The School of Contemporary DancersIn 1972, Rachel BROWNE founded The School of Contemporary Dancers (SCD) and Apprentice Program as a division of WINNIPEG'S CONTEMPORARY DANCERS (WCD), recognized as a leading centre for professional contemporary dance training in Canada.
In 1981, the Apprentice Program was re-created by Odette-Heyn-Penner and Faye Thomson, who co-founded the Professional Program and have served as its co-directors for more than 30 years. Under their leadership, the SCD has flourished as a richly diverse training program with a mandate to prepare students for professional careers in contemporary dance performance. Students receive a strong foundation in technical and artistic skills that enable them to perform a diverse range of movement styles required by choreographers and companies. Many of the SCD's high-calibre graduates have established performance careers either as independent artists or with companies around the world, while others have developed their own choreographic careers.
Located in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District, the SCD gained independent status in 1995, when incorporating separately from WCD allowed it to focus on its unique mandate.
The rigorous four-year curriculum is grounded in contemporary dance techniques including Limon-influenced movement, ballet for contemporary dancers and repertory/performance classes. Additional training is provided in contact improvisation, composition and pedagogy, partnering, voice, dance legacy and body mechanics. The annual Spring Dance Intensive provides further intensive study over approximately 2 weeks. During the fourth, important bridge year, students are given opportunities to collaborate with established artists and/or undertake creative projects as they transition into the world of professional dance.
An integral component of the SCD's philosophy of training is performance. Professional Program students gain invaluable stage experience performing in 2 primary series: "Basement Projects" and "Dance Reflections," held each December and May, respectively. Students also present showings of their choreography and perform in annual public school tours across Manitoba and at local and national arts festivals.
The Professional Program, while retaining its autonomy, is affiliated with the University of Winnipeg, where students may opt to receive credits for their dance training and with some academic credits may complete a B.A. (Honours) degree with a specialization in dance; this may be undertaken during their training. The SCD also includes a thriving General Program.