These days, Jennifer Francisty has been spending a lot of time en pointe.
She’s been perfecting her jétés, pirouettes, arabesques and développés daily since September when she signed on as a dancer with Coastal City Ballet, a new Vancouver-based ballet company with a focus on the classics.
“There are so many hours of dancing,” said Francisty, 19.
“At first, it was really tiring.”
Coastal City Ballet is a pre-professional company, created by artistic director Li Yaming to develop and hone young, ballet talent in preparation for a life and career in dance.
Though only in its first year of operation, the company of 15 dancers has already attracted members from as far as Brazil, China, and Japan.
The dancers, including Francisty have been busy preparing for their inaugural performance of Paquita & Mixed Repertoire, which debuts in Maple Ridge on Friday.
Dancing has been a lifelong dream for Francisty and being accepted as a dancer with Coast City allows her to get one step closer to her goal of performing on the professional stage.
She knows the journey won’t be easy but is growing accustomed to an intense training regime.
Class at Coastal City Ballet begins at 10:30 a.m., but everyone usually arrives an hour early to stretch and warm up. There’s a half hour break for lunch at noon, followed by another four hours of rehearsal.
On weekends, instead of a day or two off, there are usually rehearsals because “dancers always want to perfect things.”
So Franscity had been making the hour-long commute to the Vancouver-Burnaby border almost daily since September.
“The difference between a school and a company is so much more artistic benefit,” says Franscity.
You learn how to perform, cope with long rehearsals and how to deal with the pressures of performing. “They even gave us a resume workshop to and prepare us for auditions,” she added.
Franscity, who made the decision to pursue a career in dance during her last year in high school, doesn’t have any regrets about the choice she’s made.
“Most people go through their lives doing jobs they don’t like. If I’m going to be doing something all day, I rather be in love with it.”
Franscity will be on stage through most of the inaugural performance on Friday.
Anchoring the performance will be selections from Petipa’s Paquita, staged by Joy Munk and former Houston Ballet artistic director and current Texas Ballet Theatre artistic director Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes, set to music by Rachmaninov.
Also on the bill is new work from Charlene Hart, a top 10 finalist in season three of So You Think You Can Dance Canada, Farley Johansson, a celebrated local dancer, choreographer and co-artistic director of Science Friction and Coastal City Ballet artistic director Li Yaming.
• Paquita & Mixed Repertoire plays the ACT in Maple Ridge on Friday, Nov. 18 and the Kay Meek Centre in North Vancouver on Nov. 25. For tickets, call the ACT box office at 604-476-2787.