Mark Sampson in 'Snow Queen' & 'Now that we've started' being performed at Ballet in the Park. Photos: Bruce Monk
RWB sat down with former PD Student Mark Sampson while he was at the RWB recently. He chatted about Julliard, future aspirations and his time spent dancing at the RWB School.
Mark on Julliard;
When I was at the RWB School, I was going to stay for Level 7 but I was graduating high school. I’d seen Taylor Drury (another former PD student) get into Julliard two years before me. She was kind of what inspired me to research the school. I thought it was really interesting that she was going there and studying contemporary dance, but I didn’t know much about the program.
Julliard is fantastic because we can collaborate with so many different artists. There are composers; there are musicians, actors, playwright so the diversity of talent in one building is super inspiring. To hear a musician play or watch one of the drama programs plays completely impacts your art. So I’m able to take away what I see there and apply it to myself, and that’s the same thing for everyone. Everyone is so dedicated to their art and it’s really inspiring.
Day to day life is incredibly busy. We start with academic classes in the morning, then I’ll go for classes in ballet technique, modern technique, composition, elements of performing, dance history and then I’ll usually have rehearsals.
Mark on the RWB School;
I miss so much about the RWB School. It really did become my home for several years and there was many good times and many bad times, but I don’t have a memory that I can’t look back on and appreciate. The direction that I was given, the nurturing environment, it can really push you. It taught me so much about myself and I think I really developed as a person there, and I am who I am today because of the RWB School. It’s where I grew up.
The RWB School has such diverse training, we get such great classes in modern and we have First Steps, which gave me a chance to choreograph and to perform contemporary dance as well. So all of that spoke to me a lot, and I thought okay, I’m going to try it this year and if I don’t make it I’ll try again next year. So I auditioned and I got in, which was great.
(My training at the RWB School) definitely helped me more than I could have ever expected. It gave me such a strong base so that when I got there, I could really take in everything they were saying. It’s really more of a finishing program and about developing movement quality, and it really made everything a lot easier for me. It wasn’t too much of an adjustment. The determination you learn from being in a ballet school carries into everything that you do, and so I think that’s what has made it a great transition for me.
Mark on his future;
I’m really hoping to dance in Europe in a Contemporary company, but I’m also really interested in creating my own work. I love choreographing, and Julliard really gives me the opportunity to do that. I’m interested in maybe having my own company one day. I actually just filled out a grant application for my first independent project.
There’s a festival in PEI next summer, and I applied to create a piece for an art gallery there with four dancers based in a dining room. It’s kind of a room where people can surround the performance. So I applied for the grant and if I’m successful, I have a friend who is composing the music and I’m going to compose the piece and that will be presented next summer.
A big congrats goes out to Mark! He’s following his dreams and the RWB School couldn’t be more happy for him!