Maples boy Justin Calvadores has landed a starring role in the most beloved holiday ballet for a second straight year.
Calvadores, 17, plays Julien in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of Nutcracker, which runs until Dec. 29 at Centennial Concert Hall (555 Main St.).
He’s a second-year student in the RWB School Professional Division, but Calvadores is an old pro when it comes to playing the young Nutcracker Prince.
"I find that since I know the choreography more now, I’m not really stressed out about each exact movement, so I can really go on stage and enjoy it," Calvadores said.
Still, practice makes perfect and Calvadores has been rehearsing every second day for the last two to three months for the role.
The current University of Winnipeg Collegiate student started dancing at Sisler High School with the Sisler’s Most Wanted dance troupe, and from there joined the RWB School Recreational Division.
"I took a beginner ballet class in the Rec Division and we had a performance at the end of the year, and Miss Minkhorst (the school’s director) saw me," Calvadores said. "She saw something in me and I thought that if she saw something in me, I should try going into the professional program."
Calvadores said he enjoys ballet for its combination of art and physicality.
"As much as it’s a sport, you really get to express yourself. Any emotion, you can really put that through," he said.
As Julien, Calvadores said the emotion he needs to put forth is "that feeling when you meet someone new, and you really like them, like a little crush."
The RWB’s version of The Nutcracker is a little different than traditional productions of the ballet.
Choreographed by Galina Yordanova and Nina Menon, the story is set in Canada in 1913 and features such Canuck-style scenes as a pond hockey game and a battle on Parliament Hill.
Still, beyond a little Canadiana, it’s the same classic Tchaikovsky-scored beautiful ballet.
"I think Nutcracker is a really sweet ballet," Calvadores said. "There’s a whole scene where it’s a war between the mice and the soldiers and it’s really fun. It’s good for the whole family."
After Nutcracker, Calvadores said the next big ballet move for him is a Professional Division program called First Steps.
"It’s an opportunity for us to do choreography," he said. "We choose students from the ballet, and it’s this whole production. We have to choose the costumes, the lights, the music, everything."
Calvadores said he wishes to dance professionally in the future, for the RWB or elsewhere.
"As long as I’m dancing," he said.
If you’re an aspiring professional ballet dancer like Calvadores, the Professional Division will hold auditions on Sun., Jan. 26.