For 19-year-old Willoughby dancer Sharon Collins, life on stage started with The Nutcracker.
“My dream of being a dancer all began at the age thirteen when I went to watch The Nutcracker with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet,” Collins said.
”I just fell in love with the beauty, the choreography, and the live music with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra — it all just seemed so surreal. The next day I decided to quit gymnastics and started to knock on doors of local ballet academy’s until one took me in.”
Collins’ call was answered by the Langley Fine Arts School, who helped foster her passion for dance throughout high school.
“Langley Fine Arts School took me in and helped me to prepare my future as a dancer without disrupting my academics,” Collins explained.
Hard work and local support paid off as Collins now studies and performs with Coastal City Ballet Company in Vancouver.
So far this season, she has participated in six productions, including one as a guest artist in Sechelt, B.C.’s “Coasting Along Theatre” adaptation of The Nutcracker.
Now, Collins can be seen in one of the most highly-regarded and best-known ballets; Swan Lake.
“In the production of Swan Lake, I am the Italian princess, pas de trois, and also a cygnet — one of the four little swans,” Collins said.
“The Italian princess is very playful, arrogant, and sassy. Being a cygnet is one of my favourite roles because the choreography and music are so beautiful.”
Featuring choreography by Irene Schneider and the classic score of Pytor Tchaikovsky, the ballet explores the emotions of love through the tale of a princess who transforms between being human and being a swan.
The company, Coastal City Ballet, opened its doors in 2011 to provide a training ground for dancers in Canada and across the world.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Coppelia, Cinderella, and even an original production of Hansel and Gretel have been just some of their presentations in the past few years.
Coastal City’s production of Swan Lake originally debuted in 2016, but was brought back by popular demand just last month.
Though she has only been with the company for under one year, Collins says she’s been hard at work bringing this beloved ballet back to the stage.
“From Sunday to Friday I start my day with a long commute to from Langley to Coastal City Ballet in Vancouver. After warming up, I take class for two hours, followed by rehearsals between three to five hours — depending on how close we are to a show.”
Not seeing herself doing anything other than dancing, Collins said she “lives and breathes ballet,” and hopes people will take the time to see her company’s efforts.
“I feel that our society is becoming so technology oriented that the young generations are slowly losing contact with the classical works in the fine arts. It is my hope that our audience finds as much joy as we do performing this timeless ballet.”
The first encore presentation of Coastal City’s Swan Lake was performed on May 18 at the The Playhouse in Vancouver.
The production will be presented for the final time at the Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey this Saturday, June 15th at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.bellperformingartscentre.com
As for the people of her hometown, Collins said “I wouldn’t have been able to pursue my dreams without all my family and friends in Langley whom have believed and supported me throughout all these years.”
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