Can ballet help heal a nation? Going Home Star opens tonight in Vancouver

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Going Home Star.

Liang Xing and Sophia Lee in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star. Samanta Katz photo.

A new, acclaimed ballet that honours the stories of First Nations residential school survivors opens in Vancouver today.

Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation is a new classical ballet from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, running at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (650 Hamilton St.) April 7 – 9.

The original work was commissioned by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and created with the support of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A team that includes award-winning Canadian novelist Joseph Boyden, acclaimed choreographer Mark Godden, and renowned Canadian composer Christos Hatzis helped create the ballet. The ballet also features the music of Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers.

According to a story by Jennifer Van Evra in the Globe & Mail, “The powerful piece follows Annie, a young aboriginal hairdresser living a life of urban excess – until she meets a mysterious trickster disguised as a homeless man. Together, they travel back along their ancestors’ paths, laden with injustice and abuse, and forward toward healing and hope.”

Going Home Star premiered in Winnipeg in October 2014 as part of the RWB’s 75th anniversary season and received critical acclaim for its moving, inspiring message.

A scene from Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Going Home Star.

A scene from Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Going Home Star.

RWB’s Artistic Director, André Lewis, is no stranger to telling indigenous stories through ballet. For years, he danced the part of Rita Joe’s boyfriend Jaimie Paul in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. Originally a play by George Ryga, the story follows a young aboriginal woman who leaves her reserve to find a better life, but instead discovers poverty, prostitution, drugs and violence.

Quoted in the Globe & Mail, Lewis said of Going Home Star: “It’s about telling people what happened. Can ballet heal a nation? Everybody can help. It’s a big wheel, and we’re just one spoke. As [Truth and Reconciliation Commission chair Justice Murray] Sinclair said, this is a 20-generation process. So starting now is a good thing.”

Going Home Star runs for three performances, at 8 p.m. each night Thurs-Sat. Tickets range from $30.45 – 98.70 and are available at

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