The Latest: Looking Back to Move Forward

Royal Winnipeg Ballet premieres a ballet about Canada’s segregated history.

 

 

Choreographer Mark Godden leads rehearsal at RWB. Photo Courtesy RWB.

 

A company that usually sticks to crowd-pleasing story ballets, Royal Winnipeg Ballet will open its 75th-anniversary season with a work centered on a controversial topic. Going Home Star—Truth and Reconciliation, choreographed by former RWB dancer Mark Godden, is inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, established in response to a federal policy that forced indigenous children to leave their families for Indian Residential Schools. The goal of these boarding programs, which were government funded from the 1880s to the mid-1990s, was to assimilate indigenous children into white culture, and students were cruelly punished if they did not conform. “It’s a Canadian story,” says Godden, who read survivor testimonials to prepare for the ballet, which premieres October 1–5 at Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. “I think it’s important to get people talking about the injustices that humans have done to one another.”

The work’s purpose, says Godden, is to apologize for Canada’s history of human rights abuse and to honor indigenous heritage. The full-length story ballet will include performances by Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, plus a libretto by writer Joseph Boyden. “I think Canadians need to understand,” says Boyden, “that for almost 100 years, our First Nations Peoples were not allowed to practice their own dance, speak their own language or participate in their own religions.”

Godden is proud that RWB, and Canadians in general, are willing to look back into the country’s unpleasant past—even if it is, ironically, through the lens of an art form with European roots. “You can’t make change if you can’t see the error of your ways. These stories are so deep and personal. I was completely swallowed up by them.”

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AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

AMDA's 4 Tips for Acing Your Next Audition

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

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July 2021