York ballet student looks to career in dance therapy

First-year fine arts student Sky Fairchild-Waller believes in the healing power of dance and hopes to preach what he practises. A recent graduate of Oak Bay Secondary School in Victoria, BC, Fairchild-Waller recently received an RBC Royal Bank Financial Lifeskills Scholarship and will use the $2,005 award to pursue his goal of becoming a professor of dance therapy. He is enrolled in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts with a double major in dance and psychology.

Sky Fairchild-WallerWhile training as a young performer, Fairchild-Waller taught dance at the Vancouver Island Fitness Centre for Women and assisted the director of dance/fine arts department head as artistic coordinator at his high school. At the same time, he volunteered and performed in community event such as performing and doing choreography for the Greater Victoria Fringe Festival and the 2005 Festival of DanceArts. For his scholarshisp application, Sky submitted a 16-minute dance video which included samples of both his performance and choreography.

Right: Fairchild-Waller in make-up after a performance

Fairchild-Waller discovered ballet totally by chance at the age of seven at summer camp, which he attended every summer while his parents, who are both doctors, worked long hours. After trying basketball, which he didn’t like, and soccer, in which he injured himself, his father spotted a camp for dance and said, how about that? Fairchild-Waller agreed to give it a try and was hooked after the first session. “I knew right away this was for me,” he said, “I just couldn’t leave it and it became my first priority.”

Within a year, he was given a role with the National Ballet’s touring company as a page in Giselle and practising hard for a career as a performer. At 11, Fairdhild-Waller performed in a production of the Nutcracker with Oregon’s Eugene Ballet Company. His inevitable audition for the National Ballet School was successful and he moved to Toronto to study there in 1999.

His time at the prestigious school was cut short in 2001 by a knee injury that limited his future prospects as a performer. Not to be discouraged, Fairchild-Waller turned his attention to choreography and won an award for his work at this summer’s Festival of DanceArts in Victoria. He says he is resolved to the fact that his performing days are behind him. “I’ve already done so much performing and, to be practical, there are no benefits in that for me,” he said. His emphasis now is on learning dance technique so he can combine it with his interest in psychology, which he also studied in high school. “I want to teach and look into dance as therapy,” he said.

RBC Financial Group awarded 10 exceptional Canadian high-school and CEGEP students with this year’s RBC Royal Bank Financial Lifeskills Scholarship. Each recipient will receive a $2,005 award that can be allocated towards tuition, books or any other school-related expense.

To demonstrate its ongoing commitment to education, RBC will award 10 more scholarships of $2,006 each for the 2006 school year. To qualify, students must be in their final year of high school, or CEGEP, and maintain a minimum grade average of 65 per cent. Students must also be registered at a college or university in Canada for the 2006 Fall/Winter session. Information and application forms are available online at www.rbcroyalbank.com/lifeskills.