Calgary ballerinas line up to audition for Great Russian Nutcracker

Dozens of young dancers auditioned in Calgary Saturday, vying for roles in the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker.

Small roles of snowflakes, mice or Russian snow maidens offer a chance to hit the big stage

Young Calgary ballerinas auditioned for their roles in the Great Russian Nutcracker, Sept. 7, 2019. The performance will take place on Nov. 15 at the Jack Singer Auditorium. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Young ballerinas got the change to debut their skills this Saturday and audition for the Great Russian Nutcracker, which is coming to Calgary this fall.

The Moscow Ballet had minors try out for small parts in the show such as snowflakes, small mice and Russian snow maidens.  

"These girls are very, very talented," says Moscow ballerina Mariia Yevdokymova, soloist and audition director for the show. "It's a really great opportunity for ballet students to work side by side with the Moscow ballet."

Yevdokymova said she focuses on putting the dancers into the right roles, rather than auditioning them.

"To me, it's amazing," said Stephanie Borgland, whose eight year old daughter was trying out. "I never had these opportunities growing up, I grew up in the country so it's really neat for her to be able to experience that." 

The auditions have been happening through the ballet's community engagement program — Dance-With-Us — for more than a decade. 

"It's unique in that the actual company is training is purely classical, so to be able to participate in something like that, they don't have the contemporary edge it's just pure beautiful ballet," said Sara-Lynne Dewar, the coordinator of Dance-With-Us. 

She says the number of young dancers who audition fluctuates every year, but since this years turnout was lower nobody was turned away, taking the pressure off the tiny dancers. 

"I do get a little nervous, but not too nervous," said nine-year-old Kai Choe, who has been practicing ballet for five years and has made it into the show four times before. "I just love to dance, so when she's writing things down on the paper and talking to me, that just means that you're being noticed."

Calgary ballerina Kai Choe, 9, has been in the Great Russian Nutcracker four times. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Choe says being in the big show is a thrill.

"It's really exciting because you're backstage, you're with all the professionals, and the costumes are so fun to put on," she says.

Dancers who are cast will have to commit to regular weekend rehearsals leading up to the big performance at the Jack Singer auditorium, Nov. 15.

With files from Terri Trembath


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