Getting Schooled in Empathy

Cher Yukon,

Comment ca va?

I have just spent the last 40 minutes walking, busing and metro-ing to get to my 9:15 a.m. dance class. It is like going to work, as I am in the morning crush.

There are people of all ages and nationalities. There are students, business people, parents with toddlers, children going to school, adults going to school … you get the picture.

It is very busy.

It is like a conveyor belt.

People get squeezed onto the bus or metro, squeezed off and pushed to the next destination. It’s crowded and hot, yet relatively smoothly done. It is like a dance in itself making sure one goes with the flow, careful not to heel (or as the kids say, “flat tire”) someone or bump into a backpack.

There are, of course, the occasional zig and zags when the flow is too slow, but usually it is a simple dance of the morning rush.

Next comes the 15-minute walk to the dance studio. I could take the bus, but I enjoy the walk. I look at all the beautiful old stone and brick houses and pretend I actually live in this area.

Anyone who knows Westmount can understand why.

My classes on Tuesday and Thursday are held in what looks like an old castle. The studio inside, however, is quite small which makes dancing a bit of a squeeze in a fully attended class; not the same as the metro-squeeze dance, but definitely tight.

Maybe I am just used to some of the spacious studios in the Yukon, such as Northern Lights School of Dance (NLSD) and MAD at Wood Street Centre, but I am adjusting.

Here I am joined by a dozen or more enthusiastic morning people ready for their dance fix to start off the day.

You may think that the word ‘fix’ is a little over-the-top, but it is just like an addiction. These classes are attended by dancers, ex-dancers, dance teachers, Moms, working entertainers, businesswomen, college students – a potpourri of performers.

The most important thing, however, about these ballet and ballet-jazz classes is the fact that they are taught by my dear friend and mentor with whom I used to take classes before I made the journey to the Yukon.

Sheila Lawrence is a true inspiration to me. I believe she’s an inspiration to many judging by the entourage of dancers who follow her to where she teaches. What is different for me now is that I am back to being a student and, well, I am a bad student.

Sheila’s eagle eyes catch all of my mistakes, my bad habits and my brain freezes. She reminds me often of the many things I, as a teacher, tell my students.

Yikes, dancing is hard!

I love these classes though and am happy to have found my little niche in the big city. I do miss my Better Bodies gang, the NLSD crew and my MAD mornings.

At first I thought I wasn’t going to fit in here, but once again dance has come to my rescue. I guess when all is said and done, “one can go home again” … at least for now.

A la prochaine!

Your friend,



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