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National Ballet’s Evan McKie talks dancing in his home town of Toronto

Follow along as Andrew takes an intriguing person out for a night on the town, visiting some of Toronto’s newest hot spots and offering tips on how you can create your own date night.

I was looking forward to going on a date with Evan McKie, who was recently announced as the National Ballet’s newest Principal Dancer.

We met on Queen Street East at my favourite carnivore restaurant, The Carbon Bar. Our conversation unfolded over the kitchen’s signature Pit Master Platter, a food coma-inducing platter of pork ribs, beef brisket, buttermilk fried chicken and pickles.

Born in Toronto, McKie received his earliest dance training at Canada’s National Ballet School. Today, he is recognized in elite ballet circles as one of the world’s top male dancers with a penchant for dancing on tiptoe.

“Of all of today’s dance stars, McKie is one of the very brightest,” says Paris-based Danse Magazine.

McKie fell in love with ballet when he was eight. He fondly recalls his formative years.

“I grew up studying ballet in The Village and was often inspired by my strolls between Jarvis and Church.

“The stories one encounters at the ballet include a quirky cast of characters: prostitutes, flamboyants, drug addicts ... The neighbourhood at the time offered endless inspiration,” he says with a smile.

While McKie grew up in Toronto, he spent his early adult life performing for audiences in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Stuttgart and Moscow. So how does he feel about being back on his home turf?

“A ballerina’s career is short. Every moment is a luxury and I’m thrilled to be in Canada during my prime. The city is growing rapidly. There is such ecstatic growth.”

And how do Toronto’s fans differ from the ones he’s encountered abroad?

“Torontonians have big dreams for what they want to see. This year we have an exciting season, which I think will satiate the city’s hunger for the new.

“Canadians want to be moved and they demand that their dancers are emotional. They want them to act and entertain.”

McKie will be taking on the role of Diaghilev in the Ballets Russes-inspired Nijinsky. He promises the show will wow.

“It’s really vibrant! A real treat for the senses: A sexy cast of characters prancing upon lavish and exotic sets.”

Where to go before, after

Pre: Grab an Italian inspired bar bite at Nota Bene.

Post: Indulge in the late night with cocktails at the Shangri-La’s luxurious lobby lounge.

Tickets: national.ballet.ca

Performances: Nov. 22-30

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