Armatage girl dancing in prestigious program

Jaelyn Andresen, 12, is participating in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s professional-division summer session

Jaelyn Andresen
Armatage resident Jaelyn Andresen, 12, is participating in a pre-professional summer program with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Photo courtesy of James Andresen

An Armatage girl is spending four weeks this summer with a prestigious Canadian ballet company.

Jaelyn Andresen, 12, is participating in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s professional-division summer session, which started July 2. Program participants spend their days learning ballet technique and also receive an education in character dance and modern dance.

“A four-week program is a great opportunity to get better and grow as a dancer,” Jaelyn said before she left.

She has been dancing since she was 2 years old, according to her father, James Andresen. She grew up doing competitive dance before switching her focus to ballet two years ago.

She said ballet is a way to express herself, adding that it’s also good exercise and has “beautiful parts to it.”

Ballet is a theatrical form of dance that emerged during the Italian Renaissance. There are many different styles of ballet, ranging from classical to contemporary, and dancers often begin their training at a young age. Many female dancers eventually learn how to dance on pointe, or on their toes.

Jaelyn took to pointe very easily, said Allynne Noelle, her teacher at Plymouth-based Summit Dance Shoppe. Noelle said Jaelyn has that “ballerina quality that you can’t teach,” noting a “light, floating look” to her dancing.

“She’s extremely talented,” Noelle said.

Noelle, a longtime professional ballet dancer, encouraged Jaelyn to try out for the Winnipeg program this past winter. She said kids don’t typically attend pre-professional summer programs until they are 13, though more kids are going away at younger ages.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is one of the oldest ballet companies in North America. It typically has 180 to 200 participants in the professional-division summer session, out of 600 to 800 who audition, according to Natasha Havrilenko, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s communications and public relations manager.

The summer program also serves as a tryout for the ballet’s full-time, 11-month pre-professional program, in which 30 to 40 new students are typically accepted each year.

Jaelyn said it’s not necessarily her goal to be part of the full-time program, though her ultimate goal is to dance for a professional ballet company. She said she was looking forward to growing in her technique and ability this summer, adding that she wants to learn how to partner dance.

“I see it as a really good opportunity for her to grow and develop,” James Andresen said.

Jaelyn is the oldest of four sisters, all of whom have followed her into dance. Noelle said she’s a loving older sister and that the younger girls look up to her.

“She definitely deserves to be [in Winnipeg],” she said.