For many children, especially those in Manitoba’s northern towns, exposure to ballet and the world of dance is not an opportunity that is presented very often. With the help of Investors Group and RBC Royal Bank, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division is able to take the art form up north with their Concert Hour Ballet series.
The Concert Hour Ballet program was conceived by David Moroni, the founding director of the Professional Division, over 30 years ago.
The tour creates the opportunity for the RWB to develop relationships with the community and bring ballet to children who may not otherwise be exposed to it.
The program also allows the senior students of the Professional Division to share their love of dance with others while experiencing the touring aspect that comes with being a part of a company professionally.
“It’s definitely really exciting,” says senior Professional Division student Jaimi Deleau. “I’ve never gone on a tour before. It’s going to be a new experience for me.”
Deleau, 17, has been dancing since she was four years old, and has spent the last seven years at the RWB School. As a Level 7 student in the Professional Division, she will be graduating from the program after this year.
“The movement is so unique,” she says. “You can become overcome by it. Performing it is the best feeling in the world.”
The young dancer is also a Grade 12 student at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, which has an integrated program with the RWB School, ensuring that the young dancers receive a quality education alongside their rigorous dance schedule.
Deleau is open to any opportunity that is presented to her following her double graduation.
“I hope to join the aspirant program here. It’s (an) intro into the company. After that I hope to audition and get into a company.”
The students have been preparing for the tour, in which Deleau will perform several roles, since September. During the performance she will be demonstrating a ballet class as well as performing two roles in Sleeping Beauty: the Lilac Fairy and the White Cat in the Puss in Boots pas de deux (a duet).
A unique aspect of the tour is the involvement of the students setting up the flooring and lighting at each venue, which allows them a glimpse into the backstage world.
The tour began Monday, Nov. 21, with the RWB spending a week in Winnipeg One schools. From there the students will be heading out to Portage la Prairie before heading north to pay visits to Thompson and The Pas.
Published in Volume 66, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 23, 2011)