Dozens of aspiring young dancers attended auditions and master classes held by Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet on Monday at the Canadian School of Ballet studios on Leckie Road. Johanne Gingras, the company's teacher training program director, and Bruce Monk, a teacher, choreographer and photographer, held master classes in between discovering loads of local talent. Those who audition also have an opportunity to win a full tuition scholarship for the four-week summer session.
Youngsters who wanted to run away and join the circus have a new ambition: audition for Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
The 'little company that could' was in Kelowna Monday on its annual talent search and dozens of Okanagan young people put their best slippered foot forward.
"This represents a career that I could have in the future," said 13-year-old Lydia Jane. "Excited? Yes, very. Nervous? Yes. But just to be able to dance; that's the best thing. Yeah, I just like to dance."
Four years ago, she was attracted to the fluid movements of ballet. And she continues to immerse herself in educational opportunities, like the master classes Monday with the company's Johanne Gingras, who teaches teachers how to teach ballet, and teacher/choreographer/former dancer Bruce Monk.
"We got to do a lot of new combinations that I haven't done before. It was a fun experience, a little different from what I usually do. It was really good," said Jane.
Madelyn Miyashita, also 13, liked the audition experience so it would be a bonus for her to be accepted into the company's training programs. "Ballet is a way to express the arts and it just makes you feel amazing," she said.
Those sentiments are shared by Gingras who is officially the director of the Manitoba company's teacher training program and on the faculty of the professional division.
"I was a very physical child and I needed to channel that energy. When I discovered ballet - and other forms of dance - it really embraced what I had to say. For youngsters, it's the same thing. They need to express; they need to channel energy," she said.
The auditions for the professional training program were held at the Canadian School of Ballet
studios on Leckie Road
The company offers three programs: the full-time ballet academic program, which combines academic education with dance training for Grades 6-12 students; the two-year, full-time school aspirant program for post-secondary students who are experienced dancers and want to join a ballet company; and the three-year, full-time school teacher training program, said Gingras.
Those who audition also have an opportunity to win a full tuition scholarship for the four-week summer session in July 2014.
"We are here to select dancers that we believe have the potential and the talent (for the summer school) and possibly be invited to join the full-time program. It's not based on numbers (of students who could be accommodated); we don't have a quota. It's based on talent, skill, what we see. We look at physicality, flexibility and proportion," said Gingras.
The company also offers masters classes at each of the 14 stops on the coast-to-coast Canadian tour, "working with students on musicality, artistry and technique that will help them in their future in dance," said Gingras.
At Monday's sessions in Kelowna, "I'm very impressed with the children, especially at that age. Most of them are Grade 6, 7, 8. They responded well; they were enthusiastic; and they were having fun. This is the very important part: not just technique, technique, but also the pleasure of dancing together."
For Gingras, "dance is a universal language" and classical ballet combines beauty and grace with "a lot of magic. You can say things without words."