Currently home of Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers and the School of Contemporary Dancers, as well as the Rachel Browne Theatre, the original building on this site was owned by merchant, civic leader and former Winnipeg mayor James H. Ashdown. It burned down in 1904 but was soon rebuilt and remained in the Ashdown family until 1970. Today, the site is home to Canada's oldest existing modern dance company, Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers, which was founded in 1964 by Rachel Browne. The building also houses another of Rachel Browne's legacies, the School of Contemporary Dancers, one of the most highly reputed professional training institutions for contemporary dance. The space is infused with Browne's legacy as her former company members such as Stephanie Ballard, Gaile Petursson-Hiley, Odette Heyn, Faye Thomson and Brent Lott continue to build on the foundation Browne laid for modern dance.lays of dancing and gymnastics.
This site was once home to Rupert's Land College. Opened in 1901 as Havergal College, the name changed in 1917 to differentiate it from the private girls' school in Toronto. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, a British émigré named Lillian Welch was the Games Mistress and was responsible for teaching dance at Rupert's Land College. She created annual displays of dancing and gymnastics.
In 1950, Rupert's Land College amalgamated with Riverbend School to form Balmoral Hall School. Here, Royal Winnipeg Ballet co-founders Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally were engaged to teach ballet and the Revived Greek Dance. Weekly classes were offered for students in kindergarten up to grade 11. Daphne (Stanley-Harris) Korol also taught ballet here in the 1950s.
Centennial Concert Hall within the Manitoba Centennial Centre was one of many architectural projects focussed on artistic presentation that celebrated Canada's centenary in 1967. With a seating capacity of 2,305, it is the main performing venue for Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but has also hosted many of the country's major dance companies.
The Capitol Theatre opened on this site in 1921 as a single-screen movie theatre. It was designed by Thomas Lamb, a well-known architect of the period who designed many movie and vaudeville houses including Toronto's Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre. It was here that local dancers such as Kitty Brattston performed with the Capitol Eight, a kick-line trained by Winnipeg teacher Joyce Hague. It was common in the 1920s and '30s for dancers to perform prologues before movie screenings often doing several shows a day and usually only having one day off per week. The Winnipeg Kiddies, a World War I-era children's performing group, also delighted audiences at The Capitol.
Opened in 1932, the Winnipeg Auditorium was a Depression-era make-work project. Local dancers Kitty and Walter Brattson performed in the opening week's program and Cab Calloway's orchestra accompanied many of the social dances in the large ballroom of this art deco gem. Winnipeg teachers Sara Baker Adelman, Fleurette McCuaig and Rosalind Ritter held their school recitals in the popular venue during its early years. International companies and performers over the decades include British ballerina Margot Fonteyn, the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, Col. de Basil's Ballets Russes, and Trudi Schoop and Her Comic Ballet from Switzerland, which was presented by the Women's Musical Club. The building is now home to the Manitoba Archives and the Legislative Library.
The Dominion Theatre once stood on this site. Opened in 1904, it was intended to feature upscale vaudeville acts that would be more appropriate for women and children. It incorporated new technology of the time such as electric lighting and steam heating. In addition to its role in theatre history, playing host to the John Holden Players and, later, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, it was also used frequently by Winnipeg's early-20th-century dance community. In the 1920s and '30s, it was used by Winnipeg teachers and dancers Margaret Ritchie, Dora Marshall, Rosalind Ritter, Betty Ramsay, Kitty Brattston, Ada Stockdill, Gladys Forrester and many more.
In the golden age of grand railway hotels, the Fort Garry kept company with the likes of Quebec's Chateau Frontenac and Victoria's Empress and was joined a year after its 1913 opening by Calgary's Palliser Hotel. This string of grand hotels dotting the Canadian landscape were often host to fancy dress balls attended by each city's elite citizens. The Fort Garry even celebrated its opening on December 10, 1913 with a grand ball. As the decades progressed, these hotels often engaged professional dancers for floor shows and dinner entertainment. Dancers Kitty and Walter Brattston were on staff at the Fort Garry for two years to provide entertainment at parties.
The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre opened in 1920 as the Allen Theatre and was part of the extensive Allen movie theatre chain. It would have been common for live shows known as “prologues” to have been performed here prior to the movies. One of the groups to perform at the Allen was the Winnipeg Kiddies, a juvenile theatre troupe founded in 1915 by accountant A.H. Smith. From Toronto to Victoria and throughout the northwestern United States, the company toured raising money for Allied recruiting to aid the war effort. Performing songs, dances and skits, they were hugely popular and even though they disbanded at the end of World War I, the group reformed in 1919 and continued to perform locally and on tour until 1922. The theatre was taken over by Famous Players in 1923 but closed in 1987. Re-opened in 2012 as an event centre, the building, with its symmetry, ornate reliefs and Palladian-style windows, is a wonderful example of theatre design in the early 20th century in Canada.
