Natural born dancer
Vidya Cannonier-Watson was barely out of diapers when she fell in love with ballet.
Her mother, Sophia Cannonier, was a professional ballerina and she’d spend hours watching her dance.
“I wanted to be just like her and do what she did,” said the nine-year-old who started ballet lessons when she was 1.
Her passion was recently rewarded with a spot in the Royal Ballet School’s Summer Programme this year.
“I was really surprised when I learnt I’d got in,” she said. “Only a few get in and 2,000 apply. My family was in tears when they heard.”
The programme is considered a stepping stone to one of the world’s great training grounds for ballerinas, the Royal Ballet School.
Vidya’s brother Ravi was the first Bermudian accepted there. He joined the boarding school in London, England last year, at age 11.
“My brother is my inspiration,” she said. “Before [he] went away to school I used to ask him to help me with my jumps.
“He would hold my hands. I would jump and he would pull me up. My highest jumping point right now is about two feet.”
She whispered mischievously that some say she dances better than he did at the same age.
“Yes, we’re also rivals,” she admitted with a giggle.
Vidya takes two-hour lessons at the Bermuda School of Russian Ballet, twice a week. Her dream is to perform at the Royal Opera House in London.
“Cinderella is my favourite ballet,” she said. “I like that when she is in a desperate situation, that she can just go to the place where she really wants to go. I really like what she’s wearing as well.”
When she’s at home, she spends a lot of time strengthening her muscles.
“The hardest thing about it is that you have to be graceful and still have strength,” she said. “You can’t look like a robot when you’re dancing. Like in Swan Lake, you still have to look very graceful, but strong.
“I grab on to my bookshelf and I do at least 50 swings, bringing my leg closest to my head. I do that for at least two hours.”
She took gymnastics for a few years, and has tried jazz and folk dancing, but ballet is her favourite.
“What I like about dancing is that you can make it your own,” she said. “Even if it is the same dance that everyone else is doing, everyone looks different.
“I also love ballet because I come from a long line of dancers starting from my mom, then my brother and all the way down to my little sister Inanna. She is six.”
Ballerinas Francesca Hayward and Darcey Bussell are her idols.
“In The Nutcracker this year at the Royal Opera House, Francesca Hayward played Clara,” Vidya said. “When people watch me dance they say I look like her.”
In her spare time, she helps her mom teach pole fitness and aerial yoga at her studio, Lotus.
“When I retire from ballet, maybe I’ll become a ballet teacher,” said Vidya.
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