Partners in dance and life

Platonic twin flames return to RWB stage for Romeo and Juliet

Craig Ramsay and Catherine Wreford are onstage together once again as Lord and Lady Capulet in RWB’s Romeo and Juliet.

Daniel Crump (Supplied)

Whether in ballet slippers or trainers, Catherine Wreford and Craig Ramsay walk the world together.

After winning the eighth season of Amazing Race Canada in 2022, the pair was called back to their roots: the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB). From Feb. 15 to 18, they’ll grace the Centennial Concert Hall stage again, performing as Lady and Lord Capulet in the RWB’s Romeo and Juliet.

Twenty-eight years ago, Wreford, a dancer in the recreational division, and Ramsay, a new addition to the ballet company’s professional division, met at the RWB.

“A mutual friend heard that I enjoyed singing as well as performing ballet, so they connected Catherine and I together,” Ramsay says. “She was just such an interesting and passionate and spectacular person.”

They soon formed an inseparable bond.

With their eyes set on a path to Broadway, the pair relocated to a shoebox-sized apartment in Toronto with only resumes, headshots and mutual support to their names. A year later, Wreford moved to New York City after scoring a Broadway role in 42nd Street and convinced Ramsay to join her.

“(Ramsay said) ‘I can’t pay the bill,’ and I said ‘I’ll pay it, just move in with me,” Wreford says.

“Whenever we were in doubt – there were moments where it was tough – we always relied on each other,” Ramsay said. “A short month later, I started getting work on my own.”

Over the next several years, their lives took them in different directions. They dated members of NSYNC. Wreford moved to Los Angeles, got engaged then unengaged to Jeff Goldblum and ended up working at a mortgage company. And for nine years, she stopped dancing.

Ramsay and Wreford remained close until, one day, she inexplicably pushed him out of her life.

“I came to visit her, and I realized through some of her actions and inactions that something was seriously wrong,” Ramsay says.

The next day, she found out she had a grapefruit-sized tumour in her brain. She was told she had two to six years to live.

“When I was diagnosed, I was like, ‘I need to dance again,’” Wreford says. “Dancing did not leave my body. My words did, but dancing didn’t.”

Over the course of that year, Ramsay helped her retake her first steps. With parts of her brain removed, they had to re- imagine their rehearsals.

“My short-term memory is not great,” Wreford says. “So, because that’s now gone, I have to rely on other parts of my body to remind me of what I need to do.”

In some ways, Ramsay has become an extension of her body, using movement and verbal cues to trigger her muscle memory.

“Now, I understand how Catherine’s brain is able to rewire itself,” Ramsay says. “I’m really there to complement what an incredible performance she’s naturally doing.”

In 2019, the RWB welcomed her and Ramsey to perform in Romeo and Juliet. Five years later, they’re returning for a second curtain call.

Today, more than a decade since her diagnosis, she has now surpassed the six-year estimate doctors gave her. She credits dance for giving her the passion and strength to keep going.

“Doing all of these performances is keeping me alive,” Wreford says. “This is what makes me want to live.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 15, 2024)

Related Reads