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Downtown Amman.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

Billboard of King Abdulllah outside Amman.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


Contrary to Original Plans RWB is only performing in Israel, not Jordan

By Rhonda Spivak, October 12, 2010

Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet [RWB] was to have performed in Amman Jordan this month, after performing in Israel, co-inciding with a Mission by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg to Israel.

However, last week Mel Lazareck, who has just been appointed Manitoba’s Special Representative to Israel for Economic Affairs and Cultural Relations informed the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he understood that the  RWB’s performance in  Jordan had been cancelled (for our story on Lazareck’s Special Appointment, click here.

In answer to a telephone inquiry by the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Kate Hodgert, Publicity Manager, Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet  sent an email explaining the reason for the cancellation:

“Due to unforeseen logistical challenges that have arisen recently, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet will postpone its performance in Amman, Jordan on October 23, 2010 as part of its 70th Anniversary Tour overseas. We wish to thank our presenter in Amman, The Jordan Festival, the Friends of the Jordan Festivals, the Canadian Embassy in Jordan and all of our colleagues there for their efforts in arranging our visit. The RWB is committed to continuing to work with The Jordan Festival and all of our friends in Amman to make a future visit to Jordan a reality, and look forward to our ongoing relationship with the people of Jordan.”

Hodgert advised the Winnipeg Jewish Review that “The decision to postpone the RWB’s performance in Jordan was made during the week of September 22, 2010.”

When asked whether the RWB be performing somewhere else instead of Amman, Hodgert replied “No.”

When asked whether the RWB would be staying longer in Israel as a result of the Amman performance cancellation, Hodgert indicated “The RWB is not planning to stay longer in Israel at this time however we are always in dialogue with presenters from around the world about new opportunities to share our important work on the international stage.”

 The RWB was to have been the first Canadian Ballet Company to perform in Jordan.

On  Monday October 11,  The Winnipeg Jewish Review searched the the  Jordan Festival,  which was named by Hodgert as a scheduled presenter for the RWB,  but the search results for  said “This Doman name expired in 10/09/10 and is pending renewal or deletion.” 

According to the website of the Jordan Festival ( ) “the Friends of the Jordan Festivals is a non-profit organization founded in March 2010, by a group of men and women, leaders in the private sector; motivated by their love and loyalty to their country, and their passion of the culture and the arts. The NGO aims at promoting Jordan as a cultural destination being the only open air museum in the world, rich in history, rich in heritage and rich in culture. 

It’s mission is to “Implement His Majesty King Abdullah’s vision, in promoting Jordan as a touristic, cultural and economic destination.. Create an ongoing cultural initiative that will ultimately be sustainable all year round...Promote cross cultural interaction and cooperation…”Promote private sector’s participation in fulfilling the objectives of the festival. “

In a previous article by Rhonda J Prepes, the Winnipeg Jewish Review had asked whether the RWB made any attempt to set up performances in the Palestinian territories, such as Ramallah. Jacques Marcoux, Hodgert’s predecessor answered, “There were some initial discussions that occurred regarding potentially performing in Palestine, however due to scheduling constraints and a later than ideal start on discussions, plans for this have been postponed for the time being. The RWB is definitely open to the idea of performing in Palestine at some point in the future.”

According to an article in the Jordanian Times of October 2009 by Jonah Shepp,  in April 2009 a new School of Amman Ballet [SAB] was  founded by American  Melissa Sweiss, and  has  attracted many students.

"There is such a huge love for ballet in Amman, more so than anywhere else I've lived in the world," Sweiss said, noting that although many local schools have ballet clubs, there is a shortage of teachers.

Sweiss added, however, that “boys” have not been eager to join, since they are not into ballet in Jordan and  cultural sensitivities about mixed-gender dance classes are also an obstacle.

In the article, Sweiss  she has yet to find one male to join the School of Amman Ballet.

For our earlier related article by Rhonda J Prepes  about the RWB’s performances in Israel co-inciding  with the  mission of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg to Israel, click here.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.