Community Outreach, Features & Spotlights

The Nutcracker Youth Participant Program: Invaluable Experiences for Young Performers

November 10, 2021

The familiar sound of the Nutcracker Suite, the magic of Algonquin forest and all its creatures, and the excitement of Christmas has returned to Ballet Jörgen’s studios! The Company is preparing for The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition, with the first performance opening in North Bay on November 15th

A return of the Nutcracker means a return of our Nutcracker Youth Participant Program! Made up of Local Participants in each community and a Youth Touring Cast that travels with the Company, this program is an exciting opportunity for dancers to engage and perform with a professional ballet company. Dancers as young as 8 years old take the stage alongside professionals to bring this holiday tradition to life for communities across Ontario. 

Lily Bray-Brezina as a Nutcracker Chipmunk.
Lily Bray-Brezina as a Nutcracker Frog.

Touring cast members have been busy in the studios preparing with the Company over the last few weeks to be ready to hit the stage. Many of our touring cast members have been a part of the Youth Participant Program for several years, some dancing almost every youth role. One of our participants shared a little of the excitement she feels to finally be dancing the role of Klara:

I am so excited to have the opportunity to play the role of Klara this year, which is a dream come true for me! 
I am in my fifth year with the program, and over the years I have been so lucky to have had the chance to
play so many wonderful characters including a frog, a chipmunk, farm sister, and even a deer and a dragonfly. 
I can’t wait to be part of this magical Christmas tradition again! 

– Lily Bray-Brezina, Scarborough, ON
Rory also participated in our “12 Days of Nutcracker” virtual program last year.

The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition, whether it be seeing the ballet or performing in it, that was truly missed last year. While some of our touring cast dancers were a part of the virtual 12 Days of Nutcracker last year, performing on stage is what they have been waiting for:

Last year I was lucky enough to be part of the virtual program. It was my first time
participating in the Nutcracker, but I missed the opportunity to perform on stage. I had so much fun
watching my friend Zach perform on stage and I knew I wanted to be part of it”.  

– Rory Gunn-Pereirra, Paris, ON

This year, Rory will have the opportunity to perform as the Sock Bunny and a School House Kid, among other roles.

The program offers invaluable experience for young performers. By interacting with a professional company, they learn about the hard work and commitment it takes to become a ballet dancer and about all the work that goes on behind the scenes of a production and develop skills beyond their technical training:

“[I am learning] how to interact with others while I am dancing [and] learning
how to incorporate acting into my dancing.”

– Carrigan Craigie, Burford, ON

The learning also goes beyond the stage. Participants develop independence, a sense of responsibility, and confidence — all skills that will carry them forward.

Each dancer in the cast brings with them a joy and love for dance that is abundant and inspiring! Ballet Jörgen thrilled to be able to engage with talented young dancers once again, helping them achieve their dreams. 

Join the tradition and purchase your tickets today! Click here to find a performance near you.