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Media Contact: Preston McBain 416-961-4725 and Colin Asuncion  416-415-5000 ext 2886

The “Junior Company” is among the only programs of its kind, and is attracting international students

August 11, 2011 — Hannah Mae Cruddas was awarded the vaunted Ballet Jörgen Canada apprenticeship contract from among a competitive field of 10 very talented dancers who participated in the year’s Junior Company.  The Nova Scotia native will be joining the company for the upcoming 2011-2012 season.

“I’ve been interested in Ballet Jörgen for many years,” says Cruddas. “So when I came across the notice for the Junior Company I thought that it would be an ideal opportunity for me to experience life as a professional company dancer”.

For the 10 dancers of Ballet Jörgen Canada’s Junior Company, the showcase held at the end of July was a culmination of 5 weeks of hard work, dedication and passion.  An intimate audience was treated to a performance by the participants of exciting new contemporary works mixed in with traditional classical favorites in the studios in George Brown College in the early evening of July 29, 2011.

What does it mean to dance with a professional dancer and be a part of the Junior Company?  For Cruddas, it was “something about dancing next to the very same people I had watched countless times onstage”.  She admits to feeling excited, a little bit awestruck and having a large amount of respect for the methods they used in the studio. “I often found myself watching, and trying to experiment with the way they executed even the simplest steps.”

The July 29th showcase included a new work by Artistic Director & CEO Bengt Jörgen set to music by composer Robert Schumann, followed by segments of Stravinsky’s Petrushka, along with a few selected excerpts from long-time favourite The Nutcracker. Ballet Jörgen Canada’s interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic highlights a Canadian twist – using works by the Group of Seven for its Canadian Woodland setting. As well as new creations by Ballet Jörgen Canada Principal Dancer Preston McBain and Artistic Director Malgorzata Nowacka of the Chimera Project.

Joining Cruddas were 9 other dancers from across Canada, the United States and from far-flung places such as Cuba, Malaysia and Japan, and have studied at such prestigious educational institutions like the National Ballet School of Canada, The Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, The Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School.

Karina Hagemeyer, a dancer from the United States, said “I couldn’t think of a reason not to go.  It seemed like the perfect way to spend my summer, in a new city, learning new repertoire, meeting new people – it all made sense”.   Adds Cruddas, “To work alongside such creative minds was a huge treat. It was wonderful to have the chance to see the kind of creative processes that occur behind Ballet Jorgen’s phenomenal productions”

All of the dancers involved learned company repertoire and participated in the creation of new works while taking ballet class daily as well as supplimentary modern classes to round out their training. The entirety of the 5-week program is oriented around intensive training to simulate the life of a professional dancer..

Faculty for the program included Artistic Director and CEO Bengt Jörgen, Principal Dancer and choreographer Preston McBain and the innovative and electrifying Malgorzata Nowacka of “The Chimera Project” as well as Tina Fushell, Heather Berry, Anisa Tejpar, and Ballet Jörgen Canada’s recently retired prima ballerina Tara Butler.

Being able to dance with seasoned professionals means a lot to the young aspiring dancers such as Avya Rossouw-Holland, “I found it to be very motivating,” says Rossouw-Holland. “I felt like in order to become compatible with the professional dancers, I had to push myself more.”

What will new apprentice Hannah Mae Cruddas take away from her experience? “Junior Company was the perfect opportunity for me to transition from school life to company life,” she says.  “Absorbing every little detail in class can translate into rehearsal and therefore translate into a performance and observing and applying details is an asset for life as a professional company dancer”.