The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s latest production features a double bill: the return of Carmina Burana and the world premiere of T’əl: The Wild Man of the Woods by choreographer in residence Cameron Fraser-Monroe. 

In the pit will be longtime artistic partners, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of RWB Music Director and Principal Conductor Julian Pellicano. Joining them will be cellist and composer Cris Derksen, whose music is used in the new work.  

“This is my first ballet,” says Derksen. “I definitely have done a lot of composing for contemporary dance, which is a different kind of beast.”



The JUNO-nominated musician originally from Treaty 8 Northern Alberta has established herself as a respected and authentic voice in the musical scene, one which weaves together her Indigenous ancestry with a classical pedigree.  

Fresh off a Carnegie Hall performance of her music alongside the Orchestre Métropolitain and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Fraser-Monroe's choreography draws on Derksen’s existing catalogue of music for this production.  

“Cameron is really the driver of this ship,” says Derksen, who describes the score as somewhat atypical with selections from three pre-existing albums that feature a variety of styles, traditions and forms.  

“It’s going to be quite eclectic,” she says. Ranging from full symphonic sounds bolstered by powwow music to “soundscape-y, Cris Derksen electronic loopy cello things.”  

“I think for audience members it’s definitely going to be something super fresh and that they’ve never seen or heard before in a ballet.”  

Conductor Julian Pellicano echoes the sentiment.  

“(The ballet) is a blending of minds and ideas, coming together that creates something totally new.”  

For him, the opportunity to welcome Derksen to the pit to perform in the production was at the top of his wish list.  

“For me, it was like, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do the ballet if Cris wasn’t here but I kind of felt like I don’t want to do this ballet if Cris wasn’t here.”  

In the full conversation, hear more about making of the score, Derksen’s Facebook Marketplace experience, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and the importance of proper Indigenous representation and collaboration in, typically, Western European traditional art forms.    

T’əl: The Wild Man of the Woods with Carmina Burana runs from Thursday, April 25 through Sunday, April 28. For tickets and more details, visit: