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By Ellwood Shreve
Chatham Daily News
July 3, 2015


Benjamin Alexander, 12, is to perform with Cirque du Soleil during the opening ceremonies of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games (Chatham Daily News) 2015b[Chatham, Ontario, Canada] – Benjamin Alexander will see the opening ceremonies of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games from an interesting perspective. That’s because the 12-year-old Chatham resident will be part of the show.

Alexander, who attends the National Ballet School of Canada, is among the 56 students from the professional ballet program selected to perform with Cirque du Soleil.

He divulged the 31 students in the junior program will be performing the “Forest Borealis” segment of the opening ceremonies, being held next Friday [July 10th] at the Rogers Centre. “It’s very fun,” he said. “They have acrobats in our number . . . so it’s a really cool scene.”

He said there will be bubbles hanging from the ceiling with Cirque du Soleil acrobats inside doing various maneuvers. However, Alexander said he and fellow students keep their feet firmly on the stage during the performance. “In our dance we reach out and try and find our dreams,” he said. “We’re reaching out to the Pan Am torch.”

This will be the biggest performance of Alexander’s young career, with the opening ceremonies expected to draw a television audience of 50 million viewers. “I feel like there’s a lot more pressure doing this, because there is a bigger audience,” he said.

When asked what it has been like preparing to perform live for television, Alexander said: “It’s really cool . . . it’s a different experience, they really want you to always be smiling, because you never know when you’re on camera.” He noted they were told there will be 42 different television cameras in operation for the opening ceremonies.

Performing live at the Rogers Centre will also be different experience, he said, because the audience will be all around the stage.

There has been quite a time commitment required to be part of this event with rehearsals beginning in February, which run during the week and on weekends.

Cherie Alexander is looking forward to seeing her son perform on such a grand stage. She said she tried to get tickets for the opening ceremony, but they were too expensive.

Fortunately, she said, “they’re letting the parents go to the dress rehearsal. “So, I’ll get to see it the day before . . . that will be exciting,” she added.

Cherie Alexander said Benjamin has been accepted for a third year at the national ballet school. She said he will be busy preparing for the opening ceremonies with rehearsals going from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

She added he will also have show up at 9 a.m. on Friday for the opening ceremonies and expect to be there until 11 p.m.

Afterward, she said Benjamin will take part in three weeks of “summer intensive” at the national ballet school. He’ll come home for August, before returning to the Toronto school for another year of study and ballet, she added.

“It’s been a great experience for him,” she said.

© 2015 Chatham Daily News.

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