Evelyn Hart back on stage in Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Giselle

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is set to open its latest production of Giselle, but among the new cast of characters, there is a familiar face on the stage. Former Principal dancer, Evelyn Hart.

Evelyn Hart plays Giselle's mother in latest production

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is set to open its latest production of Giselle, but among the new cast of characters, there is a familiar face on the stage. 1:42

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is set to open its latest production of Giselle, but among the new cast of characters, there is a familiar face on the stage.

Former principal dancer, Evelyn Hart is re-joining the ballet to perform in the timeless love story that helped make her a household name.

Hart performed the starring role in RWB's first full-length production of Giselle in 1982. Today, that role belongs to current principal dancer Jo-Ann Sundermeier.

Principal dancers Liang Xing (Albrecht) and Jo-Ann Sundermeier (Giselle) star in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's classic tale (Holly Caruk)

Giselle is said to be one of the greatest ballets, requiring exceptional technical and dramatic skills. It's a story of a young woman who dies of a broken heart and becomes a tale of love transcending from beyond the grave.

It has been an audience favourite since its premiere in Paris in 1841. It became an RWB staple after Hart played the role.

Hart now plays the role of Giselle's mother, but her presence goes beyond a supporting role. Hart is providing coaching to the new generation of dancers and her wisdom is leaving a lasting impression.

"Evelyn came in and the minute she walked into the studio I was excited to have her there, but she was also excited to be there," says Sundermeier. "To have her give all her information and any piece of advice not only about dancing but also about performing and what you have to feel."

RWB's Giselle opens Sept. 30 and runs to Oct. 4 at the Centennial Concert Hall. (Holly Caruk)

The return to the RWB stage brings Hart full circle. Now, as a mentor, she not only plays the role of mother to Giselle but imparts her wisdom on a new generation of Principal Dancers "giving them little tidbits and pearls of wisdom," says Hart. "It allows you to pass on the things that were given to you as a gift."

Hart isn't the only one bringing wisdom to this production. RWB artistic director, Andre Lewis, played the role of Albrecht, Giselle's love interest, back in 1982 opposite Hart. Now in a directing capacity, he passes on what he brought to the stage all those years ago.
Former RWB Principal Dancer, Evelyn Hart, returns to the stage to join the cast of Giselle, as well as mentor the next generation. (Holly Caruk)

"That's what ballet should be all about. The generation that came before is there to support, help and advance the next generation. So new layers are added to the understanding of the roles that we performed as youngsters," says Lewis.

The production of Giselle opens September 30 and runs until October 4  at the Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall.

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