Ballet BC alumna Makaila Wallace begins a new chapter

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Dances for a Small Stage: Summer Lovin' presents works by local choreographers.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Makaila Wallace is embarking on a new chapter of her career. After almost 11 years with Ballet BC, she is now an independent artist looking for new adventures and exploring all the possibilities for her future. “It was time for a change,” said Wallace, “I just felt as though I needed more time and space for other interests I have.” 

Since leaving home at 14, Wallace has always been part of a major ballet company. First the Royal Swedish Ballet, then Royal Winnipeg, and most recently Ballet BC. After 15 years as part of a formal company, she’s looking for a change. “I’m allowing myself time to transition and readjust,” she said, explaining that she wants to remain curious. 

 

Wallace is exploring outside the walls of Ballet BC and even outside the traditional stage in her new work as part of Dances for a Small Stage: Summer Lovin’. The work will be performed on the lawn outside Burnaby’s Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, and she said that they aren’t sure exactly where they will be performing yet. 

During her last few years at Ballet BC, Wallace said she began to appreciate small venues. “I really started to become drawn to more intimate venues,” she said, explaining that she always really enjoyed having people come to watch rehearsals. She found that there was a very different dynamic between her and the audience in that type of space, and that her performance was different as well. 

“The challenge of performing on the big stage is that it’s the same work, but there’s something about it being a ‘final version,’” said Wallace. The challenge for her was to approach it the same way as in the studio. 

“That’s the thing about a dance performance — every moment is unique to itself. I struggle not to make it the final answer,” she said. Rehearsals are a peek into what the dancers do every day, but on stage Wallace said it’s important to keep some of that spontaneity.

This piece was a “collaborative choreographic process” with Simone Orlando. The two Ballet BC alumnae also teamed up with pianist Candy Siu and Vancouver Opera singer Willy Miles-Grenzberg. Siu approached Wallace first; their original idea was different and was intended to be a larger project. However, when Small Stage approached Wallace, she thought their work would be a good fit for the series. 

Wallace met Siu when she played piano for her ballet class at Harbour Dance Centre. “I really enjoyed her as a pianist,” she said. When she heard Miles-Grenzberg sing along with Siu’s playing, Wallace said she was blown away. “They’re beautiful together. I almost feel like I’m an addition to their piece.”

While collaborating with Siu and Miles-Grenzberg, Wallace was also working with Simone Orlando and thought that her choreographic skills would benefit the piece. “She kind of helped me mould it into place and added structure,” said Wallace, emphasizing that this work is very much a collaboration between these four artists and she is extremely grateful for their support.

Looking towards the future, Wallace isn’t sure if choreography is in the cards. “Maybe at a point in the future,” she said. “I’ve never had a choreographic itch myself. I’ve always enjoyed being in a collaborative environment.” 

The BFA program at SFU is of interest to Wallace, and with an interest in combining education and art, she is also thinking about getting into education someday and maybe teaching elementary school. 

For now, she’s doing some teaching, working on independent projects, and always keeping creatively active. “I’m very much wanting to keep dance a part of my life ― as to what shape or form, that’s still evolving.” 

Dances for a Small Stage: Summer Lovin’ will be presented on the South Lawn at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts June 20 and 21. For more information, visit movent.ca.

 

Photo by: Michael Slobodian

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