Nico Janssen was two years old by the time he wore out his first pair of ballet shoes. This summer, the 19-year-old Nanaimo dancer is joining Royal Danish Ballet.
Janssen has lived in Toronto since being accepted into Canada’s National Ballet School at the age of 12. He had just finished the National Ballet of Canada’s two-year apprentice program when he applied to the Royal Danish Ballet. This January, Janssen was invited to Copenhagen for an audition and when he heard he made the cut, he was overjoyed. He said it’s one of his “dream companies.”
“The Danish ballet, along with the National Ballet of Canada, is one of most renowned companies in the world and I always had a huge admiration for their core style,” he said. “Each company kind of has a particular style that they excel in and the style of the Royal Danish Ballet is varied.”
Janssen said the one thing that sets the Danish ballet apart is its adherence to a style of ballet created by 19th century Danish dancer August Bournonville, which Janssen said is known for its “humane” quality.
“It’s a very joyful style and has minimal use of arms and has a lot of small, light … jumps,” he said. “So it’s a very technically challenging style to master, but on stage carries a very warm quality.”
Before Janssen leaves for Scandinavia in July, he’s spending a few weeks with family in Nanaimo, and while he’s home, he’ll be teaching his first-ever ballet workshops at Vibe Studio from June 24 to 26. He said they will be “a little bit more advanced” classes on partnering, or learning the proper techniques when dancing with a partner.
“It’s very exciting. Something that when I was younger and dancing recreationally in Nanaimo, I would have been absolutely floored for because it’s just such a good opportunity,” he said.
Janssen said he’ll be teaching the class alongside Vibe instructor Ivana Ho, who he said was one of his first dance teachers. The two have stayed in touch since Janssen moved to Toronto and he’s looking forward to sharing everything he’s learned with the younger generation. He said ballet has always been a part of his life.
“I was always really sensitive to music and movement as a child, so I just loved to dance and just do anything and ballet seemed to be one of my main outlets for it … so it’s really always been a part of me,” Janssen said.
For more information and to enroll, visit www.bohemiadanceproductions.com/master-classes.