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Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

Young Ottawa dancers talk about performing in The Nutcracker + ticket giveaway!

By Kabriya Coghlan on November 23, 2016

We’re giving away an NAC Nutcracker Family Pack: Four Section 1 Tickets to The Nutcracker for Saturday December 3, at 7 p.m. at the NAC, plus a Nutcracker poster signed by the Alberta Ballet Company.  Read on for details about how you can enter.

Apartment613 met with three young ballet dancers from the School of Dance who will be performing in the the Alberta Ballet Company’s production of The Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre.

The three girls will all be dancing in a battle scene between the rats and the soldiers. Georgia Westerlund (13) plays a rat, Olivia Taylor (13) plays a solider, and Macie Orrell (15) plays both roles. This is Orrell’s second year performing in The Nutcracker with the Alberta Ballet, while Westerlund played an angel in the Winnipeg Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker last year, but all three of the girls said they’ve been dancing for most of their lives.

Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

I sat down with them to talk about their love of ballet and why The Nutcracker is so special to each of them.

[Editor’s note: Interviewing young Nutcracker dancers is an Apt613 tradition: check out our posts from 2013 and 2015.]

Apt613: What do you enjoy most about ballet?

Westerlund: I really enjoy the movements, like how you can tell a story with just a few movements and your facial expressions.

Orrell: I think what I love most about ballet is it’s constantly a challenge and you always have something to work for. You know you’re never going to be perfect, so it’s always good to keep pushing yourself, and I find ballet’s a really good way to calm myself down after a stressful day, just to focus on the movements and focus on my technique. It really brings me back to what’s important.

Taylor: I find there’s a lot of different styles of ballet – even though it’s not super free, there are a lot of styles, so there’s always new things to learn and I really like that.

Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

Were you familiar with The Nutcracker before you got your parts?

Westerlund: Yeah, I went with my grandma every year since I was four, so it was really cool to be in the production this year, because I got to be on the stage and not just watching.

Orrell: The Nutcracker is very meaningful to me, because it was the first ballet I ever saw and that was really kind of the turning point. It inspired me to continue with ballet. I’ve been in the Alberta Ballet, this production of The Nutcracker, twice now, so it’s really exciting to do it for a second time.

Taylor: The Nutcracker has always been a part of my life, I think. You get to see the dancers, you
get to see the children’s roles and the adults, and you get to see how good they are, but also how you can go from a kid to a professional dancer. That’s always inspired me because I think one day I can get there, and I just always remember that.

Photo by Charles Hope.

Photo by Charles Hope.

Apt613: What do you like about the story of The Nutcracker?

Westerlund: I think it’s really cool, because it’s a little girl’s imagination, so every little kid that goes can think that they can have adventures in their imagination.

Orrell: I think it’s a really kid-friendly ballet. We can really relate to the stories and it’s not a very mature subject. We can understand the story and it’s something that we can think about.

Taylor: Well, the story, there’s a lot of imagination, so it’s sort of like, is it a dream? Did it really happen? You’re always thinking, you know, what’s actually happening? Was she dreaming about this? And I like thinking about that.

Photo by Paul McGrath.

Photo by Paul McGrath.

Apt613: Have you performed in other ballet productions before, or do you have a favourite ballet that you’d want to dance in?

Westerlund: This is my second time in The Nutcracker. Last year, I was an angel in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and I really liked that role because it was a very classical role, but I like this time because I get to be a completely other side of that – I’m evil. And if I was in another ballet I’d probably be in Gisele, because I think it’s full of emotion.

Orrell: I’ve actually only been in the Alberta Ballet’s production. I’ve been a rat the last time, so that was the only role that I’ve really had with a ballet, but if I were to perform with another ballet I think I’d like to perform with Swan Lake, because I love the music and I love how it’s similar to The Nutcracker because they’re both composed by Tchaikovsky, and he’s a pretty good composer.

Taylor: So this is the first time I’ve been in a big production, but I’d really love to someday be in a ballet where there’s lots of acting and I can really get into the character, so I’d like to dance in every ballet (laughs). You know, I’d really like to be able to get into a character and act, and that’s something I really want to do, so Romeo and Juliet or Cinderella or something like that.

Photo by Charles Hope.

Photo by Charles Hope.

Apt613: What’s your favourite part of dancing in The Nutcracker?

Westerlund: I think it’s really cool that we get to dance with all the sets, that’s probably my favourite part, all the costumes and the sets. It’s really cool to be around the company members, the professional dancers and choreographers. It’s a really cool vibe to be around.

Orrell: I really like the interactions between the other dancers. In the battle scene there’s tons of interactions, whether it be with other students or the professional dancers, so it’s really cool to
see the different emotions that you have when you’re connecting with the other dancers onstage.

Taylor: I’m really excited to be in such a big theatre with such professional people. I’m in part of a really big production, that’s a really big deal, and I’m really excited for that.

Photo by Paul McGrath.

Photo by Paul McGrath.

Apt613: How did you react when you found out you’d got the parts?

Westerlund: I was really excited to know that I could do it for a second time, because I had a lot of fun the first time, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to do it again.

Orrell: I was really excited when I got accepted, because I was so nervous going into the audition. It was really good this year, because I was with the School of Dance and the atmosphere here is lovely, so it was really nice to kind of calm me down before I went in. But nonetheless, I was very nervous and it was nerve-wracking to go in and perform in front of Edmund Stripe, who is the choreographer for the Alberta Ballet. He is somebody that we, as young dancers, aspire to be like, and it was an honour for him to have chosen us.

Taylor: I was so happy because I was really nervous going in, and it was sort of a slow realization as they let other people out, and then I eventually realized, you know, I’ve gotten in, I get to be in The Nutcracker. I was so happy, and I’m so excited.

The Nutcracker will be playing at the NAC from Wednesday, November 30 to Sunday, December 4. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone (1 888 991-2787), or at the NAC Box Office at 54 Elgin St.

We’re giving away an NAC Nutcracker Family Pack: Four Section 1 Tickets to The Nutcracker for Saturday December 3, at 7 p.m. at the NAC, plus a Nutcracker poster signed by the Alberta Ballet Company.

To enter, comment below with why you’re excited to see The Nutcracker. Please note that our comment section is moderated, so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away: we’ve got you.

The winner will be randomly selected at noon on Friday, November 25th and will be notified by email.