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Versatility, technical excellence, and a captivating style are the trademarks of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, qualities that have garnered both critical and audience acclaim. These qualities keep the RWB in demand as it presents more than 100 performances every season.

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. In 1953, the Company received its royal title, the first granted under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1958, Arnold Spohr was appointed artistic director. Under his direction the Royal Winnipeg Ballet grew and developed to take its place among the world's internationally renowned companies.

In 1988, Mr. Spohr turned his position over to Henny Jurriens. Tragically, Jurriens and his wife lost their lives in an automobile accident on April 9, 1989. Former American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer John Meehan was artistic director from 1990 to 1993 and former Joffrey Ballet and Twyla Tharp dancer William Whitener served as artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet from 1993 to 1995.

On March 7, 1996, André Lewis was named Artistic Director of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet. A native of Hull, Quebec, Mr. Lewis joined the RWB School’s Professional Division in 1975, entered the company’s corps de ballet in 1979 and was promoted to soloist in 1982. He was asked to join the artistic staff in 1984 and was appointed Associate Artistic Director in 1990. During his tenure as Artistic Director, Lewis has worked to revitalise the Company’s repertoire, especially with the commissioning of new full-length ballets such as Dracula, Nutcracker and The Magic Flute.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet began to tour Canada in 1945; it completed its first American tour in 1954. Today, the Company spends 20 or more weeks a year on the road, performing in centres large and small. Throughout its history, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet has been a dance leader, recording innumerable firsts. It developed the concept of the regional ballet festival in the 1940s. It was the first Western company to perform in Cuba after the revolution. It received Gold Medals at the International Ballet Festival in Paris in 1968 and that same year became the first Canadian company to tour Russia and Czechoslovakia.

The RWB School’s Professional Division was founded in 1970 by former principal dancer, David Moroni C.M. Internationally recognized as a centre of excellence in dance training for more than 25 years, the School is a respected training institution for talented young students who aspire to become professional dancers or dance teachers.

In 1986, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet began construction of a new Company home. This unique facility, which includes 10 dance studios (including a performance studio), physiotherapy room, administrative and production offices, box office, wardrobe department and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional and Recreational Divisions, was officially opened in January 1988. For Canada’s oldest ballet company, winner of accolades and warm welcomes in 573 cities worldwide, this is home.

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Betty Farrally

Gweneth Lloyd

Arnold Spohr