Emily Holmes (left) & Lauren Peter (right) have had quite an exhilarating season. Both ladies are recent Dance Performance graduates from George Brown who had the exciting opportunity to spend a season with CBJ as Mentorship Students, touring with the company as Swans and Ladies-in-Waiting, running Local Participant rehearsals, and working directly with the company to learn and grow as dancers. We asked Emily and Lauren about their experiences and they had a lot to share about the ups and downs of a first tour!
Although you’re still students, this was technically your first season with the company as dancers, how was it?
Emily: For me it was super exhilarating because I didn’t expect to be in it at all. I just walked into a rehearsal and I was just going to stand in the back and try to learn and then Taylor (Gill) said to me “Hey Emily go stand over there” and then the next rehearsal they said I was in it and I had to learn it really fast. It was really nerve-wracking.
You got to travel all across Canada while touring Swan Lake, what was your favourite stop on the tour?
Emily: Probably Nelson, BC. I like more quiet cities and everybody there was so sweet and welcoming. It was like a dream city it was so nice.
Lauren: I liked Halifax! It’s such a cute city and I got to do Swans and it’s such a cute city. We got to go to Hannah Mae (Cruddas)’s house and had dinner, and we had a full day and a half off.
Cross-Canada touring must be really difficult your first time, what was your biggest challenge during the tour?
Emily: I guess for us it was definitely challenging because most of the company expected to go on tour and prepared for it but we didn’t know if we were going to be in it. So when they asked us to go on tour we didn’t really understand how much work we were going to have to do until we got there.
Lauren: For me, my biggest challenge was that I was only in a small part of the Swans section, but there was one show in Halifax where I had to do the whole section and I had almost no rehearsal. But I felt awesome! I was so excited and so into it. So it was really challenging but also one of the best memories.
Being in a big production for the first time, is there anything you do to prepare for a show mentally and physically?
Lauren: Something both of us did was try to get our hair and makeup done early and then just go onto the stage and listen to music, just breathe and stretch and chill out and get in the zone.
Emily: For me, there was a part I had in Act One where at the end the arch has to move forward, so I had to stand behind the prop for the whole act waiting for it to be over. While I was there I would try to go over all my corrections in my head and put on my pointe shoes and relax.
Besides performing you also lead Local Participant rehearsals in each city. What was it like working with the LP kids and having them look up to you?
Lauren: It’s funny because even few years ago we were in the same place. It was a lot of fun and it’s a great program.
Emily: Yeah, even last year we were looking at the Company the way [the LP kids] were probably looking at us. It’s great because you get to let kids know that this is something you can pursue. Everyone disregards the arts as a career, I find, and you can go and tell these kids “I went to school for this” and if this is something that you really want to do then you can actually do it.
In what ways do you think your George Brown Dance training helped prepare you for your time with the Company?
Lauren: Definitely learning choreography from a video, we do a lot of that at [George Brown] and we had to do that for all of Swan Lake. It’s really hard, so that was definitely a good skill to have coming into mentorship.
Emily: The ballet training prepared us so well. I think all the ballet teachers, Cindy (Macedo), Letitia (Clement), and Svea (Eklof) all prepared us technically so well. The two years really helped us figure out what actual technique is, if we hadn’t had their guidance this year would have been a complete mess.
Lauren: And in stamina too. In the George Brown program you’re dancing all day every day and it’s really good getting that experience and getting used to doing that.
Finally, what does the future look like for you? What’s next for Lauren & Emily?
Lauren: I don’t know, I’m thinking about maybe going a less classical route than this, I’m going to try and do more contemporary ballet rather than classical, and maybe even some jazz based contemporary. Possibly going into teacher training as well, but I want to do some performing first and then maybe teaching.
Emily: I’m going to do the (Ballet Jörgen) Junior Company in July, and I’ll try to get the most out of that program that I can. After that I guess keep auditioning and see what happens. Right now I’m just concentrating on July and not worrying about anything else.
Thank you so much Emily & Lauren for taking time out to talk to us, we wish them all the best in the future but we already know they’ll go far!
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Learn more about the Canada’s Ballet Jörgen Mentorship Program here.