Photostory #332: Canadian Dancers Tour Calypso Island: Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Jamaican Success
National Film Board of Canada
March 5, 1963
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Wafted on warm, gentle, Caribbean zephyrs, Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet glided gracefully between azure-blue sea and sky recently, to touch down lightly in their big four-engined jet at Kingston, Jamaica. Arrival in the island's sun-drenched 85-degree temperature a few hours after leaving Winnipeg's crisp 30-below-zero, marked the 60-member ballet company's first overseas tour. For ten days Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancers, musicians, administrators and stage personnel foiled in the Calypso-island's unaccustomed heat, gave nine highly-acclaimed, polished performances. Before sell-out houses in Kingston's Ward Theatre, Manderville's Odeon and a 20,000-strong sunset audience in the Kingston Stadium, the company's repertoire included ballet scores ranging from such classics as Pas de deux to a modern western comedy, Les Whoops-de-doo, complete with cowboys and six-guns. Although Jamaica has in the past seen such famous ballet names as Dolin and Markova, Toumanova and Danilova, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet was the first full-scale company to visit the island. For the rest of their current 23rd annual season, the ballet is touring across Canada and the U.S.A., giving performances from Saskatchewan to California, Nevada to Wisconsin. When their tour finally ends this March, members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet are likely to remember most the impressive public reaction they sparked during ten brilliant days of performances in their island in the sun.