The School of Dance
Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D., Artistic Director
Under the direction of Mary Ross Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB our Professional Ballet Programme is a nine-year study programme created for students 8 to 16 years of age. The young dancers are immersed in an atmosphere of professionalism, education, realistic goals and aspirations and they are given guidance and moral support from the teaching staff as they grow and mature. We are known for our well-trained, well-placed, musical students. Our ballet students graduate to national/international institutions to continue their studies with some moving directly to apprenticeship positions.
We have developed a curriculum of early ballet training that is balanced between technical growth and creative expression for the youngest of the students; the basic ballet language of The School is the Cecchetti Method. This syllabus is supplemented and enhanced by the professional knowledge of the staff so that our training is current and rigorous allowing the dancers to adapt to the demands of new choreographies or historical repertoire. We are known for our well-trained, well-placed, musical students. The comprehensive curriculum includes ballet, creative movement and music courses, plus history of dance, pointe and repertoire, somatic work, character dance, jazz and contemporary dance as they become appropriate. Students are challenged to find their potential from within, developing life-long work habits that will serve them well in whatever career path they select.
Along with the rigorous technical ballet studies, we shine a light on the artistic elements of dance, art, music and the related theatre arts to ensure a broad understanding of the world the students are entering and we work to relate the dance heritage of the past to the contemporary world of today. Special workshops with guest teachers, covering subjects such as particular classical repertoire, body image and nutrition supplement the classroom training.
The hours of study vary from level to level during the school year and summer programmes are part of the training plan. There are two theatrical performances each year; we perform in the Theatre of the Canadian Museum of History and the Theatre of the National Arts Centre. Smaller projects take place in the Theatres of Carleton University, the National Gallery of Canada and the 4th Stage of the NAC. Students may also be chosen to work at the NAC with visiting ballet companies or on stage in one of our Arts Education projects. The more senior students also have the opportunity to perform in The School's outreach programmes or in the DanceONTour® projects. Students receive progress reports and a final assessment class, observed by a panel, confirms continuation in the next level. The ballet students graduate to national/international institutions to continue their studies; some move directly to apprenticeship positions. We regularly place our ballet students in the schools of the National Ballet, Les Grands Ballet, Royal Winnipeg, Boston Ballet, Butler University, the School of American Ballet and Joffrey Ballet.
Entrance to the Professional Ballet Programme is by audition only. Auditions take place in Ottawa in the spring of each year. Following an audition class, an assessment is completed recording the student's physical suitability, coordination, flexibility, musicality and love of dance. Out-of-province/country candidates must provide a set of particular photographs and a DVD of classroom and/or performance work appropriate to their level. All candidates are requested to attend the summer programme for further assessment before acceptance. Auditions are conducted in English. We also audition candidates throughout the year, off-cycle, upon request. Senior students are welcome to discuss class options with the Artistic Director at any time.