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Hogtown Stories is a series of portraits and short stories about Torontonians by Jeremy Korn, a photographer and urban planner. Find more photos of Evan and past stories at hogtownstories.com.
There's a certain smell that's the same in every theatre. I instantly recognize it. Costumes, ballet shoes and instruments. That's the smell of home.
I was born in Toronto. When I was about eight years old, I saw my first ballet. The lead role was a male, which, as a kid, surprised me. He told a story with his body.
As a kid, I attended Canada's National Ballet School. Sometimes I was bullied for dancing back then, and for having a different way of thinking. I spoke my mind, and still do. When I was dancing, I was asked to be as honest as possible about everything. I liked that.
I was lucky enough to perform in The Nutcracker back then. I was in the very back, but I took it really seriously and I completely idolized the dancers playing all the roles.
A few years later, I was scouted by the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany. Over the past 15 years, I was given many wonderful opportunities to refine my craft and travel the world. I performed as a guest at the Bolshoi in Moscow, the Tokyo Ballet and the Opera Ballet in Paris. These opportunities are always unexpected and I am reminded of the magic of theatre on each unique stage.
I returned to the National Ballet here in Toronto last year. My first dancing partner was one of the dancers that I used to look up to as a young student. She played the Sugar Plum Fairy when I was just a kid dancing in the back row. I can't believe she remembered me!
It’s cool to return to Toronto and experience The Nutcracker again. The Nutcracker is about taking a journey around the world together, and the magic of transformation. In the theatre this is a way of life.
Evan McKie is a principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada.
This interview has been edited and condensed.