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By Abigail Cukier
The Oakville Beaver
December 31, 2013

Cole Sweet, 11, attends Canada's National Ballet School 2013[Oakville, Ontario, Canada] – Cole Sweet took up ballet because his older sisters’ dance studio was offering free classes for boys. A couple of years later, he was accepted at Canada’s National Ballet School.

Sweet, who had been doing jazz, acro, tumbling and hip-hop since age eight, fell in love with ballet. “I liked the discipline of it,” says the 11-year-old Oakville native.

And that’s a good thing [ – because] at Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS), Cole’s day starts at 8:30 a.m. and includes academic classes and a two-hour ballet class. He has a 90-minute ballet class Saturday mornings and a one-hour conditioning class weekly.

He has been preparing for his part in The Nutcracker since September. Cole will dance the roles of a son in the family scene, as well as a courtier in another scene. The production continues at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts until Jan. 4.

In its 18th year, the holiday favourite features students from NBS’ part-time Associates Program and Teacher Training Program, as well as full-time students from the Professional Ballet Program. Since 2006, NBS students have been joined by more than 60 others from Toronto’s performing arts high schools in the battle scene.

Cole Sweet, centre, at Canada's National Ballet School (photo by Andrew Francis Wallace) 2013Boarding school has been a big change for Cole, who was home-schooled, but he knows he’s lucky. About 1,000 dancers audition in 15-20 Canadian cities, as well as through video auditions from around the world. About 150 make it to the second stage, which is spending four weeks at the school in the summer. Then, the school chooses 50 students. Cole began in September with a scholarship at the youngest age at which a student can be accepted.

Because of The Nutcracker rehearsals, Cole spends about 24 hours at home each weekend with his mom Myra, dad Todd and sisters Tyra, 18, Madison, 15, and Sierra, 13.

“We were not expecting our first child to move out would be our youngest,” his mom said. “When he started, we did not anticipate the National Ballet School. He started recreationally to get exercise. We never thought it would be a vocation, but it fell into place for him. All we can do is support him. The school is also very strong academically, so if ballet is not what he ends up doing, he will have a solid foundation.”

For now, Cole is enjoying it. Asked what he likes best about The Nutcracker, he says, “I like the sets, the costume, the dancing. It’s all really fun.”

© 2013 Copyright Metroland

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