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By Ben Lypka
The Squamish Chief
August 22, 2013

Christopher Waters, 11, will attend Canada's National Ballet School 2013[Squamish, British Columbia, Canada] – It’s not quite his original dream of becoming a soccer star, but Squamish native Christopher Waters is using his legs and feet in a slightly different way. The 11-year-old Ecole les Aiglons student will head to Toronto this fall after being offered a spot at the prestigious Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS).

Waters said it was his love of soccer that led him to the world of ballet. “I started dance when I was five,” he said. “I always wanted to become a soccer player and my dad said most athletes did dance as they grew up so they could become better at sports. So I started doing dance and I got better the longer I did it.”

He said dance helped him with his coordination and balance in soccer but he learned to love the stage. “I enjoy how you use movements to express people’s feelings,” he said.

Waters has spent his dance career at the Howe Sound Dance Academy, having learned his craft under instructors Donna Kirkham and Shalimar Blanchard. He said he never really thought he was a great dancer until he received praise from his father as he improved.

“I didn’t really think I was that good at dance, but whenever we had our year-end recitals my dad would always tell me, ‘Wow, you’re a great dancer for a boy,’” he said. “He told me he’d never seen a male dancer like me before and what he said felt really special to me.”

He said it was a difficult decision to move to Ontario for an entire year to pursue dance but that a summer session at the NBS cemented his desire to try it. “I tried it just for the summer and met a lot of friends from all across Canada and some from even places like Japan and Mexico,” he said. “It was a lot of fun, I had nice teachers and learned a lot.”

This year was the second straight summer Waters attended the NBS session and last year he was also offered to attend the school year round but declined the invitation. “I was accepted for the full year last year but I felt more like staying home with my friends and family,” he said. “This year all my friends got accepted and I decided to go.”

He said he’s looking forward to the challenge of moving across the continent and the additional dance practice that will fill his days. “It’s kind of a mixed blessing,” he said. “It’s exciting because you’re going to a new school with new things but at the same time, I’m really going to miss my friends and family in Squamish. It’s going to be a whole new adventure.”

But Waters won’t stay away for long. He said he will be back in town in late October during a school break and hopes to celebrate his 12th birthday in Squamish. His family will make the trip to Toronto during Christmas break and there will also be times to visit in the spring.

“They’re going to miss me,” he said, of his family. “But when in Toronto there’s always going to be a lot of stuff for me to do to keep busy.”

The school works with other dance groups to out on productions throughout the year. For example, NBS casts and rehearses students for the Nutcracker but the production is run by the National Ballet of Canada company. Students can attend the NBS all the way to Grade 12 but are assessed on an ongoing basis to ensure they respond positively to the program’s broader challenges.

“I want to go there and see what it’s like,” he said. “You can always take a year off and come back but if I continue going there or not depends on how much I like it.”

For more information on the NBS, visit www.nbs-enb.ca.

© Copyright 2013 Glacier Community Media

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