Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School is internationally recognized as a centre for dance excellence. This hard-earned reputation is due in no small part to the talent and dedication of the School’s artistic faculty. Day in and day out, these committed artists are in the studio working tirelessly to prepare students for careers as professional dancers and dance teachers and, in so doing, making dreams come true!
One such devoted educator is Roman Rykine. Mr. Rykine joined the RWB School’s artistic faculty in January of 2012. School Director Arlene Minkhorst remembers being thrilled when Mr. Rykine accepted her offer to come to Winnipeg. “Mr. Rykine has had a tremendous career as a professional dancer,” she shares. “Our students are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study with an artist of his calibre and experience. They have learned so much from him already.”
Mr. Rykine was only six years old when he started taking dance lessons. At the age of 10, he beat out thousands of young dancers to earn a spot in the Rudolph Nureyev State Ballet Academy in his hometown of Ufa, Russia after being persuaded by his friends to audition at the last moment. In 1993, he was awarded the gold medal and first prize at the prestigious international ballet competition, the Prix de Lausanne, in Switzerland. Upon his graduation from the academy that same year, Mr. Rykine joined the Bashkir State Opera and Ballet Theatre as a principal dancer. Over the next seventeen years he performed as a principal dancer with English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Boston Ballet gracing stages across the globe in Asia, Europe and North America.
When he retired, he wanted an opportunity to pass his knowledge and experience along to the next generation of great artists. “No matter how talented a dancer is, a coach is needed. I know this because I was a dancer,” said Mr. Rykine. Mr. Rykine teaches ballet, pas de deux and repertoire to the senior men and women in Levels 6 and 7 of the RWB School’s Ballet Academic Program. “It makes my day when my students are able to translate what I teach them in the studio into a performance,” he shared.
A highlight of Mr. Rykine’s time with the RWB School thus far was the opportunity to coach then Aspirant Program student Zach Rogers for the Prix to Lausanne, the same competition he won when he was a student about Zach’s age. Mr. Rykine accompanied Zach to Switzerland, supporting him throughout the week-long event. “It was a remarkable achievement for Zach to reach the finals,” said Mr. Rykine. “We were all very proud of him.” Zach is continuing his studies in Stuttgart, Germany at the prestigious John Cranko School. His success, and that of countless other Professional Division graduates, can be traced back to the hours and hours his teachers invested in his training at the RWB School.
By Kennis Fung