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Dance Community: Training, Education and Performance

Excerpted from earthdancers: Dance, Community and Environment Masters of Arts thesis by Julie-Anne Huggins York University, April 2005





Fifth Generation The fifth generation of Sudbury’s dance heritage begins with a couple of touring companies and four new studios. In 1980, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal and Arete, a physical theatre company from Edmonton, toured through various French speaking high schools in the Sudbury district as part of a cultural and social program.85 A year later, the Compagnie de Danse Eddy Toussaint also toured into the city.86 Dance instruction in Sudbury’s surrounding townships was continuing to A Helen Kwain (Sault Ste. Marie), Carolyn Wallaceexpand. When Lesley Kallio arrived in Sudbury, Tarry (North Bay), Jennifer Ginot (Sudbury), Karen Rammul (Sudbury), & instructor Alda Heniss she began by teaching for Ida Sauve and then (Brampton) at a workshop sponsored by the in 1983 she opened a school on the outskirts Canadian Dance Teachers Association of Sudbury, first in Naughton and then in Lively. Leslie Kallio’s School of Ballet offered classes in Cecchetti ballet as well as jazz and modern to a small tight knit group, which performed in annual recitals and competed both locally and regionally.87 In 1983, Diane Boulais Dance Studio was founded by a former Centre des jeunes student and teacher, bringing another venue for training in ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, and modern. In the same year, Sheryl Graham Dancers was founded by a former Ida Sauve student. Previously, Graham had taught for Annette Lumbis Dancers, and now with her own studio, her students could study jazz and acrobatics, as well as ballet, modern and physical theatre in later years.88 Though both schools were located in towns on the outskirts of the Sudbury area – Boulais in Hanmer, and Graham in Wahnipitae and Garson – both had their hearts in Sudbury community service. Not only did both schools offer their students bi-annual recitals as well as local and regional competing, but B Students of the Annette Lumbis Dancers often small benefit shows were staged.89

By 1980, directorship of the Arts Guild was given to Denise Vitali, a former student of Tini Pel and Barbara Cook, who then endeavoured to create the short-lived company, Sudbury Ballet in 1982-1983.90 By 1985, Vitali decided to move on and Tini Pel sold the school to Lareen Baricelli-Lavallee, another of Pel’s former students. That same year, Denise Vitali opened the Sudbury School of Dance where she taught classes in Vaganova ballet, jazz, and modern.91 By the end of the decade, she and her students would be craving more in-depth formal modern training, and the usual recitals, examinations and competitions would not contain their ambitions.

C Denise Vitali completed the

3-year professional program at the Arts Guild & passed the advanced Russian Ballet exams

E Gisele Roussel teaching students at Le D Sudbury dancers place in provincial ballroom

Centre des Jeunes

competition: Paul & Vi Tikkanen, Jean Paradis & Ronald Chenette, Mirjam & Mark Nieminen

G Jean Lawrie Highland Dancers represented Sudbury at

F Finnish dancers from University of Turkku

the Fergus Highland Games: Jeanie McGibbon, Jennifer Gordon, Jill Lawrie, Karen Kilpatrick, Martha Jane Barr

Another major impact in the dance community was in 1984, when the Ontario government announced it was to abolish gymnastics as a high school subject in the curriculum and replace it with dance. At this time, all schools were requested to send in their plans for this new course, which they would teach until the curriculum was officially implemented. Collège Notre-Dame, a local French Catholic high school, enlisted two of its teachers, former Centre des jeunes student Giselle Pilon and former Arts Guild student Suzanne Bourque, to research and develop the new dance and movement program for grades nine through twelve. Dance training in the program included ballet, modern, jazz, folk/cultural and social/ballroom, including an aerobic component before each class. Further, the education in dance covered history and anthropology of all styles and their socio-political implications. Students were also expected to choreograph and produce their own dances, which they presented in the school’s concerts and fundraising activities. An informal company was also formed called Les Silhouettes, and although the name was abandoned after the second year of the program, they continued staging large-scale liturgical performances throughout the city, touring to various Catholic churches.92

