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Arnold Spohr, 1923-2010

By Amy Bowring

Arnold Spohr, one of the longest serving artistic directors in Canadian cultural history, has died at a nursing home in Winnipeg. Spohr began his career as a dancer in 1945 at the Winnipeg Ballet working with founders Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally. He received acclaim for his performances at the Canadian Ballet Festivals and his early choreographic works were highlighted by the critics. He was a part of the company when it received its Royal moniker in 1953 and when fire ravaged the studios in 1954. He became artistic director in 1958 and remained its leader for the next three decades. During that time, he raised Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s profile from that of a regional ballet to one of international stature and guided dancers such as Evelyn Hart and David Peregrine through award-winning performances. His skill as a director is often noted by former dancers. He put a unique signature on the company by commissioning works from emerging and established choreographers creating a repertoire of contemporary and classical ballets.

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