Over 33 years ago, I immigrated to Canada to be a principal dancer with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal. It was an exciting time for me. Having been with the Alvin Ailey organization for five years as a student then dancer, I was seeking new challenges and opportunities. My ballet teacher Robert Christopher (a former dancer with American Ballet Theatre) recommended Les Ballets Jazz as a possible avenue to pursue. On an impulse, I flew to Montreal, auditioned, was offered a position on the spot, flew back to New York, and within a week had packed up to start a new life in Canada.
At the time, LBJ was a fledgling company that was building a reputation for innovation and exploration under the leadership of Eva Von Gencsy and Geneviève Salbaing. LBJ didn't fit into the definition of either a ballet company or a jazz company; it was building its own niche in dance, presenting contemporary repertoire set to jazz music. I met some amazing people during my time with LBJ, including a rehearsal director named Debbie Wilson. Yes, the same Debbie Wilson who joins our faculty this term to teach our Ballet 1 and 6 classes.
A fellow American, Debbie had the uncanny ability to remember everyone's -- and I mean every single company member's -- choreography. She was also a rarity as a rehearsal director-a woman in a field dominated by men at the time. She had trained classically with James Truitte, a lead dancer with the companies of Lester Horton and Alvin Ailey, and had been dance captain for the American Dance Machine. I also had the privilege to be Debbie's pas de deux partner in the ballet Escargot choreographed by Louis Falco. (Falco choreographed the feature film Fame and also Prince's Kiss music video)
While this is a personal story of how one connection has come full circle for me, it is also a reminder to all of us about how small this arts community truly is and how relationships and connections can shift over time yet continue to impact your life.
Welcome to Debbie and all of our new and returning faculty members.