Two lakecity dancers got the prestigious opportunity to take the stage with Moscow Ballet last month in Kamloops as a part of their production of the Nutcracker.
For close to three decades the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker has been touring North America, sharing Russian culture with the world through dance. Moscow Ballet does this through their Dance with Us program, which offers an average of 100 local dancers the chance to dance on stage with the core group of 40 Vaganova-trained principal ballerinas and dancers.
This colourful and extravagant world-class show is described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for young aspiring dancers to step out on stage, all while learning from top-tier professionals. Dancers across the province had this chance when Moscow Ballet came to Kamloops for the second year in a row.
Dance In Common dancers and close friends Macy Lainchbury and Angelica Hyde went down to Kamloops for these auditions in September. Lainchbury had taken part in the ballet last year and encouraged Hyde to try out with her this year.
Lainchbury has been dancing for the last 11 years, since she was three, and hopes to pursue dance as a professional career one day, be it on stage or TV. She is of the opinion that, if you have a dream when you’re young you should just go and pursue it. This mentality of sticking to what you love is part of what has kept her in dancing.
“I really like physical activity. I played hockey for five years, I’m a black belt in karate but I’m also really into art, drawing and stuff like that,” Lainchbury said. “So, art and physical activity put together is, basically, dance.”
Hyde also started while she was young, before taking a five-year break after surgery for a double hernia in Grade 2. She joked she got back into dancing because of Barbie and said she likes how pretty dancing makes her look, while still challenging her physically.
“Dancing is like, trying to achieve perfection but it’s so hard to do. It’s so challenging and so much hard work to make it look effortless, and when you see all the older dancers, the professionals, you want to be that,” Hyde said.
The girls auditioned and practised with the Academy of Dance in Kamloops, who helps organize the show in partnership with Moscow Ballet. Auditions were held on Sept. 17 in the Sagebrush Theatre, their future performance space.
Read More: Dance of a lifetime
When she auditioned last year Lainchbury said she got a role in the Russian Variation and described being super excited to be able to dance with members of the Moscow Ballet. This year she was cast in the Russian Variation once again which, while comforting, wasn’t as challenging as she was hoping it could be.
For Hyde as a first timer, she too felt that excitement this year and was cast in the role of Snow Maiden.
Both dancers jokingly said Hyde’s costume made her look like a “Russian Elsa” from Disney’s Frozen.
Upon receiving their roles, the girls drove back to Kamloops again the next day so that a Moscow Ballet member, “Dance Mom” to Hyde, could teach them their respective variations. From then on, Lainchbury said, it was up to them to remember the moves and attend weekly practices in Kamloops.
“Every Saturday, we’d drive down for a 30-minute rehearsal in Kamloops at 2:30 p.m. and then drive back to Williams Lake,” Lainchbury said.
One thing that really impressed both of them was how relaxed and confident the principal dancers were, in all circumstances. On the day of their performances, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Lainchbury and Hyde said many of the professionals came in tired and yet went on to pull off an amazing performance.
“Everyone was so flexible, they were just so amazing, that’s like the ideal perfect ballet people, it was really cool,” Lainchbury said.
After a long day of travel, final practices, trying on their costumes and dancing with the principal dancers for the first time, Lainchbury and Hyde were ready to take part in the ballet.
“Since I did the exact same variation last year it wasn’t as nerve-wracking but last year, it was so scary. I was so nervous because there were so many people in the Sagebrush Theatre, but this year was a lot better. I was scared in the first show but by the second show I wasn’t scared at all, I was like ‘Yeah I can do this,” Lainchbury said.
These nerves were also present for Hyde as a first-timer, but she said that the bright lights of the stage allowed her to tune out the audience and focus on smiling, the choreography and not getting hit by the Dove of Peace.
“Yeah, I just remembered to smile and I wasn’t really nervous because I was in the biggest group so I didn’t feel as alone,” Hyde said. “It was not long enough though, so short. It just felt so short-lived, I wanted to go on there again and do just a little bit better.”
Hyde hopes that the ballet returns next year so she has another chance to perform on stage, preferably in a faster variation like Lainchbury did this year. For herself, Lainchbury hopes to be cast in a different role if the opportunity arises again.
“There are not too many opportunities here for big dance events, dance is more of a bigger city thing. I really want to do competitions and big productions, it’s a privilege to be able to go and do a bigger production with a famous ballet company like Moscow Ballet,” Lainchbury said. “Dancing with good dancers makes you a better dancer.”
“I want to see the Russian dancers again,” Hyde remarked.
“It’s like, if they can do it, I can do it. I want to be them when I’m older.”