The Playhouse opened as the Pantages in 1914 as part of the famous vaudeville circuit owned by Alexander Pantages. In the 1930s, dance teachers Sara Baker Adelman and Gertrude Shtatleman used the theatre for their Celeste School of Dancing recitals. The theatre also presented famous German Expressionist dancer Mary Wigman in 1933. The Winnipeg Ballet Club (later Royal Winnipeg Ballet) gave its debut performance at The Playhouse on June 11, 1939, and performed here frequently until the Centennial Concert Hall was built. The first Canadian Ballet Festival was set to perform here in 1948 until the dressing rooms were flooded by the Red River; the Festival then moved to the Odeon (Walker Theatre). Other local performers to trod the boards of The Playhouse include the Winnipeg Kiddies, Gladys Forrester, Kitty Brattston, Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers and the students of Joyce Hague. Dance Manitoba has had a home here since 1987 and the theatre is used by many current dance organizations.
At 9:38 a.m. on June 8, 1954, Royal Winnipeg Ballet co-founder Gweneth Lloyd received the following telegram at her Toronto apartment: “CANADIAN SCHOOL OF BALLET AND ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET COMPLETELY GUTTED BY FIRE STOP IT NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS = LOVE BETTY.” The Time Building had been home to the studios of what was then one of the two professional ballet companies in Canada. In the fire, the RWB lost photos, props, sets, costumes and many of Lloyd's choreographic notes. It shattered the company, and many of the dancers, who needed work, headed to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. But it also became a turning point in the company's history as the board of directors rebuilt the RWB. A dancer and choreographer who remained loyal throughout this rebuilding period was Arnold Spohr who became artistic director in 1958 and spent the next 3 decades at the helm making an indelible mark transforming the RWB from a lucky prairie ballet company to one of international stature.
Built by C.P. Walker and officially opened in 1907, the Walker Theatre played host to a number of local dancers and their students during its early years including Gladys Forrester, Kitty Brattston, Sara Baker Adelman, Gertrude Shtatleman, Geraldine Foley and Joyce Hague, as well as touring companies such as Capt. Plunkett's The Dumbbells and his production of Three Little Maids. Significantly, it was used as an emergency alternate venue when the Red River flooded the Playhouse Theatre just before the opening of the first Canadian Ballet Festival in April 1948. Organized by Winnipeg Ballet manager David Yeddeau, the festivals contributed to the professionalization of dance in Canada. When the Ballet Festival used the Walker, it was then known as the Odeon Theatre and had been converted into a movie house; however, the proscenium and stage still existed. When Yeddeau and stage manager John Russell inspected the theatre days before the festival's opening, they discovered that the last live act to perform there had been a circus and elephants had destroyed the surface of the stage. The night before the opening, a stage crew went into the theatre after the last movie was finished and completely resurfaced the stage with beaverboard. The Festival opened the next night with the Governor General and Lady Alexander in attendance who saw the Winnipeg Ballet perform as well as the Volkoff Canadian Ballet from Toronto and Les Ballets Ruth Sorel from Montreal.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery has been home to countless performances and festivals featuring Winnipeg's busy dance scene. Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers, Gearshifting Performance Works (Jolene Bailie) and Stephanie Ballard have all presented work here, and it has been used as a venue during Manitoba's Nuna Festival. Its collection also holds a number of pieces belonging to artist Robert Bruce who designed many costumes and sets for Gweneth Lloyd's works in the repertoire of the Winnipeg Ballet in the 1940s including Triple Alliance, Façade Suite and Dionysos.
This building houses the studio of the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble, one of North America's oldest and largest Israeli folk dance ensembles, which was founded in 1964 by Sarah Sommer. The studio provides space for dance and vocal classes, rehearsals, and houses the Chai Archives.
The Gas Station Arts Centre was founded in 1983 in Osborne Village as a multidisciplinary hub for arts activity. It regularly presents dance, theatre, music, comedy and poetry in its 232-seat venue and also contains an art gallery. Local dance artists and companies who have presented work here include TRIP Dance Co., Winnipeg' s Contemporary Dancers, Mouvement/Winnipeg Dance Projects, The Young Lungs Dance Exchange, Gearshifting Performance Works (Jolene Bailie), NAfro Dance and Q Dance. It was used during Winnipeg's Canadian Modern Dance Festival for seven seasons beginning in 1985.
This large outdoor stage located next to Assiniboine Park's historic Pavilion is known as the Lyric Theatre. Its creation was initiated in the 1990s by a group of citizens (now known as “Partners in the Park”) as a way of continuing the tradition of bandshell entertainment that started at the Pavilion in the 1920s. Since it opened in 1999, with an audience capacity of 10,000 people, it has increased the amount of cultural activities taking place in the park. From June to September, a variety of programming is presented on the Lyric stage including many free outdoor concerts. It also provides a stage for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's “Ballet in the Park” series, which has been running in Assiniboine since the 1970s.
