Joining the Corps de Ballet
Q&A with Daina Zolty

December 15, 2020

Alexander Skinner

Born in Burnaby, British Columbia, Daina Zolty joined The National Ballet of Canada in 2018 as a RBC Apprentice and became a member of the Corps de Ballet in 2020.

How important was the training during your time in the RBC Apprenticeship Programme?  
The Apprentice Programme was incredible for me. It allowed me to learn the tools and the responsibilities of being part of a company. I felt very looked after during my experience in the programme because we had our own classes with the amazing Lindsay Fischer. With his help I felt more confident in my abilities when I performed and just overall in company class. In the YOU dance performances, I had amazing opportunities to explore artistically and improve overall. 

What were your best moments participating in the YOU dance programmes? 
Interacting with the students afterwards and seeing the wonder in their eyes was incredibly rewarding. Performing for students gave me a sense of freedom because I know that even if I fell or lost my balance, the kids didn't really care. All they saw was me dancing and expressing myself. Funnily enough, because of this, more often than not I was happy with my performances because I had a "just go for it" attitude. I think I should hold onto that attitude for my future performances.

If you could go back in time, what advice would give yourself at the start of the year about how to deal with being a performer in isolation? 
First, I would tell myself to really live in the moment! Revel in jumping into new roles, dancing on stage, feeling exhausted after long days and enjoy the everyday grind and routines. Secondly, I would tell myself to be kinder to myself. As a perfectionist I found it hard to feel good dancing because my body and technique weren't in peak form. Although I was lucky enough to have a studio during that time, it almost made it harder because I had room to do steps but it was really hard to enjoy it as I did before. I think if I was little kinder to myself I probably would have enjoyed it more than I did.

For the residency at Harbourfront and The Dreamers Ever Leave You, were there differences in how you prepared physically and mentally relative to past performances? 
Performing at Harbourfront was such a treat! I enjoyed every minute of it. The process was a little different than normal because we couldn't do any partnering until a few days before the shows started. Mentally I think I was ready solely because I missed performing and I was eager to get on stage and feel like an artist again.

What were your first performances like? And how hard was it to dance knowing – or expecting – that the rest of the performances would be postponed?
My first performances were magical! Dreamers is such a unique ballet because it’s rare that the dancer has so much freedom to explore. It was so perfect to do after isolation because I was able to let go and move to beautiful music. With the postponement, it created an environment where everyone could just go for it. The energy was almost electric. Although we were uncertain as to when we would get the chance to perform it again, the last show was incredibly inspiring to dance.

What are your goals or hopes for your first year in the Corps de Ballet? 
Due to the fact that everything is so uncertain, my goals are to learn and grow as much as I can, and to find inspiration again.

Learn more about Daina >


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