• James Armstrong

Saint Lazare dancers star in Ballet Ouest de Montreal production


Two young ballet dancers from Saint-Lazare, Sofia De Filippo (left) and Noah Turcotte, star in the upcoming production of the Nutcracker, a multi-media production of Ballet Ouest de Montreal.

Noah Turcotte and Sofia De Filippo from Saint-Lazare have been awarded the two leading roles for children of Fritz and Clara in the Ballet Ouest de Montreal production of the Nutcracker ballet. Stage fright and nerves are not an issue for Turcotte.

“This is something I’ve been doing since I was two years old,” 10-year-old Noah told The Journal on Monday, December 3 prior to attending a rehearsal before the production opens on Saturday, December 8 in Salle Pierre-Mercure at the Centre Pierre Péladeau in Montreal. Noah has been studying with Ballet Ouest for the last four years. He’s looking forward to his role as Fritz played opposite his school friend Sofia who dances the role of his sister Clara.

“Fritz annoys his sister Clara a lot,” said Noah describing his role. “I push her and make fun of her while she’s dancing.”

Reaction of schoolmates

Both Turcotte and De Filippo are students at Forest Hill Senior School in Saint-Lazare. The reaction of Turcotte’s classmates to his developing career as a ballet dancer has been less than positive.

“It’s not usual for a boy to do dance, so I get teased about it all the time,” said Noah adding, “It makes me feel really insecure and uncomfortable.” When asked what he thought needed to happen to improve the situation, he said the students doing the bullying needed to learn more about the wider world around them.

“Boys who are dancers need to not be afraid to talk about it, too,” he added. Noah said his teachers are aware of the situation.

“Just today, one of my teachers presented some videos of dancers from a dance show in Quebec. That made a difference with most of the kids,” he said.

Noah’s parents have also met with his teachers. “He comes from a family of dancers,” said his father Yannick Turcotte. Both parents have had dance careers though Yannick said he no longer dances professionally.

“I have the privilege of playing the role of Drosselmeyer for a third year, the uncle of Fritz and Clara in the Nutcracker,” said Yannick. “It’s a battle but it’s about Noah learning that when people laugh at him it’s a lack of knowledge on their part. They simply don’t know,” said Yannick. “Even though he has a good attitude it’s hard when the situation happens, it hurts him,” he added.

“I’m happy that Noah is Fritz because he’s a really good dancer,” said Sofia. “He pretends to scare me with a rat,” she said regarding Noah’s role as her brother on stage. “We’re in the same class at school although I haven’t seen the teasing happen. I don’t think it’s right. It’s good that boys can dance,” she said.

Now 10 years old, Sofia began dancing at the early age of three. She isn’t sure she wants to follow dance as a career but says she will keep dancing as long as possible. Earning the role of Clara is a dream fulfilled for Sofia. “When I first began dancing in the Nutcracker, I wanted to be Clara but I wasn’t sure I could. Now that I am, I’m really happy with it.”

The difficulties of dance

For Noah, the hard work of dance is attending classes and focusing on perfecting his craft. “I have two ballet classes and two hip-hop classes,” he said. As for school homework, that happens on the weekend. His work and dedication to dance has paid off as he was accepted to attend the National Ballet Summer School in Toronto this year.

“I’m going to expand my skills and technique to make me a better dancer, in general,” he said. The course takes place in mid-town Toronto and lasts for four weeks in July.

“Dancing is really hard. You have to put a lot of work into it,” said Noah. “It’s about technique and position. My teacher prefers I do one position perfectly rather than three or four all weird,” he added. “It feels really good when the perfect one happens.”

For further information regarding Ballet Ouest de Montreal performances of the Nutcracker, visit www.balletouest.com. The production will be performing in towns outside of Montreal until the end of December.