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Local dancer wins prestigious award

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A local dancer has been honoured with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s (RWB) most prestigious scholarship.

Linden Woods’ Connor Coughlin, 17, who is in the professional program at the RWB, was presented with the Prince Edward Award scholarship on Nov. 14. It’s been a big year for the dancer — Coughlin was also presented with The Paddy Stone Scholarship in February.
"It’s pretty exciting," Coughlin said.

With many students from both Canada and other countries competing for the scholarship, which is based on merit and talent, it isn’t often awarded to local students. In fact, Coughlin said he is the only Winnipeg student in his Level 7 graduating class.

"So it’s kind of special that way," said Coughlin. "Especially to be able to perform in my own city… especially when we tour schools in the city, and to be the only one from the city, people get pretty excited about that."

Coughlin started dance late compared to his peers. He was always interested in performing onstage, and was even in some musicals at Rainbow Stage. At the age of 12, some fellow actors suggested he take dance lessons.

"They recommended that if I wanted to do musicals, because I had never learned how to dance, they said I should learn," he said. "So I just started with a couple of classes."

Coughlin took off from there. A few months after starting ballet, he was encouraged to audition for the professional program at the RWB. The audition process involved a summer program where Coughlin really enjoyed himself.

"So I decided to stay and I have come to love dance," Coughlin said.

He was accepted into the program, but he admits ballet wasn’t his passion right away.

"It took a while just because ballet is very demanding art form. It certainly wasn’t easy most of the time," Coughlin said. "So it’s kind of hard to fall in love with something when it is so difficult, but I guess I was interested in the challenge."

Now Coughlin has learned to love the fine art of ballet and has some big goals for himself.
"I’m thinking about maybe going to New York," Coughlin said. "It’s the kind of place where I would like to end up. I’m thinking of going there and trying to continue my dance studies."

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