Dancer and actress, Victoria Baldesarra, is arguably the happiest person in the world.
The 18-year-old Canadian, who was cast as Michelle in the hit Disney show The Next Step at 13, says she is living out her dreams.
Along with 10 of the cast from the TV show, she is about to headline a live stage show in Australia – not as her character Michelle from the show, but as herself.
“It feels a little bit more comfortable to be myself in the live show instead of acting as Michelle because, obviously, that’s not me,” Baldesarra told Mamamia.
“But there is definitely a vulnerability, not everyone knows me as Victoria — a lot of people know me as my character on The Next Step so it’s really cool for fans to see who we are as people.”
The TV show has attracted teenage superfans and Next Steppers are found across the globe with last year’s live tour selling out in Australia.
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Baldesarra describes the show as a fake reality-based studio drama series that is a “breed of its own”, unlike anything on TV.
With 120 episodes under her belt, she is aware of her teen following and wants to be a good role model.
“Self-confidence means so much to me because I know it can be really easy with technology and social media to be really hard on ourselves,” she said.
“I’m still a teenager so I know what it feels like to feel that pain and to feel like you’re not good enough. I just hope to inspire people to love themselves and to be positive and follow your dreams.”
The Toronto-based performer discovered dancing as a toddler with help from her dance mum.
“I started dancing when I was three years old and competitive dancing when I was six years old. From there I trained at a dance studio for 14 years until I graduated high school.”
But it wasn’t easy, while starring in the show she got through Grade 9 and 10 but by Grade 11 she was missing too much school to attend and wanted good grades.
“It was hard because I was also trying to balance my dancing as well and my acting so there was a lot of things going on.”
Looking at this photo, never did I ever think, at my age, would I be able to share what I love to do and what I’ve always dreamt of doing my whole life in different countries around the world. I’m so thankful everyday. Thank you to you guys for being there with me every step of the way. This year was definitely a year of growth for me, and I can’t wait to continue to grow & experience in 2017. New goals, new dreams & a happy heart. #2017
After Baldesarra switched to online studies she graduated with honours, which she says was a “huge moment”. She’s now back to a committed focus on dance and acting.
The Next Step troop started rehearsals for the Australian show yesterday with three weeks to opening night.
“It’s hard. We train a lot. If I’m not in rehearsals, I am training with my personal trainer on top of that I’m also training in acting so there’s a lot going on,” Baldesarra said.
“We’re constantly busy, it’s a pretty heavy toll on our bodies because we are performing once or twice a day on tour, we’re not sleeping a lot. It is quite tiring but it’s the dream – this is what we’ve trained our whole lives to do and this is what we’ve prepared for and although there is pain it’s the work and there’s the joy that comes out of performing.”
And today, I graduated with Honours. I’m not even sure where to begin when it comes to my not so typical “high school experience”. With working in the entertainment industry since the age of 12, my education & schooling became a battle with time management. Filming 3-4 months of the year, monthly tours around the world & many others events & priorities, there never really was a designated time allotted for my education. This became a huge struggle and stress in my life because school has always been important to me. But with the right teachers & guidance, I was able to graduate with my friends in the Class of 2016. There are so many people that I need to thank for being apart of this crazy journey with me, especially these two. To my parents, you will never know how thankful I am for your constant love & support in everything I do. It is because of you, I am ready to move forward in my life & career. #classof2016 #stmgrads ????
The team learn numbers quickly for the television and live stage show.
“It is intense. Five days a week, it’s go go go…we have rehearsals before we start filming and typically we’ll do a dance within a day and a half or two days at most. We move very fast and you need to be ready to go and ready to learn.”
The self-confessed dreamer said many dancers aspire to being back-up dancers for a singer, someone like Lady Gaga, but The Next Step has allowed for dance to be the headline act on a concert stage.
“The world of dance is very competitive. Everyone wants to be competitive, everyone wants to shine, everyone wants to have their moment of fame so it can definitely be quite dramatic at times but I feel like if you just persevere and focus on yourself, focus on what you’re best at you will get recognised.”
“That’s how it happened for all of us. We’re all extremely hard workers, we’re focused on our dreams to fulfil this as a career and we’ve been fortunate to have landed our roles on The Next Step and have gotten this job that a lot of people wish they had gotten. It’s all about focusing on who you are as an artist.”
The Next Step – Live on Stage will visit Newcastle, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne as well as Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand. For ticket information see: Live Nation livenation.com.au or livenation.co.nz