After her tireless efforts, Brampton’s very own ballerina Ariana Barillas, is playing the role of Marie in the National Ballet of Canada’s The Nutcracker at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts in Toronto, from Dec. 8 to 30.
In 2017, Ariana was accepted into Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) in Toronto, and within a year snagged the role of Marie in the performance.
“I was down in the cafeteria the day they put up the casting calls,” she said. “I had a bunch of people rushing up to me saying I got it. It was very exciting.”
Ariana, now 12 years old, began ballet dancing when she was two years old.
Her mother, Paola Barillas, says she put her two-year-old into ballet to keep her busy but never imagined it would one day lead to her performing for the National Ballet of Canada.
When Ariana first auditioned for the National Ballet School, Paola says, she thought it was just a summer workshop.
“In the acceptance interview, we were told this summer ‘workshop’ was actually an audition to get into the school full time in the fall,” she said. “But after watching her dance, the school told us to seriously consider it.”
Letting her daughter leave home and board at school at the tender age of 11 years old was a difficult choice for Paola to make, she said.
Out the people who auditioned from across Canada, only 13 were accepted, and Ariana was one of them.
“When a door like this opens for your child’s life, how do you say no,” she said. “If you say no, you’re closing a door that may never open again.”
In the end, she says, it was her daughter’s decision to make.
“She knew it would take sacrifices and a lot of hard work — they practise six days a week,” Paola said. “I asked her if this is what she really wanted, and she said she did.”
Now, Ariana is performing on the big stage, and Paola says it’s been a very emotional experience.
“I was bawling at her first performance as Marie,” she said. “I was a little nervous at her first show, but now every time I see her onstage, I can see she is just loving it. There’s no nervousness — she’s just so happy up there.”
Since moving to NBS and starring in The Nutcracker, Ariana has grown a lot, she said.
“My attitude toward professional dancers has changed a lot,” she said. “I already respected them a ton, but now I have a lot more respect for what they do and how they work with others. I really appreciate that.”
After she graduates, Ariana said, it’s her dream to dance with a ballet company like the National Ballet of Canada or the Royal Ballet in England.