1. Jill Groening
2. Rachelle Bourget
3. Ming Hon
For Jill Groening, dance began as a hobby, one amidst all the other usual extracurricular sports, at age 11. As the years passed, the sports fell to the wayside and dancing grew from a hobby into a passion. When she learned of the Uniter 30 results, her reaction was one of bashful humility. Groening, a writer for this very publication, is humble, bordering on embarrassed by the honour, admitting she’s not a competitive person.
“It’s such a huge compliment,” Groening says. “I’m young and still learning so much. But I was shocked when I heard and still am.”
While in high school, Groening enrolled in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Intensive Training Program, simultaneously juggling school work and her dance study. In 2012, Groening graduated from the Senior Professional Program at the School of Contemporary Dancers, an experience she describes as similarly intense.
“You don’t have time to do anything but train and work whatever job will pay you,” Groening says.
The experience has also been a fulfilling one as Groening has since received numerous opportunities in the professional dance world.
Her first paid dance job was 2012’s Aspects of Alterity, a full length piece from Jolene Bailie, artistic director of the acclaimed Gearshifting dance company. Groening describes Bailie as a major inspiration, noting she also finds crucial creative guidance from choreographer Stephanie Ballard and intermedia artist Freya Olafson.
This April, Groening will be collaborating with Bailie once again on an upcoming contemporary dance show. She feels indebted to the Winnipeg dance community for its continued support, a community of which Groening is proud to be a member.
“Physically, ballet is something I hope will always be with me, even when I’m just looking for balance, walking on a slippery sidewalk,” Groening says with a laugh.