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Meet Anya, soloist for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal

13 Dec 2020

As a soloist for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Anya Nesvitaylo’s Decembers are usually busy with a marathon of performances of The Nutcracker. “It’s non-stop,” she admits, but she can’t wait to go on stage every evening.

“I love it,” she says with pure joy in her eyes. “When you’re the Sugar Plum Fairy, when you have the spotlight on you, when you feel like your skin is glowing… you can feel the energy. You can’t express this feeling. […] Backstage, the kids are playing. They are super excited and full of energy. It’s something that you will never forget.”

This ballet holds a particularly special place in Anya’s heart as it’s a holiday tradition that she normally shares with her daughter. “I will miss being on stage every day, creating this magic feeling, and seeing my daughter backstage. For her and me, this ballet and its atmosphere are our Christmas.”

While this year’s holiday celebrations will indeed be different, Anya is looking forward to spending time at home with her husband and daughter. She’s picturing cozy evenings indoors, drinking hot chocolate, playing fun board games, and watching TV together while wrapped up in warm blankets. 

During quarantine, Anya truly appreciated the quality time she was able to spend with her loved ones. “I think quarantine gave me the time to stop, think, and reflect. […] I think by stopping, I’ve realized what’s important, what keeps me going, what inspires me most, and what pushes me to do new things. I’ve found that that’s my family.”

Anya also notes how unique this situation is in history. “I think we will remember this. Not a lot of families have that much time to spend together in their lives.” 

Anya’s husband, Sasha Onyshchenko, himself a former ballet dancer, is the official photographer for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Along with their daughter, the couple loves to work together to create captivating images. They find collaborating with each other inspiring. Sasha enjoys taking photos while Anya and their daughter feel extremely comfortable posing in front of the camera.

As a family, they love to be spontaneous, live in the moment, and take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves in order to create. “In my family, art is what keeps us together, united, and being creative,” she explains. During the lockdown, they made sure to keep this creative spirit alive. “My husband has a photography studio, and we would spend most days during quarantine there. We were all in the same room together, dancing, painting, and taking pictures. It was all art. I felt covered in it and I really loved this time. I know it hasn’t been easy for humanity, but I did find joy in it.” 

Reflecting on the impact of this period, Anya believes that it holds great possibilities in terms of the future of art. Having spoken with other dancers, she knows how hungry they are to perform on stage and create once again.

“I think art will take off because people just can’t wait to start creating and expressing themselves,” she says. That’s definitely the case within her own family! “Now we are full of creative ideas,” she says with a giggle. “Give us time and we will show you!”

This truly is music to our ears here at Simons. As supporters of the arts, we know that this past year has been particularly challenging for all artists. When the time comes, we cannot wait to encourage all of their imaginative and inspiring ideas and we sincerely hope that you will too!