For most students, summer school may be a drag. For Odessa Beatty and Sadie Segriff, though, it’s a golden opportunity.
Beatty and Segriff [shown on front cover with Montreal choreographer Julio Hong] have both been selected to attend summer classes at prestigious Canadian ballet schools.
Beatty, 13, has been invited to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School for a second time. Last year, she was offered an opportunity to continue her studies there year-round, but declined on the grounds that she was too young for such an intensive program.
Leaving home for the first time, 12-year-old Segriff will attend the National Ballet of Canada summer school in Toronto.
“It’s a great privilege that they were invited,” says Deborah Lemaire, artistic director at the Northern Lights School of Dance, where both girls take classes. “I’m very proud of both of them.”
Lemaire explains that, while both ballet schools hold extensive auditions across Canada and even some places in the USA, living and attending school in the Yukon made it impossible for the girls to attend the auditions.
Not to be discouraged, both dancers recorded their auditions on videotape and sent them to the schools.
Their hard work and perseverance paid off as they were offered the chance to study at internationally-esteemed training institutions.
The girls are eager to attend their respective schools, and are aware of the opportunity that is being offered.
“I’m extremely excited,” says Beatty, shining with confidence. “I went last year and it was the best time of my life. All the dancing was extraordinary. I’m looking forward to improving and getting to see my teachers and friends again. Summer school is amazing and I’m really looking forward to experiencing it again.”
Though she is an experienced student of both Northern Lights and Leaping Feats dance schools, Segriff is more reserved, and understandably apprehensive about her prospective summer school experience.
“I think it’s going to be really hard,” she says. “I really thought I wasn’t going to get in.”
Nonetheless, she is still excited, and thankful that she won’t be all on her own in Ontario. “All my family is there but my parents,” she says.
Both dancers hope to see ballet solidly in their futures.
“I want to be a dancer as a career,” states Segriff, who has been dancing since the age of five. “I didn’t like it at first, but I kept taking classes and last year I started to like it. So I took more!”
Beatty is slightly more specific.
“I would love to be a prima ballerina – a professional ballet dancer,” she says. “I would also love to go more into Ukrainian dancing, which we did last year at Winnipeg.”
As Lemaire explains, the summer school programs are basically one-month auditions for the full year. So what can the girls expect during their summer and potential year-long programs?
“We’d go to school for part of the day, and then go to our dance classes,” says Beatty.
She hopes this year’s summer school will be like her experience in last year’s session.
“We had professional art lessons with an artist from the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which was great because I’m really into art, too.”
Though excited for their new classes and the entire dance school experience, both girls appreciate the hometown support that has helped them get this far.
“I really have to say thanks to Deb for spending all that time with me and helping me with my audition,” says Beatty.
As for Lemaire and others who have helped them so far, their role at this stage is to cheer from the sidelines as the two young dancers head out to experience something new and try to make a name for themselves on a national level.