Skip to content

Okotoks youth take the Grandstand stage at Stampede

Five Foothills performers are on the Young Canadians roster at the Grandstand Show, happening nightly at the Calgary Stampede.

Five Foothills performers are rocking the Calgary Stampede's biggest stage.

The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts is returning to the Grandstand Show, with five local youth on this year's roster: Jack Leathwaite, Hadley Janssen, Natalli and Nash Bencharski, and Cleavon Laquibla.

"I'm very proud to represent Okotoks, because there's kids from all over Calgary and the surrounding area," said Leathwaite.

"Everyone in the Young Canadians is just a powerhouse. All of us are so talented, and we're all trained in singing, dancing and performance overall. We can always rely on everyone, even this small group of five and the whole group of 100-plus Young Canadians."

More than 100 performers in the junior, intermediate and senior companies are on this year's roster, with senior company member Leathwaite returning for his eighth and final year. 

"When I was a kid, I looked up to the seniors and they inspired me so much, and now I've been a senior for four years and I just look forward to continuing to inspire the younger folks and all of these guys," he said. 

Leathwaite will be taking his talents to the United States and enrolling at the CLI Conservatory, a dance school in Massachusetts, but he hopes to continue his involvement with the Young Canadians.

"The alumni of the Young Canadians are very connected and everyone comes back and visits and even teaches here and there," he said. "I'd love to do that."

Janssen, a fellow senior company performer in her second year with the program, is excited to continue her journey with the group over the next few years.

"The Young Canadians is so helpful in growing your confidence because everyone is so supportive, and I really hope to keep building confidence and help others build their confidence as well," said Janssen.

"We're all so supportive of each other. It's so great, we're like a big family."

Leathwaite encourages talented young performers to audition for the opportunity to join the Young Canadians, which enrols youth ages eight to 21.

"I learned how to dance in the auditions when I was nine," he said. "So if your kids are young, just take them to the auditions, they sing, they dance, it's a fun day. And if you're older and you're a performer who knows how to dance or sing a little bit, then just give it a go."

The Young Canadians take the Grandstand Stage all 10 nights of the Calgary Stampede, alongside country music group the Hunter Brothers, during the Grandstand Show at the GMC Stadium.

"This year's show is full of excitement and surprise and awe," said Leathwaite. "It's very thrilling, there's a lot of tricks, the guest acts are insane, a lot of adrenaline."

Learn more about the Young Canadians here, and get tickets for the Grandstand Show here.

Amir Said

About the Author: Amir Said

Amir Said is a reporter and photographer with the Western Wheel covering local news in Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips or questions about his articles, Amir can be reached at [email protected].
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks