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Coast ballerina wins provincial competition

Sunshine Coast ballet dancer Natalie Martin has won top honours at the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts BC.
Natalie Martin
Gibsons’ Natalie Martin in her Harlequinade costume.

Sunshine Coast ballet dancer Natalie Martin has won top honours at the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts BC.

Natalie, 14, of Gibsons, won the Ballet II category for 13-to-15-year-olds in the festival in early June, which was held virtually this year for the first time.

The provincial competition is composed of winners drawn from hundreds of entrants in various performing disciplines at 33 different performing arts festivals held each spring across the province, including the Coast.

“I was thrilled, I was jumping up and down. I was pretty excited,” Natalie told Coast Reporter about the moment she heard she’d won. Added her mother, Ashley Nanson, “We were all a bit surprised, because the calibre of dancing was really high this year.”

The festivals are more than competitions, also serving as specific learning opportunities. Adjudicators critique each performance, feeding back advice to every participant.

Natalie’s winning entry was a video of her dancing an excerpt from the ballet, Harlequinade.

The festival win was not the only accolade Natalie has collected this year. She also captured third place in the Canadian Division of the Youth American Grand Prix ballet competition in March, and will dance in the international finals in July, among just 14 dancers from across Canada.

Natalie, like many Coast dancers, auditions for intensive training every year at summer schools. This year she was accepted by both Alberta Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but has opted not to take up the opportunities for 2021. Attendance at summer training is traditionally in-person, but COVID has meant that this year the instruction would be online-only.

“I decided that I was going to keep it more local this summer,” Natalie said. “I think that I’ll get more out of dancing in-person with different teachers.”

That will mean splitting her summer between training at Waldorf Ballet in Sechelt and at Élevé Training Centre in Port Coquitlam. Later this year, Natalie will take part in Waldorf’s Nutcracker production at Raven’s Cry Theatre (one of two separate versions of the seasonal classic to be mounted on the Coast this December).

Not surprisingly, Natalie sees ballet as her future. “I’m hoping to get as far as I can with dance and hopefully get into a dance company after high school,” she said. “But then I want to go on and become a Royal Academy of Dance examiner. So, I’d travel around and examine different schools who participate in that method of training.”

Given her talent, dedication, and winning ways, it’s not hard to see Natalie accomplishing that, and more.