Friday, 29 November 2013

4Q Interview with Suzanne Bourque. Academy of Classical Ballet

Suzanne Bourque is the Director of the Academy of Classical Ballet & Modern Dances in Dieppe, New Brunswick. From the time she was a little girl, dance has always been a passion, entertaining us with delightful steps and fluid movement. Living her dream, dance has become the central focus of her adulthood with the establishment of The Academy. She is married to Dan Cormier and the mother of Chloe. A very busy lady. A link to her website is below. 

4Q: As I mentioned above, dance has always been something that fascinated you. Please tell us why dance was important to you as a child and growing up.

SB: I actually started dance lessons quite late (10 years old) having done gymnastics and other activities prior, but something ‘’clicked’’ with dance, and it soon become my safe haven, my passion. I’m able to lose myself in a dance class or a rehearsal or performance. I’ve retired my proverbial dancing shoes now and get my kicks (pardon the pun, I couldn’t help it) from teaching and working with my students, but I have to admit that nothing quite compares to the feeling you get after taking a great dance class. I miss dancing terribly but that is one of the sacrifices I had to make in order to build the Academy up to what it is today; there are only so many hours in a day… My satisfaction today comes from creating interesting work for my troupe, or from knowing I’ve made a difference in a child’s life, from seeing my dancers thrive and be happy and fulfilled and kind to one another. 

4Q: The Academy presents The Nutcracker, every December.  The Nutcracker is a two act ballet originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by the great Tchaikovsky that debuted in December of 1892.  It was developed from the story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. What is it that appeals to you and audiences all these years later?

SB: For me, the Nutcracker represents the best of the Holiday season. It brings people together in one of the loftiest of activities and combines theatrics with artistry and a wonderful score. The feeling one gets from the ballet is infectious – it’s tough to leave the Theatre in a bad mood, and I think since it’s such a familiar story and score (everyone knows the music since it’s played from November to December each year almost everywhere you go) it becomes a ballet that is very accessible to young and old whether or not you are a ballet aficionado.  

4Q: Please share an amusing childhood memory or anecdote with us.

SB:  When I first opened the Academy, Seryozha Petrosyan, our ballet master spoke very little English, and I spoke very little Russian and Armenian. We communicated through broken up sentences and lots of miming. It took months for him to let me know that the

fruit baskets we were bringing him weekly were going to waste since he hated fruit and didn’t eat them. It took hours for me to try to ask him if he liked fish (my ‘’Nemo’’ imitation wasn’t very good apparently), and my mother spoke very loudly at the supper table for months (as though he wasn’t understanding because he was hard of hearing rather than because he didn’t speak our language). Though he left Moncton for Montreal years ago and we’ve been through many ballet masters since, he remains a part of the family, and we often laugh at those first years when the language barrier was so comical. Interestingly, we never had any issues communicating in class since dance is truly a ‘’universal language’’. I grew so much as a dancer under his tutelage; it was truly an honor to be his student and to share in his stories of working with such greats as Baryshnikov, Galina Mezentseva, Leonid Jacobson, etc. Life has a funny way of working itself out; I’m grateful for the wonderful people that I’ve been able to work with in my life.  

4Q: You can be very proud of the Academy you have created, now located in the Arts & Cultural Center in Dieppe. How did the desire to teach and make dance a business develop?

SB: It’s honestly something that just sort of happened and hadn’t been in the works until an opportunity fell into my lap. I wanted to continue my dance training and a brilliant Armenian teacher ended up in Moncton, looking for an opportunity to teach in order to be able to support his family in Armenia. I have very supportive parents who encouraged entrepreneurship and told me they’d support this endeavor as long as I put in the work and kept up with my studies. I was graduating high school that same year. It began as a two to four year plan as somewhere to pursue my dance training one on one with a once famous ballet dancer, but it quickly became all consuming and seventeen  years later, here I am still going strong with a school that boasts over 400 students. My Youth Theatre group has more that forty dancers in it that are all like children to me, some have been working with me since they were three years old, and I could never imagine not being a part of their journey in dance. It is a privilege for me to get to see them grow and help nurture these beautiful young girls in their dance journey. I take my work with them very seriously and really try to make dance a positive experience for them that will follow them their entire life, giving them strength, discipline, a strong self of self and confidence. It’s a wonderful art that combines music, the theatre arts and yet has a very athletic component to it. Everyone should dance, in whatever fashion, it does the body (and soul) good! 

