Wednesday, October 29, 2014
June Roper, Teacher
The centre work was strenuous. Sometimes, June would introduce a new combination. It could be one of her own invention or inspired by a recent exposure to a dance outside of the studio or one taken from memory from something she had seen before.
June's classes were tough and professional. Not for the faint of heart.
June never appeared in a ballet company, she had only seen limited performances of a professional troupe and that could account for gaps in her training. She groomed her prize students for star assignments, not taking into account those fortunate enough to be accepted into the companies would have a long apprenticeship in the corps de ballet before they even got a small solo role.
However, because June taught her students that stardom was a tangible goal, her pupils were constantly encouraged to be unique in realizing their personal dreams. Ian Gibson and Rosemary Deveson - both former students of Miss Roper's - were frustrated in their corps de ballet assignments. They felt the stress on personal artistic achievement was wasted since they were in roles requiring anonymity. Fortunately, when June's students joined a ballet company, they were performing solos within a year so stardom was still in their sights.
Her advanced dancers went with June on trips to schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. There they received additional coaching from experts in ballet training and alternative theatrical forms. When the students returned to Vancouver, they were encouraged to share their new found knowledge with other classmates.
What a wonderful, creative place 887 Seymour Street must have been at that time! June Roper's B.C. School of Dancing sounds like it was a place of sharing, collaboration and creativity. And lots of love of course. I hope those feelings remain. The studios were there for many decades but, when the Orpheum Theatre was renovated in the seventies, it took over that spot. Now the foyer space to the concert hall occupies that area.
Thanks to Leland Windreich and his book, June Roper Ballet Starmaker for the information.
I hope you find the beauty around you.