Anna Cooper in Winnipeg.

Anna Cooper at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

A young Rosslander is living her dream and training and dancing with some of the nation's best in Winnipeg.

By Michele Skuce

After auditioning last October 2012 for the summer program, and attending the summer program in July (which is the second step in the audition process for the full time Professional Division program), Rossland’s Anna Cooper was invited  to attend the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division School.

Anna trained with Renee Salsiccioli at Kootenay Danceworks for several years, and is now 13 and in level three at the RWB professional division. The levels run from one to seven, and correspond with the student’s grade in school.

Academic classes from Grade 9-12 and are held at the Collegiate at the University of Winnipeg.  Anna joins another Rossland student at the RWB, Michaela Skuce, who is now in her third year there and is in level five (Grade 10) at the professional division.

I recently asked Anna a few questions about her experiences there so far, now that she’s had a couple of months to adjust.

“I am really enjoying it here, I am getting very good ballet training and I love it here. It is difficult, but I love the challenge and am learning lots. The biggest adjustment would probably be getting used to a new room, meeting new friends and being away from home.

“I miss home but I am not homesick. Residence is really fun; my roommate is from B.C., too. We have known each other for a while and get along really well. I go to an elementary school; it is from Grade 1-8, so this will be my only year in it.

“We hardly get any homework, so it is nice that we can relax after dance. We have a year-end show in May that the whole professional division is in, we haven’t started on it yet, but I am really excited. My class is doing improv* before the First Steps show, so I am excited about that too.

“We dance about three to four hours a day. We start at 2:45 p.m. and finish at 5 p.m. or 7 p.m., it depends on the day. Winnipeg isn’t my favorite city, but I still like it. I have been to the mall a few times, but that’s all in terms of exploring Winnipeg. It is already really cold here. I hope I am able to stay here as long as I can.”

Many people ask Renee Salsiccioli why she encourages her students to audition for professional schools.

“It’s about refinement and it’s also about following a network,” she said. “The professional dance world is incredibly small and only a very few get the opportunity to dance at this elite level of training.

“There is a path to becoming a professional dancer and there are some key aspects to the training which are very different from what I am able to offer here.  A hockey player wouldn’t expect to be drafted into the NHL without going somewhere else beforehand, and the same is true in the dance world.

The audition itself is a valuable experience. If a student truly wants to become a professional dancer, a high level of training is imperative. Attending a professional school is the first step towards that goal.

“If they have the desire and motivation to train at that elite level, they need to take the opportunity if and when it’s presented.”

Renee attended the RWB professional division as a teen and says:  “I have never had any regrets about my decision to go.”

The students learn a lot of other life skills which will stand them in good stead for life.

Way to go Anna.

* improv is short for improvisation and refers to dance that is just made up on the spot to music and not choreographed.


Just Posted

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

Police share more details on occupants and suspicious van in Fruitvale

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school on Feb. 19

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read