The longtime artistic director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet says he will step down from the role in 2025, ending a 50-year career with Canada’s oldest ballet company. Andre Lewis became the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s artistic director in 1996, and in 2018 he was also appointed chief executive officer of the company.Lewis began his dance training in Ottawa before being accepted into the professional division of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1975.He joined the company in 1979, where he had a career as a dancer for 10 years before he shifted to a management role.He said he still remembers his first dance class.“My sister was taking a class there, and her teacher told her class ‘we need boys for the nutcracker.’ So my mother sent three of us to perform,” Lewis said. Story continues below advertisement “I love the physicality and I love the artistic intent behind that physicality. That’s what drew me to ballet in the first place. I adore the ability to put emotions into motion.”The company said in a statement Thursday that the board of directors has begun the transition and will launch an international recruitment plan to hire his successors. Trending Now Lewis’s role will be split into two, with new people coming on to take over as executive director by June 2023 and artistic director by 2024.“For the last, let’s say three years, it’s been on my mind. What do I do, how do I do it? And I will reach age 70 at one point — it’s not so much the age, it’s just I want to do other things,” he said.As the company rehearses for Swan Lake, Lewis reflects on his long career, in which he oversaw 30 years of productions as artistic director, and commissioned new works, like Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation, a particular point of pride.“I’ve had this incredible privilege of serving this organization, and serving the people, the students, the dancers, and the administrative staff. It’s because of them that I’ve been able to do what I’ve been doing.” Story continues below advertisement But even after retirement, Lewis said he won’t be leaving dance completely. “I think it’s a wonderful aspect of our human endeavours, that artistic side, it makes a difference in a city, and a country, in a province, and I want to continue sustaining it.”— With files from the Canadian Press and Global’s Iris Dyck 1:00 Longtime RWB head to step down © 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s artistic director to step down in 2025, ending 50-year career