Real dancers. Real stories.

Mimi Tompkins – First Days at National Ballet of Canada

The Walter Carsen Centre, Toronto, Canada- Photo by SimonP
The Walter Carsen Centre, Toronto, Canada- Photo by SimonP

The first few days here at the Walter Carsen Centre (headquarters for the National Ballet of Canada) have been a little lighter than the normal workday. The rehearsal schedule wasn’t as jam packed and the ballet masters understood that most of us had been on summer break and needed to have a few days to ease back into the swing of things.

As an apprentice with the National Ballet of Canada, we are also a part of a program called YOU Dance, which stands for Youth, Understanding and Outreach Dance. The apprentices give performances for students in grades four to six to introduce them to the beautiful art of ballet. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to see ballet, which they may normally not be attracted to or have the chance to see. It is also a great opportunity for the apprentices to dance major roles, in addition to corps roles with NBoC. This year’s YOU Dance rep includes Scherzo from Midsummers Night Dream, White Swan pas de deaux, Black Swan pas de deaux, Pussycats from Sleeping Beauty, Spanish Dance from Swan Lake, and two new works By Guillame Coté and Josh Beamish.

One of the most challenging roles for me is Black Swan. Not only is it difficult stamina wise, but also as a character. I got the opportunity to perform White Swan last year in the Trainee program at San Francisco Ballet, so I was very pleased to get the chance this year to do the counter part. For me, it’s an incredible challenge to move so swiftly and athletically, while maintaining the stern and seductive character of Odile. In addition to the athletic pas de deaux and tricky variation, there are the daunting 32 fouettes, which even the best of principles fear! Although I know the road will be hard and long to prepare for this challenging role, I am extremely excited to dive in! I hope it’s a role I can re-visit through out my career, always adding more depth and strength. Not to mention, Swan Lake is my all time favorite ballet, so I hope to do it justice!


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