Shadow on the prairie : Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a history in documents

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Rokala, Kimberly
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The first chapter is an introduction to my creative writing thesis, an imagined history, based on my research and readings, of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the multi-genre texts which inspired it. These texts include Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid; Frank Davey's The Abbotsford Guide to India; and Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods. There is a brief discussion of the techniques I employed from each text in terms of my own writing, with examples from Ondaatje, Davey and O'Brien as well as my thesis. The introduction also provides an overview of the subsequent chapters and their contents, respectively: Shadow on the Prairie; The Great Fire; The Spohr Era; Evelyn; and Ever After. The second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth chapters are imagined documents in the form of a multi-genre text of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet and its evolution as a grassroots prairie arts organization. The collection of pieces is intended to narrate the history of the company, its tragedies and triumphs. Almost exclusively, the documents are the product of my imagination based on my readings and research of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The work is documentary in nature and is intended to narrate the company's growth in terms of its founders, watershed events in its history such as The Great Fire and the appointment of former Artistic Director Arnold Spohr, to the rise of shining stars of the ballet, such as prima ballerina Evelyn Hart. The work is an exploration of the multi-genre text and is formatted as such; the text is structured to appear as documents and thus, only prose pieces are double spaced; others are spaced so as to reflect the nature of each individual document. While most documents are the product of my imagination, some actual documents, referenced by footnotes, have been included to provide historical links and authenticate the narrative voices in the poem. Others are based on actual documents and have been referenced where the originals have been edited, rephrased, reshaped and reorganized to suit my purposes. All pieces are structured to appear as documents ranging from poems to press releases, conversations to menus and have been formatted to reflect the kinds of documents they simulate and, thus, are neither consistently formatted nor double-spaced. In most cases I have double-spaced prose passages in order to enhance readability. The collection is an experimentation of form and narrative voices; it is meant neither to be exhaustive nor entirely factual. It is a melding of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, and is intended largely as a tribute to the people, present and past, who have influenced and immersed themselves in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and have shaped it into the company it is today.