Anya Nesvitaylo and Sergiy Diyanov expected to play the lead roles in the summer production of World of Shadows:Phantom the Ballet, but the production has been cancelled after Nesvitaylo and another dancer with the company became pregnant. (Atlantic Ballet Theatre)

The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada has been forced to cancel its summer production of World of Shadows: Phantom the Ballet after two ballerinas have left on maternity leaves.

Igor Dobrovolskiy, the artistic director, says his reaction was mixed when his lead dancer, Anya Nesvitaylo, announced she was pregnant in May.

"I so happy you're pregnant, it's new life for you, but like choreographer and artistic director — I'm losing my muse," Dobrovolskiy said.

He says when a second dancer announced she was also pregnant, he knew there was no way his eight-member company could mount the production without two of its dancers.

"We try to keep the quality and high standard, and audiences recognize [a] show [that is] something less than we [showed] before, it's not good, it's not a good image for the company."

Sergiy Diyanov was planning to dance the lead role in the production of World of Shadows: Phantom the Ballet.

"Yeah, bad about it and it's got good about it. We have some time for ourselves, we have a couple of projects at home as well, some improvements but yeah it's a pity."

Immigration process 'lengthy' for new dancers

Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, the chief executive officer of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, says finding replacement dancers for the company has proven to be very difficult.

More than 300 dancers applied for the positions and of those applicants, only four were Canadian.

She said the Canadian dancers didn't make the cut and in the end the company has hired two dancers, one from the United States and another from France.

She says the immigration process is "lengthy" and there was no way to go ahead with the production without the new dancers in place. 

"Then we have to look at the immigration process," said Chalmers-Gauvin. 

"And it does take three to four months to get new dancers here."

Chalmers-Gauvin says the production will return to the stage next year.

The Atlantic Ballet Theatre is the only professional ballet company in the region. It was founded in 2001