Jillain Vanstone

When I was three years old, my mother signed me up for a dance program and I remember quite a bit of it. I nagged my mother to let me take Ballet lessons, but it wasn’t until I was six that I first joined a ballet class and I had already decided that I wanted to become a professional dancer two years later. I was in Vancouver when I first learned that there were proper ballet schools where I could learn and my father then found out that I was really serious about doing it.

I’m the first soloist with the National Ballet of Canada. I mostly do work in solo productions, but I do take part in joint ventures. I rehearse for up to seven hours every day because I like to get everything done close to perfection. Most people do not realise how physically challenging ballet is and how it is essential to master certain techniques to make it seem effortless on stage. I hide my exhaustion with a smile on my face because it is important for me to put my best foot forward. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s great to dance on stage, with the audience watching. “The feeling of it is actually very difficult to describe. I think there’s an element of the physicality releasing endorphins. That is something. It’s being able to express yourself emotionally and maybe discover other sides of yourself that you may not normally be able to explore in everyday life.” I think that when you reach a particular stage after learning so much, dance can bring freedom like nothing else. It is essential to bring yourself up on stage and express your emotions, whether they are of joy or sadness. It can really help in developing the character that you’re playing and I try to do just that. To be a successful dancer, you need to let go of your inhibitions and let the music speak to you. I must allow myself to develop artistically, it would be fulfilling for me and that’s what I try to do each day. I try to be a better dancer and there’s still a long way to go.