Sydney Barber, of Savage, Minn. / Photo by Bruce Monk, provided by Royal Winnipeg Ballet.


On January 12 Canada’s prestigious Royal Winnipeg Ballet School will make a stop in Minneapolis as part of an international audition tour. The RWB scouts will be seeking talented students with a desire to learn. And if a Twin Cities area dancer happens to make the cut, it won’t be the first time.

Consider Sydney Barber, who began her training with Minnesota Dance Theatre and then went on to study with DanceWorks and Ballet Royale Minnesota (both in Lakeville). At age 13 she was selected to join RWB’s Ballet Academic program.

Now 15 and a scholarship recipient, Barber spends most of the year in Winnipeg, with breaks during the holidays and summer to visit her family in Savage. Barber’s busy days are filled with dance classes and rehearsals for performances as well as academic studies at a local school. She and her fellow RWB students (who hail from Canada, the United States, Japan and Thailand) live in a residence hall connected to the RWB facility.

“I think it’s really important for a professional career,” said Barber of her experience during a recent phone interview. “We get really good training, we watch the company perform.” She especially appreciates the opportunity to grow in an atmosphere completely dedicated to shaping her artistry. Local audiences familiar with RWB from Northrop presentations of “Wonderland” in 2011 and “Moulin Rouge” in 2009 know the troupe enjoys taking big risks. “I think the company is very creative,” said Barber. “They push us to different levels.”

Barber has simple yet encouraging advice for dancers considering an audition: “I would just tell anyone, even if you’re scared come and try out. You might regret it if you don’t. It’s a great school.” She adds that even if someone “messes up” – like Barber says she did during her audition – the RBT school staff members “can see potential. They can see past nerves.”

After graduation Barber hopes to join the Aspirant Program, a full-time post-secondary opportunity for dancers preparing for membership in the RWB or perhaps another company. She dreams of dancing in other countries and has an eye turned towards Europe.

The RWB auditions in Minneapolis are for the Ballet Academic, Aspirant and Teacher Training programs. They will take place this Sunday at Minnesota Dance Theatre & the Dance Institute at the Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Ave., Sixth Floor. Auditions are 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. for 10 to 12 year-olds; 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. for dancers age 13 and over. There will be a question and answer session in the morning between the audition sessions plus master classes in the afternoon at 1:30 p.m. For further information contact Ava Jerao at and visit

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