Gallant Talent

At 17, Calvin Laveck is a remarkable singer, dancer and musician. All these gifts, however, have not gone to his head, and his attitude is one of gratitude.

He is a true gentleman performer and a role model for young male dancers. As we sit at Umbellula on the River, sipping our hot chocolates, I can’t help but feel he is one of the most-gracious performers I have met.

Laveck was this year’s prince in the Northern Lights School of Dance (NLSD) performance of Nutcracker, and he performed the grand pas de deux with Grayson Vanderbyl, although he is only too quick to give credit to the other dancers performing the same roles.

He says he is so proud of his younger colleague, Jake Ruddy, who also dances the part of the prince and partners Odessa Beatty in the grand pas de deux.

Throughout the interview, I find that Laveck constantly deflects attention from himself and voices praise for co-workers, dancers and teachers alike. “My Mom got me into dance when I was in Grade 6.

“I was like a lot of 12-year-old boys. I didn’t think it was too cool, but I said I would try. My Mom also introduced me to piano and voice lessons.”

When I ask how he feels about dance now, Laveck smiles and says, “It’s the music that drives me to move. I like all styles of music, so I like to dance to anything. Ballet isn’t my favourite, but it has really done me good.”

Then he adds, “I’m so glad there are a few younger guys, at the studio, taking ballet now. They’ll get better sooner than I did. Starting ballet at a young age is best.”

He is also quick to add, with a chuckle, that one of the perks of dancing is being around older girls in class. “I get to understand girls a little bit better, which is good!”

Dance is not Laveck’s only love, however; nor has it been his only performance vehicle: “I want to be a song and dance man. I started singing in Grade 2, but I started formal voice lessons with Henry Klassen in Grade 9.”

Laveck has performed as a pianist and vocalist at many Rotary Music Festivals, weddings and community events. Recently, he had the honour of singing O Canada for the Whitehorse portion of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. He also tied for first in The Outhouse Divas (a takeoff on Bravo’s Bathroom Divas).

His first professional engagement as a singer and a musician was with The Frantic Follies. “I love the Follies,” he beams. “I have two great life teachers: Lyall Murdoch and Grant Simpson.

“I am surrounded by people I respect and love. I have learned from everyone and … well … those can-can dancers.”

Along with the Follies and NLSD, Laveck also gives thanks to the Music Art and Drama (MAD) program. He will be going into his last MAD semester this coming February and is quick to point out that he has nothing but praise for his teachers, Mary Sloan and Jeff Nordlund. “I think my acting skills have improved and I have been able to apply these skills to my dance and music.”

When asked about future plans, after MAD, Laveck says he will be auditioning for Sheridan College, Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

“In August, I went to the Stratford Summer School. I thought I would be out of place and not as good as the others, but I found that the training I have had here in Whitehorse put me at the same level.

“We have great teachers up here.”

Time has slipped on by; our hot chocolate is finished and Laveck has to head back to school. He finishes our conversation by talking about Nutcracker and how he enjoys being part of an event that gets Yukoners in the Christmas spirit.

“Nutcracker is a dance family tradition for the audience. And, for me, it feels like a dance family tradition at the studio.”

As he leaves the coffee shop, he calls out from the doorway, “Thank you, Dale! See you at rehearsal!”

Dale Cooper covers dance and dancers in the Yukon. If you have an upcoming dance performance, please contact her at [email protected]

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