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National Ballet adds Canadiana as Pinocchio debuts in Toronto

Skylar Campbell and Heather Ogden in Pinocchio.

Karolina Kuras

When Will Tuckett's Pinocchio makes its full-length balletic world premiere with the National Ballet of Canada this weekend there will be much to look at, including such subtle Canadiana as Mounties, lumberjacks and beavers. But the main attraction? Why, it is as plain as the nose on your face.

Dancing the lead on Saturday evening will be Skylar Campbell, a red-haired Californian who looks more like a Laguna Beach skateboarder than a first soloist. He joined the National as an apprentice in 2009 and became a corps member in 2011 before being elevated to second soloist in 2013. That year, as a stable boy in The Nutcracker, Campbell made an impression on a Globe reviewer, who assessed him as slender, elegant and very much at ease. "Everything about his dancing is fluid and effortless," wrote dance critic Paula Citron. "His movement is clean and precise."

It remains to be seen how fluid and elegant Campbell will be as Pinocchio, a wooden puppet given to fibbing (or perhaps alternative facts). One thing for sure, however, is that Campbell is getting his close-up moment. No marionette treatment for him – the strings for the high-flyer have now been cut off.

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Pinocchio runs March 11 to 24 (Skylar Campbell dances March 11, 15, 17, 18, 24 at 7:30 p.m.; March 23 at 2 p.m.). $39 to $265. Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen St. W., 866-345 9595 or https://national.ballet.ca/Productions/2016-17-Season/Pinocchio.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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