RBC Apprenties

Irma Villafuerte, Chris Knowles, Cynthia Macedo, Derek Sangster & Kathy Le; Photo by Casey Spector

Tell us where you grew up and how you first started dancing!

Matthew Jordan: I am originally from Adelaide, Australia and trained there up until I was 18. I first started ballet kind of by accident. I was a very energetic kid and did a kindergym program at the local recreation centre until I was 3. After I became too old for that, I needed something else to do but I was not old enough yet to join team sports, so I started dancing at the ballet school within the recreation centre not having any idea really what ballet even was.

Chabi Arauz: I grew up in Panama City, Panama. My older sister started ballet when we were very young, so as a good younger sister, I decided that I  needed to follow in her footsteps and do ballet too. I started with creative movement and tap, and slowly progressed into ballet.

Taisiya Zamula: I was born in Vladivostok in Russia. I first started dancing in a local ballet school there. I was recommended to train in ballet by my first teacher Yulia Yurievna. When I was 8 years old, I went to a summer camp where my ballet teacher was inviting kids to join the ballet school. When she saw me, she said ”you have ballet legs and a future in ballet”. That’s how I started to dance.

How did you find out about Ballet Jörgen? What programs have you participated in here at George Brown College/Jörgen Dance?

Matthew: I moved to Vancouver in September 2022 to join the Goh Ballet Youth Company. While I was there, a teacher recommended that I check out Ballet Jörgen and it just so happened that the Vancouver audition was later that week. After the audition, I participated in the Junior Company program this past summer and am now very excitedly joining the company as an RBC Apprentice! 

Chabi: I found out about Ballet Jörgen through my ballet teacher, who did a summer intensive with the Company when she was a young adult. I was accepted into George Brown College‘s P-105 Dance Performance program through video auditions. Due to COVID, I started training with Ballet Jörgen through their Virtual Dance Academy and Summer IV program, until I was able to come to Toronto and start my program. Since then, I have completed my George Brown diploma, participated in Ballet Jörgen’s Mentorship program, and have been a part of the Junior Company for the past two summers. 

Taisiya: I learned about Ballet Jörgen through George Brown Dance. First, I completed the two year P-105 Dance Performance program. Afterwards I participated in the one year Mentorship program and the Junior Company with Ballet Jörgen. After the year I was very fortunate to be offered an RBC Apprenticeship with the Company. 

What are you looking forward to most this season as an RBC Apprentice? What are your goals?

Matthew: I am most looking forward to being able to finally perform on a regular basis. My main goal is to try to perform as wide a variety of roles as I can to get a taste of all that Ballet Jörgen has to offer. I’m also very excited to be able to explore more of Canada during our tours. 

Chabi: I am looking forward to the new challenges that come with being a professional dancer. I can’t wait to start rehearsing and learning new roles, to continue growing as an artist, and discover new things about myself. I am especially excited about the new divertissement we are adding to The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition this year! It is hard to pick one main goal, since I find that when it comes to technique, every little thing feeds into the next. I want to continue exploring those little things that will help my dancing become smoother and more mature. 

Taisiya: This season I’m looking forward to dancing more of Ballet Jörgen’s repertoire including Cottontail Rabbits in The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition and learning new roles from Anne of Green Gables – The Ballet®. I am looking forward to dancing and touring alongside my friends. My goal this year is to improve my technique and artistic expression. 

RBC Apprenties 2023 as Cotton Tail Rabbits in Ballet Jörgen's The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition 15th Anniversary

Do you have a favorite part in The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition?

Matthew: As I’m still very new to Canada I haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching this production! Although during Junior Company I was lucky enough to be a part of the choreographic process of the company’s newest addition to the show.  

Chabi: From the rehearsal process, I really love working with the different kids that join us for this production. When it comes to the show, my favorite part has always been the Snow Scene. Especially since I have had the honor of being Klara, and watch the magic unfold around her during this scene. It is incredibly fun to do. I am excited to see what it is like to be on the other side as a snowflake and being a part of that magic that makes this ballet so special.  

Taisiya: My favorite part in The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition would be the Snowflakes. It is very beautiful choreography and music. It becomes magical with the staged snowfall and the costumes. 

What's it like living in Toronto?

Matthew: Toronto is definitely a much bigger city than any other city I’ve lived in so far. It was a little daunting to begin with, but I’ve been very much enjoying seeing what the city has to offer and all the major sports leagues that Toronto is lucky to have teams in. As an avid fan of any and all sport this will be a big highlight for me! 

Chabi: It’s cold! I find that living here is very different from my hometown. I really enjoy being able to walk to lots of places within the city, trying new coffee shops and enjoying the beautiful parks that are here. It is a bit strange to me, the different changes of the seasons and weather, but I am always fascinated by the beauty of it. I love it here! 

Taisiya: I enjoy living in Toronto. It’s a very diverse city with many things to do in my spare time (festivals, exhibitions, restaurants). Everything is relatively close by and the TTC is a very convenient way to get around the city. Also, there’s a variety of performances to see and get inspired from.