Dancing dreams

Four talented young Red Deer-area dancers are headed to Manitoba this summer to dance in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s summer program.

Aiden Bazylinski, 10, Emma Kowalchuk, 14, Ainsley Nivens, 11, and Vanessa Rickards, 13, made the cut, despite stiff competition. They were told more than 1,000 dancers from around the world had auditioned for 180 spots in the July dance intensive.

The four-week training course counts as a step in an audition process that could lead to being accepted into the RWB’s professional division’s year-round dance program, and maybe even the company itself someday.

Kowalchuk and Nivens are students of the Penhold School of Dance, and Nivens also takes classes at Dance Magic in Red Deer.

“I’m so excited to be going. Dancing has been my dream for a very long time,” said Nivens, a Grade 6 student at Central Middle School, who’s been dancing ever since she can remember.

Kowalchuk believes it will be a “cool experience.. I’m hoping to come out a better dancer.” The Grade 8 student at Penhold Crossing Secondary School has been taking dance classes since age 3 and feels it’s “always been another way to express myself.”

Their teacher (who is also Emma’s mother) Kirsten Kowalchuk from the Penhold School of Dance describes both girls as extremely dedicated. “They’re super students,” willing to spend many hours flexing their dance muscles outside of class time.

“Without a doubt, they give everything they are able to, and then some,” said Kirsten, who’s also planning a spring 2017 trip to New York with 13 students from her dance school, and is seeking local businesses to donate prizes for a fundraising raffle.

Bazlinski and Rickards, of Red Deer’s Strive Dance Academy, have respectively had six and 10 years of dance experience.

Bazlinski, a Grade 5 French Immersion student at Mountview School, received a full scholarship for the RWB’s Summer Intensive so decided to pass up another opportunity to dance in the National Ballet’s summer program.

“It hasn’t always been easy being one of the only boys in dance,” he admitted, “but I’m lucky because my family has always supported me. Plus, I’ve always had great teachers, awesome teammates and positive studio environments.” He’s looking forward to attending RWB “because there will be other boys there who also love to dance.”

Rickards noted the RWB is one of Canada’s oldest and most renowned ballet companies. “I can’t wait to get the chance to train with them!”

In August, she will head to New York City for more training with the Joffrey Ballet Experience, a contemporary summer intensive. Last year, Rickards attended the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program. “I loved meeting people from around the world last year, and I will again this year.”

Young dancers from Japan to Australia auditioned for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s summer classes.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com