Dancer to perform at Pan Am Games

Sarnia dancer Jayla Giorgi, 14, will perform with Cirque du Soleil during the opening ceremonies of the Pan Am Games in Toronto this summer. Glenn Ogilvie

George Mathewson

A Sarnia teen has been selected to perform with Cirque du Soleil during the opening ceremonies of the Toronto Pan Am games this summer.

Jayla Giorgi, 14, was one of 115 young people picked by the famed circus troupe following a daylong audition involving nearly 600 children in Toronto last month.

The production is the largest ever staged by the Quebec-based company and will feature dancers and acrobats acting out a story before 54,000 spectators and a television audience of millions at a sold-out Roger Centre on July 10.

“It doesn’t make me nervous now, but it probably will then. “Right now I’m mostly just excited,” said Jayla, an Aamjiwnaang First Nation member who lives in town with her sister and parents, John and Lorrie Giorgi.

Details of the production are so secretive the family had to sign a confidentially agreement. It’s also a huge commitment, with rehearsals in Toronto over five weekends, four more days in June, and three full days prior to the opening.

“But it’s the chance of a lifetime,” said mom Lorrie. “How many people can say they’ve performed with Cirque du Soleil?”

Jayla, a competitive dancer with the Sarnia Ballet School, started dance at the age of three and practices six days a week.

She’s performed in numerous stage shows, including the Nutcracker in Port Huron, and worked with the pros from Canada’s Ballet Jorgen.

“When she was picked I didn’t believe it. I started jumping up and down, that she’d make it out of all those kids there,” said her mom.

“But while other kids are sleeping in till 11 a.m., at 7 a.m. she’s at a workshop or competition.”

Jayla, a Grade 9 student, plans to pursue a dance career after graduating from St. Patrick’s High School.

“I kind of want to be a choreographer,” she said.

The opening ceremonies of the Pan Am Games are sold out. Just a handful of tickets were available on StubHub last week going for $470 to $938 a seat.

Pan Am Games torch coming to Sarnia

The torch relay for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games will make three stops locally this summer.

The torch will arrive on Tuesday, June 16, and appear at Sarnia city hall, the Sarnia Central Athletics Facility and Track on East Street, and the Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

The Pan Am flame will be lit during an Aztec lighting ceremony at the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico, before landing in Canada on May 30.

From Toronto, 3,000 torchbearers will crisscross Ontario with additional stops in Richmond B.C. Alberta, Winnipeg, Montreal and Halifax, covering 5,000 kilometres by road and 15,000 kilometres by air.

Sarnia is Day 17 of the trek. The flame returns to Toronto to officially open the games on July 10.