© Kari Labrentz

Our second year dancer Lucie Schmidt comes from Nova Scotia, and she started dancing when her family lived in the Niagara region of Ontario:

“Starting to dance was sort of a natural process for me – I have a large family and my older sister took dance classes so I followed in her footsteps. I wasn’t very much into dance at first as I was super quiet. Whenever they asked if I wanted to take class, I would say no, I am not going to be a dancer, I will be a dance teacher, so I don’t need to take class anymore. But I still kept tagging along to the studio, and little by little, dance helped me break out of my shell and boosted my confidence. I have been taking class ever since!

I started to dance at Ballet Etc Studio for the Arts in St. Catharines, under the guidance of Jane Elliott, and when we moved to Nova Scotia I ended up at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts for a couple of years, mainly training with Rachael Dyer. I switched to the Leica Hardy School of Dance in 2009 on the recommendation of one of my fellow students. There, I got my first taste of contemporary dance (my prior training was primarily in ballet), and with Leica I got to do a lot more than just dance. I was a member of Leica’s performance company KiDanCo, where we got to work with amazing guest choreographers, including Peggy Baker and Darryl Tracy. I also assisted in classes for younger dancers in my final years there. I was homeschooled, so I got to spend many hours dancing at the Leica Hardy School every day – taking class, rehearsing, assisting, performing…

Leica was a major influence for me – I am forever grateful for all the knowledge and opportunities she shared with me. She is also the reason why I would love to teach as well one day. It is such an important part of your training to have a teacher who wants to inspire you and make you work hard, but also just loves dance and is rooting for you and wants you to do well and find your own thing.”

© Heather Jefferys

Before coming to the School, Lucie attended our Summer Intensive: “I remember having a great time and really liking the School and the teachers. I felt like the core beliefs behind the training here – body alignment, movement through space – were similar to what I had been taught before, so there was a reassuring feeling of familiarity to the training. When I came to the Summer Intensive a second time, I decided I wanted to study here. I saw some of the students who were in the first intensive with me and then went on to train at the School, and I was amazed to see how far they progressed in just one year. I knew I wanted to be able to grow that much too!”

Lucie is a two-time recipient of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarship to support her dance training. Now in her second year, Lucie is happy to recommend the School to aspiring young dancers: “The Professional Training Program at the School can offer a lot to a lot of different dancers. There is a good variety of technique in the program, a strong focus on performance, and there are opportunities to create as well. I would say that it’s definitely a good option for those looking for a conservatory style program – you get to dance all day! Being in Toronto is brilliant too, because there are many opportunities in the arts to pursue here, and many performances to see! If you are on the fence, I would recommend trying the Summer Intensive here, because it is a very accurate representation of what training at the School is like. You will probably meet your future classmates there!”

© Jeremy Mimnagh

Speaking of classmates, Lucie talks about working on and performing two new choreographic pieces at the School’s most recent show, IMPULSE 2017: “My class was lucky to work with Jennifer Dallas and Jasmyn Fyffe who created two new works for us. It was a fantastic experience for me because both of these works were different from what we were used to, and were all about ensemble work – equally off and on stage. All of us were on stage the entire time for both pieces, and we hadn’t worked together as a class that way before. There was also a lot of room for improvisation, and every performance felt different. Jennifer would always encourage us to surprise ourselves, and that was fun and rewarding. I think this experience really helped us grow as a group and hone our performance quality.”

Lucie laughs and honestly answers she has no idea, when asked where she sees herself in the future: “I feel like a dancer’s role is changing very fast, and I have no clue what it’s going to be like five years from now. I have a very long list of places and companies I would love to audition for, even if it’s just to see what they’re like. I’m lucky to be able to get an EU passport, so one of my goals would be to haul myself to Europe after I graduate and explore all possibilities there, training-wise and professionally. I would love an opportunity to just get out there and try something different. Let’s see what happens! For the moment, I am focused on my training.”

When asked why she chose dance, Lucie pauses for a long moment: “Why do people dance? It’s different for everyone, and it’s hard to answer this question in any one way. I feel it’s something that is built into you, and represents who you are as a person. I suppose for me it’s the desire to express myself. I am generally shy and quiet but when I dance – I know it’s a bit of a cliché – I have no difficulty expressing myself. I also LOVE class. It gives me a sense of freedom and the joy of finding out what I can do – it’s very addictive.”