She’s never even seen The Nutcracker, but Sadie Osorio-Vallejo landed a spot in a production of the holiday classic at a prestigious Toronto ballet school.
The 10-year-old Barrie girl, who is in Grade 5, has won a role in an upcoming production of The Nutcracker put on by the prestigious Ballet Jorgen in Toronto. She won one of the four chipmunk roles and will also be an stand-in for the two frog characters, which is more challenging and necessitates more jumps in the routine. There are also four squirrels.
“We have to have a lot of face (in the chipmunk role) so people believe that we’re actually chipmunks,” Osorio-Vallejo said during an interview with BarrieToday.
“I love character ballet,” said Wendy Wood, Dance Incorporated’s director and choreographer. “It’s very good for their minds, to portray with their face and not just their bodies. It’s a good experience, because with ballet, there’s a lot of characters.”
Osorio-Vallejo auditioned in October for Ballet Jorgen’s Nutcracker Youth Program and was accepted. She was up against a handful of other girls who were competing for a spot in the show. There were two rounds of auditions and she was informed after the second that she’d got it.
“It was actually kind of bittersweet, because I’ve been doing ballet for a long time and it’s kind of my favourite. I’ve trained for ballet for so long, so it’s kind of easy for me,” she said with a sheepish confidence.
Osorio-Vallejo says she has been used to competitions, but the auditions were a little different, because the director might be looking for a certain look.
“I like to compete, but I also don’t like to go against other people. I don’t like to win and make the other people feel bad, but I also don’t like to lose because then I feel bad,” she said with a laugh.
“It’s kind of a different mindset, because you don’t have to have all the makeup on and have something prepared.” Wood said she knew Osorio-Vallejo would do well at the audition.
“You have to be confident in your basics,” she said. “You wouldn’t send a child to an audition like that if they didn’t have enough basic knowledge of ballet.”
Wood said she loves the confidence Osorio-Vallejo brings to the table, but with that should also come a level of humility.
“With an audition, it’s OK to shine,” she said. “And that’s the hard part, because it’s not a competition. If you want a part, you have to stand out.”
Osorio-Vallejo attended classes at the Toronto school in the summer, so the instructors were aware of her abilities, said Wood.
“They have a great children’s program at Ballet Jorgen,” she added.
Rehearsals have been taking place at Ballet Jorgen Canada Studio’s Casa Loma campus at George Brown College in Toronto in preparation for the upcoming Christmas season.
Performances begin Dec. 5 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, which has seating for more than 250 people.
Osorio-Vallejo says she has no qualms about performing in front of that many people.
“I like to show people what I can do and I like to shine,” she said. “I’m not a person to be nervous and I like to experiment with new things.”
Not surprisingly, Osorio-Vallejo wants to be a ballerina when she grows up and wants to perform in The Nutcracker at the National School of Ballet.
In the meantime, she’s training in earnest to get ready for her parts in the upcoming production, but she’s not putting any pressure herself.
“Sadie is pretty good with that pressure of performing,” Wood said. “While a lot of performers can get very nervous, she can internalize it. She handles it very well.”
Osorio-Vallejo has trained at Dance Incorporated, located in Barrie’s south end, for six years. She studies jazz, tap, acro, lyrical and musical theatre, and ballet, which she says is her favourite.
The youngster, who also likes to read and write outside of her time at the studio, dances four times a week here at Dance Incorporated and is a member of their competitive dance team.
While all forms of dance come with their own inherent challenges, Wood said ballet is particularly difficult with its need for core strength, control, concentration and focus, all traits which are extremely important.
“She thrives in that environment,” Wood said. “They’re still young, so you’re trying to instill that focus is very important if you want to be a good dancer. Sadie has really grasped that in the last year.”
Wood said she encourages her students to expose themselves to summer programs and workshops to improve their technique. It’s that kind of dedication that makes her proud to teach someone like Osorio-Vallejo.
“As a teacher, there is no greater feeling than seeing your students work hard and accomplish goals they have set out to achieve,” Wood said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Sadie perform on stage.”