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The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is celebrating its 75th anniversary with an ambitious full-length work inspired by a very difficult subject.

The new ballet Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation deals with the traumatic experiences of First Nations children who were torn from their roots and placed in residential schools.

The creative collaborators are a starry lot, indeed – choreographer Mark Godden, composer Christos Hatzis and acclaimed native Canadian author Joseph Boyden. In preparation, Godden spent a year and a half following live streaming of the testimonies by former students at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.

The plot revolves around four characters, two in the present and two in the past at residential schools, and how they are linked together. Hatzis has incorporated powwow music of the Northern Cree Singers and the unique stylizations of Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq into the score.

The title comes from the aboriginal name for the North Star – the Going Home Star – which helped the native people in their navigations. Says Boyden: "We are taking a very European form and introducing it to a First Nations experience."

Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation is at Winnipeg's Centennial Concert Hall from Oct. 1 to 5 (

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