Nurturing Emerging Talent
The RBC Apprentice Programme
By Rhea Daniels
August 31, 2023
The dancers of the 2022/23 RBC Apprentice Program. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
In The National Ballet of Canada’s 2022/23 season, the RBC Apprentice Programme gave 12 young dancers the opportunity to bridge the gap between student and professional life. Every year, Apprentices have their own training schedule plus they get to take class, rehearse and perform alongside the professional dancers of the National Ballet. If you ask Apprentices about the highlight of their time in the programme, you’re almost certain to receive this answer: performing for students in YOU dance shows.
YOU dance is the National Ballet’s flagship education and community engagement programme. Through YOU dance, the Apprentices share the joy of ballet with thousands of people annually. Last season, the Apprentices returned to live YOU dance performances after a two-year hiatus. They had the chance to interact with audiences and answer questions during 23 interactive performances in a variety of communities and communities, and also online.
Isabella Kinch and Yi-Min Tsung at the YOU dance Residency at York University. Photo by Bruce Zinger.
In total, the RBC Apprentices reached over 26,000 people last year.
“The RBC Apprentice program has helped me to gain invaluable experience and knowledge, as well as many cherished memories. It has been an absolute joy to work on repertoire such as Swan Lake, new contemporary ballets and different styles of dance, such as flamenco and jazz. Being an Apprentice truly gives me the opportunity to explore, experiment and nurture my range of movement and artistry on stage and in the studio. The programme has helped me to find my voice both artistically and in everyday life.”
– RBC Apprentice Keira Sanford
Under the supervision of Hope Muir, Joan and Jerry Lozinski Artistic Director, and Robert Binet, Director of Artist Development Programmes, the Apprentices perform a diverse repertoire drawn from the main company, as well as pieces created specifically for the programme. Hope sees the Apprentices as ambassadors for the National Ballet and the future of the artform.
Oliver Yonick and Isabella Kinch at the YOU dance Residency at York University. Photo by Bruce Zinger.
“The YOU dance programme brilliantly meets needs on both sides of the equation. For the RBC Apprentices it provides a low-risk arena to master new and challenging repertoire and build confidence as a performer. The students who come to see the performances get to learn about dance from people who are only about a decade older than them, allowing the students to see a life and career in the arts as a viable path.”
– Robert Binet
YOU dance requires the Apprentices to be versatile performers – knowledgeable of the ballet classics and quick to adapt to the styles of contemporary choreographers, so that they develop into well-rounded artists. Three Apprentices from last season – Connor Hamilton, Isabella Kinch and Oliver Yonick – have joined the National Ballet’s Corps de Ballet for the coming 2023/24 season.
As Robert Binet observes, all have developed greater artistry and a sense of collegiality that will serve them well in a professional environment. "Seeing the Apprentices become brave on stage, proactive company members and using their voices for change has been deeply gratifying,” he says. “But what has moved me most is the way the youngest dancers in the company show endless kindness and support for one another and arrive in the studio every day hungry to sharpen their craft.”
The RBC Apprentices at the YOU dance Residency at York University. Photo by Bruce Zinger.
Meet the 11 Dancers of the 2023/24 RBC Apprentice Programme