A ‘surreal feeling’ for Eden Robichaud at the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theater and New York’s Joffrey Ballet School

BIBLE HILL, NS — For 15-year-old Bible Hill dancer Eden Robichaud, this summer has been split between Canada’s largest city (Toronto) and the US’ (New York), honing her skills at prestigious schools.

Eden is now in New York at the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet School, there until Aug. 19. Her three weeks in the Big Apple follow three weeks at the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theater (CCDT) where, at the conclusion, she earned the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) $1,000 scholarship.

“Which recognized her inspiring dedication and hard work demonstrated throughout the three-week summer intensive,” a RAD release stated. “As part of Program A, Eden was presented with the prize at the conclusion of the Friday evening Showcase, where dancers gave brilliant performances, highlighting their work with SunDance faculty Clare Merchant Andreou (ballet), Colin Connor (modern) and Ryan Lee ( improvisation and composition).”

Eden’s mom Loretta has been along the summer dance journey with her daughter. She described it as a bit of a “whirlwind.”

“Coming out of COVID, it seems like everyone is getting back at things and she is getting back in a big way, so it’s nice,” Loretta said. “She loved the experience in Toronto.”

Ballet dancer Eden Robichaud, from Bible Hill, is experiencing a summer of growth with six weeks of intensive training. Johanna Matthews/Portraits by Johanna

She noted that for both the CCDT and Joffrey, Eden prepared and submitted auditions in a digital format. The CCDT would hold live auditions, but only in Toronto, whereas the National Ballet School (NBS) and Alberta School of Ballet would travel to Halifax for Nova Scotia dancers to audition – at least they did pre-pandemic. Eden has been part of the NBS in the past.

“She worked very diligently at it,” Loretta said. “It took her quite a few hours to prepare it. They (CCDT) give you a listing of what the expectations are for the audition, and you have to fulfill all of the requirements. Then you receive an invitation or not and, fortunately, she was invited.”

On the heels of earning the invite to Toronto, Eden received the same positive news from New York.

“We literally had five days to turn it around back home, Truro/Bible Hill, and head to New York; barely had the bags unpacked,” Loretta said, adding Eden is in a program at Joffrey described as pre-professional. “It’s very intensive; 30 hours a week for three weeks so 90 hours of dance … same as in Toronto.”

The schools are appropriately referred to as “summer intensives.” Eden talked about the unique opportunities.

“(They) are such an amazing way to further my understanding of dance, gain new experiences, and learn from different teachers who can totally change my perspective on how and why I do what I do,” she said.

“Getting into the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theater and the Joffrey Ballet School in the same summer felt surreal. I can’t believe it even happened.”

Back in Truro, Eden works with the Cobequid Dance Academy, which is where she does all her ballet as well as RAD exam work. The school’s artistic director and owner is Melissa Page-Webster.

Eden also dances competitively through the Arie Dance Company where Bre Langille is the artistic director and owner.

“We’re so fortunate to have those in Truro,” Loretta said. “Eden dances about 18 hours a week between the two in addition to workshops and development weekends.”

She described her daughter as a “technically” strong dancer.

“She is extremely disciplined for the rigours of dance, and ballet in particular. Professional schools see that in her; recognize that when she is invited to those schools.

“We (husband/dad Ben, and son/brother Noah) are beyond proud of her accomplishments. For someone her age, only 15, she is beyond her years in maturity with her dedication to her discipline, and we can’t wait to see where her journey will take her next.”

Eden Robichaud (centre) with Clare Merchant Andreou (left), Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) examiner from Cyprus, and Deborah Lundmark (right), SunDance and Canadian Contemporary Dance Theater (CCDT) Artistic Director.  - Contributed
Eden Robichaud (centre) with Clare Merchant Andreou (left), Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) examiner from Cyprus, and Deborah Lundmark (right), SunDance and Canadian Contemporary Dance Theater (CCDT) Artistic Director. – Contributed

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