By Rachel Psutka
As three nervous dancers step into Studio D, each knows this is the moment to impress the adjudicators and gain that elusive spot into ballet school.
Forty years after its establishment, auditions at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada, one of the top ballet schools in Canada, still seek out some of the best young dancers in the country. Now with the option of auditioning online or on DVD, the program continues to attract students from around the world.
But on this Saturday morning, none of that matters for the two girls and one boy, ages nine through 13, pulling on their ballet slippers and stepping in front of the wall of mirrors, their families, and two adjudicators, both teachers at the school. They are concerned with making it through the next 90 minutes of auditioning with the grace and skills the adjudicators are seeking.
The audition is the first step to gaining acceptance into the professional school, a coveted position. The Quinte school holds auditions throughout Canada and as far away as Vancouver, all in search for young talent.
“They are auditioning for our summer program. Students from the area who take dance probably not as seriously during the year come in for the intensive program we do during the summer,” explained instructor Rhea Daniels, a graduate of the school herself.
“So it’s their first step of the three-step process to becoming part of our full-time program,” said fellow adjudicator Kristina McIntosh, also an instructor and graduate of the school.
The other steps include making it through the intensive summer dance program, followed by the big news itself: whether or not they’ve been accepted to the full program, commencing in September.
The audition is a chance for the adjudicators to see just what the dancers have to offer the school.
“What we’re looking for, first of all, in a dancer is intelligence and enthusiasm,” said Daniels. “We look at their body type and flexibility.”
“And the turnout of their feet,” added McIntosh. “Also the potential to strengthen and grow. We usually focus a little bit also on flexibility and different movements and things like that to see how well they move and how flexible they are.”
For Alexandria Lyall, 13, the trip from Toronto with her parents and younger sister was worth it to show off her skills. The young dancer has auditioned for the National Ballet School three times, but this was her first trip to Belleville.
“I like it a lot better. It seems like a really nice school,” said the aspiring ballerina.
The three hopefuls won’t find out if they made it into the summer program for another week or so, but their efforts were noted by the adjudicators watching every pointed toe and delicately positioned hand.
The ballet school auditions hundreds of dancers each winter in locations across Canada, accepting only the cream of the crop, the number of which varies by the talent seen at each audition.
“Today’s crew did very well,” said McIntosh. “I think they each in their own way have that ability to go far. There’s a place for them to dance if they want it.”