Respected nationally as a master teacher and dance educator, Leica Hardy, Artistic Director of the Leica Hardy School of Dance, is the engine behind the made-in-Halifax production of The Nutcracker.
With more than 40 years of award-winning teaching experience, Leica’s former students have enjoyed successful careers as dancers, teachers, and choreographers, and with companies such as Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, the Toronto Dance Theatre, the National Ballet of Canada, Dancemakers (Toronto), Mocean Dance (Halifax), O Vertigo (Montreal), and Parsons Dance (New York). She enjoyed 20 years of performing professionally and since 1982 has choreographed more than 40 works.
This December, Leica celebrates her 30th year as the Director/Choreographer of Symphony Nova Scotia’s The Nutcracker, and we asked her to share what this milestone means to her.
After 30 years of Nutcracker performances, what still surprises you about the program?
I am still surprised how much I continue to love working on this production. Over the years I have continued to stay in love with the music and the story concept. Working and investing in the young dancers has been wonderful, and I have always looked for ways to develop and refine the choreography. For me it has always remained an emotionally fresh and narratively compelling rendition of The Nutcracker.
When you envisioned this program, did you think it would last 30 years?
My initial contract with the Symphony was for three years. As audience enthusiasm grew, so did the lifespan of the production. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the families in the community who have made this a part of their holiday tradition year after year. I know they love it, and so do I.
Do you have a favourite year or a favourite performance that stands out for you?
I can’t say that I have a favourite year, as every year has wonderful moments and surprises, but I can speak to this question as a wife, parent, and friend. I must say that watching my husband, Christopher Wolfe, reprise his role as the Janitor has been a total pleasure over the years. He never fails to imbue the role with honest love and enthusiasm. As a parent, it was delightful to watch my daughter, Rebecca, grow through the ranks from being a child and little mouse to embody the role of Frieda and Mouse Queen in her teens. I also want to thank Gay Hauser, who has been part of the production from the very first year. It speaks to her love and deep connection to the production.
How does this program influence young dancers and their futures?
This production has had a major influence on the development of young dancers and has been the catalyst for numerous careers in dance and theatre. It is rare for young dancers have the opportunity to perform with professional dance artists, live orchestra, and full production support. It inspires them and reveals the magic of a performing life. I know that The Nutcracker experience has played a pivotal part in their lives and is a cherished memory as they become adults.