The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) held its annual Scholarship Presentation Evening on Nov. 8, presenting nearly 60 scholarships at the RWB’s Founders’ Studio to both Canadian and international students.
The RWB school has received acclaim both at home and abroad, helping students grow in their pursuit of a career as a professional ballet dancer.
They do this by offering annual scholarships to students who wish to attend their year-long dance programs — the academic program, the aspirant program and the teacher training program.
Suzanne André, principal of the RWB professional division, said the scholarships are awarded to those already in the RWB’s ballet academic programs.
“Each scholarship has its own specific criteria and they’re quite varied. Based on that criteria, we’re able to award scholarships to students from our program,” said André.
André said the ballet academic program is a seven-level professional training program, where students from Grade 6 and up are taught skills for finding a career as a professional ballet dancer.
“They are completing their academic learning, as well as training six days a week,” she said.
“They are taking a daily ballet class as well as other classes that train them to be a professional dancer.”
In contrast to the ballet academic program, the aspirant and teacher training programs are post-secondary sessions.
The former is dedicated towards providing high school graduates with a professional training in the art of ballet, while the aspirant program is a bridge between training and a career.
“Aspirants are here training with us six days a week,” said André.
“Many of them are also performing in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company’s larger productions.”
André said aspirants are gaining experience to prepare them for the audition process.
“They are training,” she said.
“They are getting performance experience and they’re also aided with preparation for an audition process or an apprenticeship process.”
The teacher training program is a three-year program aimed at developing accredited ballet teachers.
“They are taking courses in terms of training techniques and pedagogy for teaching various levels of ballet,” said André.
Each year, staff from the RWB school division travel through the United States and Canada, holding auditions and master classes to find dancers for their training programs.
Students willing to join the RWB participate in a two-tier audition.
“They can audition for us in person or they can also audition by DVD,” André said.
“Successful candidates from that initial audition will come and be invited to our four-week summer session, which takes place every July.”
Summer session participants are assessed during an audition for the full-time programs at the RWB, while also experiencing the typical life of a performer of the company. Successful candidates are accepted into the programs.