by Rob Binet, Student, Canada’s National Ballet School

Canada's National Ballet SchoolThe excitement for the AI09 is building quickly for all of us here at NBS. We have been looking forwards to it for so long, it is strange to think that in a week all of the guests will finally be here!

I am so excited to meet my dancers and see them dance my choreography. I am very interested to see how they have learned steps and picked up the style from the video. It is going to be so much fun for us to be working all together and for me to see my piece danced by so many extremely talented dancers from our international partner schools.

In the AI09 performances of my choreography, I have four dancers from NBS who have been dancing the piece since I first choreographed it, over a year ago. They know the piece extremely well, so they will be a huge help to me in rehearsals when it comes to helping the couples from the other schools with partnering and steps. The other 5 couples in my piece are coming from The Royal Ballet School, The Paris Opera Ballet School, The John Cranko School, the School of The Hamburg Ballet and The Cuban National Ballet School. I think putting the styles of all these schools together will create an incredible energy in the rehearsals and performances.

In addition to getting the opportunity to work with all these incredible dancers, the student choreographers will also receive feedback about their work from Northern Ballet Theatre Artistic Director, and NBS Alumni, David Nixon. I am really looking forwards to hearing his opinions of my choreography.

The AI09 is sure to be a fantastic experience, and I just cannot wait for it to begin!

by Natalie Ogonek, Student, Canada’s National Ballet School

Canada's National Ballet SchoolHi! My name is Natalie Ogonek, and I am a 17-year-old student at Canada’s National Ballet School. The 50th Anniversary events have already taken the school by storm. With the Assemblée Internationale coming up in less than two weeks, rehearsals are well under way. I am in A Corps, Essence, the piece choreographed by Florent Melac from the Paris Opera Ballet School, and am also a Cygnet in NBS’ Swan Lake. The two pieces are complete opposites, but both have been demanding and exhilarating.

We performed Swan Lake for Spring Showcase last year, so we all know the choreography. In rehearsals now we are bringing the piece up to scratch and making it even more beautiful and touching than it was in May.

Learning the student choreography has been a real challenge, but an invigorating one. Trying to figure out the choreography with our backs to the video but still somehow trying to watch the video at the same time can lead to some outrageous contortions which the choreographer never intended, and whose origins I am never quite sure of. We finished learning the whole piece two weeks ago, but I think that we’ve only just started discovering the ideas and movements it contains. The movement style is very foreign to me, but the more I work on the piece the more I love it, and the more I find subtleties and nuances within the choreography. There is always the fear, though, that when the choreographer comes he’ll ask us, “Whose piece are you doing?” We can’t help but wonder if we’ve interpreted it all wrong! When the partner schools come next month, we shall see.

I’m so excited to see all the choreographies come together, and to meet all the people from our partner schools!

by Sara Coffield, Student, Canada’s National Ballet School

Canada's National Ballet SchoolThe November festival is approaching quickly and everyone is beginning to feel it. Things have been very busy with rehearsals and preparations for the event.

Something I’m really looking forward to is seeing the choreographic pieces performed with international casts. I think it’s going to be really great to meet people from all over the world and have the combined ballet classes with the guest teachers.

The students at NBS are really excited to welcome all the international students visiting. Not only will NBS students welcome all the visitors to our school but also Toronto. A gentle reminder though is to bring some warm clothing, as it will be getting cold in November!

by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

The Royal Ballet School, London

Photographer: Johan Persson

It seems like absolutely no time ago that I was told my piece would be going to Canada and now in less than 2 weeks I’ll be on a plane to Toronto!

This will be the first time I’ve ever been to Canada and I’m really excited to see the school and meet so many international students!

I think I’m most looking forward to meeting the new cast that will be dancing my piece, and find out what they can offer to the material to make it their own. It might be difficult to get some of the pas de deux working, as these two dancers will never have met, but the challenge of this seems very exciting! I’m also really looking forward to taking class with the international dancers, and getting a chance to see how everyone works in class.

I feel like there’s so much to be learned from this experience and I just hope that the plane journey doesn’t tire me out too much!

by Andreas Kaas, Student, Royal Danish Ballet School

Royal Danish Ballet SchoolNow there are approx. 2 weeks to Canada and I’m very excited! I know that we all are here in Denmark.

Every time I think of what we have to show, I get the wildest butterflies in my stomach. It’s going to be really great to get out of Denmark, meet other young dancers on our age and perform on Toronto’s stage!

It’s my first time visiting Canada, so that makes it even more exciting! I really want to see Niagara Falls and the CN Tower, so I hope there will be some time to experience the city. But yeah… us in Denmark can’t wait!

by Erin Brennan, Student, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School

Royal Winnipeg Ballet SchoolThe month of October is drawing to a close and the hype for the trip to Toronto is building! For the students coming from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the trip seems to be even sooner as we actually begin a performance tour the week before Assemblée Internationale.

Excitement is beginning to build and it seems the time crunch has hit us all as we suddenly realize just how close the festival is.

My fellow students and I are really looking forward to working with other young artists from around the world and of course to hit the stage. The nerves have not hit me yet, but I’m sure they will come in time.

I have been to Toronto many times before as my hometown is just outside the city. That being said, I really don’t know the city that well as I usually only go to see shows or meet up with friends. I am really looking forward to seeing the National Ballet of Canada perform The Sleeping Beauty. I grew up watching the National Ballet but have yet to see their production of Sleeping Beauty, so it will be a treat. For me, the most fun thing is going to be meeting people from all over the dance world and learning about different cultures and ways of training!

Can’t wait to see you all soon!

by William Bracewell, Student, The Royal Ballet School, London

Royal Ballet School, LondonThe summer time for me means a lot of hard work rehearsing for our end of year performances. We’re lucky enough to have a run of five performances in the basement theatre of the Royal Opera House and one on the Main Stage, which is probably the highlight of the year.

Last year the performance consisted of Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, a new work titled Les Jeunes Hommes choreographed entirely for boys by Stanton Welch, a Lower School piece titled Reawakening choreographed by teacher Antonio Castilla, Ashley Page’s Larina Waltz and last but not least The Grand Defile.

The day after this performance we break up for our summer holidays, which normally last for eight weeks, however this year hopefully I will have a contract and may therefore get less time off, which is actually better as I can some times find it quite difficult to stay in shape. Over the summer holidays I try to get some sort of part time job to help fund a small holiday for myself or to go towards living in London. Last year I worked in a restaurant next to the sea with my two older sisters which was great because I don’t get to see them very often.

I love having my summer break because it gives me a chance to see all my family and really spend some quality time with them, however the one downside is being away from ballet for such a long time. As I live in a fairly small town there are no ballet or dance companies, so I have to find different ways to stay in shape, such as swimming, cycling, running and using the gym, which is great for my cardio vascular strength… but you just can’t beat that end of class feeling!