The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School will be in Montréal on Monday, Jan. 20 to host auditions for their Professional Division. The school is seeking ballet dancers who come from all different backgrounds and talent levels.

For almost 80 years, the RWB School has been taking on young artists and supporting them in the pursuit of their goals — this time under the direction of their newly-appointed School Director, Stéphane Léonard. The school is well-known across Canada and around the world for providing excellence in dance education, with a state-of the-art facility, located in historic downtown Winnipeg, which is home to the more than 1,500 students annually who make up the Professional and Recreational Divisions of the School.

“The purpose of these auditions is to find talent. Everyone is encouraged to come and try,” Léonard said. “Despite the insecurity they may have, they should give it a shot. We’re experienced with late-starters in Winnipeg, so if we find the right component in the dancers, even if the training isn’t extensive or they’re older, we’ll try and accept them for the summer school. Then, during those four weeks, we truly access them to see if they can take on the workload and we look at their potential career in dance. It could be a student who is 14 but a beginner, or a 10-year-old who has been doing three or four years of ballet.”

Once they’ve been accepted to the summer program, they can then be considered for their regular session.

There are three primary programs at RWB School: the ballet academic program, which follows the students from grades 6-12, the post-grad program, a two-year transitional program that works closely with the company and acts like a springboard for the marketplace, and the teacher training program.

The school’s residence accommodates out-of-province students too, and there are currently just over 40 students living there.

Léonard, who hails from Montreal, is the first new School Director in nearly two decades. He began his ballet studies in Montréal under the tutelage of Ms. Natasha Izbinsky and continued his studies at Russia’s prestigious Vaganova Academy. He was the Director of the school’s Aspirant (post-secondary) program for 17 years before being promoted to School Director this past February.

The RWB School will be at the Ballet Montreal Performing Arts School located at 54 Brunswick Blvd. in Pointe-Claire from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and then at Les Studios (home of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal) located at 1435 rue De Bleury, Suite 400 in downtown Montréal from 2:45 to 5:15 p.m.

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