production, such as setting up the dance floor and assembling the stage, they are also teaching students across Manitoba and northwestern Ontario the importance of dance education in schools. Through CHB, students learn that dance is a form of communication and creativity. Students in the audience learn how to analyze dance and are exposed to the athleticism and professionalism of young dance students. A variety of schools will host the performances of the Professional Division students on top of the open-to-the-public community shows in Carman, Brandon, and Kenora.
The Carman show date is November 24 at 7 p.m. in the theatre at Carman Collegiate. Tickets can be purchased from the Golden Prairie Arts Council, Benefits Rx, the Carman Active Living Centre and Louise’s Hairstyling. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.
The RWB School Professional Division’s Concert Hour Ballet has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada and the Manitoba Arts Council.