Andrea Bayne tiptoes across the dance floor.
She leans back, on point, stretching her legs straight up from the tips of her toes and vaults into the air. Her flight graceful, genuine, years of painstaking ballet training hidden behind a smile.
“The hardest part of our job… especially with classical ballet is making every step we do look effortless,” Bayne says. “And the amount of training and technique it takes to make it look easy.”
The principal dancer at Ballet Victoria trains almost daily and has done so most her life, falling in love with ballet at a young age after seeing The Nutcracker. Years of blisters and callusing followed, endless hours putting approximately 100kg of pressure on a point not much bigger than the diameter of a loonie.
“Dancers, we love to do what we do and it’s almost like it is not a choice for us I love it that much it is a passion,” Bayne said. “We work hard, but I wake up every morning feeling blessed to do what I do for a living because I love it.”
Victoria Ballet’s artistic director Paul Destrooper, the former long-time principal dancer at the Winnipeg Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theatre, compared the work ethic and athletic acumen of ballet dancers to highly-trained Olympic athletes.
“Physically they are very flexible, very strong and one of the things they can’t do is they can’t show effort so they have to be in great physical condition,” he said. “So their face is very calm and relaxed and they dance with poise and they can express emotion. They are like actors running a marathon.”
The beneficiaries of that training he says, will be audiences, who come to enjoy athletic grace of The Gift, Ballet Victoria’s traditional but fresh take on The Nutcracker. The Victoria Symphony perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s timeless music marrying the Christmas spirit, their most elaborate costumes and sets ever and the artistry and athleticism of the best of ballet and music.
“It’s like poetry, it has a very unique interpretation that belongs to every single patron that watches the performances,” Destrooper continued. “We communicate with them back and forth when we are performing on stage. I think that creates a bond and that feeds the dancer that continues expressing and not showing any effort.”
For more information visit balletvictoria.com for performances in Revelstoke, Coquitlam, Chilliwack and Victoria Dec. 15 to 30. Performances at the Royal Theatre are Dec. 28 and 29.