Backstage at the Norton Center with…André Lewis

The Norton Center sat down with André Lewis, Artistic Director for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and had him answer the 10 questions we ask everyone…

1. VERY FEW PEOPLE KNOW THAT I… Love Opera. My favorite is probably Tosca.

2. WHEN I’M NOT ON TOUR I… am usually in the office working on the next tour.

3. WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT MY ART IS… Its vibrancy and youthfulness which keeps me young at heart and humble.

4. A LIFE LESSON I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH CENTRE COLLEGE STUDENTS IS: Never give up!

5. I DEFINE ART AS: Connecting with people and bringing emotions to the fore.

6. MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT IN SHOW BUSINESS THUS FAR WAS:  Probably performing Ecstasy of Rita Joe. It touched a chord in me because of the story and the beauty of the movement.

7. THE PERSON WHO MOST INFLUENCED ME IS: There are several but Arnold Spohr (past RWB Artistic Director) is the most significant. The person I admired most was the choreographer, and my friend, Rudi Van Dantzig, and the person I respect the most was my father.

8. IF I COULD BE ON STAGE WITH ANYONE, PAST OR PRESENT, ALIVE OR DECEASED, FICTIONAL OR REAL, IT WOULD BE: Teresa Bacall: She was a wonderful principal dancer with the RWB, and I danced with her in Romeo and Juliet. It was very early on in my career and I was very nervous so did not get a chance to enjoy it properly. I realize in retrospect how good it was.

9. WHILE TOURING, ONE OF MY GUILTY PLEASURES IS: Cappuccinos every morning! (that I don’t have to make myself.)

10. IF I COULD ENSURE THAT THE AUDIENCE TAKES HOME ONE THING AFTER A PERFORMANCE, IT WOULD BE: An ability to be touched and to allow us as artists to communicate with them.

***
More about the artist:
Approaching nearly 35 years with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, 15 of them as artistic director, André Lewis has spent the majority of his career with Canada’s first professional dance company, whose growth he has nurtured on stages at home and around the world.

A native of Gatineau, Québec, André Lewis began his dance training in Ottawa before being accepted into the Professional Division at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1975. Under the direction of David Moroni he trained there until 1979, when he was asked to join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company. Known for his strength as a soloist and as a partner, Lewis enjoyed an accomplished career as a dancer for over ten years, performing with the RWB until 1990. Some of his signature roles include Gunther in Nutcracker, Mercutio in Romeo & Juliet, and Jamie Paul in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. He also appeared as a guest artist numerous times in companies throughout North America, Asia and Russia.

More recently, Lewis commissioned choreographer and RWB alumnus Jorden Morris to create Peter Pan for the Company. Premiering in Winnipeg in December 2006, Peter Pan was hailed “One of the prettiest ballets in the RWB repertoire…” by The Globe and Mail. In 2009, for RWB’s 70th anniversary, Lewis commissioned Morris to create another new work, Moulin Rouge – The Ballet after the famous Parisian cabaret, which set record attendance levels at every performance and was the highest grossing show in RWB’s history.

In addition to his position as artistic director, Lewis is a sought-after ballet instructor and has guest taught throughout Europe and in Japan.

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