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GM Artists > Dancer Profiles > Tara Birtwhistle


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Tara imageSome dancers would rather quit ballet than change pointe shoes, but Tara Birtwhistle tried Gaynor Mindens in 2002 and has been wearing them ever since—as her career has soared. Her talent speaks for itself. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s principal dancer was named “one of 100 young Canadians to watch in the new millennium” in Maclean’s magazine and has certainly proven well worth watching, with triumph after triumph in the Royal Winnipeg’s repertoire.

Of her Gaynor Mindens in which she dances so stunningly, Tara says, I have been wearing Gaynor Mindens for almost three years and I am thrilled with the results. Amazing as it sounds, they have changed how I dance and have certainly lessened the pain I had in my feet and ankles. A God send!"

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Tara grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta and then moved on to Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Prior to attending the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, she danced at the Sherwood Park School of Dance and the Red Deer School of Ballet, both of which she remembers with great fondness and to whom she attributes the nurturing of her dance career. Tara began her professional training with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Professional Division in 1986. After graduating in 1991, Tara joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company as a member of the Corps de Ballet. In 1995, she was promoted to Soloist, and in 2000, danced her way to Principal Dancer.

Tara is particularly admired for her versatility in a varied repertoire and for her flare for dramatic interpretation. “Birtwhistle’s final embraces of her partner took the choreography to an emotional place that some dancers never reach in an entire career”said Alison Mayes, Dance International Magazine, 2005. The Winnipeg Free Press described her as, “The most soulful performer in Rudi van Dantzig’s Four Last Songs.” Dance Europe Magazine praised her performance in Raymonda. “Tara radiated mystery and allure with exotic solo work.”

Aside from her roles with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, such as, ‘Lucy’ in Mark Godden’s Dracula, ‘Rita Joe’ in Vesak’s The Ecstacy of Rita Joe, ‘The Cowgirl’ in Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, ‘Myrtha’ in Giselle, and ‘Juliet’ in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet, Birtwhistle has been invited to several command performances including dancing for Queen Elizabeth II on her 2002 Jubilee visit to Canada. She was also nominated for a Gemini award for her performance in the film, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary and in December 2002, spent several weeks touring with Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, and The London Philharmonic Orchestra on a 21-city tour of A Royal Christmas.

In response to her performance as the ‘Queen of the Night’ in Mark Godden’s production of The Magic Flute, The Globe and Mail wrote, “The charismatic Birtwhistle is an archetypal goddess, and with her highly charged deep pliés and commanding arms, she evokes the quintessential feminine mystique.” The television adaptation of this production is scheduled to air later in 2006 on CBC’s arts program Opening Night.

Outside of the dance studio, Tara enjoys knee-boarding and investing time in her other passion, horseback riding, which she is able to do on the back of her beautiful Arabian horse, River.