Thank you Suzanne for sharing your thoughts with us. I wish you and the Academy continued success and thanks for entertaining us at the Pique-Nique all those years. The Academy of Ballet & Modern Dances website is

The holiday Season is upon us. It is a time of giving. Next week I will be posting a rerun of one of my favorite stories - The Food Bank

Friday, 22 November 2013

Meet Beth Stone, she is not your average girlfriend...

Beth Stone has been in love with Drake Alexander ever since she was twelve. This is an excerpt from my novel, The Dark Side of a Promise. You'll get an idea of what she's like.
 September 29 2:45pm   North of Virgin Gorda Island


The Drifter’s Dream is a Lurssen, just over 134 feet of sleek, virile yacht. Built in 1995, its owners – there have been only two – have kept it in pristine shape. It is luxuriously commodious, outfitted for eight guests with a crew of five.  At fifteen million dollars, with a three hundred thousand renovation and retrofit, it is a spectacular craft. She often proves herself worthy in rough seas; well commanded, she responds like an alloyed shark. Darkened glass encircles the ship, defining the different levels.  The aluminum hull is enamelled so white it is chatoyant. Seen from afar, it gleams a single ray of light.

 Beth views the ship from the cockpit of an Alouette III helicopter; she and the pilot are coming at the Drifter with the sun at their back. A satisfied smile adorns her pretty face. Through the Plexiglas bubble, she surveys the ship, slipping through the waters all alone and its beam of light dazzling her. She’s anxious to join Williston to be in touch with Drake. She shivers as she thinks of him remembering his undressing her before he left, their lovemaking, the arching of her back when she erupted with unending pleasure and how it never seemed to end.

She returns her concentration to the task at hand. She has convinced Williston that she can get to his ship on her own turning down his offer to make port at her nearest request. Beth doesn’t want to take Williston’s attention away from the current events that occupy their small world. She yearns for adventure, to take advantage of her skills, to test her will and her stamina. This was her father’s doing: no sons. Beth was the youngest of a litter of girls and together they had often gone wilderness camping, where she’d learned survival skills and to how hunt using a gun and knife. When time allowed, and her father worked hard to ensure it did, they slipped on their packs with only the barest of essentials, no food. They roughed out the nights, sleeping bags only.  They ate what they found, berries, greens, bugs and roots, or an animal they captured, roasted over blazing coals. Two days later they would watch the sunrise, pull out topographical maps, compasses and become oriented with their location. Zigzagging about 20 miles from where they entered the woods, two very fit people can cover a lot of territory, seriously getting themselves lost.

They climbed the highest trees, found landmarks like towers, sharp rises or drops, lakes and rock formations until they had a bearing they were confident would return them to their car. Beth and her father didn’t always find the exact spot they left their vehicle but always found the road it was on and a short walk would bring them back to the car.

All in all, Beth can handle herself adroitly and is an able companion. Her skills have been reinforced by Drake’s experience and passion for the unknown, for what might lie around corners they had yet to turn.  Beth challenged her days, to experience something normally mundane in a different way, do something new, like write a song or, if the opportunity arose, jump from a helicopter into a gulping sea.

Williston is leaning on the railing on the foredeck on the main level listening to the helicopter approach from the southwest. He soon sees it as it circles his ship. The sun makes his mane much paler while it gave his skin a fresher tone. Having spent much of his working years indoors, suited and cocooned, kept his skin lighter; the sea changed that. He loves his boat and the forever waters. He often reflects on his decision to pass the mantle to his loyal mangers to free himself to hunt for Rizzato. And even now as he watches Beth step out on the foothold of the helicopter’s open  door, he thinks that no matter the outcome of their efforts, he is never going back to the office. He’s been thinking more and more of what would come after they catch Rizzato, there are other foul people wanted by the law. He likes the idea of spending his money to hunt them down. Before he turns his full attention to Beth’s descent, he makes a mental note to talk to his companions about that when this is over.

