Manitoba

Ballet at Winnipeg Fringe Festival raises awareness of child exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is the subject of a new Winnipeg Fringe Festival performance featuring dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Text Me follows teenage girl who is manipulated into entering sex trade

Child sexual exploitation is the subject of a new Winnipeg Fringe Festival performance featuring dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Aspirant Program. 1:48

Child sexual exploitation is the subject of a new Winnipeg Fringe Festival performance featuring dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Text Me, which debuts at the festival on Thursday, is a contemporary ballet telling the story of a teenage girl who is manipulated into entering the sex trade.

It's presented by Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada, a Winnipeg-based organization that fights the sexual exploitation of children around the world.

Choreographer and artistic director Philippe Jacques says he wants to raise awareness of the issue.

"People in general don't realize that it does happen right here in Canada. It's not just somewhere," he said.

"I think it is very important to educate people about it so that they can recognize symptoms of sexual exploitation."

Jacques said he also hopes Text Me will introduce more people to ballet. It is danced by members of the RWB's Aspirant Program.

Julia Jones-Whitehead, one of the dancers, said she hopes the performance will help people recognize signs of child exploitation in the real world.

"Through being the mother of this girl that gets drawn in, I've sort of been able to put myself in the place of a parent and learn things about how I would react," she said.

Text Me runs until July 26 at the Rachel Browne Theatre inside the Crocus Building on 211 Bannatyne Ave.