8:30 a.m., Dec. 8)
Jörgen Nutcracker production has distinctive local flavour
By Heather Jamieson
Heather Lumsden-Ruegg can empathize with local dancers
chosen to perform next week in the Canada’s Ballet Jörgen
production of The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition.
Lumsden-Ruegg performs as the Raccoon in the
Canada Ballet Jorgen production of The
Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition. Photo
2010, the then 20-year-old student at Toronto’s George
Brown College for Dance, was herself a local participant
as a tree fairy in the company’s production of Cinderella.
a local participant has given me insight into how overwhelming
it might be for kids performing in The Nutcracker with
us,” she says. “It reminds me of how important it is to
explain things clearly and to be approachable if kids
Newmarket, Ontario, Heather took her first movement class
when she was quite young, began Irish Dancing at seven
and was 12 before she took her first ballet class. Her
passion grew and she graduated from the George Brown Dance
program in 2011. She was accepted as an apprentice with
the Jörgen Ballet in 2012 and was promoted to company
dancer in 2013.
can perform various roles in The Nutcracker, including
Grandma, Snowflake and Racoon.
the company’s Nutcracker Youth Education Program, local
dancers audition for roles as chipmunks and frogs to perform
with the professional dancers in performances at the Shenkman
Arts Centre or Centerpointe Theatre.
local dancers, from about 100 who auditioned, have been
cast. The sole male and youngest dancer, Viggo Batabyal-Miller,
8, will be one of the 14 local participants in the Shenkman
shows and will be dancing as a frog. “Because I was able
to bounce super well,” he explains.
his mother Helen Batabyal and father Douglas Miller, are
thrilled with this opportunity for him to dance in a ballet
he first saw performed by the Winnipeg Ballet at the National
Arts Centre when he was just three.
started taking dance lessons shortly afterwards and now
takes classes in six dance styles and is a member of the
Orléans Academy of Dance Arts award-winning competitive
he also finds time for sports, Viggo finds ballet “peaceful,
relaxing and fun,” he says. “It takes all my stress away.”
family’s commitment to Viggo’s dance is particularly inspiring
because two years ago they moved from Orléans to Nepean
to be closer to Helen’s parents.
35, Helen was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast
cancer, requiring chemotherapy, radiation and two surgeries
over 18 month. Still recovering from her treatments, which
ended in November, Helen is unable to drive.
grandmother Monique and his parents make the 90-minute
trek to his dance classes – in rush hour traffic – after
school four times a week. There are also trips for competitions,
the dance school’s Christmas recital and Nutcracker rehearsals.
is always there, not willing to miss any part of Viggo’s
remarkable journey with dance. She attributes much of
her positive attitude to continuing to be actively involved
with her son’s dance and other activities.
it keeps the normalcy for him too. Like nothing has changed,”
Ballet Jörgen will perform at the Shenkman Arts Centre
on Dec.13 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Visit
www.shenkmanarts.ca for tickets.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)