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Be Moved: Shale Wagman

Although still in his teens, Shale Wagman’s career in dance has been well-documented, thrilling Canada’s Got Talent audiences with dance routines when he was just eleven years old. The Toronto-born dancer graduated from the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco and danced with English National Ballet after winning the prestigious Prix de Lausanne. He has most recently performed with the Mariinsky Ballet in a principal role. 

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What to listen to while warming up?

A lot of classical music including Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Grieg, Brahms, among many others. I also enjoy Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Judy Garland, Sevda Liza, FKA Twigs and The Beatles. Depending on which mood I’m in, the warm-up playlist will vary.

What’s your ideal Sunday/day-off?

Exploring the city I’m in. Going to museums, bike riding in nature, spending time with loved ones.

What’s a piece of media that recently inspired you?

The film The Favourite was very interesting to watch. It is set in 18th century England but feels current; it’s like watching what history would look like in the eyes of people today. The way it is filmed is also fascinating. There are a lot of wide and fish-eye shots to show how big the rooms are. I think this shows how lonely and isolated the characters feel in the huge castle.

What’s the greatest challenge of being a dancer?

Injury. This is a challenging profession for many reasons but being taken away from it by injury is far the most painful and difficult aspect. For me dance is a deeper line of communication. You can say many things with words but there is also a lot of room to hide your authenticity. I can articulate myself through speaking but it doesn’t compare to how I can express my feelings and truth through movement. That’s why injuries are so taxing—when I am healthy, I spend all of my energy and time on this art form and use it as therapy for whatever life throws at me. When I am injured I have to try and find an outlet that somehow compares even a little bit to the feeling dance gives me.

What have been the biggest highs & lows of your career to date?

Highs: Winning the Prix de Lausanne, preparation with my teachers and director at the Princess Grace Academy for the Prix De Lausanne, all the times creating with Marco Goecke, preparing and getting coached for my debut at Mariinsky Theatre, performing my first full length principal role at Mariinsky.

Lows: Finding out about my stress fracture just after my performance at the Mariinsky. Every time I’ve been injured.

How do you recharge?

Sleep.

Stage or rehearsal?

Stage. Being on stage is the most revealing experience. The energy differs in each theater. I love the relationship/conversation between the choreographer/ballet master while rehearsing and to bring that all together on stage is truly special.

Which choreographer would you most like to work with?

There are many but if I have to narrow it down it would be John Neumeier, Crystal Pite, David Dawson, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky, William Forsythe, and Alexander Ekman.

Dream role!

Marco Spada and “Boléro” by Béjart among many others.

Penelope Ford


Penelope is the founding editor of Fjord Review, international magazine of dance and ballet. Penelope graduated from Law and Arts with majors in philosophy and languages from the University of Melbourne, Australia, before turning to the world of dance. She lives in Italy.

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