The National Ballet of Canada's Residency Programme: Wait, what??


So as a loyal reader to the blog, you may have noticed an unusually long gap since the last post. (Or not. I know. Life is very busy, especially at this time of the year, and ballet blog posts don’t get your Christmas shopping done.) Although if you follow me on Instagram, you know all about it (unless, the algorithm ~sigh~).

The story in a nutshell: In early November, an Instagram post by the National Ballet of Canada caught my eye:

Something in me lit up. This is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to choreograph more pieces for street performances, but had trouble finding (studio) space for it.

At the same time, I thought: Yeah right.

All the things that would stand against it came up. Like: I am too old. I am not skilled enough, all the best Toronto-based dancers will apply for this. Plus, I am only by myself, they probably prefer to give the studio to groups/companies. And besides, how am I going to make time to be in the studio all day for 1-2 weeks?

But I kind of liked the idea of applying and giving it a try. I was also intrigued by the application process, where you basically had only 300 words to describe yourself, your work, and what you would do during the residency time, plus 5min of video footage that you were allowed to submit. That was it. So the application forced me to be really clear and concise about my goals and intentions - a clarification process that would be beneficial no matter the application outcome!

I applied ✌️Will you? 😊 So here are two things: . 1. As adult ballet dancers and late starters we often experience the lack of performance opportunities. And yes, it's true. That one show case a year, if at all, is not very much. So the conclusion, to me, is that we need to step up and create our own performance opportunities. . 2. I am inspired and delighted by this new project of the National Ballet of Canada. "Residency" means that basically they are giving away studio time - for free. And: Anyone can apply! I think it's a wonderful and very generous idea to connect the elite ballet world with the immediate community. You can use the time to choreograph, rehearse, and/or study movement. . So the essence of this: My application (I would use the time to create and rehearse new ballet street performance solos) will very likely NOT be accepted - studio space is limited and there are probably enough higher-level dancers applying for this. And yet I am posting this - because I am so grateful that here is even an opportunity to apply! In any case this application is forward momentum. AND I hope that if YOU are a dancer in/around Toronto, you will apply, too! Deadline for December times is today, but you can still apply for times in the new year later. AND if you are a dancer elsewhere, that you will find and jump on other chances to create 💃🕺Go for it 💪 . Also, this post sort of prepares for my upcoming blog post. Which will deal with how to go about a late calling to ballet. Stay tuned 😍 #ballet #adultballet #creating #rehearsing #workinprogress #residency #choreography #lifelonglearning #lifelongcreating #goforit #forwardmomentum #greatproject #toronto #balletintoronto #nboc #balletcompanieseverywhereshoulddothis

While I didn’t really have any expecations, I kind of tentatively did not make any plans for the block of time that I had applied for. I tried to keep it as free as possible, just in case.

The acceptance email came on one of the most rainy and dark Monday mornings that I have ever experienced in this city. And it’s funny, when I felt my phone vibrate, as I was leaving for my morning class that day, I kind of knew it in my bones, before I had even taken the phone out of my pocket. I was delighted, Thrilled. I couldn’t think straight for the rest of the day.

I had ten days to get everything organized. Teachers, mentors, my live music collaborator, babysitting friends, a plan….But as always, once you do what is up for you, things work itself out.

I will post a recap of the nine days in my next blog post.

So my message here: What you do might be more compelling than you think, even if you don’t think it is. That’s something I learned from my email correspondence with the initiator of the Residency Programme and selection committee member, Choreographic Associate Rob Binet: What I thought stood against me (too old, started too late) was actually much appreciated by the committee. They were excited to create an opportunity for someone who was not trained since childhood.

It’s always worth a try - because at the very least, it will get you a step closer and clearer to whereever you’re headed!


The process and work described in this and the following article were made possible by the generous support of The National Ballet of Canada’s Residency Programme.

Does this article resonate in any way? Have you taken steps to challenge yourself in your ballet learning? Or maybe you are thinking about it? Or not at all? Curious to hear where you’re at!