Arlene Minkhorst graduated from the National Ballet School of Canada in 1976, and from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in 1979. She performed in numerous productions with the RWB Company before directing her energies into teaching full-time.
Ms Minkhorst first joined the RWB School faculty in 1979, and was appointed Vice-Principal in 1991. At the commencement of the 2002-2003 season, she was appointed Associate Director, and in July 2004, she took over the Directorship of the RWB School from Founding Director, David Moroni, C.M. O.M D.Litt (h.c)
Ms Minkhorst has taught all levels of ballet and pointe technique, repertoire classes, conducted rehearsals for performances, and taught in the Teacher Training Program. She has toured Manitoba and neighbouring provinces with Concert Hour Ballet, the School’s performing group, and presented lectures about dance and dance training in Manitoba public schools
Prior to taking over the Directorship of the RWB School, Ms Minkhorst recognized the importance and need for the RWB School Professional Division Ballet Academic Program to have integrated academics and ballet training. She subsequently developed, and implemented a supportive academic/dance structure in partnership with Winnipeg school divisions for both middle years and high school students.
In 2008 she established a highly successful partnership with the Collegiate at the University of Winnipeg (UW) which continues to inform the present model of the Ballet Academic Program to this day, allowing students to attain a strong academic education concurrently with their professional dance training.
Her commitment to a dancers’ education and to the importance of dance education for all has led to additional UW opportunities for students. UW’s Faculty of Education recognizes the work completed by graduates of the RWB School Teacher Program, allowing them to designate dance as a teachable minor.
In the late 1990s, Ms Minkhorst oversaw the restructuring of the Recreational Division. She facilitated the creation of programs that were specifically designed to encourage boys to participate in dance. This program continues to be highly successful and now provides dance instruction to up to 250 boys each year.
During her tenure Ms Minkhorst forged partnerships and raised the School’s profile within the international dance community. The School is now a partner with the Prix de Lausanne and enjoys exchange programs with the New Zealand School of Dance and Canada’s National Ballet School.
Most recently Ms Minkhorst embraced a new strategic partnership with Canada’s National Ballet School and Physical and Health Education Canada, entitled Sharing Dance. Sharing Dance is the RWB School’s leading community engagement initiative offering free dance programs for all Canadians to get healthy, active and artistically engaged. Ms Minkhorst’s commitment to this program has helped to support over 20,000 Canadians sharing dance in 2018.
Ms Minkhorst has accepted engagements to work as a guest teacher and adjudicator for dance festivals and dance competitions across Canada and the United States. She has been a member of the jury for the Youth America Grand Prix in New York, the Prix de Lausanne, the Japan Grand Prix, and the Tanzolymp in Berlin, Germany.
Under her direction the RWB School has continued to produce notable dancers including: Sophia Lee, RWB Principal Dancer; Saeka Shirai, RWB second soloist and silver medal winner in Varna IBC 2016’ Jesse Fraser, Zurich Ballet; Zach Rogers, Praque Ballet; and Ryan Booth , Vienna State Ballet.