RWB dancer returns for The Sleeping Beauty

Catherine Wreford Ledlow is back as The Queen

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty is available on demand. (Supplied photo)

To live life to the fullest is to focus on your passions as if there were no tomorrow. After receiving a brain cancer diagnosis in 2013, dancer and former Broadway performer Catherine Wreford Ledlow decided to return to Winnipeg and take a second shot at dance.

“When I was diagnosed, I hadn’t been doing any dance for nine years. I was running a mortgage company in LA, and I became a nurse. I just had my life on a totally different page. When I started treatment, I thought about the two to six years (life expectancy) and what I wanted to do, which was to perform again. I had to meet that long-term goal one day at a time,” Wreford Ledlow says.

Now, in 2022, she is back on the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) stage for another anticipated production: The Sleeping Beauty. After performing as Lady Capulet in the 2019 Romeo and Juliet ballet run, Wreford Ledlow says returning to the RWB stage was even more home-like this time around.

“My son started taking classes at the RWB, so being there more often and showing up on Sundays when he is studying musical theatre and seeing everyone there feels like home to me,” she says.

“Having Catherine with us, she comes into the studio with that quintessential RWB energy of dancers loving to dance, that you can’t help but feel motivated,” Tara Birtwhistle, the associate artistic director of the RWB, says.

Taking dancers and patrons’ safety into account, The Sleeping Beauty performance was pre-recorded for audiences to watch from their homes as the ballet company eases back to in-person shows. Although there were different angles to explore, the goal during the filming process was to emulate a regular performance night.

“Filming ballet is different from performing onstage. Dancers are trained to do well once, leave the stage and do it again the next day. It’s very different on film, because there is no audience to feed off from. It was very important for me to work with the production company and make sure that they captured it very well once. If there was one thing or another to fix, we would run it again,” Birtwhistle says.

This pre-taped presentation also includes only one group of dancers, as opposed to having more than two sets of performers per production. Taking centre-stage alongside Wreford Ledlow is Liam Caines as The King, Alanna McAdie as Aurora, Yue Shi as Prince Désiré, Stephan Azulay as Carabosse and Elizabeth Lamont as Lilac Fairy.

With Marius Petipa’s choreography to the sound of Tchaikovsky’s composition, Birtwhistle pinpoints The Sleeping Beauty as the ideal ballet variation to admire and soak in during moments of distress.

The Sleeping Beauty is the joy of true dance and being swept away to a time when things were simpler and vast in beauty,” she says.

The Sleeping Beauty is available on demand until March 13 for $40 per household. Tickets can be purchased at

Published in Volume 76, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 10, 2022)

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