When Ballet Jörgen returns to Halifax for tonight’s performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Cohn, the lineup will include Dartmouth native Hannah Mae Cruddas, playing the role of Lady Capulet (Juliet’s “not-so-kind mother.”) For Cruddas, it’s an exciting homecoming. “I trained at the Maritime Conservatory, and it’s really wonderful to come back to Halifax,” she says. “I first started working with Ballet Jörgen here in 2007 as a local dancer on Anastasia. And the Cohn is my old stomping grounds.”
Her challenge tonight, when she slips on the ballet slippers and takes the stage, will be to not dwell too much on that, though. “Once I’m out there, I need to just put it out of my head,” she says. “I can carry it with me for a push, but I can’t be distracted by it.” She’ll also be thinking about the young dancers in the audience watching her perform, recalling a few years ago when she was in those seats. “It’s surreal to think about that,” she says. “That’s why I try to share the joy of dancing.”
And therein is part of the challenge: the character of Lady Capulet just doesn’t radiate joy. “This is quite a bit of a character role,” she explains. “I was a swan in Swan Lake—this is much more of a whole character. As Lady Capulet, I have to reach deeper, bringing out my not-so-kind side, doing stronger, heavier movements. I can still channel the joy of dance in my execution, but it’s more about playing a part.”
Another highlight for tonight’s show is sure to be the music of Symphony Nova Scotia, performing Prokofiev’s bombastic score live in the pit beneath the stage. “We are thrilled to have renewed our partnership with Symphony Nova Scotia and our dancers are excited about the opportunity to perform with the musicians under the artistic leadership of Maestro Bernhard Gueller,” says Bengt Jörgen, Artistic Director of Ballet Jörgen. “This is a unique opportunity for Nova Scotians to experience the excitement and drama of live classical ballet with all of the orchestral colour.”
Ballet Jörgen performs Romeo and Juliet tonight and tomorrow at the Dalhousie Arts Centre at 8pm. There are still a handful of tickets available for both shows.