Rossland local dances her way into Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
January 7th, 2010

In the world of dance there are few honours more prestigious than being accepted to and training at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division. This year, one of our own here in Rossland has danced her way into a full scholarship at the school.

At 12 years old, Sally Turnbull, who has been dancing under Rene Salsiccioli of Kootenay Danceworks and the RSS Dance Academy, has already shown signs of great potential in the dance world. Salsiccioli, who worked at the RWB for eight years teaching in the professional division, often went out on auditions looking for talent. In her three years working with Turnbull she has seen the potential for a great dancer.

“Often times you can tell in the first five minutes of walking in who has potential,” explained Salsiccioli. “You’re looking at things like the physical attributes necessary to dance but beyond that Sally has a good mind for dance, she is very down to earth, takes corrections well and all those typical things any teacher would look for in a student.”

Turnbull, on Salsiccioli’s encouragement, went out and auditioned for the school’s summer program and was accepted. That was an honour in itself with only 70 kids worldwide being accepted into the program. On top of that, the young dancer also received the Investors Group scholarship for BC, which will pay her full way through the summer program.

Well on her way in the first steps to becoming a dance professional, the gruelling process to get there will continue throughout the summer and into the fall for Turnbull. Those students invited to the summer school will then have to go through a four week audition to be accepted into the fall full time program.

“The fall program usually goes from September to June, but, again, it’s a very trying process because you do one audition and then you have to do the second audition and even if you are accepted during the regular fall-winter session it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be accepted back the following year, for which you must audition again,” added Salsiccioli.

The school itself has a very strong classical ballet background as that is considered the root of all dance. However, the school also teaches other styles such as jazz and modern. In addition to dance training the school focuses on developing well rounded students incorporating choral work, art classes, nutrition, music and a strong academic component.

“Academically, they are expected to be over-achievers and do very well in school,” noted Salsiccioli. “That is the first and foremost important thing at the school. A dancer’s career is generally quite short so the school also sets them up for a lifelong career in and around dance, music and related fields.”

Turnbull is not the first dancer from Rossland in recent years to go on to a budding career. Kootenay Danceworks and the RSS Dance Academy have also recently sent Allison Cline to the Alberta Ballet and Paige Culley to the Toronto Dance Studio. Will ballerinas soon be giving Rossland’s history of great skiers and hockey players a run for their money? With a top notch teacher like Rene Salsiccioli and an athletic and active young population in town, anything is possible.

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