Five things you didn’t know about the National Ballet’s Heather Ogden, star of this June’s super-sultry Carmen

Five things you didn’t know about the National Ballet’s Heather Ogden, star of this June’s super-sultry Carmen

(Image: Aleksandar Antonijevic)

1. She’s a total Karen Kain fangirl
“When I joined the company in 1998, Karen was already retired from dancing. She came in to do some coaching, and I was like, ‘That’s Karen Kain.’ It took me a while to realize how approachable she is. She helped me with one of my first solos—I kept messing it up. She took me aside and told me I had to stop beating up on myself.

2. She got her big break after another dancer tapped out
“Years ago, I was called in to replace the lead dancer in Swan Lake. Normally I would prepare for days and make sure I have the perfect shoes, but when this kind of thing happens, you’re just on, and you go. It was one of my best performances, I think—I felt very carefree. I was promoted to first soloist after that. The same thing happened to my husband, Guillaume Coté, just recently: the person dancing Romeo one night sprained his ankle in the first act, so Guillaume got a call to come in right away and finish the show. We were out for dinner at the time.”

3. She’s obsessed with that whole Bolshoi Ballet acid attack story
“It’s so crazy and unbelievable—a dancer supposedly hired someone to throw acid in the director’s face for passing her over for a part. Ballet is worshipped in Russia, the way the Leafs are here. People adore it. But along with that comes crazy fans and fierce competition. I’m happy to be removed from all that here, though the ballet world is such a small one—my friend David Hallberg dances with the Bolshoi.”

4. She won’t be hitting the slopes anytime soon
“Dancers put themselves in a bit of a safety bubble. I grew up in Vancouver and used to ski a lot, but I haven’t gone skiing since I became a professional dancer, it’s just too risky. I’ve gone cross-country skiing, but that’s more of a workout than a thrill. There’s a lot of things I’ll do when my dancing days are over.”

5. She’ll jump in a lake for her job
“I’m on the cover of the program for the National Ballet’s new season, standing waist-deep in water. They shot the photo in High Park. I was on the edge of the pond, and I thought, ‘I should just get in there.’ It took a few hours, and was very mucky, but the scene was so beautiful—there were swans swimming by. The next day I had little red bites all over my legs. I don’t even want to know what those were.”