Sharing the stage with the principal dancers of the Moscow Ballet was an intimidating experience according to a young Williams Lake dancer.
“It was really cool with all the other professional dancers there,” says Macy Lainchbury. “They were intimidating too though because they were really strong and really flexible.”
Macy was one of 116 local dancers to take the stage with the professional Moscow Ballet principals on Nov. 13 for a production of the Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker at the Sagebrush Theatre in Kamloops.
The theatre put on two performances on Monday, both sold out months in advance of the show.
The production was part of the company’s 25th Anniversary Tour of North America, where local dancers from ages seven to 17 were invited to audition for supporting roles.
Macy’s mom, Lee-Ann Lainchbury says it was a great way “to showcase the local talent.” Although being from Williams Lake, Macy wasn’t exactly local.
After being evacuated this summer, the Lainchbury family left for Sicamous where they stayed with family who used to live in Kamloops. Lee-Ann says their family always kept up with the Kamloops news so when they saw an article promoting the auditions, they showed it to Macy who immediately decided it was something she wanted to try.
“Macy left school early on the first day of school,” says Lee-Ann. “We drove down to Kamloops and auditioned for two hours.”
The experience was a scary one, according to Macy. She remembers the Russian auditioner as strict and intense. With only one chance to teach the dancers their choreography before moving on to the next town, she was brisk and professional.
“The auditioner was intimidating because she expected us to do a lot of stuff we couldn’t do,” says Macy. If someone slipped, as a couple of the girls did in their towering pointe shoes on the slippery floor, she would tell them, “get up and keep dancing” before checking if they were alright.
This was all part of the professional atmosphere of the performance. Used to working with professional dancers, the Moscow Ballet expected no less of their local talent.
In September alone, Lee-Ann says they made the trip to Kamloops eight times for training. After the auditions at the beginning of September, the dancers trained every Saturday until the show in November.
Macy jokes that the driving wasn’t that bad, although maybe we should ask her mom.
“I was so proud of her, to see her do it,” Lee-Ann notes. “It made me almost teary. It was actually kind of funny because these amazing dancers are on the stage with her and I’m like ‘get out of the way, I can’t see Macy’.”
Seeing her daughter on stage was particularly moving for this mom since as she puts it, “I wanted to be a ballerina when I was young but I didn’t get to.”
That’s what prompted her to put Macy in a beginner’s ballet class when she was only four years old.
After a bit of waffling over whether dance was really for her, Macy finally decided it was something she wanted to stick with. Now, she dances ballet, pointe, jazz, Latin, contemporary, and her particular favourite, hip-hop at Dance In Common in Williams Lake. She also teaches a hip-hop class twice a week, meaning she’s in the studio for 12 classes every week.
She’s had to give up on some of her other hobbies “even though they were all things she was good at and really liked,” Lee-Ann adds. Macy decided that for her, “dancing has to take precedence.”
For Macy, who dreams of first dancing and travelling with a professional dance company and then of teaching and choreographing hip-hop and contemporary in a studio, this foray into the professional world was enlightening.
She recounts having to keep her composure, not only when slipping on a pirouette in the auditions but on stage during the matinee performance. Her elaborate head piece came dislodged while she was dancing, meaning she had to carefully plan her moves so as not to topple the whole thing.
Macy and her partner Hanna Latta from Kamloops danced the Russian Variation and were the only two dancers to score the role. According to Lee-Ann, some dancers were only cast for one or the other of the two shows but Macy was cast for both.
That meant that the day of the performance started for Macy at 10 a.m. and didn’t wrap up until well after 10 p.m. Although exhausted, she was grateful to friends and family members who made the trip from Williams Lake to watch her perform. She says that she learned a lot from the experience and would do it again if she was given the chance.
“To watch it was just so amazing, it was spectacular,” says Lee-Ann.