Tell us a little about yourself:
I am from Brandon, Manitoba. I started dancing when I was eight and did ballet, tap and jazz at Dance Images. I started getting really serious about dance at the age of eleven and went from doing two ballet classes a week to five ballet classes a week. I switched studios and started going to Brandon School of Dance. I worked with Barbara Ennis, who graduated from the School of American Ballet and danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, so she was a real ballerina and an amazing teacher. I worked with her for three years so by then I had quite tap and focused more on ballet and pointe. At fourteen, I did a summer school at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and at fifteen I did a summer program in Banff for five weeks. Then, I went to New York for four weeks at the Steps on Broadway Studio and worked with fifteen different ballet teachers the summer before I graduated. After high school, I went to Toronto to study at Ryerson University for two years and worked with a ton of people there. Then I decided to audition for the White Birch Ballet Company in Saskatoon during my summer holiday and got in so I left school, joined the company, and went to University of Saskatchewan. I was with the company for a year and worked with people like Joshua Beamish, Gioconda Barbuto, and Darlene Williams (Artistic Director)… and decided from there that I wanted more contemporary training. Darlene was very supportive. She helped me set up my auditions and put in a really good word in for me at the School of Contemporary Dancers. When I auditioned at the School of Contemporary Dancers and got in, I was able to join the third year of the Senior Professional Program. Since graduating from SCD, I’ve done a mentorship with Brent Lott, and have worked with Nina Patel (The Lime Project Dance Company), Alex Elliott (Alexandra Elliott Dance Inc.), Ming Hong, Brenna Klavercamp, and Freya Olafson. This past year, I did the Teacher Training Program at the RWB.
What got you interested in taking the Teacher Training Program, and now teaching ballet to the professional community?
For self-knowledge. Teaching has always been about teaching myself. I like teaching the classes because it’s a nice way to stay out of your head. When you are with other dancers, there is a need to push forward, move on to the next exercise, and to keep the momentum going for class. When you are alone, it’s just that much harder. You can jump so much higher and get your extensions when you have the energy and pressure of the class. You see your classmates doing it and you think, “I can do that” so there is something very special about being in a group. So the opportunity to facilitate a class is the best because we can control it and do whatever we want but we have each other for support. There is just not enough of that in the city.
What are some of your other interests, goals, and fantasies?
I’m developing a Mitzvah and Itcush practice because that is all about restoring fundamental movement patterns, as well as Pilates. I have aspirations to start acting classes and learn about how actors do movement. There are a lot classes for movement for actors and voice work because the voice is a huge part of your body. I’d like to hit up those angles and see how they inform my practice.
Do you have any intentions on creating your own dance work?
Not at the moment but I think as a dance artist it will become necessary to explore that because I get offered performance opportunities but I need to create something. Again, for the self-knowledge, I think choreographing is a really good way to learn about yourself. When you make something and find out what you like or don’t like, it’s another opportunity to dig deep into your core. As my body’s health is improving, I think there will be more energy for that type of work.
You mention an injury. What are you recovery from and how?
My back injury started when I was in Toronto but doing ballet under the watchful gaze of the Teacher Training Program instructors at RWB has been the best. Doing ballet has been good because the spine is vertical for the majority of the time and there is so much strengthening happening below so you are building up your foundation. If you have weakness and you are moving the spine a lot, it can cause the wrong muscles to engage and you start to get bigger back and neck issues.
Why live in Winnipeg?
I grew up in Manitoba and grew up visiting Winnipeg. Now that I’ve been here for a few years, I’m finding that I really love Winnipeg. I love the people here. I love the scene, that we are all fighting these cold winters together and bond over that. You have to keep busy and active to keep your sanity and health. We do cool things here like have dinner on the frozen river and do all kinds of outdoor activities like insane people because we are saying, “f*!# you” to the cold. We dig deep here. People are so unpretentious although there are so many amazing artists here in all different facets. But we are still in this frozen heart of North America so we can all be a little more easy-going.
For Carol-Ann's professional biography, click here.