For 15-year-old ballet students Regina Bertuzzi and Liam Saito, First Position is more than an acclaimed ballet documentary about one of the world’s largest dance competitions, it’s part of their personal success story. The two Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Level 5 students were offered the opportunity of a lifetime by RWB School Director Arlene Minkhorst last year at the prestigious Youth American Grand Prix in New York. Minkhorst, who has been a member of the competition’s jury for more than a decade, recognized these two talented youngsters as an ideal fit for the RWB School and offered them both scholarships on the spot.
“Youth American Grand Prix attracts the world’s highest caliber ballet dancers, and only the best of those make it to the finals in New York,” says Minkhorst. “The competition provides an unrivalled opportunity to scout new talent.”
Minkhorst will be leading the introductory Q&A to the award-winning documentary First Position when it’s shown at Cinamatheque on April 14th at 2pm. Bess Bergman’s box office hit First Position follows six extraordinary dancers as they prepare for the chance to enter the world of professional ballet. The story portrays the struggle that young dancers face, from bloodied feet and near exhaustion to debilitating injuries, all while navigating the drama of adolescence.
First Position had its World Premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and was named the audience choice’s first runner-up for Best Documentary. It also won the Jury Prize at the San Francisco Doc Fest, the audience award for Best Documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival, the audience award for Best Documentary at the Portland International Film Festival, and the audience award for Best Documentary at DOC NYC. Read more »
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; Read more »
The Sleeping Beauty has wrapped up here in Winnipeg! But fear not! We are headed out East! For more information and tickets, click here!
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See Global Winnipeg's piece with Principal Dancer Jo-Ann Sundermeier and Artistic Director Andre Lewis speaking to their experiences with The Sleeping Beauty here! Read more »