“A big reason I chose George Brown Dance was because of Ballet Jörgen. I saw that the company toured across Canada, to even the small cities that most companies do not visit, and that they not only performed but also taught people about dance…”
With CBJ’s 2018 Nutcracker season tour underway, Anneka Burghout reflects on her path from Nutcracker Local Participant, to George Brown Dance graduate.
“As a child, I had gone to see Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition,” Anneka recalls. “I loved the way that they put a unique Canadian twist to the story by changing the animals from the traditional Nutcracker and using Canadian artwork as their backdrops.”
At 13, Anneka auditioned in her hometown of Ottawa for the CBJ Nutcracker Local Participant Program, which gives young dancers in each performance city the opportunity to dance on stage with the company.
“I remember being in the studio auditioning with many other young dancers my age, learning choreography for the various roles. I was ecstatic when I was picked as one of the local dancers to perform in the Ottawa shows as a squirrel at Centrepointe Theatre in 2009. I had performed on that same stage before with my dance studio, but the part that made this experience so special was just being on stage with the company.”
Anneka loved the excitement of being at the theatre during dress rehearsal. During one rehearsal, she was cast in an additional role for the show. She remembers: “I was asked to be a white-tailed deer that would pull Klara’s sleigh. Being chosen for it was really special – just to have those extra few moments sharing the stage.”
Four years later, Anneka moved to Toronto to attend the GBD Dance Performance Program.
“A big reason I chose George Brown Dance was because of Ballet Jörgen,” Anneka explains. “I saw that the company toured across Canada, to even the small cities that most companies do not visit, and that they not only performed but also taught people about dance and gave young dancers the chance perform alongside them.”
Once in the GBD program, Anneka was thrilled to connect further with the company: “I loved the fact that the company took class and rehearsed so close to our classes. Many times, we even got to take class with them and learn choreography that they had performed.”
From its Local Participant Program to its partnership with George Brown College, Canada’s Ballet Jörgen offers unique learning opportunities that immerse students in the world of professional dance.
Since graduating from George Brown Dance in 2015, Anneka has found that her dance education has served her in unexpected ways in her current career in graphic design. “Going to school for dance definitely taught me things that I have carried along with me, like a strong work ethic and how to learn things quickly. All throughout my dance education, I found myself being able to pick up choreography quicker and quicker. Now that I am a graphic designer, I have to learn new programs and skills, and being able to pick them up quickly is definitely a huge asset.”
CBJ is connecting with young dancers across Saskatchewan and Ontario in its 2018 Nutcracker season tour from November 14 to December 30. Like Anneka, there are no limits to what this next generation can achieve with their dance education.
Want to take the next step in your dance education?
To learn more about CBJ’s Youth Participant Programs, click here.
For more information about George Brown Dance and to register for your audition click here.
Follow us on Facebook @balletjorgencanada to stay current on news, events and performances.