Royal Winnipeg Ballet celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year with an ambitious season devoted to classical and original contemporary works. The company, which was established in 1939, received the first Royal charter granted by Queen Elizabeth II in the Commonwealth.
The 75th Anniversary year opens on October 1st with the premiere of a new full-length narrative ballet, Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, by Mark Goddon with music by Christos Hatzis. Based on a story by novelist Joseph Boydon, Going Home Star looks at some of the human consequences of the period in Canadian history during which the government forcibly assimilated its aboriginal, First Nations children into the public school system through compulsory attendance at day schools and residential schools.
In conjunction with the assimilation process, children were separated from their families, not permitted to speak their own language, practice their own religion, or perform their native dances and songs. Thousands of children died from abuse and neglect in the residential schools which operated from 1876 to 1996.
In 2008, the Canadian government established the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission to uncover the truth about the schools' operations. Boydon used the Commission’s findings as inspiration for his story.
Following are two brief clips lifted from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s website. The first is author Joseph Boydon speaking about this period of history and how Canada is dealing with it today. The second clip shows rehearsal footage of Goddon’s ballet. It all seems very interesting. Maybe some of our favorite Canadian Haglund’eelers will file a report next week.