A 12-year-old ballerina who got her start in Okotoks is spinning some Christmas magic in an enchanting holiday story in Toronto this month.
Camryn Visser is playing the role of Marie – more commonly known as Clara – in the National Ballet of Canada’s annual production of The Nutcracker.
Visser was among 250 students from Canada’s National Ballet School, where she is a student, and Toronto-area high schools selected to perform in the ballet. She was chosen to perform in seven shows, including the opening show on Dec. 9.
“I’m loving it,” said an excited Visser. “The first time when we went to the theatre to rehearse, all the lights were on so you could see the whole auditorium. When I performed on the ninth it was so amazing to see everybody watching and reacting to things that happened.”
Visser began dancing at the Alberta Dance Academy in Okotoks at the age of three and six years later moved on to Drewitz Dance Productions in Calgary in search of a more competitive environment. Her family now lives in Heritage Heights.
She attended the School of Alberta Ballet summer intensive for three years to pursue her love of ballet, and a year ago auditioned for the National Ballet School’s summer intensive.
“Once I did the summer intensive it really opened my eyes to see what the ballet world can really give to dancers,” she said. “Just being at this level right now makes me feel very proud of myself because I know that I’ve come so far in at least one or two months.”
Visser said she has always dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina. Being accepted into Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto is a move towards making that dream a reality.
“Taking the steps of being here at the school and dancing with all the principal dancers and company members makes me feel very happy because it shows that dreams really can come true,” she said.
Auditioning for and being accepted in the National Ballet of Canada’s Christmas production has made things even more surreal.
It meant a lot of hard weeks for the young dancer.
“Just keeping up with school, dance and The Nutcracker was really hard,” she said. “It was a crazy schedule and it was hard to get used to. It takes a lot of stamina to do the work that the choreographer has created on this piece. Every movement is very exact and it’s very straightforward and you need to know it. It takes a lot of effort. Once you get to the final result it’s great.”
Visser’s mom, Lisa, said the professional ballet program combines Grade 7 curriculum with ballet training.
“Sending her at 12 years old was not something we ever thought we would be faced with,” she said. “It’s something she dreamed of attending. It was an opportunity she didn’t want to pass up. From day one she’s been loving the experience.”
The telephone calls between mother and daughter have been full of excitement, especially after learning of Visser’s role in The Nutcracker.
“She was definitely on Cloud 9,” Lisa said. “For the first show I don’t think we breathed the entire two hours that we knew she was performing. .”
Lisa said the family will fly to Toronto this month to watch Visser perform and she can’t wait to see her on the big stage.
“I can only imagine that I will not have a dry eye the entire time,” she said.