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Ex-pat Israeli dancer gets big break with Follow Your Heart

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Kate Musin [Tom Szuba photo]

As an up-and-coming dancer Kate Musin knows her current gig is the opportunity she’s been waiting for.

Musin is the rehearsal director for Evolution Dance Theatre’s new musical Follow Your Heart, which has its world premiere at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts on Sept. 22.

“I’m young. I’m only 22 and I’m still a student at Ryerson University,” she says. “So I’m actually very lucky to get this important role.”

Evolution Dance Theatre’s artistic director Armineh Keshishian wrote the play. It follows Almaza (Teria Morada), a Middle Eastern woman who falls for Jivan (Mohamad Haiek), a more traditional Middle Eastern man.

Keshishian, who’s of Christian Armenian heritage, aims to foster cross-cultural understanding with her massive new piece, which features a cast of 45 actors, dancers and musicians. Musin describes it as a love story with strong themes of diversity as well as women’s empowerment.

Follow Your Heart is based in Toronto as well as an unnamed Middle Eastern country. This, Musin says, enables more people to relate to the show. And along with keeping the setting ambiguous, the play features a slew of different musical and dance styles including belly dancing, hip hop, samba and African fusion.

But this cultural mosaic isn’t limited to dancing. The cast is also diverse and includes dancers from as far away as Brazil, France and Mexico, as well as from all over Canada and the United States.

Musin, who was born in Kyrgyzstan, moved to Israel when she was two years old. She came to Canada at 13 and still visits Israel almost yearly.

She knows she’s fortunate to be honing her craft by leading the company’s cast of 30 professional dancers through the play’s various numbers and routines.

Prior to joining Follow Your Heart’s creative team, she worked with Morada, one of the leads. She was the one who recommended Musin to Keshishian, and after their initial meeting, Musin was taken by the idea of the show.

“She’s got this spark in her eye. She’s so excited for it,” she says of Keshishian. “I guess she just hooked me onto it. I loved the idea of the story, and now that I’ve actually started the process and I’m right in the middle of it and I’m seeing it happen, it’s just so exciting to see it come to life.”

She’s already seeing magic in the rehearsal process and is looking forward to upping the ante with colourful costumes and lighting.

While she won’t be making her way on stage for this production, she’s got a year filled with dancing ahead of her as she enters her final year at Ryerson.

Even though she’s dancing at the university level, she only started her training at around 17 or 18. Before that she was a competitive rhythmic gymnast and still teaches at Toronto Aspirals Gymnastics Centre in Vaughan.

But at the very beginning of her school year, she’ll get a chance to see her hard work come together on stage.

“I really hope this helps me move forward in this industry.

Follow Your Heart runs Sept. 22 to 25 at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts. For tickets, visit www.evolutiondancetheatre.com,  or call 905-787-8811