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Orléans Ward
Matt Luloff

Beacon Hill,
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Tim Tierney





(Posted Dec. 8, 2018)

Canada’s Ballet Jörgen gives local dancers a Nutcracker experience
By Heather Jamieson
Orléans Online

Cumbrae dancers Keradwyn Thompson and Lily Mialkowski will appear together in the Ballet Jorgen performance of The Nutcracker. PHOTO SUPPLIED

The professional dancers were “breathtaking and I loved getting to know them,” says Keradwyn Thompson about her first experience, in 2016, dancing in Canada’s Ballet Jörgen production of The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition.

“It was even more exciting than I imagined,” she recalls.

This is the third consecutive year the 11-year-old has successfully auditioned for a role. While she is once again dancing the part of a chipmunk, she explains there are four chipmunk roles and she has played a different one each year.

Keradwyn's friend and fellow Cumbrae School of Dancing student Lily Mialkowski, 12, has earned a role in this year's production aftershe unsuccessfully auditioned last year.

"I wasn’t discouraged about trying again," says Lily, who will also be playing a squirrel. "In fact, I think I was more encouraged so I could prove to myself that you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

Lily's mother Nancy MacKinnon is very proud of how her daughter bounced back from her disappointment.

Laural Harquail and Charlotte Goyetche are the other Cumbrae students dancing in this year’s production. Keradwyn’s advice to those dancing for the first time is to do their best. “Time flies, so remember to enjoy the experience and don’t forget to have fun.” (Keradwyn will also be performing in Cinderella and the Ice Slipper at The Gladstone Theatre starting December 28.)

Being part of the Nutcracker cast is a significant commitment for dancers, who are already dancing many hours a week in their regular classes. An intensive evening and full-day of rehearsals followed auditions at the Shenkman in mid-October.

Three-hour weekly rehearsals continue every Sunday morning at the School of Dance in New Edinburg until final rehearsals with Ballet Jörgen’s co-founder and artistic director Bengt Jörgen.

Keradwyn’s father Kevin Thompson is impressed with Jörgen’s support and encouragement. “He really makes the children feel like they are part of the Jörgen ballet family.”

From about 80 Ottawa-area dancers who auditioned, 16 from eight Ottawa-area dance schools were chosen to perform as woodland creatures in the three performances at the Shenkman. Another 15 young dancers will perform in the two performances at the Meridian Theatres at Centerpointe.

As was the case last year, the only male dancer chosen for either cast was Viggo Batabyal-Miller from the Academy of Dance Arts in Orléans. Cumbrae dancers were also among local dancers chosen to dance in the recent Alberta Ballet production of The Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre.

“I cannot say enough about how grateful I am as a teacher to the companies that open roles to local children,” says Amer Harvie, director of Cumbrae. “It is so inspiring for them to be part of a professional production.”

Performances at the Shenkman are at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12 and at 1:30 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 13. Visit www.shenkmanarts.ca or call 613-580-2700 for more information or to purchase tickets.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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