Local ballerina lands opportunity at Royal Winnipeg Ballet School

  • Aug. 24, 2016 2:26 p.m.

A young local ballerina was recently granted the opportunity of a lifetime – to attend a full-year program at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.

Ainsley Nivens, 12, was thrilled to hear the news of her acceptance. This achievement is a significant accomplishment as the school only invites approximately 70 students from around the world per year.

“This is one of the best ballet companies in Canada, maybe the world. I could come out of this with a career in dance. They say that if you turn down the opportunity, you’re probably never going to be selected again,” she said.

Ainsley has dreamed of attending this school since she was six years old and now has finally been granted the chance after a rigorous audition camp through the summer.

“When I was in Grade 3, there was a book in my school library and no one ever took it out. It was about the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and I took it out every single week. I always wanted the navy blue body suit, because that’s what they wear there,” she said.

“This is my dream company. I really wanted to get in, but never thought I would.”

Nivens auditioned for the summer program in October of 2015 and was invited this year to take part in the summer session audition portion. According to her father, Todd Nivens, Ainsley was one of 10 students in her age group to have been selected from the original audition pool of about 100 dancers.

Ainsley will be heading to Winnipeg in September to take part in the Professional Development Division of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.

“It’s a really big opportunity to be excepted so I’m very excited. I am very excited but kind of nervous. I got a whole bunch of corrections and was told they would love to have me if I could fix them,” Ainsley said.

“I had to work really hard in classes because I had three days to show that I could do my corrections and prove that I was able to apply corrections quickly.”

Ainsley, her parents and dance instructors spent a few days of phone calls back and forth amongst each other and representatives of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Ainsley said that when she finally got the final word that she had been accepted, she cried tears of joy.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to be there and to make lots of new friends and having the level of training I’ll get there. I’ve always wanted to dance with this ballet group,” she said.

“It gives me a lot of confidence to dance. I know that if I’m having a bad day or something, I can come to the dance studio and see my ballet family. I know that if I’m having a bad day, I have people I can go to and this sounds cheesy but we can dance it out,” she added with a laugh.

Ainsley’s mother, Shannon Nivens, said this was a huge opportunity and that the family would support Ainsley even though it is a big adjustment.

“(Ainsley) has honestly been dreaming about this since she was six. Most people don’t set goals for themselves at 12, let alone to be achieving them. This is a crazy, huge thing,” Shannon said.

“It was a huge family decision. The offer came in and we had to talk to teachers, and our family and other families that have been through this, and we couldn’t pass it up. You can’t teach kids to have goals, and then say, ‘Just kidding!’ when they achieve them.”

She said this is the only way for Ainsley to get to the level of dance where she wants to be, so the family would support her to do that.