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Tuesday April 13, 2010

DR. ARNOLD THEODORE SPOHR On Monday, April 12, 2010, Arnold Theodore Spohr gently took leave of this world at the age of 86. Arnold dedicated his life to creating beauty through ballet as a dancer, choreographer and artistic director. He achieved international recognition and his work had a profound impact on dance in Winnipeg, Canada and around the globe. Mourning his loss are sister-in-law Lynda Spohr, nephew Gregory Spohr, longtime companion Stephanie Ballard, his extended family at Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and friends and admirers the world over. Born December 26, 1923 in Rhein, Saskatchewan, about 50 km from the Manitoba border, Arnold was the fifth of seven children born to George and Hermine Spohr (née Schalme). When Arnold was six, with the country in the midst of the Depression, his family moved to Winnipeg. Arnold's father, a Lutheran minister, filled their home with education, music and literature. Arnold grew up speaking both English and German, and spent his primary years excelling in classical piano and in sports. At age 20, he obtained a teaching certificate in music and physical education. Arnold's love for dance was sparked when he was persuaded by his sister to see a Winnipeg performance of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. As author Michael Crabb characterized it, 'He fell in love with Ballet that evening and has never fallen out of it.' Arnold Spohr joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as a dancer in 1945, when it was just a new light on the Canadian prairies. He became the Company's Artistic Director in 1958, at a most difficult time for the Company financially and artistically. Mr. Spohr undertook the reorganization of the Company with extraordinary energy, leadership and dedication. Throughout his 30 years as Artistic Director, he developed the Royal Winnipeg Ballet from a small, regional troupe to an award-winning company of international renown. Arnold Spohr had an immeasurable impact on the RWB and the dance community in Canada. He commissioned new works from both wellknown and emerging choreographers and was instrumental in helping to launch several prestigious dance careers. Arnold brought international choreographers and dancers to Winnipeg and took the Company to major cultural centres around the world. He was very proud of the ambassador role of the RWB, showcasing uniquely Canadian ballets. Arnold Spohr's outstanding artistic and personal achievements have garnered him the highest awards and distinctions, including the Companion of the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba, the Centennial Medal, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, three honorary doctorate degrees, and many other honours. Arnold Spohr worked tirelessly with dance organizations and companies throughout North America in service of developing excellence in the field of dance. From 1988, Arnold served as Artistic Advisor to Ballet Jörgen, which he helped co-found with Bengt Jörgen. In 1991, he served briefly as Interim Artistic Director for Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers. And, as Artistic Director Emeritus of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, he remained committed to supporting the efforts of the artists, the students, and the management of the Company. A private memorial service is being held for immediate family and friends. Bardal Funeral Home in care of arrangements. Sincere thanks are extended to André Lewis, Geoff Hayes, Holly Harris and caregivers at the Tuxedo Villa nursing home who assisted in the last hours. Flowers are gratefully declined, but if so desired, donations may be made in Memory of Arnold Spohr to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Certainly a human being with enough honesty, cunning, courage and love for a thousand lifetimes...He is a man who lives beyond himself. -Evelyn Hart

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