On March 19, Edmund Stripe, artistic director of The School of Alberta Ballet, announced a boys’ scholarship program for up to twenty-five dancers for the school’s Professional Division program. The program of full-tuition scholarships is designed to entice more boys to train at The School of Alberta Ballet. “As the second-largest ballet school in Canada, we want to attract top international talent to our student base, including male dancers,” says Stripe, who joined the school as artistic director last July. The scholarships were announced to coincide with the school’s international audition tour. The school simultaneously announced a new, highly subsidized, boys-only preschool program in Calgary and Edmonton to encourage a future generation of Alberta-based male dancers.
In other scholarship-related news, Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage Music Theatre Conservatory announced free jazz classes for aspirants and professionals over the age of sixteen starting this spring. “Musical theatre artists graduate from professional training programs and can’t afford to continue training,” says Ray Hogg, artistic director of Rainbow Stage since 2012. “So my plan has always been to provide free training to music theatre artists at all stages of career development.” In addition to ongoing training for professionals, Rainbow Stage runs a free program for youth that is based on Toronto’s Acting Up Stage Company’s program “One Song Glory.” Taking place this fall, the program runs for six consecutive weekends and culminates in a public performance. “[The participants] will take classes in dancing, singing and acting, mixed with professional development opportunities. Their skills will be challenged with contemporary work like Matilda and Kinky Boots,” says Hogg. Auditions for the program will be held late this summer.
Other companies and organizations acknowleding the difficult financial reality facing young dancers include Dancemakers in Toronto and The Training Society of Vancouver, who currently provide select training scholarships.