On June 30, the School of Alberta Ballet officially launched its newest education and outreach program, Alberta Ballet II, with eight dancers being announced.
The dancers, all emerging artists on the verge of professional careers, were chosen through a rigorous audition process that included online and DVD submissions as well as traditional in-person auditions. Alberta Ballet II will be made up of four Canadians and four international dancers aged eighteen to twenty; Hank DeMarco from Edmonton, Dash Grundy from Toronto, twin sisters Heather and Rachel Thomson from Calgary, Audrey Becker from France and Seria Iwamoto, Makiko Sutani and Aoba Yanai from Japan.
“I’m extremely honoured to be a part of the inaugural season of Alberta Ballet II,” said Rachel Thomson. “It’s a perfect way to transition from being a student to entering the professional world.”
Ballet and character teacher for the School of Alberta Ballet, Aram Manukyan, will direct Alberta Ballet II. The program will allow the dancers to perform onstage with Alberta Ballet in productions like Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers and The Nutcracker, working closely with the company’s artistic director, Jean Grand-Maître. Dancers will also work with Alberta Ballet staff and guest artists to learn existing choreography and to create new works.
Alberta Ballet II will allow the emerging artists to train daily for free, while earning honorariums and shoe allowances. The program aims to help in the technical and professional development of all dancers involved.
“The experience gained while in Alberta Ballet II will help these young dancers have more confidence and maturity, which in turn will help them earn professional contracts with Alberta Ballet or other companies of their choice,” said Manukyan. “I am thrilled to be the director of this company and help these emerging artists grow and achieve their goals.”