Toronto-based physiotherapist Kiah Brubacher-Cressman remembers her first experience with CBJ’s The Nutcracker as a nine-year-old Local Participant in Kitchener-Waterloo, eagerly anticipating her queue to emerge from Mother Gigogne oversized skirt (now Mother Spruce). “I remember the excitement of being given the opportunity to be a participant in The Nutcracker, which is such a well-known ballet,” she recalls. “I felt very welcomed by the members of the company.”
Several years later, Kiah has reconnected with the company in her capacity as a physiotherapist. “Part of the reason I wanted to become a physiotherapist was to help dancers dance long into their careers, whether they are professional or recreational,” she explains. “Having been a dancer growing up, I realize the importance of staying well and recovering from injuries properly.”
“Seeing this photo made me beam so much and love how the world comes full circle. I am sure being in CBJ sparked her physio therapy journey! CBJ was truly the magical, eye opening moment in my dancing career. It started with the opportunity to perform as one of the smallest Mother Gigogne kids. The excitement to dance with a professional ballet company and to perform on stage still gives me goosebumps today. CBJ nurtured my dancing heart with endless positivity that I could one day be a professional dancer. I adored standing in the wings and watching the Sugarplum Fairy pirouette perfectly and I always loved the powerful dance of the Snowflakes. Every company member would sign our autographs and take photos with us, understanding how special this moment was for the young, wide-eyed dancer. I dreamed to dance Klara and that special opportunity came with CBJ. I can remember practising in my room with my own Christmas Nutcrackers, just so that I could improve in every rehearsal. This role, that was coached by Bengt Jörgen, truly solidified the extraordinary feelings I felt when dancing on stage. They were the company that took a chance on me at 17 years old and offered my first professional contract. I will never forget how memorable it was to make my dreams a reality and how grateful I am — that this Canadian company was a guiding light in my love for dancing. From party dresses, to dancing with mice, to spinning with flowers and bowing in lights, it was a blessing I will forever hold close to my heart.”
– Tonya Jade
While Kiah treats a range of clients, she has a special interest in dance medicine. She is a committed member of Healthy Dancer Canada and a volunteer on their Dancer Screening Committee. “Treating dancers is a passion of mine,” says Kiah. “I’m so grateful to the medical staff at Canada’s Ballet Jörgen for giving me this opportunity. I feel very fortunate that I’m able to help out with the company.”
In particular, Kiah enjoys witnessing the physical feats of the dancers with whom she works. “Having even a small role in helping them stay healthy is really rewarding,” she shares. “Dance is quite a demanding career to have for one’s body. The dancers tell me what they need assistance with. I do an assessment and treat them out of that. Seeing the dancers thrive on stage knowing their background is quite special.”
“Treating dancers is a passion of mine, I’m so grateful to the medical staff at Canada’s Ballet Jörgen for giving me this opportunity. I feel very fortunate that I’m able to help out with the company.”
Kiah will be with CBJ in Kitchener-Waterloo, treating dancers before and between performances of The Nutcracker: A Canadian Tradition at the Centre In The Square on December 28. She is thrilled to be rejoining CBJ again in the same theatre where she performed in The Nutcracker as a young dancer: “I know I only danced with the company one time as a kid, but to be able to come back to the same venue to help out, but in the role of a physiotherapist, is a really neat experience for me.”
CBJ is dedicated to offering education opportunities that serve young dancers in their dance training and beyond. Learn more about the Local Participant Program and other CBJ education programs here.
Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor.