The 2015-2016 season marks the second year for Alberta Ballet II. Last year’s inaugural program saw all seven dancers successfully gain employment across North America: Hank DeMarco and Rachel Thomson with Nevada Ballet, Dash Grundy and Heather Thomson with Ballet Kelowna, Makiko Sutani with Cincinnati Ballet, Aoba Yanai with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and Seira Iwamoto with Alberta Ballet itself.
“Working with the main company was an inspiration,” says Iwamoto. “The dancers are very dedicated. I learned so much watching them and taking classes with them. Being in so many shows also taught me how to prepare for performances and how to be professional.”
After the success of its first year, Alberta Ballet II has doubled its program size to accept sixteen dancers from Canada, the United States, Germany, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain and Belgium. These emerging dancers have the opportunity to work with Alberta Ballet’s Artistic Director Jean Grand-Maître and other guest artists over the course of the year. They join Alberta Ballet in the productions Balletlujah!, The Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet and will learn their own specially produced repertoire. Alberta Ballet II dancers are also part of the Alberta Ballet’s education and outreach program, teaching dance classes at the School of Alberta Ballet studios.
“The balance between working in the company and in our own company really helped us improve ourselves as dancers,” comments Iwamoto. “Alberta Ballet is such a strong company. Dancing with them has been really amazing so far!”
Alberta Ballet II allows emerging artists to train daily for free, while earning honorariums and shoe allowances. The program aims to give dancers the tools to successfully audition for, perform with and excel in professional dance companies around the world. It’s modelled as a stepping stone between a professional training program and a professional career.