The McConnell School of Dance is one of the longest-running Irish dance schools in Canada. The first McConnell School of Dance was opened in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, more than a century ago when founder Agnes McConnell began teaching Irish dance to the local millworkers' children. The McConnell studio opened in Canada in 1947 when Agnes's younger brother Samuel and his wife Sarah immigrated. In 1982, the next generation took the reins with daughter Pearl as artistic director. The school is now in its third generation under the direction of Samuel and Sarah's granddaughter Shayleen McConnell Finucan. In addition to his work as a founder of Irish dance in Winnipeg, Samuel McConnell also choreographed numerous CBC musicals and Rainbow Stage shows, and was one of the founding members of the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg.
This site is home to the studio of NAfro Dance Productions, founded in 2002 by Casimiro Nhussi as the only African contemporary dance company in Western Canada. Nhussi's works are inspired by the Makonde people of Mozambique as well as other elements of African and contemporary culture. The studio is also shared by the Sopilka Ukrainian Dance School, and before NAfro moved here, the space was used by Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers and School of Contemporary Dancers from 1980 to 2002.
Located inside of Winnipeg's Kildonan Park, Rainbow Stage is Canada's longest-running outdoor theatre. Its creation dates back to the late 1940s when the Winnipeg Musicians' Association often held performances in the city's parks during the summer. After the flood of 1950 washed away the bandstand stage in Kildonan, the Superintendent of Parks suggested that the city build a new stage where the bandstand had been. Rainbow Stage opened on September 22, 1953, and has been an important venue for musical theatre in the city ever since. It was created at a time when Canada experienced a booming performing arts scene and venues such as Rainbow Stage, Vancouver's Theatre Under the Stars and Toronto's CNE Grandstand Shows provided summer work for Canada's growing number of singers, dancers and actors. Other notable artists who have been a part of Rainbow Stage include theatrical designer Ted Korol, who designed costumes there for forty years, and his wife, actress/dancer Daphne Korol.
Home to Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, this is the first purpose-built facility created for a major dance company in Canada. Founded in 1938 by British émigrés Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is Canada's oldest existing ballet company. After many years of working in temporary spaces and several false starts at acquiring a new building, the RWB could find some stability in this new permanent home when they moved in 1988 - a time when few Canadian dance organizations owned their own facilities. Architect Les Stechesan spent six years designing the building, while looking at similar infrastructure and interviewing everyone in the company about their needs. Notably, design of the building is dominated by the company's desire for light and windows to contrast their experience in previous working conditions through long, dark Winnipeg winters.
The basement at the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral is where the Rozmai Ukrainian Dance Company rehearses. Founded in 1971, Rozmai brings traditional Ukrainian dance to Manitoba and has performed with major arts organizations such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Located on the University of Winnipeg campus, the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film contains state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for the university's film and theatre students. It also contains a studio theatre that can be rented out by the arts community. Some of the dance artists who have presented in this space include Freya Olafson, Gearshifting Performance Works (Jolene Bailie) and the School of Contemporary Dancers. The studio theatre is also used as a venue during the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.
The Rady Jewish Community Centre recently announced the creation of a the Babs Asper Centre for Cultural Arts. In memory of Ruth “Babs” Asper, a passionate supporter of the arts in Winnipeg, the centre provides another venue for cultural programming for the Jewish community and the city at large.
Although primarily a music venue, the Park Theatre and Cafe it is often used by independent dancers and smaller theatre companies, as well as special events and films. In particular, Ruth Cansfield Dance has performed many seasons at this venue.
Manohar Performing Arts of Canada was founded in 1991 by artistic director Usha Sharma. As a South Asian dance theatre company it presents classical Indian dance styles such as bharatanatyam and kathak. Performances frequently take place at the Playhouse Theatre. Manohar is also associated with Winnipeg's Jhankaar School of Dance and BhavaRagaTala Academy of Dance and Music, which provide training in South Asian dance forms.
Theatre Flamenco is a flamenco dance school founded by Claudia Carolina with branches in Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg. The Winnipeg studio was founded by dancer Claire Marchand who directs and teaches along with fellow dancer Carmen Cano de Infante, commonly known as the godmother of Spanish dance in Manitoba.
Founded in 1962 by Peter Hladun, Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble has toured internationally and across Canada, as well as performing at home with fellow Winnipeg arts organizations such as Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In 2006, the company staged a major production, “The Legend of Rusalka”, which also toured internationally. Rusalka will celebrate its 50th anniversary in fall 2013 with performances, exhibitions and the publication of a book about the company's history.