One young Beach ballerina is getting a very special Christmas present this year. Rebekah Bloomfield, 12, will be dancing in the National Ballet’s annual seasonal production of The Nutcracker.
She is one of four National Ballet School students who will dance the leading role of Marie during the company’s two-week run. Rebekah’s first performance is opening night, Wednesday, Dec. 19, alongside principal dancers Heather Ogden and Guillaume Cote.
“Getting cast as a Marie was a surprise, an honour and a wonderful reward for such an amazing, positive spirit,” said her mother Nadine.
Rebekah began taking ballet lessons when she was eight, merely by coincidence.
“I got started when a friend brought me to a ‘bring a friend’ day at a dance school and then I couldn’t stop after that,” she said.
Rebekah’s casting of Marie is a welcome gift after a few missteps along the way. Problems with renovations of the family home and a bout with pneumonia were the main hurdles she has jumped over gracefully.
In 2008, the Bloomfields began a home renovation project to convert their traditional home to an eco-friendly one. However, their dream reno ended in a nightmare of legal conflicts that, according to Nadine, ultimately resulted in their heating contractor, Mike Preston of Max Air Environmental Systems Inc., being sentenced to six months in jail.
“We were trying to do a green sustainable home,” said Nadine. “We were out of our house for two years and there was an actual fear we might not get in. It impacted out finances, it impacted our living conditions.”
Through it all, Rebekah was continuing with dance lessons at local dance studios. She attended Grade 5 summer school at the National Ballet School.
“Grade 5 is an exposure to the way their school works, so as a family you can decide if this is something you like, something your child likes,” said Nadine. At the end of the session, a report card is issued and Rebekah’s encouraged her to audition for Grade 6, a positive note during a stressful summer when windows were inoperable and there was no air conditioning.
“We would take the bus (to her classes) and she would come home to a house that was in the 40s,” said Nadine. “There was no relief, but she just never gave up.”
Her first audition for Grade 6 was not a successful one, but she was not deterred.
“We were living in chaos,” said Nadine. “Rebekah was getting maybe maximum three to four hours of dance a week which is simply not enough. She was trying to learn all this technique while living in chaos. She got pneumonia immediately after the audition. You talk about the mind/body connection. We were in and out of Sick Kids for that August.”
Now, Rebekah is a full-time student at the NBS, practising dance seven days a week, taking a Pilates class as well, and dreaming of a career as a ballerina. She recently performed an excerpt from The Nutcracker for the National Ballet’s Annual General Meeting at the Betty Oliphant Theatre.
After opening night, Rebekah will dance in four additional performances: Dec. 23 with Greta Hodgkinson and Etienne LaVigne, Dec. 27, Dec. 30 and Jan. 4.