Jacob Niedzwiecki

After two years and lead roles in several modern dance productions, I made the decision to begin seriously studying ballet again, possibly to be a dance teacher. I came to meet Tatiana Stepanova for my first class a month into the first term, five minutes late (having gotten lost) but rollerblading fast. After the class, I had a very short conversation with the teacher:

This was my first conversation with Tatiana Stepanova and would [also] be my first professional contact, at the age of sixteen: dancing corps de ballet and soloist roles in Ontario Ballet Theatre’s touring production of The Nutcracker. After Christmas, I began making the trek to train with Tatiana several days a week. My two-month contract had been exhilarating and I was determined to meet the challenges it had presented to me. Tatiana pushed me harder than any teacher before and for the first time in my life, I pushed back. She reignited my passion for dance with the sheer intensity of her own demanding professional-caliber performances in all her Spring Recitals, and devoting astounding amounts of time to coaching me on variation and “pas de deux.”

Right now, almost exactly two years since my first class with Tatiana, I’ve finished high school, and I’m back at the National Ballet School as a student in the Intensive Dance Program—a one year, post secondary program designed to prepare young dancers for the professional life. and I hope to be dancing in a ballet company this time next year. But I still take class with Tatiana every chance I get. Because Tatiana’s teaching, her love, and her belief in me, and her impassioned devotion, and brilliant insight into the art of ballet remain my most vital inspiration. Now it is 2004 and I have realized my dream of becoming part of a company. I became an apprentice with N.B.C. and hope to continue down a successful path that Tatiana has created for me.

—Jacob Niedzwiecki