Peter Pan

Dates and Venue 20 & 21 March 2009 @ 7.30pm (Matinees Sat & Sun 21 & 22 March at 1pm) | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Interviewer Michael Pink

The much anticipated performance of the classic Peter Pan, written by J.M. Barrie, (B. 1860) and performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, soared to meet and exceed expectations. This comes as no surprise for a company, founded in 1939, and granted a Royal Title in 1953, that is the longest running ballet company in North America.

Having watched numerous RWB performances, the company dancers consistently perform with élan and technical precision. Such was the case with Peter Pan. This is a ballet that demands intense and exacting choreography. The fencing scenes alone are worthy of a swashbuckling scene by Errol Flynn and the costumes and set must evoke the magic and mood of a very special story.

Moreover, in presenting such a fantasy, the mood and ambiance have to be transported to the audience in colorful, creative and lasting images. This feat of choreographic and design magic was fully realized. The dancers, a dedicated and disciplined group, displayed enormous range and the always remarkable task of blending beauty with intense physicality that would tax most athletes.

It is one of the ironies of dance that the ballet world is so often depicted in soft and graceful tones yet the remarkable physical training and athleticism of the dancers is often overlooked. Clearly this fact could not be overlooked as the audience, a full house, focused with rapt attention on the dance and acrobatics of Peter Pan.

Yosuke Mino, in the role of Peter Pan, was simply amazing. Dancing with a perpetual smile and cheerful countenance, he gave an outstanding performance that was both attractive and physically astounding. The scenes where he is transported into the air, flying back and forth and sword fighting with sudden lifts into the air was all done seamlessly and smoothly. The choreography alone for these scenes was arduous but ultimately successful. The audience loved it.

Mino is a very attractive dancer to watch and clearly shines in the Peter Pan role. Born in Japan, he has been with the RWB since 2002.

Vanessa Lawson, in the role of Tinker Bell, was delightful and sprightly. Her energy was high as she bounded and danced across the stage with tremendous poise. A seasoned dancer with wonderful emotional projection, she has been with RWB since 1997.

Gael Lambiotte, a native of Belgium, danced the roles of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. Lambiotte is a highly talented and experienced dancer who projects refinement and grace as he moves. In one scene, while dancing in tux and tails, no easy feat, he moved with the precision and grace of Fred Astaire.

Maureya Lebowitz, a native of Montana and looking like a classical European dancer, was in the role of Wendy Darling. Bathed in a white gown, her dance flows with graceful turns.

Another talented dancer to watch is Amar Dhaliwal who hails from Alberta. He joined the RWB in 2003 and danced in one of the Pirate roles. He is a strong and smooth dancer with good emotional projection.

As always, great performances must pay tribute to the unsung heroes. In this case, set designers Don Rutley and Andrew Beck are master craftsmen who created a beautiful backdrop for the ballet to really shine. Costume designer Anne Armit is superb, creating the clothing that was right, animated and perfect for each and every scene. Her wardrobes are moving art.

Andre Lewis, the engaging artistic director was on hand to welcome the full house of guests and earned the warm applause he received for his long run with the RWB and masterful artistic direction.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet and performances like Peter Pan truly evoke the best of ballet.

© 2009 Michael Pink