Moscow Ballerina touches down at Swan Lake

Ballerina with Moscow Ballet leads course at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Sanctuary – Photo Gallery

  • Oct. 8, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Ballerina Olena Nalyvaiko with the Moscow Ballet visited Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Saturday to lead a pair of classes. The Moscow Ballet will visit Victoria Nov. 12.


Some young ballerinas came face to face (and toe to toe) with a dancer from one of the world’s most famous ballet companies.

Olena Nalyvalko with the Moscow Ballet was in Saanich Saturday to lead a pair of courses at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. The Moscow Ballet has teamed up with Swan Lake to raise money for the Saanich sanctuary.

Nalyvaiko, a ballerina and audition director with Moscow Ballet, was scheduled for a photo shoot before the courses on the sanctuary’s iconic boardwalk over Swan Lake, but heavy rain forced the shoot to be moved to a covered teaching shelter with Swan Lake as a backdrop.

“Olena was terrific about the whole thing,” said Kathleen Burton, executive director with the sanctuary. “She was grateful to be bundled up in a house coat on loan to the sanctuary by the Hotel Grand Pacific. She remained poised and just kept pointing her toes and posing for the camera shot after shot, smiling the whole time.”

Nalyvalko then led a pair of children’s programs, the first for those aged five to nine, followed by an intermediate class for those aged nine and over.

“The generosity of Moscow Ballet, to fly in a highly trained world-class Russian dancer like Olena, that provided the children this opportunity is truly amazing,” said Burton. “The smiles on the children’s faces, not to mention their parents and grandparents faces, as they watched the little ballerinas participate in a fun workshop of cultural immersion and personal role modeling while at the same time raising awareness and much needed funds for the Bridges to Nature Campaign was just delightful. As much as it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them it was for me too.”

The ballerina’s visit to Swan Lake was the first of two events the sanctuary has planned in partnership with the Moscow Ballet. A performance of Swan Lake by the Moscow Ballet has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Royal Theatre. If the theatre is 65 per cent sold out by Oct. 17, the ballet company will donate an additional $3,000 to the sanctuary in support of the Bridges to Nature project. When ticket buyers use the code ‘SWAN’ a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the sanctuary.

A special VIP block of tickets has been released to the public on Swan Lake’s promotion page All tickets purchased directly from this promotional page will support the sanctuary’s Bridges to Nature campaign.

“The society is thrilled Moscow Ballet has opened up this new block of tickets to the community in support of the campaign,” said Stephen Chang, Bridges to Nature campaign chair. “$75 from each $150 Gold Circle ticket will directly support phase two of the sanctuary’s atmospheric and dramatic boardwalk replacement. The VIP tickets offer some really exciting once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to purchasers including the chance to be part of the show.”

Purchasers of the Gold Circle tickets will also receive an invitation to a Nov. 11 VIP cocktails and appetizers reception being held at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary to welcome the Moscow Ballet to Vancouver Island. They will also get to be part of an after show meet and greet photo opportunity with the dancers. One lucky VIP ticket holder will also have the chance to be part of the show, arriving on stage in the Christmas sleigh at the end of Act One.

All ticket buyers are asked to use the code SWAN when purchasing their tickets in order for the sanctuary to benefit from a portion of the proceeds.

“It is important the public be aware they need to mention the code SWAN when purchasing their tickets over the phone or in person and to be sure to enter the code SWAN when purchasing tickets to the ballet online if the sanctuary is to benefit from the ballet performance,” said Burton.

Phase one of the campaign was completed in 2015 at a cost of $350,000. Another $800,000 is needed for phase two which will see the replacement of 755 feet of floating boardwalk.

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