Young dancers looking to make their professional dreams come true have an opportunity this month to audition for Canada’s National Ballet School.
And if anyone knows the ins and outs of that audition process, it’s Deb Bowes. The Victoria-raised woman successfully auditioned for the NBS in 1962 as a teenager, and has since gone on to work at the school, including as manager of the audition tour, for 42 years and counting.
“I think (the audition is) the very best thing a parent can do to encourage their child to explore the dreams they have, and I’m very grateful when parents are willing to take that leap of faith and let their child do that because I know how much it meant to me,” Bowes said during a phone interview from Toronto.
Faculty from the ballet school embark on a 20-city audition tour this month, including Victoria stops on Nov. 10 and 11, searching for prospective students. “We really see the diversity of Canadian talent, and the wonderful work that teachers are doing across the country, inspiring young people to pursue this profession,” says Ashleigh Powell, co-manager of community initiatives for the NBS. Dancers as young as nine years old who come out to audition are first trying out for the NBS’ summer program, a four-week school that provides them with a short, intensive experience to get a sense of what education at the NBS is all about. From the summer program, NBS faculty will select a handful of dancers and offer them a spot in the full professional program, that sees students in Grades 6 through 12 live, educate and dance on campus in Toronto through to high school graduation.
The audition is an opportunity for kids, regardless of skill level, as it provides auditioning experience and a potential shot at admission to a professional dance school. “Whatever way you approach it, as long as you realize that we want to support young dancers, we’re honoured they want to come out and share their passion with us,” Powell says.
The panel will expect to see flexibility, classical movements, jumping, and moving through the space. But most important, Bowes adds, is “that light in their eye and that joy of dancing.”
Canada’s National Ballet School open dance class is at Ballet Victoria on Nov. 10, and auditions at Dance Victoria on Nov. 11. See nbs-enb.ca