Heather Ogden was stunned to find her name at the top of the Carmen cast list. “Usually I play more innocent roles,” the 32-year-old National Ballet of Canada principal dancer says. Ogden does have that storybook ballerina look—flowing blond hair, doll-like features—befitting her ingenue turns in The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo & Juliet.
The seductive, scornful (and brunette) Carmen is a world away from her persona, while Italian choreographer Davide Bombana’s more contemporary movements add to the earthy sensuality of the famously fiery ballet. “It’s very passionate,” she says. Another added frisson: Ogden will be performing with Guillaume Côté, her off-stage husband. Between the six hours of daily rehearsals and being on-stage for most of the ballet each night, both head home spent: “You give so much of yourself—you’re not saving anything.”