Story and Photos by Marcia Arpin

Canada’s National Ballet School visited Thunder Bay on their non-stop national talent search. The “Dare to Dream” tour hosted an open class for our community on November 23 2015, and exclusive auditions the next day at the International Dance Academy.

Established in 1959, Canada’s National Ballet School is one of the world’s premiere training institutions for aspiring young dancers. It is the only academy in North America that provides dance training, academic instruction, and residential care on the same campus. The school’s progressive curriculum, with an emphasis on the physical and emotional well-being of each student, has been awarded recognition and praise internationally.

Talent is the sole criteria for acceptance into their program. The professional team had visited many towns, but were quick to recognize the beauty, focus and sweet disposition they observed from our local dancers.

Prior to the auditions, optimistic dancers gathered and cheerfully encouraged each other. They bubbled with excitement as they shared their nervousness. Katie expressed it was the support of her family that made her feel brave. Andrew, who travelled from Sault Saint Marie, demonstrated the commitment to his technical training and expressed his love for the soft, lyrical music played by the pianist. Every child was hopeful they would be the next local dancer, like Abigail Shepard, chosen to join this elite company.

Rosalie Deligioridis, professional choreographer, coach, and certified Cecchetti examiner, warmly greeted the dancers and began a class to showcase the children’s skill and confidence. The dancers and were given praise and the reinforcement that ballet is a joyful experience to be shared.

Thousands of students apply for admission every year. Roughly 175 of these worldwide applicants are invited to join an intensive summer school program in Toronto, and of these, approximately 50 are offered a place in the full-time professional ballet program.