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The Dancer — Livona Ellis

The Dancer — Livona Ellis. Illustration by Edward Juan.

“It’s nice to be creating something new and not replicating the past.”

The 2017–18 season is ripe for Livona Ellis’ comeback to Ballet BC after surgery for a torn meniscus. But, at least she doesn’t face the common ballet dancer’s worry about bleeding toes.

“We mostly dance contemporary and don’t often use pointe shoes. [Artistic Director] Emily Molnar believes strongly in classical technique. We were all classically trained and have to be able to do those classical ballets. We just choose not to. It’s nice to be creating something new and not replicating the past.”

As a kid in gymnastics, Ellis loved the floor routines best, which led her to dance with Arts Umbrella when she was 11. By 13, she had joined their professional intensive program and performed with the junior company. At 19, she got her Dance Diploma from Vancouver Community College and began apprenticing with Ballet BC.

Now in her eighth year in the company, Ellis appreciates an environment where “it feels like everyone is on the same level. Choreographers can come in and create however they want, with whomever best suits their work. Everyone has a chance during the season to excel in their strong suit and strengthen other areas. Emily runs the company like a collective. She even takes class with us. She’s amazing!”

A typical day entails seven-and-a-half hours of dance, often rounded out by a session of physio or yoga, five or six days a week, 42–47 weeks a year. But the perks include performing in dance capitals around the globe—Montreal, Birmingham, New York City—whilst following her passion.

“I danced in so much pain last year because of my knee. But, I do it anyway because it’s what I love. Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 10.17.41 AM

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Jerry Wasserman is an actor, critic, emeritus
professor of English and theatre at UBC, and
editor of Modern Canadian Plays. He is editor
and producer of Vancouverplays.com.