After performing a role in Arise at the Summer School given by Canada’s National Ballet School this summer, Samuel Yuan – a second-year student on our Associate Degree programme – was recently invited to appear again in this contemporary work by the Canadian choreographer Jera Wolfe, at Fall For Dance North. In the first of three performances, he even danced the lead male role in the group work for no fewer than 146 young dancers. “It was a wonderful opportunity, for which I’m hugely grateful to Mavis Staines, the director of Canada’s National Ballet School, and Ernst Meisner”, said Yuan.
If it had been up to the 18-year-old Yuan, he would already have taken part in the 2020 Summer School given by Canada’s National Ballet School, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to the corona pandemic. “One year later, I was accepted for the Dutch National Ballet Academy, and partly because there’s a good relationship between the two schools, I decided to go to Canada last summer after all.”
Catching your breath
One part of the Summer School was an appearance in Jera Wolfe’s Arise. “Physically and stamina-wise, it’s an incredibly challenging work”, says Yuan. “In the thirty-minute piece, you don’t leave the stage for a moment. And there’s no time to catch your breath either.” During the Summer School, he was cast in one of the three soloist couples. “It was the first time I’d danced a duet with a male partner, which made it extra special.”
At the invitation of Mavis Staines, he recently returned to Canada to dance three performances of Arise at the annual festival Fall For Dance North, at the Meridian Hall in Toronto, on 6, 7 and 8 October. On the first night, he even danced the lead male role. “The Meridian Hall – which seats a thousand – was packed out for all three performances. Partly due to the low ticket prices, there were lots of people who can’t normally afford to go to a dance performance, so it was even more special to get a standing ovation at the end.”
This year, Yuan (born in the United States and raised in Singapore) is graduating from the Dutch National Ballet Academy. Following this special experience, you can guess his dream for the future. “My preference is to get a place with either the Dutch National Ballet’s Junior Company or The National Ballet of Canada. I feel really at home both in Amsterdam and in Toronto.”