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 www.plie.ca
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