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Winnipeg Ballet bringing mixed repertoire to the Cohn


Liam Caines - Royal Winnipeg Ballet - David Cooper foto


Liam Caines, a Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancer who grew up near Saint John, N.B., performs for his first time in Atlantic Canada when the ballet arrives at Halifax's Rebecca Cohn Auditorium Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. (David Cooper).



THE ROYAL Winnipeg Ballet is coming back to Atlantic Canada after an absence of six years.

That thrills Kingston, N.B., native Liam Caines, who joined the corps de ballet for the 2009-10 season and has never performed in his home region.

“I’m already doing the countdown with my friends. I can’t wait,” Caines says in a phone interview from Lacrosse, Wis.

The RWB is on the road in the United States performing Jorden Morris’s Moulin Rouge and is bringing a mixed repertoire to Atlantic Canada, performing in Halifax at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium on Wednesday and Thursday.

The program features RWB alumnus Peter Quanz’s playful neo-classical ballet In Tandem, commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum; Brian Macdonald’s comedic classical-style ballet Pas D’Action, which pokes fun at ballet; William Forsythe’s technically rigorous, boundary-pushing The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, set to a Schubert symphony, and Jorden Morris’s The Doorway: Scenes from Leonard Cohen, with singer Allison Crowe.

“The nice thing about mixed repertoire is it allows you to give a diverse range of content,” says Caines.

The company’s artistic director Andre Lewis is similarly excited to be coming back to the Maritimes.

“It’s such a lovely part of the world. One of the first tours I did was in that part of the country,” says Lewis, who danced with the RWB for 10 years and has been artistic director for 15.

“We’ve been going to the Maritimes for the better part of 30 to 40 years. It’d be a shame for me to lose that connection.”

Touring is economically much more difficult today. “The world is not what it was 10 years ago. I remember when we used to go there every two years without fail. You could set your clock on when we’d be coming.”

The U.S. presenters want full-length ballets like Moulin Rouge but “for the Maritimes we chose something we thought would suit the theatres and be attractive to an audience.”

In particular, he thought Atlantic Canadian audiences would like the Cohen piece, featuring a live performance by Corner Brook singer Crowe, singing the 1984 legendary ballad Hallelujah, Cohen’s 1967 song Sisters of Mercy and his 1969 song, Bird on a Wire.

“Allison has quite a following and we wanted to do something different,” says Lewis.

“We don’t often do mixed repertoire on tour so we’re thrilled to do that.”

Ballet is “always evolving, there’s no question. You have to keep ahead of the curve and find things people don’t realize they want.”

About half of the RWB’s season is spent on tour, says Caines. “I was talking to some friends and they said, ‘Where are you going?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know. I just get out when the bus stops.’”

He became interested in ballet when he was three. “I wanted to be like my big sister who was two years older and she was taking ballet,” says Caines, now 25.

At the age of eight he joined the performing ensemble of Port City Dance Company in Saint John, N.B., before going to the RWB school at the age of 16. “It was that experience of being on stage and performing for an audience that kept me interested.”





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