Standing by the cargo door, her back to the beaten air, Beth checks her harness, the locking carbineer holding her in, the rope running through the pulley and its position. Satisfied that all is as it should be, she steps away from the hovering vessel.  She is in lust over helicopters. Drake’s friend and fellow soldier, Elijah, had taken her for her first helicopter ride, or as she called it her first helicopter rollercoaster ride. She had never imagined a ‘copter could be in so many odd positions and still fly. The flight had scared her, but she fell in love with the aerodynamics and pilot skills that kept her hovering over gasping waterfalls before plunging towards the earth like a mechanical dew drop before coming low to the treetops below them. Other times they had lurked between canyon walls, been dropped upon mountain tops in the whitest powder and visited the remotest areas only accessible by helicopter. With all her adventures she had never rappelled from the sky like she is doing now. She had been trained by Drake and had rappelled on dry land with him and his buddies but never from a helicopter and never into water, so Beth being Beth, she decided to rappel into the water by Williston’s boat.

She is about forty feet over the water that is being disturbed by the downdraft. The Drifter is about a nautical mile away and slowing as it approaches the swinging girl. The old guy that owns the helicopter holds it steady with an experienced hand. Beth had dropped her waterproof bag prior to leaving the aircraft and she spins slightly over it. She signals to the pilot to advance a short way. When she is clear of the bag and in the apogee of her swing, she releases herself from her harness, plummeting to the sea. She hits the water like a human nail and goes deep. Her black neoprene wetsuit offers some buoyancy as she strokes the warm water with downward thrusts, propelling herself to the surface. As she clears the bubbly depths, the Drifter approaches cautiously. Crewmen snatch her floating bag with grappling hooks after having loosened a stout rope ladder over the side. Berkeley is at the helm and keeps the ship still as Beth swims to the rope. Grabbing the bottom rung she waves to the grey-haired pilot who has been watching her descent. He returns the wave and turns the helicopter in a graceful bow before departing the scene.

By the time Beth has climbed to the lowest deck aft, Williston and Isabella are near the gunwales, waiting to welcome her aboard. She jumps to the deck, removes her mask greeting her two friends with delight, saying, “How’s that for an entrance?”

Although Williston reveres his long-time friend, he refrains from hugging his wet guest, but Isabella, her slender frame clad in a tangerine one piece bathing suit, rushes to Beth’s side and, bussing both cheeks, says, “You’re much braver than I am, Beth. I envy you terribly for your sense of adventure. We’re so glad you decided to join us no matter how you choose to arrive.  Which I must add is likely the most unique I’ve witnessed and I guess what I admire about you so much is that we never know what to expect.“

As he passes her a towel Williston adds, “I agree with Isabella. Your approach is a bit unorthodox but it’s such a pleasure to see you again. We’ve prepared a cabin for you, and I expect you might like to get out of that wet suit.”

He grins as he nods to the crew that had assisted her ingress as they ogle Beth, her neoprene suit fitting her like the peel on an apple. “It may get their attention back to their usual duties.”

Beth has always been at ease with her body and coyly enjoys the effect she has on men. She says, “Actually, I can get rid of it right now.”  She slides the oversized zipper down her front, exposing a white and blue floral bikini. Peeling the rubber getup from her supple shape she gestures to a younger man, asking him, “Would you mind putting this somewhere to dry?” The novice deckhand beams at being singled out by this beauteous arrival and nervously approaches her to take the suit away.   ”Certainly, senorita,” he stutters. He blushes as his hand comes into contact with Beth’s and like a teenager full of hormones, he watches as she towels the moisture from her hair and he falls instantly in love.

Next week 4Q is back with Suzanne Bourque, Director of the Academy of Classical Ballet & Modern Dance. A very interesting lady, don't miss the interview.