Anna made the switch to the Victoria Ballet Academy in Grade 7, because she loved ballet. She had been taking casual ballet classes as well as rhythmic gymnastics for a few years, and decided to step it up by enrolling at the school. Alena previously attended Toronto’s Claude Watson School for the Arts before moving to Victoria Ballet Academy in Grade 8. “It’s a very professional environment here,” Alena says. “I feel like I’m advancing a lot.”
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The school produces one large-scale ballet production a year, such as Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, performing at local venues such as the Vaughan City Playhouse or the Richmond Hill Theatre. Victoria Ballet Academy pays close attention to academics too. On top of standard courses such as math and science, the school offers music, visual arts and even Russian language classes.
Behind the brushstroke
When the Grade 8 class produced and performed in a production of Fiddler On The Roof, they were doing much more than entertaining a crowd—they were learning.
Even the backdrop for the play, designed and painted by the students in the style of the late artist Marc Chagall—with help from their visual arts teacher Anna Gruda—was incorporated into an overall lesson.
“By studying the biography of Chagall in art class, we were able to learn more about the time period in Russia when the play took place,” says Simon, a 14-year-old student. “We all helped paint this huge canvas with colours and images Chagall used in his work.”
The result was quite spectacular and the project helped the students relate to the characters they were playing on stage.
At Toronto Waldorf School in Thornhill, Ontario, students spend three-week intervals focusing on one main lesson, while a number of their other classes, including art, support the subject they’re learning.
“It allows the students to really immerse themselves in something specific,” says Gruda.
Taking centre stage
Justin, 15, is learning about William Shakespeare by participating in a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which he’s playing the role of Demetrius.
“My character is really snobby and stuck-up,” he says. “It’s fun playing different personalities.”
Each year, the Grade 9 and 10 students from Venta Preparatory School in Ottawa, Ontario team up with the Grade 2 class to bring Shakespeare’s plays to life.
“You literally want to become your character on stage,” says Justin. “You have to speak and think like him.”
The school is also involving students in the younger grades. Justin notes that the children in Grade 2 will play the fairies.
“They don’t have many lines, but they love to dance around in their costumes,” he says.