We went to a fundraiser on the weekend for L’Ecole de Ballet Classique de Sutton. It was held at vineyard not far from here with a real chateau and vines cascading down a terraced mountainside.
The scenery aside, the real story here is that people in this small, rural town have the opportunity to have a classical ballet experience. People in cities and larger urban centres have always had access, but it is much rarer in small towns which makes it all the more special.
Anastasia from Siberia is the force behind this school. She is beautiful and has standards. Her dancers rise to meet these standards. She is raising money for the school to perform The Nutcracker this Christmas. The community has rallied behind her and the artists and seamstresses have created professional level backdrops and costumes. It will be magic.
This got me thinking about another small town not far from here that also had the luck of having a teacher from the National Ballet of Canada come to town to give lessons. I rummaged through our old photo albums to find this picture of me circa 1960 at ballet school.
The lessons were held in a masonic lodge with the requisite creaky wood floors. We had our own ballet pinafores and proper ballet shoes. We learned the positions, did some barre work, and practiced routines.
I wasn’t a particularly talented ballerina but that didn’t matter. The whole experience was awesome. I loved being in the presence of my teacher with her pink tights and well worn shoes. She was the first woman I had met who wholly occupied her body. It was a world away from anything else I had known or experienced up until that point. And that is exactly why having opportunities like this are so important.
It wasn’t something I pursued after the lessons ended, but my neighbour across the road did find her calling and drove into Montreal to take lessons at the National Ballet School well into her late teens.
As I left that evening, I couldn’t help but wonder if one of these small town girls might be a future ballerina because a ballet school came to town.