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Local dances professionally for Ballet BC

Lorraine Graves   Feb-25-2019

Emily Chessa

Photo by Michael-Slodobian

A lot of little girls dream of becoming a ballerina. Richmond’s Emily Chessa did.

Today, she dances professionally with Ballet BC.



“I grew up in the Steveston area, near No. 2 Road and Railway and went to McKinney Elementary on Lassam and then to Steveston, when it was still a high school,” Chessa says.

Besides her academic education, she studied ballet, eventually going to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School then to the Arts Umbrella graduate program.

Asked how working as a professional is different from dancing around the living room as a little girl, Chessa says: “Working with other people—you’re dancing with other people, other voices, that you’re tying to work with. You’re not always going to agree but we’re all striving for the same thing—the art.”

She adds: “But, you get back on stage and that little girl comes out. Being on stage and the performance aspect is a big thrill. That rush before a show, the rush of all the nerves and the adrenalin that goes through your body, is just so much fun.”

Chessa looks forward to Ballet BC’s upcoming performances, called Program 2, at the 3,000-seat Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

“Dancing in front of thousands of people in a theatre is just a big rush of emotion. To be that vulnerable in front of so many people on stage—it’s a really big thrill.”

Ballet BC is a contemporary ballet company.

“We’re all classically trained. We make a lot of new work and make a lot of new vocabulary within the classical aesthetic to push it further off its axis,” Chessa says.

The company’s repertoire, Chessa says, “touches on human emotion and how we as dancers try to create movement to share with the audience, so that the audience is then touched by it.”

Program 2 showcases three works:

First is a Ballet BC premiere of 1st Flash choreographed by Jorma Elo and described as: “An ambitious piece set to Jean Sibelius’ inspired violin concerto, six dancers create harmony of sound and movement as the music interrupts their silence and charges it with beauty and musicality.”

Second is the world premiere of New Work with Adi Salant’s choreography, commissioned by Ballet BC, the first in North America to do so.

Salant’s work “balances explosive physicality and a delicate sensibility of the unpredictable,” the company says.

The third piece in the evening is the Canadian Premiere of Crystal Pite’s Solo Echo, inspired by two sonatas for cello and piano by Brahms. Solo Echo explores recurring themes of acceptance and loss.

“That’s one of the reasons I love to dance, to create pieces that touch on how humans think and feel, then sharing those with all the audience,” Chessa says.

“All three pieces are good to watch. Anyone who loves dance could come to the show and they would enjoy everything,” she says.

Note: The dance company cautions people to use only their website links to purchase tickets, as there have been some challenges with resold tickets’ validity in the past.

The current offering runs from Feb. 28 through March 2 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

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