Intensive summer studies with New England’s original professional repertory ballet company will carry a decorated Gibsons dancer one more giant leap toward her dreams of a career in the highly-competitive field of professional ballet.
Using video conferencing software, Natalie Martin, 15, auditioned early this year for a placement with Boston Ballet’s summer dance program. The five-week program attracts high-level dancers from around the world to work in a rigorous training residency at the company’s studios in Boston, Massachusetts. She also auditioned for two Canadian summer programs: the National Ballet School of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Martin was accepted by all three institutions. “I have some exciting decisions to make,” she announced to her social media followers and fellow students of the Waldorf Ballet studio in downtown Sechelt.
She finally elected to point her trajectory toward Boston. “I was very excited [to decide],” she said in a conversation with Coast Reporter. “It’s a huge school and so many people audition. I didn’t know what chance I stood, whether I would get it or not. I was very happy.”
Martin started dancing shortly after she learned to walk, and developed a serious affinity for it around the age of six. “It was just kind of realizing, ‘Oh, I can actually do this and pursue this,’” she said. “It went from just being like one day a week, fun with your friends, to serious sport.”
Martin is keeping up with her high school studies in an online setting to accommodate her daily dance training. For five years, she has been a pupil of Johanna Waldorf, herself a professional dancer and graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance in the United Kingdom. She also takes private lessons with Jocelyn Wozencroft, a Vancouver coach, choreographer and competition adjudicator.
Following her decision to attend the Boston Ballet residency, Martin earned accolades at international and local competitions. In March, she danced for the Youth American Grand Prix competition in Toronto, which bills itself as the world’s largest global network of dance. She placed among the top 12 competitors in the category of Senior Classical Ballet.
At the Chilliwack Lions Music and Dance Festival in January, she received the distinction of Senior Ballet Provincial Representative. During last year’s B.C. Provincial Festival of Performing Arts, competing in the Intermediate division, Martin bested hundreds of challengers by winning top prize in the Ballet II category for 13- to 15-year-olds.
The Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program will feature instruction from the year-round faculty of the Boston Ballet School, company members of Boston Ballet, and guest artists from across the United States. Students are housed at an area university and participate in classes every weekday. Weekends are dedicated to cultural experiences, which have historically included Red Sox games at Fenway Park, performances by the New York City Ballet at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and dinner cruises on Boston Harbor.
Martin, who danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Waldorf Ballet’s December 2021 production of The Nutcracker at the Raven’s Cry Theatre, believes that the hardest part of any local show or international competition is the tense anticipation backstage.
“Waiting in the wings,” she said, “I’m definitely overthinking everything and I’m nervous. But once you’re on the stage and you’ve got an audience, I just trust in my coaches and my training. I get to the point where I don’t need to think about it anymore: the movement’s in my body.”