TORONTO — Dance prodigy Shale Wagman, 11, recently performed Toreador Song from the ballet Carmen on the TV show Canada’s Got Talent, earning a place in the show’s semifinals.
The judges, comedian Martin Short, opera singer Measha Brueggergosman and composer Stephan Moccio, gave Shale’s performance an overwhelming “yes,” which allows him to advance to the live national show which airs April 15 on Citytv, when viewers will choose the performer who will advance to the next round.
Canada’s Got Talent, which premièred March 4, is billed as the largest national talent search in Canadian television history and features a colourful array of hopeful stars, including comedians, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists, singers and dancers. The show has attracted an average of 1.5 million viewers.
“I am so happy right now. I hope that Canada will like me and will support my passion for dance,” Shale said when he heard he had made it to the semifinals.
As Shale did perfect cartwheels by the age of three and exhibited grace and strength at a very young age, he was enrolled by his mother, Heather Wagman, in recreational dance at Vlad’s Dance Company.
The company’s artistic director, Vlad, has said about Shale, “He moves like a cat. I want him in competitive dance right away.”
By age seven, Shale was performing solo and went to a major dance competition in Boston with the company. “Shale would be mesmerized by the other dancers and watch backstage all day,” Wagman recalled.
When Shale started competing and winning trophies and prizes, it was very easy for him to get caught up in excitement. Vlad grounded Shale by instilling the awareness that “the real reward comes from accomplishing your goals you set for yourself and the knowledge that you did the best you could do. There is always more to be learned,” Wagman said.
“Vlad was instrumental in challenging Shale to push himself as far as he could, and to persevere and never give up. Both Shale’s dad, Michael, and I instilled in Shale not to be concerned with others’ opinions. The only measure of self-worth that matters is your own.”
Over the years, Shale has continued to watch, be inspired and be appreciative and respectful of other dancers.
While performing at a charity event for SOS Children’s Village Foundation, a producer in the audience was awed by his performance, which led to Shale’s commercial in a Maxwell House campaign promoting optimism (http://bit.ly/H85pwy).
Shale trains some 30 hours a week with the company Bridge to Artists in ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, modern, acrobatics and lyrical dance.
“The studio has been like a second family to me,” Shale said, “and Vlad has been a wonderful mentor, teaching not only dance but invaluable skills that will serve me in life.”
Vlad said that “Shale is a very dedicated young man who has a passion for his art… He definitely has a bright future ahead of him.”
When not dancing, Shale spends time with his family, which includes two older brothers, Max and Jared. “I have two dogs, Ruby and Scotch, whom I love,” Shale said.
“Kvelling is an understatement in describing Shale,” Wagman said. “When I watch my son dance, I am moved and can’t help but feel his energy radiating, as I know that he is doing what he loves and what makes him happy. You can see and feel Shale’s entire heart and soul poured into his dance.”
Shale is a Grade 6 student at the Claude Watson School for the Arts, where his favourite subjects are visual arts and drama.
“Dance is Shale’s passion, and the dedication he has put into his craft is very obvious,” said the school’s principal, Michael Byrne. “Even moments outside at recess are most often spent perfecting a specific movement. The entire Claude Watson community is cheering for Shale on Canada’s Got Talent.”
Inspired by dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov, Friedemann Vogel and Alex Wong, Shale aspires to study ballet at the Julliard School in New York and one day open up his own dance studio.