I Judy Edwards (National Ballet School) & Christa H Canadian Showcase dancers Michelle

Dennis, Paula Dozzi, & Kelly McInnes

Pare at Sudbury auditions

In the fall of 1985, Sudbury Secondary School was established as Northern Ontario’s first performing arts high school program, with areas of study in drama, visual arts, music and dance. On the founding committee, local Ukrainian folk dancer Natasha Sawchuk created the dance program, and within a few years, her team also included former Arts Guild student Carolle Mageau as well as former Arts Guild, Centre des jeunes and Ida Sauve Dance Studio student Karen Rammul. Awaiting the new curriculum, the dance majors and minors began studies in modern, ballet, pointe, national, and jazz, as well as academic courses in history, anatomy, and composition. Many performance opportunities were available, including the school’s annual dance performance, which showcased student performance and choreography. Moreover, dance choreography was integrated in the school’s yearly musicals, and pieces were also entered in the local/regional Kiwanis Music and Dance Festival competitions. The school’s prime directive was to offer dance to students and enrich their artistic experience through numerous performance opportunities and the presence of a superior teaching staff. 93 The Ontario dance education program policy documents were distributed in 1991 and the program planning documents in 1992, after having finally traversed all the red tape for English public education. Not surprisingly, the Collège Notre-Dame and Sudbury Secondary School dance programs had their programs already well in hand. As the schools’ expectations in dance courses were far more artistic than curriculum expectations, they applied for and received locally developed accreditation from their local school boards. Both schools prided themselves on offering dance education as opposed to just specialized dance training, but these “free” programs stirred tension in the local dance community, as private studios were already competing for their students. In turn, guest teachers from various studios were invited, which not only enhanced the technique classes but recognized the quality of local dance instructors.94

As the end of the decade neared, four more Sudbury dance studios appeared on the scene. In 1987, the same year Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal toured through the city, the Joanne Gervais School of Dance was founded by a former student of and teacher for Ida Sauve.95 Classes were conducted in tap, jazz, ballet and modern, while performing opportunities included annual recitals and local/regional competing.96 Then, the Academy of Dance and Modelling opened in 1988 under the directorship of Colleen Clancy, a former student of Tini Pel and Gerry Gauvreau, who had been teaching for Lareen Baricelli-Lavallee. This was a school for jazz, tap, ballet and modelling, and its students performed at annual recitals as well as local/regional Kiwanis competitions.97 Next, the Monique Vaillancourt School of Dance made a fly by night appearance in 1988.98 The

J Confi Dance touring francophone

schools: Richard Smith, Coralee McLaren, Michel Gervais (former student of Ida Sauve Dance Studio)

following year, the York Dance Ensemble toured to Sudbury, offering both a master class and concert of modern dance with students from York University.99 Finally, the Arts Guild Dance Studio was revamped and renamed Creative Dance Centre in 1990 by BaricelliLavallee, whose “new studio” offered ballet, jazz, tap, and modern, along with recitals, examinations and local/regional competitions. 100

K Ida Sauve Dance Studio win

scholarships: Jody Kuzenko & Jacqueline Ethier

Though Sudbury’s dance heritage does not end here, a new story was about to begin. Cresting a new generation, the dance scene’s new developments and maturing roots had set the stage. Of the schools still in business, Ida Sauve Dance Studio, with her affiliate competing company Ida Sauve Dance Company, was now offering one of the most versatile ranges of dance training, while the Gauvreau School of Performing Arts and its Canadian Showcase company continued to tour and compete. The Centre des jeunes continued to offer its dance program at the

