Ayva Rossouw-Holland’s dance journey is a testament to the power of hard work and determination. After deciding she wanted to pursue dance, Ayva spent years rising though the CBJ ranks; from George Brown student, to mentor, to apprentice, and now she celebrates her 5 year anniversary as a full company dancer! Read about Ayva’s journey, her experiences, and what inspires her in our interview below!

Tell us a bit about your dance background and how you came to CBJ!

I started dancing when I was nine and did most of my training at Pacific Dance Center in Victoria, B.C. After I graduated high school I took a gap year and worked as an assistant at a hair salon. As much as I enjoyed being creative with hair, I missed dancing too much and realized I would regret not at least trying to pursue a career in ballet. I heard of Canada’s Ballet Jörgen through word of mouth, since two former Ballet Jörgen dancers were affiliated with my school in Victoria. I decided to audition for the George Brown Dance Performance program while visiting one of my friends in Toronto. My goal was to join the company, so by going through the college and then CBJ’s mentorship and apprenticeship programs I was accepted into the company.

You just celebrated your five year anniversary with the company. How have the last five years unfolded differently from what you expected? How do you think you’ve grown and changed as a dancer?

Going into the company I knew that Canada’s Ballet Jörgen was known for touring communities that wouldn’t necessarily ever get the chance to see a professional ballet company. Over the past five years I have really started to understand the importance of creating relationships with these communities. Encountering positive reactions from local participants and audiences is truly rewarding. In terms of growing as an artist, I have learned more about myself as a person and as a dancer. I enjoy the challenge of the technical side of ballet, but really feel fulfilled when I can carry a character as well.

If you could go back five years and give any advice to yourself, what would it be?

I would tell myself to have patience. Forcing an outcome doesn’t get you anywhere faster, in fact it may slow you down.

Canada's Ballet Jörgen Bouffonia creation

As a young dancer you had the opportunity to work with some pretty big name choreographers, like Robert Desrosiers in the creation of Bouffonia (pictured right). What was that experience like? What is the creation process like and were you inspired or impacted by it?

I felt extremely lucky to work with Robert Desrosiers, and I loved the challenge of interpreting his vision, as quirky as it may be. Mr. Desrosiers is unique because he choreographs without music. Working to a metronome was different in the sense that the music was then created after the choreography was complete. When I heard the final production of the music, the feeling was incredible. Everything clicked!

Canada's Ballet Jörgen Swan Lake Mazurka Dancer

Going forward, are there any roles that you would really like to dance?

There aren’t any specific roles that I definitely want to dance. I try to stay in the moment, and when an opportunity arises to learn a specific role I’m going to go for it!

What do you hope to achieve in your dance career going forward?

I hope to continue to grow as an artist and to leave a positive impact on people whom I interact with through outreach as well as performance.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Time will tell.




Celebrate Ayva’s 5 year anniversary with CBJ by coming out to support her in Anastasia! Find out when CBJ will be coming to a theatre near you here!

Our anniversary marks 30 years of supporting the training and development of young artists like Ayva. Please consider joining us in our 30-year birthday celebration with a gift of $30!