A local ballet company is putting together a production of The Nutcracker and Jackielou Perez sits in on one of their Sunday rehearsals.
The streets are quiet on this early Sunday morning but inside Stepanova Dance Academy in Toronto, Nutcracker music is blaring from the studios, and 30+ dancers of all ages are going to and from the studios wrapping up one choreography only to move on to the next piece.
I’m sitting in Studio A as the teacher directs the little dancers on which way to scurry off the stage, then focuses on the older students instructing them to hold their swords at what angle as they jump to and fro. Soon, the adult dancers join the group marking their positions among the organized chaos and slowly, the epic battle scene between the soldiers and mice come together.
Members of the Toronto International Ballet Theatre have been rehearsing since the beginning of the fall season to put on a Nutcracker production for the community. Dancers from all over the Greater Toronto Area, some as far as two hours away come to the city every Sunday and rehearse.
“We train our kids to dance professionally and match the guest artists who, this year, are from the Hungarian Ballet Theatre,” says Tatiana Stepanova, the artistic director of Toronto International Ballet Theatre. Match the dancers and potentially create professional ballet dancers.
Last year's Clara, Laurie Neilsen, has gone on to study professionally at Bolshoi Academy in Russia. Maybe dancers in this program and kids sitting in the audiences will aspire to be on pointe shoes or leap across the stage in the future.