Villanova student to hit the Detroit Opera House stage in “Sleeping Beauty”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

For the better part of his relatively brief dancing career, Denny Lafleur has taken to the stage only at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School.

Now, the 18-year-old Grade 12 student will be on stage with the American Ballet Company’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” at the Detroit Opera House April 2-3.

“It was kind of a fluke thing,” he said.

Lafleur is currently the co-captain of the Villanova dance team and has dancers that are members of the Edmunds Towers School of Dance in Windsor. That school contacted him about dancing in their performance of “The Nutcracker” and Lafleur explained that his mother’s friend saw him in that show and suggested he audition at the Detroit Opera House, as there was a call for dancers in January.

“Things just kind of took off,” he said.

Villanova student Denny Lafleur will be part of the American Ballet Company's production of "Sleeping Beauty" that will be staged at the Detroit Opera House. He will be part of the April 2 and 3 matinée performances. (Photo provided by Stephen Fields/WECDSB)

Villanova student Denny Lafleur will be part of the American Ballet Company’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” that will be staged at the Detroit Opera House. He will be part of the April 2 and 3 matinée performances. (Photo provided by Stephen Fields/WECDSB)

Lafleur admitted that he didn’t have much in the way of expectations heading into the audition, stating his approach was “if I got it great, if I didn’t get it ‘no big deal.’” He did get it, and he was quite pleased.

There was a two-hour audition, Lafleur stated, and a two-hour rehearsal and he found out between the audition and rehearsal he was one of the 15 dancers that were accepted. There were roughly 175-180 dancers that tried out.

“I went into the hallway and I was jumping for joy out there,” he said. “I was ecstatic.”

Lafleur originally got involved in dancing a couple of years ago as he took dance in order to fulfill his obligation of obtaining one high school credit in the arts. People mainly take drama, he explained, but he wanted to be different so he took dance.

“After the first performance on the Villanova stage, I was hooked on dance,” he said.

The feel of being on stage drives him, he said, as he is nervous before the show, has adrenaline flowing through him during the show and excitement after the show.

“I played hockey for 14 years. It’s like scoring a goal but having that feeling last for three to five minutes,” he explained.

Lafleur’s formal instruction outside of Villanova has been limited to his time at Edmunds Towers but he said it’s his school that he considers home.

“That’s the only place I’ve ever danced and that’s my home for the rest of the semester,” he said.

As for his future, Lafleur said he has a choice to make during the summer. He has already been accepted at Cambrian College in Sudbury for music production but also plans to travel to New York and Toronto to audition in dance this summer.

“If I get a job, I’ll put off school for a year,” said Lafleur.

Lafleur thanked his family for their support, as well as his dance teachers Cathy Harris and Melissa Chiandussi, noting they are the people in his life “who really made an impact.”

Adding he has been bullied growing up, Lafleur said he hopes to provide inspiration to those who still have to endure bullies.

“I’m a full believer in making things happen,” he said. “I am a survivor of bullying. I think people need to know even the wildest dreams can come true.”

Lafleur will play a guard in the first act of the performance while he will be an ogre in the third act. While the show runs March 31-April 4, Lafleur will only be in the weekend matinées as he is sharing the roles.

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