Local dancers Nutcracker bound

Four students from the Fergus Elora Academy of Dance will be performing in   Canada’s Ballet Jörgen production of The Nutcracker in December.

Eva Innocente, 13, Catie Johnston, 13, and Lydia Krulikoski, 8, are among 40 dancers cast as woodland animals for the Guelph performances on Dec. 22 and 23 at the River Run Centre, while 15-year-old Laura Hill is a member of the touring cast and will be in multiple performances from November to January.

“A lot of girls will begin trying out, I think … seven or eight they’re allowed to begin auditioning and then once they’ve received a role once they’ll often just keep auditioning over and over again and they have the option of doing different parts,” said Fergus Elora Academy of Dance owner Erica Finlayson.

For Innocente and Johnston this audition wasn’t their first.

“I was about seven or eight,” Johnston said. “I auditioned I think three times (for The Nutcracker) but this is the first time I got in.”

Innocente auditioned last year and didn’t get in.

Both girls are cast as woodland creatures, Innocente as a chipmunk and Johnston as a squirrel and an understudy for a dragon fly role. Krulikoski is a frog and Hill is cast as the wood-chipper girl and will be in the dream sequence.

“It’s unlike the traditional Nutcracker that the National Ballet of Canada puts on,” Finlayson explained. “Ballet Jörgen went and re-choreographed and recreated The Nutcracker based on the Group of Seven so it’s more of a Canada-based or an Ontario-based theme.”

The three girls performing only in Guelph spent the second weekend of September in auditions for the performance.

“We had to learn little pieces of the choreography,” Johnston said. “We showed it to them and then we’d get a call back if they want us to come back for the second part and then we kind of just did the same things.”

After the call-back audition the three Fergus Elora Academy of Dance students learned they were part of the cast and that Sunday they had their first rehearsal.

Innocente, Johnston and Krulikoski will be in the opening scene of act two.

“It’s kind of like the morning so everyone’s coming out to play,” Johnston said. “We take Clara and the prince to see Lord and Lady birch and then we have the big party and we come back to do another little number, we’re dancing for Clara and the prince.”

Finlayson said her students have been auditioning for Canada’s Ballet Jörgen The Nutcracker for more than eight years.

“We’ve had quite a few girls who have done it multiple times and it kind of makes it that much more rewarding having gone through the process and not been successful and then to finally earn that opportunity it just makes it that much more amazing,” Finlayson said, because when it comes down to it, the experience is the important part.

“It just makes them a much more versatile dancer when they go out, whether they chose to do something post secondary or not it really is something that will allow them to grow as dancers.”

She encourages each of her students to audition at least once and can see a difference upon their return.

“I would say they do come back a bit more inspired. Yes they really do and I mean it’s even something that I find after the audition weekend that the same thing is that they come back with a little bit more pizzazz and they’re inspired because they’ve all of a sudden been given this very important role and they want to do well by it,” Finlayson said.

Krulikoski and Hill were not available for comment, but Innocente and Johnston both said they’re very much looking forward to their performance.

“I think it will be fun and I’ll probably be really nervous but also enjoy myself,” Innocente said.

Finlayson said, “As they say, the nerves make you do good things on stage, that’s what they’re there for.”

The Nutcracker will be on stage at the River Run Centre on Dec. 22 and 23 at 7:30pm. For tickets visit http://riverrun.ca/whats-on/canadas-ballet-jorgen-the-nutcracker-2015-12-22.