Arts and employment are not always a hand-in-hand prospect, but a small, private performing arts college out of Victoria offers quite a return on investment.
“Eighty to 100 per cent of our second year grads get contracts and stay in the business,” said Steven Seltzer, spokesman for the Canadian College performing arts.
Seltzer is a self-professed name-dropper. In it’s 15 years, the school can say it’s trained Grammy Award winner Carly Rae Jepsen, the current casting director for the broadway hits Chicago and La Cage Aux Folles, Duncan Stewart, Bomb Girls star Ali Liebert and this year’s Ragtime lead and at the Shaw Festival, Alanna Hibbert.
In Seltzer’s words, the school was developed by a couple with “monster careers”—choreographer Jacque Lemay and his wife actress wife Janis Dunning.
Lemay took the lead on the Calgary Olympics opening ceremonies, spent 13 years with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and event handled Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Jubilee Tour in B.C.
“It’s been said, if you ever want to move 10,000 people, he’s the one to do it,” explained Seltzer.
The pair worked together as artistic director and program director for the school until their retirement in 2010 and, in the years since, the school has managed to continue choreographing the program to ensure tuition stays low and the talent top tier.
On March 8, recruiters for the school will be in the valley looking for talent from Kelowna to fill next year’s class, and the competition, while stiff, is by no means formidable.
One in four people who turn out for auditions are accepted into the school and, once on campus, the new students are put through their paces.
Classes take up the bulk of the day for the full two years and after the dinner break the students are back to work rehearsing for shows.
The school focuses on dance, theatre and voice, ensuring every graduate knows how to move, act and, at the very least, join the chorus line.
“You don’t have to be a triple threat to audition. We’ll train you,” said Seltzer.
Vernon graduate Christina Cuglietta-Braun now works with the school and has performed in the Kamloops-based Western Canadian Theatre productions, with Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre and The Gateway Theatre in Richmond. She now covers private voice, acting and dance for the school.
The CCPA Audition Tour launches Saturday, March 2 in Toronto and spreads across the country with stops in Halifax, Gatineau, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, here in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria.
Video auditions are also accepted until May 1; although, the tour also includes the 2013 New Horizons Scholarship contest where one recipient will receive a $2000 scholarship and a professional photo shoot.
Tuition for the school works out to $16,000 per year, but as it is run by a non-profit society, fundraising, bursaries and scholarships generally knock the figure down to $8,000—comparable to any other college education in B.C.
One must prebook to audition and the event will take place at the Canadian School of Ballet, 101-2303 Leckie Road in Kelowna. For information contact the college directly at 250-595-9970 or see the website ccpacanada.com.
Anyone auditioning is asked to prepare to participate in dance or movement routines, to sing and to act.