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ML: You grew up in Terrebonne, an off-island suburb north of Montreal, and attended the Jeune Ballet du Québec. Did you always want to be a ballerina?
MS: Le Jeune Ballet du Quebec was a young company that was still part of my school. We got to work with choreographers, tour around the world and dance on so many different stages, which was such a great experience for us as pre-professionals.
From what I can remember, I always wanted to be a ballerina, but I also wanted to be princess so … My dream was just to make it as a professional dancer and I worked as hard as I could to reach my goal.
ML: Soon after graduating, you joined Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. How did this opportunity happen?
MS: In fact, I never graduated from school because I didn’t finish my scholarship. I left as soon as I got a contract. In theory, I had still a year and a half to go. In the ballet world, the goal is to get a job, so when you get an offer, it’s hard to refuse this opportunity.
I came to Monaco to visit a friend of mine that got hired the year before. I wanted to see how an overseas company worked, what was the level of the dancers, and so on. I took a ballet class with the company members and it actually became an audition. I was filmed by the ballet masters and a little later in the year, I got a call back from them telling me that they would like to offer me a contract to join Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo!
ML: You became a Soloist in 2010. Can you describe the feeling of your first solo performance?
MS: I remember my first performance like it was yesterday, it was the very first time I danced the nurse in Romeo and Juliet … I got to be Bernice, the star of the company at the time! I was so intimidated and I wanted to do well. I was so moved and I felt such an adrenaline rush … it’s very hard to put into words. I have to say that I still get that same rush a few seconds before putting my first foot on stage!
ML: How disciplined is the life of a ballerina, as a teenager and as an adult?
MS: Well, as a teenager and as an adult, the discipline stays the same. It’s an art form that requires very hard work everyday to maintain a high level of quality. The only difference for me is that as a teenager you get pushed a lot by your teachers but as an adult, you must take charge of yourself. You have to be your own motivator.
ML: How much do you rehearse every day/week?
MS: Our schedule is set. Ballet class from 10:30 am to noon, then we rehearse whichever ballet we need to prepare from 12:15 to 2 pm. After a lunch break, we rehearse again from 3- 6:30 pm from Monday to Friday and on Saturday, we finish at 2:30 pm.
ML: Does nutrition play a role in your life?
MS: I have a very specific way of eating. I avoid all processed foods and am on a high protein diet plus I take high-quality supplements. Also, I try to get a good amount of sleep to ensure my body recovery.
ML: What is something about the life of a ballerina that would surprise people?
MS: I think people have this image of us being so serious and focused, which is true… but I think they’d be surprised by how goofy we can be in the studio! Sometimes we can get pretty wild … I guess we are still kids trapped in grown up bodies.
ML: Are other dancers in the company like family?
MS: We are a kind of family, yes. We can relate to each other because we all go through the same joys, pains, deceptions and glories, and understand each other so well. It creates an immediate bond.
ML: What are some of your greatest performance memories?
MS: All performances are special to me. What comes to my mind though is dancing with Christian Tworzyanski in “Aleatorio” … it was very emotional because we created this ballet together and it was such an intimate moment between us on stage. It felt like we were alone in the world for a little while. These moments are precious, just thinking about it makes me emotional all over again.
ML: What have you learned about yourself as a dancer?
MS: That’s a good one. I am still learning about myself everyday … I’ve learned that I’ve become a strong woman and I am proud of what I have accomplished. I just hope to keep growing as an artist and I hope one day I can share my experiences with younger generations!
ML: You have lived in Monaco for a decade. What do you most appreciate about calling Monaco home?
MS: The weather is amazing on the Coast. We are blessed and I appreciate the fact that I can go to the sea and I can also take my car up to the mountains to go play in the snow like a real Canadian!
ML: What’s your favourite hangout in Monaco?
MS: I don’t have a favourite hangout. I quite like to have a coffee on the terrace of Starbucks on top of NiBox. The view is just so pretty.
ML: Why are Canadians unique?
MS: We are just so cool! We are tolerant, kind, peaceful, welcoming … everyone loves us.
ML: What does it mean to you to be Canadian?
MS: To be Canadian means to be true to yourself and to your roots. It’s very important to me. I love Canadians and what we represent and I carry that image proudly.
ML: What do you miss about Canada?
MS: What I miss most about Canada is … Canada! …all of it! I really love my country! It’s just in my heart.
Article first published February 8, 2017. Photos: Alice Blangero
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