It doesn’t get much better than this: a chance to dance in front of 8,000 to 10,000 people during a huge, nationally-televised event showcasing Winnipeg and celebrating Canada’s young athletes.
The auditions for volunteer dancers for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Canada Games are being held this Sunday, February 26th, at the University of Manitoba Gold Gym (430 University Crescent, accessed through the Active Living Centre.)
Patrick Roberge Productions (PRP Productions) have produced five previous Canada Games ceremonies, seven Grey Cup halftime shows, and the 2012 Arctic Winter Games, among other large events. They are hoping to find 150 volunteer dancers/performers to be part of the choreographed dance segments that will make up a big part of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Canada Games.
Brenda Gorlick, who choreographed the opening and closing ceremonies for the Pan Am Games in 1999, is the performer liaison and assistant to the choreographer. She assured me the auditions for dancers will be way less fraught than those seen on TV.
The auditions won’t be “So You Think You Can Dance,” but TV crews will be filming some of them. 300 to 400 people are expected to audition. Our mayor will be there – but probably won’t be dancing. Niibin will also be there; he will definitely be dancing, as he’s been practicing some steps lately with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
It’s a quick, easy process to apply. Once you fill in the online form, you will be sent an audition time. Some things to note: they’ll ask you for some measurements so they can fit you for the costume that will be provided free of charge. They’ll also ask for a head shot, which can be taken with any camera, but you will have to bring a hard copy of the photo with you.
Auditions for performers aged 9-12 will be scheduled between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If your child has some dance or gymnastics exposure, it’s a huge asset, but they are also looking for passionate young performers to audition.
The producers are hoping to get lots of high school and university students out to the later auditions for the 13 to 30-year-olds, which are scheduled between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. If you take Zumba fitness classes, do hip-hop dancing, or are usually the first person on the dance floor, why not audition? Again, prior dance experience is important, but if you’ve always wanted to dance, this is your chance.
Any break dancers or gymnasts out there? These skills are in high demand and there will be special parts in the dance segments for them.
During the auditions, performers will learn and perform a dance segment with lead choreographer Jocelyn Peden. Some will go on to learn more steps, since performers with beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of dance skills are needed. If you’re not picked to be one of the 150 dancers (to mark Canada’s 150th birthday,) they still need you and hope you will want to be involved as there are also positions for character performers, manipulators for life-size puppets, flag wavers, and much more.
There are some dates to keep in mind if you’re interested in doing this. You don’t have to commit to both the opening and closing ceremonies but you HAVE to be available for the June 23-25 weekend for intensive choreographed dance sessions. Don’t worry, you won’t be expected to learn everything that weekend. You’ll be sent video clips so you will be able to practice before the weekend.
The 26th and 27th of July are also important dates, as you’ll have to be available for the onsite rehearsals with technicians. PRP Productions are known for their technically-superb, striking spectacles with lights, special effects, beautifully choreographed dance routines, and lots of surprises. Giant dancing mosquitoes, perhaps?
“For me, it’s a bit of an addiction in a good way,” says Brenda Gorlick, who has been involved with the choreography for a number of Canada Games. “You feel a sense of national pride like you’ve never felt before.”
Why not audition to dance in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Canada Games during “the hottest summer in half a century” (as it’s the Canada Games 50th anniversary)? It’ll be an experience you’ll always remember. It’ll be better than any flash mob dance you could ever be in. You’ll be able to look back on it with pride for years to come and you’ll have made new friendships that will last a lifetime.
If you have any questions about the audition process, you can email Brenda Gorlick at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you really can’t make the auditions and they don’t find enough dancers during the auditions, she may still be able to audition you.