Friday, October 24, 2014

B.C. School of the Theatre

June Roper took a cue from Ernest Belcher's expertise when training her students. She gave each student a vehicle designed to reveal that student's potential. This way each dancer was able to achieve a unique stage presence, which accentuated their individual charms.

For example, June recognized early on the ballet capabilities of the Meyers girls, Rosemary Deveson and Jean Hunt. They were given assignments in two of the ballet numbers. A tall girl, Rosemary Sankey, who would later go on to become a New York model, was cast as a dragonfly. Joy Darwin seemed more appropriate for an ensemble interpretation of Bolero.

In early 1935, Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes had visited Vancouver and June Roper was in attendance. She was awed by the vitality and glamour of the stars and by the diversity of their repertoire. However, she was also shocked by the ragged ensembles. She was determined, and stated it clearly, that she was not interested in training dancers for assignments in the corps de ballet. She had more elevated goals for her pupils.

June realized it was possible for a dedicated student to equal and even surpass the technical prowess of the exceptional soloists seen in the Ballet Russe. "Russian ballet" became the speciality of her teaching.

June had now spent a year as dance mistress with the B.C. School of the Theatre and it was a good year for her. Her health was restored, her energies and ambitions renewed. She decided it was time of independence.

Her mother, Elizabeth Roper, returned to Los Angeles and June found herself an apartment in Vancouver's West end. She decided to devote her time to the training of dancers.

However, she was faithful to teaching in the Sunday school classes at Vancouver's First Baptist Church on Burrard Street. She was quietly devout and didn't flaunt her religious beliefs.

As usual, thanks goes to the book June Roper Ballet Starmaker by Leland Windreich for the information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. i really enjoy hearing about strong women. Those that can do more than have babies and cater to a man. I like to hear they can do it all. When I was younger I was fascinated with Amazon women. lol

    1. I love strong women too. After all, I am 49 and single, never married no children.

  2. Karen you are indeed a strong woman maybe that is why I care so much about you and your blog. Mostly you. Continue in your own strength you make a good role model.

    1. Thank you Lee. It hurts me to see young women forgo an education so that they can have children young. And keep having them. I think a woman can be a stronger mother if she gets out there and goes to work and shows her children there is a whole world out there they can explore.