A local girl had her dreams come true last week, dancing in the Nutcracker with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Seven-year-old Marlo Ferguson has been dancing since she was three, although she showed an interest even earlier. “I wanted to start at two, but had to wait,” she says.
Marlo started dancing at the Pia Bouman School of Ballet when she lived in Toronto. When her family moved to Kemptville in 2017, they enrolled her in dance in Ottawa, but found the commute to be too difficult, especially in the winter. Marlo started dancing at Farrah Dance Works in Kemptville in September and has been loving it. She does ballet and contemporary at Farrah Dance Works, and highland dancing at Andrea Goral School of Highland Dance, also in Kemptville.
Davina Joseph, Marlo’s mother, saw the open call to audition for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre (NAC) online and asked Marlo if it was something she would be interested in trying. “She’d never done anything like that before,” she says.
Marlo jumped at the idea, and Davina took her to audition for the part of a polar bear cub in the Nutcracker. Marlo was one of 250 children ages 7-12 who came to the NAC to audition. She had to dance for 45 minutes in a group of over 70 other kids and be judged by people from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In the end, she was one of 75 children chosen to play polar bear cubs in this year’s production. “When I was chosen, I was very glad,” Marlo says. “I was very proud of myself and I couldn’t believe they chose me.”
Davina was also thrilled that Marlo was chosen to dance with such a prestigious ballet company. She was surprised, because she met other mothers at the audition whose daughters had auditioned multiple times without ever making it into the production. “I didn’t think she was going to get chosen,” she says.
The project meant Marlo travelled to the NAC to rehearse throughout the Fall, and she also practiced her routine a lot at home. At the beginning of last week, she had a costume fitting and dress rehearsal, with her first performance on Thursday evening. She was very excited to put on her costume and perform in front of an audience of over 2,000 people. She was also very excited to meet all the professional ballet dancers, and says she hopes to be one of them when she gets older. “I want to be a professional dancer, actor and singer,” she says.
Marlo had lots of family coming to watch her dance, including her grandparents, all the way from Timmins, Ontario. Davina says they are all very excited to watch Marlo dance in a professional setting. “It’s been a really good experience,” she says.