Sharon Toews used to joke with her daughter Houston that she wouldn’t be able to decide whether she wanted to play her violin in the orchestra pit or dance on the stage.
“But Houston made it known pretty quickly that she wanted to be up on the stage,” says Toews.
Houston’s first ballet lessons took place at the East York Community Centre, at the tender age of four. Fast forward six years and she’s been cast in the one of the lead roles of Marie at the National Ballet of Canada’s production of The Nutcracker.
“Houston was a bit surprised because all the other Marie’s were in grade 7 and she’s in grade 6,” says Toews.
While the rehearsal schedule is grueling at four and a half hours each day, Houston is getting to work with the principal dancers from The National Ballet of Canada such as Sonia Rodriguez, Heather Ogden and Guillaume Côté.
Toews says it’s this kind of passion that is required for children to be involved in ballet. Children might enjoy doing one or two practice classes, but doing it in a school setting requires a different form of dedication, she adds.
“I think that it has to come from within really,” says Toews. “Because there is such expression in ballet, and focus and discipline, that they have to really love it.”
The production of The Nutcracker runs from Dec. 10–Jan. 3 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
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