Tara Birtwhistle graduated from the Professional Division of the RWB School in 1991 and immediately joined the RWB as a corps de ballet member. In 1995, she was promoted to soloist and in 2000 became a principal dancer.
Through-out Birtwhistle’s twenty-year stage career she danced many roles, some of her favorites include Lucy in Mark Godden’s Dracula, Rita Joe in Vesak’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, The Cowgirl in Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, Myrtha in Giselle and Juliet in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo & Juliet. She has been lauded for her soloist performances in Mauricio Wainrot’s smash sensation Carmina Burana. Birtwhistle also left her mark as the evil yet charismatic Stepmother in Val Caniparoli’s, A Cinderella Story.
Among the many accolades behind her name, Birtwhistle was designated “One of 100 Young Canadians to Watch in the New Millennium” in Maclean’s magazine, she has received the Golden Jubilee Medal and Diamond Jubilee Medal from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in recognition for her stage career and her contribution to dance in Canada. Birtwhistle was also nominated for a Gemini Award for her stunning performance in Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary, a screen adaptation of the ballet.
Since retiring from the stage, Birtwhistle has been an integral part of the RWB’s artistic team. As Ballet Master for 11 years, she has overseen many RWB productions at home and on tour. In 2017 she curated Our Story the Company’s tribute to Canadian choreographers in celebration of Canada’s 150th. At the end of the RWB’s 2017-18 season, Birtwhistle was appointed Associate Artistic Director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
As Associate Artistic Director, Birtwhistle is a member of the senior leadership team of the organization, participating in strategic planning and serving as a key liaison with the Board of Directors. In collaboration with Artistic Director and CEO, Andre Lewis, Birtwhistle is responsible for casting, scheduling and overall management of the artistic team. She is also a significant contributor to the development and marketing functions, building connections between the RWB and its donors, supporters and patrons. Of particular note is her work as the artistic lead on all elements of the RWB’s visual brand, including directing the stunning video that launched the Company’s 80th Anniversary season.