Local young Canadians perform at the Calgary Stampede

Local young Canadians perform at the Calgary Stampede
Local young Canadians perform at the Calgary Stampede

Five Foothills artists are on the Young Canadians roster for the Grandstand Show, which takes place nightly at the Calgary Stampede.

Five Foothills artists rock the Calgary Stampede’s biggest stage.

The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts returns to the Grandstand Show, this year featuring five local youngsters: Jack Leathwaite, Hadley Janssen, Natalli and Nash Bencharski, and Cleavon Laquibla.

“I’m very proud to represent Okotoks because we have kids from all over Calgary and the surrounding area,” said Leathwaite.

“Everyone in the Young Canadians is just a powerhouse. We’re all so talented and we’re all trained in singing, dancing and performing in general. We can always count on everyone, even this small group of five and the whole group of over 100 Young Canadians.”

This year’s line-up features over 100 artists from the junior, intermediate and senior companies, with senior company Leathwaite returning for his eighth and final year.

“When I was little I looked up to the seniors and they inspired me a lot. Now I’ve been a senior for four years and I’m looking forward to continuing to inspire the younger generation and all these guys,” he said.

Leathwaite will take his talents to the United States and enroll at the CLI Conservatory, a dance school in Massachusetts, but he hopes to remain involved with the Young Canadians.

“The Young Canadians alumni are very connected and everyone comes back and visits and even teaches here and there,” he said. “I would love to do that.”

Janssen, a fellow senior company artist now in her second year with the program, looks forward to continuing her journey with the group in the years to come.

“Young Canadians is a huge help in building your confidence because everyone is so supportive. I really hope that I can continue to build my confidence and help others build theirs as well,” said Janssen.

“We all support each other so much. It’s so great, we’re like one big family.”

Leathwaite encourages talented young artists to audition and join the Young Canadians, which accepts young people ages eight to 21.

“I learned to dance at the auditions when I was nine,” he said. “So if your kids are young, just take them to the auditions, they sing, they dance, it’s a fun day. And if you’re older and an artist who can dance or sing a little bit, just try it.”

The Young Canadians will perform on the Grandstand Stage all 10 nights of the Calgary Stampede, along with country group the Hunter Brothers, during the Grandstand Show at GMC Stadium.

“This year’s show is full of excitement, surprise and awe,” Leathwaite said. “It’s very exciting, there’s a lot of tricks, the guest appearances are crazy, lots of adrenaline.”

Read more about the Young Canadians here and buy tickets for the Grandstand Show here.