Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School

Winnipeg, Canada

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The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division, was established in 1970 by former principal dancer David Moroni, C.M. to support the RWB Company. Internationally recognized as a centre of excellence in dance training for more than 40 years, today more than 70% of the dancers in the RWB Company are graduates of the School. The Professional Division and the Recreational Division of the RWB School share a state-of-the-art facility with the RWB Company.

Three programs make up the Professional Division of the RWB School: the Ballet Academic Program, the Aspirant Program and the Teacher Training Program.

The Ballet Academic Program is a full-time, seven-level classical ballet training program for students in academic Grades 6 through 12. Based on the Russian system, students receive a comprehensive program of study to prepare them for career in dance. Students’ academic studies are supported by the RWB School’s two partner schools: Nordale School and the Collegiate at the University of Winnipeg. With these partnerships in place, RWB School students have the opportunity to meet university entrance requirements while pursuing their dance studies. In addition, foreign students have access to English classes and are supported with language tutoring as needed.

The Aspirant Program is an intensive, post-secondary training program designed specifically for advanced level classical ballet dancers who have completed their professional training and are making the transition from student to professional artist. Students are also supported through the process of auditioning for other professional companies.

Arlene Minkhorst, Director

Arlene Minkhorst is a graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. She performed in numerous productions with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet before directing her energies to teaching full-time.

Ms. Minkhorst joined the faculty of the RWB School in 1979 and was appointed Director in 2004 after the retirement of Founding Director, David Moroni, C.M.

Throughout her years with the RWB School, Ms. Minkhorst has taught all levels of ballet and pointe technique and repertoire for the RWB School’s Ballet Academic Program. She has also taught for the RWB School’s Teacher Training Program and conducted performance rehearsals.

In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Professional Division of the RWB School, Ms. Minkhorst conceived of and launched the Connections tour, an integrated education program engaging young people from different backgrounds and arts professionals from different disciplines.

Ms. Minkhorst has guest taught and adjudicated for dance festivals and dance competitions across North America, Europe and Asia and has been a member of the jury for the Youth America Grand Prix in New York City since 2004.

Mark Sampson, Student choreographer

Born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Mark Sampson attended Canada’s National Ballet School before completing three years of study in Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division Ballet Academic Program (2009 – 2012), where he was the recipient of the Canadian Pacific Scholarship in 2011.
 
During his time in the RWB School, Mark danced the lead role of “Kai” in Snow Queen for the RWB School’s 2012 year-end performances of In Concert, and choreographed two pieces for First Steps, the RWB School’s choreographic competition.  Drinking by Candlelight was awarded second place in 2011 and Now That We’ve Started won both first place and the People’s Choice awards in 2012. 
 
Mark describes Now That We’ve Started as “a kind of bookmark” that enables him to look back at a particularly exciting time in his life. 
 
“My inspiration for this piece was really based on what was happening in my life when I created it.  It was like a bookmark, so that I could look back at this time. There were many incredible opportunities being presented to me and I felt an incredible sense of hope. I realized how lucky I was to have experienced everything I had. This piece is what happiness felt like to me at the time, which helped me decide to keep it very straight forward, light hearted, bright and cheerful."
 
Now That We’ve Started was later performed at the RWB’s Ballet in the Park in July 2012 and during the School’s 2012 Concert Hour Ballet tour.
 
Mark is currently in his first year of the BFA program in the Juilliard School’s Dance Division in New York City.  Earlier this year, he choreographed a new work entitled Where’s the Unicorn for their October workshop production.

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