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Ballet stars of the future + Nutcracker ticket giveaway

By Alejandro Bustos on November 23, 2015

We’re giving away a pair of tickets to see the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker on Thursday, December 3 at 7 pm at the National Arts Centre. To enter this contest email by 4 pm Wednesday, November 25, with the subject line “Contest – Nutcracker.” A winner will be picked by random draw and notified on Wednesday afternoon.

From L-R: Émélie Garneau, Hanna Toll and Benjamin Craig-Browne. Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

From L-R: Émélie Garneau, Hanna Toll and Benjamin Craig-Browne. Photo by Alexandra Campeau.

The holiday season is synonymous with laughter, cheerful spirits and joyful get-togethers with family and friends. December is also a particularly special month for many dance lovers, as this is the time of year when they make their annual trek to a theatre to see a performance of the classic ballet The Nutcracker.

This year the world famous Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be performing this masterpiece at the National Arts Centre from December 2 to 6. In a Canadian twist, the show will include such symbols as hockey players, polar bears and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

For many children and young teens, however, this show will also be a huge opportunity in their quest to become professional ballet dancers. In what has become a rite of passage, 64 young dancers from the National Capital Region between the ages of 7 to 13 will be joining the professional cast in this performance.

“Many star dancers get their first major roles in Nutcracker, and hundreds of children from ballet schools have their initial experience onstage with this production,” says Cathy Levy, executive producer of NAC Dance.

In an attempt to shine a spotlight on the future dancers in our region, Apartment613 has for the last two years interviewed up-and-coming artists for our Nutcracker-related stories.

Keeping with this tradition, we spoke to three aspiring dancers who will be lacing up their dance shoes for the 2015 performance of this timeless ballet.

Photo of Émélie Garneau by Alexandra Campeau.

Photo of Émélie Garneau by Alexandra Campeau.

For 10-year-old Émélie Garneau dancing has always been a part of her life, as she got her first taste of ballet when she was still a mere toddler

“I have also studied Irish dancing . . . and jazz,” she says.

A student at the The Cumbrae School of Dancing in Orléans, Émélie will put her skills to use as she plays the role of a mouse. But while this will be the first time that she has performed on the NAC stage, she doesn’t want it to be the last.

“When I am asked what I want to do when I grow up I say ‘dancer,’” says Émélie, who lives in Embrun, about her artistic dreams.

For 11-year-old Hanna Toll, this will be the second time that she has performed The Nutcracker on the NAC stage. So what advice does she have for her young colleagues who are appearing to dance under the big lights for the first time?

Photo of Hanna Toll by Alexandra Campeau.

Photo of Hanna Toll by Alexandra Campeau.

“If you have stage fright then the stage lights can help you because you can’t see the audience,” she replies with a smile.

A member of the Arnprior School of Dance, Hanna will be performing the role of a party girl.

“I have been dancing for 8½ years,” says Hanna who was born in Ottawa. “I started by watching people dance on TV and I said to myself, ‘I want to do that.'”

Rounding out the trio is Benjamin Craig-Browne, a precocious 9-year-old who trains at The School of Dance.

“I was really surprised when I got the role,” says Benjamin when asked how he reacted when he found out that he had been chosen to be in the cast“I had tried out before for The Nutcracker but I didn’t get it.”

Photo of Benjamin Craig-Brown by Alexandra Campeau.

Photo of Benjamin Craig-Browne by Alexandra Campeau.

But now that the young dancer will have the opportunity to work alongside professionals he says he is looking forward to the experience.

“My eyes are going to get used to the stage lights,” he says, as he describes what it is like to be on a professional stage.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet will perform The Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre from December 2-6. Tickets can be purchased online or at the NAC box office.