Martin ten Kortenaar

2013 Grant Recipient

Classical Ballet Winner
Martin ten Kortenaar

Martin ten KortenaarMartin ten Kortenaar, a 18-year-old dancer from Guelph, ON, was nominated by the National Ballet of Canada where he will join the ballet as an apprentice in the autumn. In addition to performing solo or principal roles in numerous productions, Martin will have more than 35 performance opportunities, including challenging roles from the traditional repertoire, and experiences that will require him to learn and practice corps de ballet skills.

In submitting the nomination for The Hnatyshyn Foundation grant, Mavis Staines, Artistic Director of Canada’s National Ballet School said, “Martin has been recognized as an exceptional talent since he first joined NBS in 2008. It was clear from the outset that he is a dancer with extraordinary physical gifts, including perfect proportions for classical ballet. Even more importantly, Martin has the intelligence and psychological talent to deeply explore his physical potential. Martin pushes his physical potential on a daily basis but understands his challenges and pushes daily to develop both his technical and artistic skills.”

In adjudicating Martin’s performance submissions, the jury commended his very good technical control and ease of movement, “He demonstrates a ‘natural’ quality, which indicates that his technique is well absorbed into his body and is now able to support artistic expression without affectation. I do appreciate that he recognizes that contemporary work is important and has aspirations to gain more experience in that area.” “Martin has the right tools that will assist in his development as a professional artist.”

The jury for classical ballet included:
• Lawrence Gervais, Artistic Director, Chickadee Children’s Dance Project
• Leica Hardy, Artistic Director, Lecia Hardy School of Dance
• Etienne Lavigne, David Tory award winner, guest soloist and first soloist,
National Ballet of Canada.

Artist’s Statement

As an aspiring male ballet dancer, for me the most important part of ballet is to be able to completely draw the audience into the magic of the ballet. If the audience leaves the ballet feeling that they can relate to and believe in the emotional journey of the characters on stage, then the dancers have done their job well. The aim of a ballet dancer is always to dance their part as technically perfect as possible. However, even if after performing I know I have made technical mistakes, it does not mean that the performance has not been a success. Personally, being able to gain confidence and ease every time I go on stage, and being able to totally immerse myself in the character and story I portray is helpful and necessary for my growth as an artist. To be able to let the audience forget about their own lives for a couple of hours and sweep them up into what is happening on stage is personally very fulfilling, and is a very important part of ballet for me.

My main aspiration is to achieve the rank of principal dancer at a professional ballet company. I would love to be able to work with talented choreographers, teachers and fellow dancers who would aid in the continued development and refinement of my artistic and technical abilities. My goal is to dance a multitude of roles, from Seigfried in Swan Lake to more contemporary ballets such as Chroma or Glass Pieces. Even though my main focus has been classical ballet for the past five years, I would hope to not become typecast as a strictly classical dancer. I am often inspired by contemporary pieces as well. I had the privilege to work with Aszure Barton this year and perform excerpts from her choreography Les Chambres des Jacques. I hope to never stop learning no matter what stage of my ballet career I am at, whether the lessons be technical or artistic. My favourite place to be is on stage, and my goal is to let the audience experience the same emotions that I feel when I am on stage dancing for them.

My inspirations as a developing artist come from the ballets and dancers I have seen, teachers that I have worked with, and, often, the music that accompanies the movement. I’ll never forget first ballet I saw. It was when I started at the National Ballet School in grade 9 and the whole school went to see the National Ballet of Canada’s production of Prokoviev’s Romeo & Juliet. That performance crystallized my desire to be a dancer. I had no idea a ballet score could be so powerful! It is music that provides so many layers into which a dancer can dive to explore the emotions and feelings with which the music is infused. Prokoviev’s music and Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography have remained a major inspiration for me. To be able to one day dance the part of Romeo would be a highlight of my career, as this ballet contains such depth of emotion and conflict. However, the choreography is so physically and emotionally demanding, that the dancers must be of an incredibly high caliber. I realize that if I wish to dance such a role I must push myself further every day, continually building stronger technique, and I must delve deeper into the core of each role that I have the privilege to dance.

I have been inspired by all my ballet teachers but there are two that have been particularly important to me: Raymond Smith and Sergiu Stefanschi. Their years of dancing and teaching experience have given them the wisdom, knowledge and insight to teach ballet technique and artistry at a very high level. During the few years that I have studied with them, I have felt continued improvement in my ballet technique, as well as substantial artistic growth. They have combined patience with a push for perfection that has brought me to a higher level, not only of technique, but also of confidence and comfort on stage. Their unwavering belief in my abilities has been both inspiring and humbling.