The 24-year-old ballerina, a member of the National Ballet of Canada, began the competition dancing with Keiichi Hirano in an excerpt from Le Corsaire in the classical segment of the event, which took place on March 3 at the Four Seasons Centre. But when Hirano tore his Achilles tendon in mid-performance and literally crawled from the stage, Pereira continued on her own and improvised, according to The Globe and Mail.
That wasn't her only challenge. Hirano's injury meant that they couldn't do Sabrina Matthews's veer, the original choreography planned as the couple's contemporary-repertoire piece. In a last-minute substitution, Pereira instead performed the Balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet with principal dancer Guillaume Cêät_, who happened to be in the audience. The two had reportedly danced the duet together only twice before with a minimum of rehearsal.
The Globe and Mail observes that the irony of her situation was not lost on Pereira, who was a replacement for another competitor who was injured just two weeks before the contest.
Tina Pereira was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and her family immigrated to the Toronto suburb of Mississauga when she was three years old. She started dance classes at five, successfully auditioned for Canada's National Ballet School when she was 12 and became an apprentice at the National Ballet of Canada in 2002.
Ulrik Birkkj‹r, 22, a member of the Royal Danish Ballet corps, won best male dancer at the competition; he danced the pas de deux from Flower Festival in Genzano and a new work by Tim Rushton, opus, with Yao Wei.
Eight dancers in total from the National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, the Royal Ballet (of London) and the Royal Danish Ballet competed for the prize; each company was represented by one male and one female dancer between the ages of 18 and 26 who danced a classical and a contemporary work.