Two young Shuswap Dance Center students turned down major ballet company invitations – at least for now.
Studio owner and teacher Carolyn Wonacott is delighted that 12-year-old Joshua Williams was not only accepted to the National Ballet Summer School in Toronto, he was accepted to the company’s year-round academic and dance program.
“He has been dancing with me for seven years; he was one of my first students in Salmon Arm,” she says, noting the young dancer had also been accepted at Royal Winnipeg Ballet last year. “He turned the National Ballet down but is thinking about going next year.”
At 11 years old, Mackennzie Mount was accepted to Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s summer school and invited back for the year.
“She declined because she is just a bit young to go. Probably in three or four years she would think of going, maybe for high school,” says Wonacott. “The thing about going to the National or Winnipeg is the intensity; it’s a very elite environment, a lot of pressure. But it’s also very exciting, I think, if you’re looking at it for a career.”
Wonacott says either company would be a stellar place in which to study.
On the home front, Wonacott has just run a very successful summer school of her own from Aug. 10 to 21.
“We had full classes for both weeks, that’s 14 students both weeks,” she says. “For us that’s a full contingent because it’s an advanced summer school.”
Kelowna Ballet dancer Desiree Bortoluzzi taught ballet and ballet variations during the first week.
For the second week, Sarah Smith joined the teaching roster. Smith danced professionally in Los Angeles for 15 years, and performed for television and film – including the Austin Power movies.
“She was here to teach L.A. style jazz and jazz funk,” says Wonacott, “and was also giving the kids a class on how to audition and how to negotiate the L.A. dance scene and get work there.”
Wonacott taught summer session classes in ballet and jazz, while Raelynn Heppell gave classes in musical theatre, character and tap and Sasha Byrnes taught contemporary dance.
Registration for the new dance year opens in September for three days – Thursday, Sept. 3 from 3 to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept 8 and Wednesday, Sept. 9 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the studio at 590 Okanagan Ave. SE.
Shuswap Dance Center offers ballet under the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD) curriculum, and also RAD (Rural Academy of Dance) curriculum, which are international standards.
“We have an examiner who comes to test the dancers in the spring,” says Wonacott. “And we have ISTD modern dance exams as well, which includes contemporary and jazz.”
Students can also take lessons in tap, hip-hop, lyrical and competition as well as Acro, which is a combination of dance and gymnastics.
“We do three competitions per year and we do two shows – one at Christmas and one in June,” says Wonacott.
For more information, call 250-833-5418 or 250-832-5258, visit www.shuswapdance.com or drop in at the Dance Center on the registration dates.