When Zachary Rogers was 10-years-old he saw the Nutcracker for the first time.
“I loved everything about it. The athleticism, the music, the movement. I couldn’t focus on anything else,” he said.
From then on, he wanted to become a ballet dancer. He started weekly classes in Revelstoke and by the age of 13, he went to train at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, which is Canada’s oldest and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.
View this post on Instagram
Dreams come true ✨❤️ Beyond thrilled to have performed ‘Petite Mort’ by Jiri Kylián tonight @stanmus (as well as Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar) Congratulations everyone on an amazing show, it was a pleasure to dance with all of you 🤗 #petitemort #stanislavskytheatre #jirikylian Thank you so much @evandrobossle for the video 😊
Since most kids start ballet when they’re five, Rogers said he had lots to catch up on.
“After years of continual stretching, I could do the splits.”
Now, roughly 12 years later, Rogers is a ballet dancer at the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow, Russia. It’s one of the biggest theatres in the country.
“It feels like a dream,” Rogers said.
“Ballet is rich in this part of the world.”
In Canada, continued Rogers, ballet is considered more of a hobby.
“People would ask what my real job is.”
After graduating in Winnipeg, Rogers danced in Germany, Czech Republic, and Estonia. Then, roughly one year ago, he got hired as a first soloist in Russia, which means he gets to perform solo dances.
|It took years of constrant stretching for Rogers to become flexible. He said it doesn't come naturally. (Submitted)
Rogers trains six days a week and usually performs three times in front of around 1,000 people.
Although ballet originates from France and Italy in the 1500s, ballet is a trade mark of Russian culture. Some of the best known ballet’s are from Russia, including Swan Lake and the Nutcracker.
“It’s huge here,” said Rogers.
Russia ballet has its own style. Rogers said the technique is brilliant and the training regime strict. Compared with ballet in London, which is academic, Russian ballet is more emotional, said Rogers.
“They’re living their characters on stage.”
He admitted, “I like Russian dancing the best.”
Out of 100 dancers in the theatre, 11 are non-Russian said Rogers.
People don’t go into ballet for the money said Rogers. It’s hard to find a job and it takes a lot of commitment. Injuries are common and the sport is hard on the body.
“You have to love it a lot.”
Even when Rogers isn’t dancing, he spends his time going to other performances and watching ballet on YouTube.
“I’m a fanatic,” he said with a laugh.