05/30/2012 11:40 EDT | Updated 07/30/2012 05:12 EDT

As a Ballet Dancer, I'm Always On My Toes


I guess one could say I'm spread a little thin these days. Luckily, that's the way I like it. I'm a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and am presently working on the role of Hamlet in a production from American choreographer Kevin O'Day.

This production is all consuming -- there's a lot of research and development I have to put into it. In addition to Hamlet, I'm also dancing a 21 minute pas de deux by Maurice Béjart called Song of a Wayfarer in our summer mixed programme, performing the lead in Diamonds from Jewels by George Balanchine for the Diamond Gala on June 21 as well as in the world premiere of a new work by a young choreographer named Robert Binet with my wife Heather Ogden.

I am also choreographing a piece for Greta Hodgkinson and four of my male colleagues, Keiichi Hirano, Etienne Lavigne, Patrick Lavoie and Christopher Stalzer, to Maurice Ravel's Bolero. It's turning out to be quite challenging. For those unfamiliar with Ravel's piece, it's very repetitive -- 15 minutes with one melody played over and over -- and the incredible thing is that Ravel makes it work superbly. It's truly a genius piece of music and I hope the choreography can match its power. The creation is almost done but it's hard to find a time that everyone is available to rehearse. We aren't really ready yet but I guess staying calm and cool is the only way to go.

Apart from dancing and choreographing, I also have a short dance film in the works. Last year, I worked on a film called Lost in Motion and it went viral in the last couple of months with almost one million viewers. In video production, the main challenge is finding the funds to make it happen.

Lost in Motion portrayed a male dancer as an athlete and was sort of a commercial for ballet as it presented the artform in an easily digestible format that was appealing to a wide audience, not just to balletomanes and bunheads. I am passionate about dispelling inaccurate stereotypes about ballet. Most people think tutus, tiaras and thin temperamental ballerinas, a la Black Swan, and with this new film I want to show the incredible strength that a ballerina must have and the physique required to sustain 25 years of incredibly demanding physical movement.

Although things are incredibly busy, having so many projects on the go keeps me happy. And the best part about being so busy is that there's no time to get nervous! Prioritizing is the key and for the next week I will be Hamlet and Hamlet only, that is until the opening this Friday.

The National Ballet of Canada's "Hamlet"