Ballet masters

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents dance enthusiasts with a rare treat – a work by Maurice Wainrot.

RWB 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
RWB 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It is always a treat to see work by someone who is considered a master in his or her field. This week, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet will present that opportunity to Israeli dance audiences. The 28 RWB dancers will perform a split program, featuring one work by Maurice Wainrot, a master in the ballet world, and the other by Peter Quantz, an emerging choreographer. As part of Tel Aviv Dance 2010, the company will present Wainrot’s Carmina Burana to the well-known score by Carl Orff and In Tandem by Quantz.
The RWB is a major dance institution in Canada. Along with its performances, the company runs an excellent school, where the next generation of professional ballet dancers are trained. For the past 16 years, Andre Lewis has served as the artistic director of this fine establishment.
Under Lewis’s leadership, the dancers of the RWB have had the opportunity to work with many international choreographers who have been invited to set pieces for the troupe. Carmina Burana was originally created for The Royal Ballet of Flanders, where Wainrot was a guest choreographer. In 2002, the RWB added the piece to its rich repertoire.
Wainrot is not stranger to Israel or to Canada. Born in Buenos Aires to Jewish parents who narrowly escaped Poland before the war, Wainrot found his forte as a dancer quite early. He danced for several companies in Argentina before making his way to Canada, where he was a guest performer with the RWB. Decades after leaving the Canadian stage, he returned to teach this piece to the new dancers of the company. Wainrot’s breakthrough ballet was a retelling of the life of Anne Frank through dance.
All told, Wainrot has set works on almost 50 companies worldwide. Speaking from his hotel in Toulouse, France, Wainrot expressed regret that he would not be able to see the RWB perform in Israel. “I’ve been to Israel seven or eight times,” he said. “I would love to come back. The last time I was there was 16 years ago.” He was referring to a visit in 1994, during which he staged one of his ballets for the Bat Dor Dance Company. That ballet was the last of six that Wainrot shared with Bat Dor.
At present, Wainrot is the artistic director of Ballet Contemporaneo del Teatro San Martin in Buenos Aires. Like the school in Winnipeg, Wainrot’s home theater also houses a school. “In the school, our students come from all over Argentina. They travel thousands of miles to study with us. I love to be in the studio more than I love the performances. To be close to the dancers, to coach them, to see how they are growing. It’s a free school. I see them from the beginning until they are wonderful professionals. The process is pedagogical, and I love it.”
With warmth in his voice, Wainrot added that beyond his love for the art, he sees great importance in ballet. “It is important to society like soccer or rugby or the opera. It’s an intellectual expression of the human being. In dance, you can speak in movement. It’s an artistic expression and a code to convey ideas and feelings.”

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet will perform at TAPAC in Tel Aviv on October 14, 15 and 16 (03-692- 7777); at the Sherover Theater in Jerusalem on October 18 (02-623- 7000); and at the Haifa Auditorium on October 20 and 21 (04-841-8411).