I'm hoping that maybe something that I've done in my career will live on in someone's memory.
—Vanessa Lawson, dancer
Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Vanessa Lawson will be hanging up her slippers after eight years as principal dancer.
Lawson, 35, says she made the difficult decision because of recent and
recurring injuries. "I had hoped to dance a little bit longer, however
as a dancer it is extremely demanding on the body," she says.
"It's a huge part of who I am as a person, who I think I will always be.
So to decide that it's going to be my last year as a dancer with this
company and my last time on stage possibly is really not an easy thing
Her final performances take place in Moulin Rouge - The Ballet
, in a role created especially for her by choreographer Jorden Morris.
"Right from the start we wanted something very human and emotional and
very simple," Morris explains. "She's incredibly versatile, incredibly professional. She's really played a significant role in furthering dance in
Vanessa Lawson (David Cooper)
Morris created a new scene for Lawson for
her farewell. In it, she plays the muse of artist
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in a final modelling session before leaving Paris. For Lawson, there is a bittersweet parallel with her
real life departure from the stage.
"I like to think that the artwork of Toulouse-Lautrec exists
continuously -- it's eternal. I'm hoping that maybe something that I've
done in my career will live on in someone's memory, similar to the
artwork of Toulouse-Lautrec," she says.
As for her future, Lawson has been taking courses in arts management and says she hope to continue coaching other dancers.
"I want them to have similar opportunities to what I've had in my career. I feel that I have something I can pass on to them to help them, to inspire them to be better dancers or to grow as artists."
Vanessa Lawson as Giselle (David Cooper)
Looking back on her career, Lawson says her favourite roles are Giselle and Juliet. "For me, that role [of Juliet] was really being able to express emotions that you wouldn't normally get to express, especially in front of 2000 people," she says.
"I'm somewhat shy in real life, but when I get on stage and when I'm given a character and someone with that emotion, to just be able to have the freedom to show that is something amazing and something I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to do. That's I think what I'll miss the most about dancing."
Moulin Rouge - The Ballet will be presented at Centennial Concert Hall May 1-5.