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Rebekah Rimsay Celebrates 30 Years
by Caroline Dickie
June 3, 2021

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Rebekah Rimsay. Photo by Sian Richards.

2021 was a milestone year for Principal Character Artist Rebekah Rimsay, marking her 30th anniversary with The National Ballet of Canada. The achievement is one of many in a long career that has seen Rebekah perform challenging dancing roles across the classical and contemporary repertoires, along with character roles she invests with brilliant life. To watch Rebekah perform today is to see the fullness of her experience and artistry, someone for whom dance has become a way of conversing, a language she knows in her bones.

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Rebekah Rimsay in Forgotten Land. Photo by Lydia Pawelak.

Rebekah joined the National Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member in 1990 and was promoted to Second Soloist in 1995, First Soloist in 1998 and Principal Character Artist in 2012. Moving up through the ranks has given her a depth of experience with the company repertoire that emerges as a wonderful sense of ease on stage, and has given rise to a career of enormous variety. Her memorable roles include the Russian Girl in George Balanchine’s Serenade, the lead role in Kenneth Macmillan’s Solitaire, the red couple in Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land and featured work in William Forsythe’s The Second Detail.

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Rebekah Rimsay in Cinderella. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Rebekah is a particular standout in the ballets of James Kudelka, who created roles for her in Cinderella, The Contract and An Italian Straw Hat. One of her finest creations has to be the myopic Her Other Stepsister in Cinderella, whose social-climbing antics disguise rigorous technique and practised comic timing. Rebekah has also performed Autumn in Kudelka’s The Four Seasons, Catherine Sloper in Washington Square and the solo female in The Man in Black, in which she dances in cowboy boots to the music of Johnny Cash. None are character roles in the traditional sense, but all benefit from a nuanced understanding of mood, storytelling and the human condition that presaged Rebekah’s success as Principal Character Artist.

Acting, like dancing, is most effective when the technique disappears, freeing the audience to connect fully with the performance. Rebekah has this ability to pull an audience into worlds, lives and stories entirely of her own making. She excels in iconic character roles such as Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, Madge in La Sylphide, Nurse in Romeo and Juliet and Baba in The Nutcracker, their varied qualities a sign of her dramatic range.

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Rebekah Rimsay in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

Focus, collaboration and an openness to learning have also defined Rebekah’s career with the National Ballet and she continues to be a source of inspiration for her colleagues. In 2008, the company recognized Rebekah for her exemplary work ethic with The David Tory Award. She is also a two time winner of the William Marrié Award for Dramatic Achievement (2004, 2010) and the recipient of the Rolex Dancers First Award for her portrayals of the Stepmother and Her Other Stepsister in Cinderella (2014).

Congratulations to Rebekah Rimsay on her beautiful career to date!

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