One of only two U.S.-based auditions for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be right here in Fayetteville.
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division will host auditions and a master class Jan. 23-24 at the Walton Arts Center. The first master class will be for students in grades 8-12 from 2:45-4:15 p.m. Jan. 23, and a master class for adults is 4:30-6 p.m. on Jan. 23 in Starr Theater. The classes are free, and registration is encouraged but not mandatory.
Auditions are Jan. 24 for students entering sixth grade and older in September 2023. The cost to audition is $50 per dancer, and while online pre-registration is not mandatory, it is recommended. To pre-register, go to rwb.org/audition.
Dancers are encouraged to arrive an hour before their audition to warm up. Auditions for students currently in academic grades five, six and seven begin at 4 p.m., followed by auditions for academic grades eight and older at 5:45 p.m. Audition classes are 45 minutes and are conducted by members of the RWB School artistic faculty.
Each applicant is asked to bring a photograph of themselves facing front, showing a tendu in second position, with arms in second position and to wear a leotard (bodysuit), tights and soft shoes for their audition class. Pointe shoes are not required. Students who do not have soft ballet slippers and/or leotard and/or tights are still encouraged to attend and wear socks and tight-fitting clothes that will allow them to move. Please wear long hair in a bun if possible, or off the face.
"Master classes that we hold during our audition tours are basically a standard ballet class, but a place where we welcome everyone," explains School Director Stephane Leonard. He adds that it also allows participants "to get the sense of what our school is about and our methods of teaching."
Johanne Gingras, Teacher Training Program director at RWB, and Kendra Woo, an instructor in the professional division of RWB who serves on the artistic faculty, will lead the master classes at Walton Arts Center.
For the auditions, Leonard says that the process is akin to a simpler ballet class. Applicants will audition as a group.
"The audition itself is a little bit simpler than the standard ballet class," he explains. "The level of technique is not the only thing we're looking at." For instance, for students in fifth to the seventh grades, he says, "we are looking for aptitudes and ability, and not necessarily somebody that has a lot of background in dance or has been training since they're 3 years old."
For students in eighth grade and higher, they are looking for students who will "be able to merge" with the students who are already enrolled in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school.
"These auditions are the first phase of a longer audition process. Once the student is invited, we hopefully are going to see them in our summer session where we will definitely go much deeper into assessing their level of abilities, [to see] if they can join us for the regular session."
Leonard adds that those auditioning should "come with an open mind," and warns them not to pressure themselves into thinking that they have to live up to certain expectations.
"The best thing is just to try. We're not there to intimidate anyone. We want to discover abilities and talents. What we like to see very much is their drive, their desire [and] their joy for it. I know sometimes auditions can be nerve-wracking. But it's important for us to see that they like it, they love it, and not only put themselves under pressure. So their enjoyment [and] their joy for dance is very important. So come in, relax and try. Try your best. That's my best advice."
Royal Winnipeg Ballet
WHAT -- The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division will host two master classes and auditions in Fayetteville.
WHEN -- Master classes are Jan. 23, and auditions Jan. 24
WHERE -- Starr Theatre at the Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St., Fayetteville
COST -- Master class is free; preregistration is encouraged at bit.ly/RWBMasterclass, but walk-ups can also register on site one hour before their class begins. The cost to audition is $50 per dancer, and while online pre-registration is not mandatory, it is recommended. To pre-register, go to rwb.org/audition. Dancers are encouraged to arrive an hour before their audition to warm up.
INFO -- waltonartscenter.org/tickets/series/family-fun-series/the-nutcracker/royal-winnipeg-ballet-masterclasses-auditions