The National Ballet’s special guest star Evan McKie takes us behind-the-scenes of the latest production of The Sleeping Beauty
When I danced as a guest at the Paris Opera and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées during couture season in Paris this year, and my fashionable friends were getting ready for their own ventures—Dita Von Teese for her lingerie debut and Diane Pernet for more of her signature style-spotting—I was struck by how similar our worlds are. Fashion shows and ballet performances get the culture crowds revved up with the beauty, body and details of a show. And it’s all over in a flash.
As a 28-year-old Canadian, currently a principal dancer of Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet, I was thrilled when Karen Kain asked me to come home and dance in my hometown of Toronto. I was particularly touched by Karen’s idea to have me come home for three shows of Rudolf Nureyev‘s famously decadent production of The Sleeping Beauty for the National Ballet of Canada. It’s the most boldly glamorous production I have seen of Tchaikovsky‘s ballet. Other productions are like buying your first diamond but Nureyev’s version is like diving into a vault crammed with precious jewels. Pure decadence. My partner, Greta Hodgkinson, is the ultimate in feminine strength (think Rooney Mara meets Jennifer Connelly) and the ballet is sprinkled with some of the most outstanding technical dance solos and duets from the whole company that remind the audience why we train every day. Each cast has something special.
When I am onstage I don’t like to hold back and I dance the way my heart dictates in the moment. Masculine but vulnerable, thoughtful but hardcore—I am not talking about sex, but rather the paradox of emotions that sends waves through my body when I hear really good music. I know a few other dancers like that too.
Luckily, the dancers here in Toronto have been friendly to say the very least. The other casts of princes and princesses are welcoming and kind (disproving any Black Swan theories people may have). In fact, after my first performance last weekend, someone even baked me a congratulatory pie!
Evan McKie will dance the role of Prince Florimund tonight at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:00. For more information visit national.ballet.ca.