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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

Evan McKie

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.

Evan McKie has been travelling the world for the past 15 years, making guest appearances at Bolshoi in Moscow, the Tokyo Ballet and the Opera Ballet in Paris. (Photo by Jeremy Korn)

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.