Kale Lazarick is a ballet dancer at Alberta Ballet in Calgary, one of Canada’s premier dance companies. PHOTO: REBEKAH WONG

Kale Lazarick was close to his dream of becoming a ballet dancer at the Alberta Ballet when they offered him a job, but COVID-19 has made it impossible for him to work.

Lazarick began his first ballet classes at age nine, and at the time, he did not think he would pursue dancing as a career. He believed it would be something he would do for fun, but fell madly in love with dance as time passed. Now he can’t imagine what it would be like not to spin and leap across the stage.

Lazarick says ballet has molded his entire personality and helped him create a strong sense of discipline in his life. He also notices that it has made him a skilled artist and gifted him with a high self-esteem.

“It’s basically made me exactly who I am,” he said.

When the news of the pandemic hit, Lazarick was studying in Stockholm at the Royal Swedish Ballet School. He was hoping to land a career there, but the virus forced him back to Calgary with only three months of school left.

Kyle Lazarick posing for a photoshoot in SAIT’s underground parking lot in Dec. 2020.  PHOTO REBEKAH WONG

While isolating, Lazarick tried to continue his training online, but the time difference between Sweden and Calgary forced him to dance at odd hours.

“I couldn’t do classes at four in the morning every single day.”

With nowhere to practice, he began to worry about his future. It is already difficult for a ballet dancer to find work, and the pandemic was making it next to impossible.

Kate McDonald, Lazarick’s friend and classmate at Alberta Ballet, also lost many opportunities to find work because of the pandemic.

“I actually didn’t get to do any auditions at all,” McDonald said. “Most of them have been shut down due to COVID.”

Fortunately, Lazarick had auditioned to be a company dancer for Alberta Ballet when he was in Calgary during Christmas of 2019. He was offered the job weeks after he arrived back to Canada from Sweden. He was euphoric that he could finally do what he loves and be paid for it.

But as the pandemic worsened, Lazarick realized that his luck was going to be turned upside down. He was told that he could not begin his career because of the pandemic. He would have to wait until safer times.

“It’s like I can reach it, but I can’t touch it,” Lazarick said. “Even though I got the job, it wasn’t like I did. Instead, they couldn’t hire me because of the virus, and they terminated my contract until they could re-hire me again.”

Lazarick was worried he wouldn’t have a place to continue practicing his skills, but Alberta Ballet offered him a place in their classes. They wanted to take care of him through these difficult times because he has been dancing with their school since he was 10-years-old.

“I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t at school right now, so I’m very lucky that they gave me a place to dance,” said Lazarick.

“I just love to dance. I don’t care if I have the smallest, shortest role as long as I can be on stage.”

Kale lazarick, dancer at alberta ballet

McDonald agreed Alberta Ballet has been there for their dancers through these unprecedented times. She doesn’t know how she could have properly practiced and continued to develop her skills if they had not been there to give her what she needed.

“Alberta Ballet has definitely helped me because we’re actually allowed to go into the studio and train with the teachers,” said McDonald.

Lazarick is looking forward to a post-COVID world where he can dance on stage again. He is excited to begin working with the company of Alberta Ballet so he can officially say that his career as a professional dancer has begun.

“Some people want to be the best and to rise up in the ranks and maybe I will too, but I just love to dance. I don’t care if I have the smallest, shortest role as long as I can be on stage.”