Skip to content

Sunshine Coast ballerina makes leap to London

Eibhlin Minatsis, who is still in her senior year of high school, has been selected to attend the English National Ballet School in the U.K.
Award-winning ballet dancer Eibhlin Minatsis takes flight (alongside Connor Dixon) in this year’s Spring Showcase performance of the Gibsons Dance Centre.

A Sunshine Coast dancer, still in her senior year of high school, has been selected to attend the English National Ballet School in the U.K. 

Eibhlin Minatsis is a student of Penny-Lea Hudson, owner and artistic director of the Gibsons Dance Centre. Hudson spent her early years performing in Vancouver, Montreal and London where she became acquainted with the English National Ballet School’s predecessor, the London Festival Ballet (the name changed in 1989). 

“Miss Penny always tells us stories about the London Festival Ballet and how great they were and how much she loved it,” said Minatsis. “I kind of looked into it because of that, but also because I follow so many professional dancers on Instagram I came across a few dancers from the English National.” 

Minatsis is a fixture of Sunshine Coast dance festivals who has appeared in the annual Nutcracker performance for seven years straight (most recently as the Snow Queen and Dew Drop Fairy). 

Upon turning 18, English National’s age of eligibility, Minatsis prepared a video compilation of her performances and sent it to the London-based company. The quality of her skills garnered an invitation to fly to Britain’s capital for in-person auditions. 

“Just getting to that stage was pretty incredible,” she said. 

Last month, only two days after her participation in the Coastal Dance Festival at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt, Minatsis jetted to the United Kingdom with her mother and sister. 

Since London was gripped by pre-coronation frenzy, the three travellers struggled to find accommodation. Braving the crowds, they visited highlights like the London Eye observation wheel and the Elizabeth Tower. Family friends bought them tickets to view the ballet Cinderella at the Royal Opera House. 

Finally, Minatsis auditioned alongside a group of 14 other dancers from Brazil, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. 

“The exercises that they gave us were quite hard and not really what we were expecting,” she noted. “They were steps that we would find difficult, put into a row or by themselves, without the simpler connecting steps.” 

Twenty-four hours after returning from London, Minatsis raced to compete in the One Dance Experience in Abbotsford, where her ballet solo earned the highest marks in the senior elite category for all genres. 

During the competition, she received a message from the English National Ballet School. She had been accepted to the school’s Professional Trainee Programme course, scheduled to start in January 2024. 

“I was just super excited to have gotten into this program,” Minatsis said. “It was kind of a dream of mine for so long. The school is a stepping stone between student life and a professional career. It’s a really great opportunity to refine your technique and gain a little bit more experience while learning what company life would be like without actually having the pressure of working as a professional dancer.” 

As a younger teenager, Minatsis participated in summer intensive dance studies in the Lower Mainland. Thanks to a scholarship from the Coastal Dance Festival, she trained with Ballet Bloch in North Vancouver. Last summer, she participated in a one-week session in New York City through the Joffrey Ballet School. 

The six-month trainee program in London is guaranteed to keep the high-achieving dancer on her toes. “It’s nice to look at dance from a different perspective,” she said. “You start to look at other dancers around you with a different perspective and you get to see the growth in them as well as yourself, which is super awesome.” 


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks