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Royal Winnipeg Ballet to debut Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” next season

May 7, 2013

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by Andrea Ratuski

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet announced its 2013-2014 season and launching the season will be a new adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s a project that’s been in the works for eight years, with New York’s Lila York choreographing the dance to the music of James MacMillan.

“To create a work is what we live for ultimately,” says artistic director André Lewis.

A few years ago, Lewis realized it would be interesting to make a connection between the book — about a society that is controlled by the few, where people have no liberties — with the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

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“It’s an important aspect and we’re also bringing a message that is important to say,” says Lewis. “It’s a very powerful book and we felt it was appropriate.”

Margaret Atwood attended the announcement via Skype on a large screen. When asked if she ever imagined her work as a ballet, she laughed and said that she never thought it would be a film or an opera, either. She still can’t visualize it.

But she didn’t want to interfere with the choreographer’s creative process, saying, “it will be judged as a ballet, not as a novel. Each of these art forms has its own way of communicating.”
Lewis also announced a number of other Winnipeg premieres, including a work he has been anxious to do for some time, Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. “It’s 11 minutes of pure testosterone,” says Lewis.

“It’s very high impact, very demanding, it allows the dancers to really delve into their technique in a way they’ve never had to do before. It’s still classical ballet but it pushes the envelope.”
That work will be presented at the season end along with the Winnipeg premiere of James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons and a new work by popular choreographer Jorden Morris called Défilé which will include the whole RWB company plus artists from the School.

Peter Quanz’s celebrated Q Dance will be featured in November with a series of innovative works while lovers of traditional ballet will be treated to Nutcracker in December and Romeo and Juliet in February.
In March the company welcomes Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal performing Peter Quanz’s Rodin/Claudel based on the heated romance between the artist Auguste Rodin and his muse, Camille Claudel.

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