hands of a variety of local teachers. Other studios included Claire’s School of Dancing, Prodanse, Diane Boulais Dance Studio, Sheryl Graham Dancers, Sudbury School of Dance, Leslie Kallio’s School of Ballet, Joanne Gervais School of Dance, Academy of Dance and Modelling, and most recently Creative Dance Centre. In the education system, two high schools had developed programs, Sudbury Secondary School in English and Collège Notre-Dame in French, while other secondary schools were following suit. The Kiwanis Music and Dance Festival adjudications were further expanding their dance styles, as were most studios. Performing opportunities were mostly limited to annual or bi-annual studio-specific recitals, as well as local and/or regional competitions, though occasionally some would stage small community-based shows to retirement homes, telethons or special events. The theatrical high school productions also had affiliations with either religious masses or Broadway musicals. The post secondary institutions had a growing interest in dance as well, while ballroom had definitely established a niche in the public, both as a social and competitive form. A few trends were evident. For one, Sudbury’s dance teachers had trained with the generation before them, and most were fairly young when they first began teaching. Primary styles of dance were ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, and modern, though the last seemed a far cry from formalized modern technique training.101 There were a few local companies, but each was directly affiliated to a particular studio with the purpose of featuring its star performers in order to generate revenue for that school. Keep in mind, these were not professional companies that were paying their dancers; if anything it was a privilege to perform, and the students – or more accurately their parents – paid more to participate. Overall, Sudbury had not had much exposure to dance and professional touring companies, and dance audiences were mostly made up of proud parents. There was no hope for a dance career in this city aside from teaching, though it was a decent environment for training, or as some say: “Sudbury is an incubator for talent” and if anything, “Sudbury teaches you to want to grow.” 102 Brewing in the hearts of young dance artists, a new company was about to stir a few changes that would not only affect the dance community but even the planet.

We end this context and lineage on the verge of the 1990s, where my research then diverges to the inception of earthdancers. For more information about this company, please refer to my thesis, currently available in print at the Sudbury Public Library.



“Ballet Jazz to Tour French High Schools,” The Sudbury Star 21 Jan. 1980: 8. 86 St. Andrew’s Concert Series Inc., program, Sudbury, 31 January 1981. 87 Lesley Kallio, telephone interview, 12 December 2004. 88 Sheryl Graham, telephone interview, 1 December 2004. 89 Diane Boulais, telephone interview, 16 November 2004. Sheryl Graham, telephone interview, 1 December 2004. 90 Denise Vitali, personal interview, 9 October 2004. 91 Denise Vitali, personal interview, 9 October 2004. 92 Susanne Bourque, personal interview, 9 October 2004. 93 Carolle Mageau, telephone interview, 12 October 2004. 94 Carolle Mageau, telephone interview, 12 October 2004. 95 Julie Gauthier, telephone interview, 11 January 2005. 96 Joanne Zubalich, telephone interview, 13 December 2004. 97 Colleen Clancy, telephone interview, 16 November 2004. 98 Sudbury Bell directories, 1987-1989. 99 Donna Krasnow, personal interview, 11 April 2005. 100 Lareen Baricelli-Lavalee, telephone interview, 12 November 2004. Sudbury Bell directories, 1989-1990. 101 Carolle Mageau, personal interview, 12 October 2004. 102 Gerry Gauvreau, personal interview, 8 October 2004.

Additional Image References A

“At the Workshop,” The Sudbury Star 24 January 1980: 9. B “Recital Warm-Up,” The Sudbury Star 18 June 1980: 37. C “Another dancing mile-stone acheived,” The Sudbury Star 18 June 1980: 36. D “Sudbury dancers place in provincial competition,” The Sudbury Star 31 May 1983: 6. E “Ballroom dancing is making big comeback,” Northern Life 10 December 1986: 11. F “Dancers charm Civic Square,” The Sudbury Star 10 November 1981: 1. G “Dancers a credit to Sudbury at Fergus Highland Games,” The Sudbury Star 9 September 1982: 6. H “Canadian Showcase Dancers,” The Sudbury Star 14 June 1980: 10. I “Aspiring professional dancers audition for renowned school,” The Sudbury Star 21 February 1984: 6. J “Joined ranks of Toronto troupe,” The Sudbury Star 19 November 1985: 6. K “Dancing their way to scholarships,” The Sudbury Star 12 August 1987: 6.

Fifth Generation  

Covering the wave of Sudbury dance training schools and studios that opened in the 1980s, as well as performances that toured through the ci...

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