Laura Elliott is a former student, teacher, volunteer, outreach coordinator, guest choreographer and board member, and Executive Director and now serves as Creator’s Arts Centre’s Artistic Director| Aug 2011
“When I was born, I was half of a set of twins that spent nine months squished up inside my mother’s petite, 5 ft tall frame. When I came out, my feet were so badly crippled the doctors said that I would probably never walk. After months and months of specialists, physiotherapists, casts, leg braces, and tears I took my first steps, and my mother declared that I was going to dance. In the years that followed there were several attempts at dance training, but they were cut short by my parents’ struggle with finances, my “unsuitable” feet for pointe shoes, and the only ballet school in my city declaring that I was “too old and too far behind” to ever be a “serious” dancer.
When I was 18, I came to Creator’s Arts Centre. With only a minimal amount of dance training and a huge lack of confidence I took my first modern dance class. From that first day, I knew there was something different about this school. The class was hard work, but I felt so encouraged by the teacher’s caring, patient and up-beat spirit that I couldn’t wait to come the next week. I felt recognized and valued instead of forgotten and ignored.
Over the years, I studied jazz, ballet, and modern at Creator’s Arts Centre, and each one of my teachers were incredible mentors in my life. I always felt accepted as myself yet at the same time challenged to expand my own boundaries of what I felt was possible. When money was tight, Creator’s Arts Centre gave me the opportunity to volunteer for them to off-set the cost of my classes–an opportunity we still offer low-income families today as part of our Tuition Assistance Program. Creator’s Arts Centre gave me the chance to train as a teacher, study for my R.A.D Ballet exams, perform in the community and attend summer schools all over North America. Most importantly, they believed in me and encouraged this “too old and too far behind” dancer with the “bad” feet to believe in herself.
In 2008, I auditioned for and was accepted into the Contemporary Dance Program at Simon Fraser University. I was, by far, the oldest. Looking back, I could never imagine being at SFU, training for my dance degree, without the encouragement, the love, and the excellent guidance of the teachers at Creator’s Arts Centre. Creator’s is more than just a place where students come to take dance classes. It’s a place where individuals are valued, recognized, encouraged, challenged, and uplifted. Without Creator’s Arts Centre, and the dedication of its staff and teachers to live fully the vision and mission of CAC, I would not be who I am today–strong, creative, passionate and confident that I can achieve any goal, no matter the obstacles”.
Marie Kerry is a former student and teacher with Creator’s Arts Centre and she is currently pursuing an English degree at Biola University with a secondary education focus| September 2010
“I started dancing at Creator’s Art’s Centre when I was five years old and continued until I was eighteen, so Creator’s has had a major role in the initial chapter of my life. From my very first encounter with my first ballet teacher I found the faculty at Creator’s inspiring. On top of the fact that I was given an opportunity to develop my love of dancing, I always felt that my teachers were investing in me as an individual. They continually encouraged my personal growth and gently uncovered my unique qualities as a dancer and a person. I remember the way they motivated me to choreograph my own dances and offered a safe place for those simple expressions of myself to be displayed and mentored. I was challenged and disciplined so that I could improve, but upholding everything they did or said there was an undertone of support and caring. By dancing at Creator’s I was swept into a community that desired my involvement in fulfilling its mission and this gave me a niche where I was accepted and valued. At Creator’s Arts Centre I was given the same valuable experiences that another dance school may have offered, such as the chance to take ballet exams, the opportunity to perform in the community and the privilege to train to become a dance teacher, but at Creator’s those opportunities were experienced in an environment where discovering my individuality and performing to my personal best were of the upmost importance. This mosaic of experiences is now serving as a sturdy launch pad for my future endeavours. I appreciate that Creator’s continues to value the source of artistic expression and the well being of its dancers while maintaining a high calibre of instruction.”
Catherine Thomas is a former student and teacher with Creator’s Arts Centre as well as a former Miss Canada International (2009)| May 2010
“My name is Catherine Thomas and I am a former Miss Canada , and former student and teacher at Creators Arts Centre. I took my first dance class there in 2001 and I can trace so much of who I am today back to those beginning days. It was at the dance studio that I learnt patience, self esteem and determination. The ballet bar taught me personal discipline and the stage opened up the power to transform myself. It wasn’t just the dance that impacted my life it was the entire community that Creators Arts Centre provided. For me, Creator’s Arts Centre was that “safe place” where I felt valued as a unique, individual person, and the staff and students were a community who celebrated with me, cried with me, and dreamed with me. In 2004 I was awarded a one year full scholarship at Creators Arts Centre. I don’t know if I will ever be able to place into words what that meant to my life. That year built in me a confidence I hadn’t experienced before. I started to realize that my dreams were not a silly as I had imagined them to be. I grew as an artist and a performer. It was that year that gave me the ability to later attend a performing arts college where I discovered my love of acting and eventually run for Miss Canada. I am sure each and every student at Creator’s Arts Centre has a story of how dance has changed them and what Creators Arts Centre has meant to them personally. I am so thankful for all of the staff and volunteers at Creators Arts Centre for the countless lives they have impacted through putting into practice the mission and vision of Creator’s Arts Centre.”
Candace Pearson is a former student of Creator’s Arts Centre and is currently a first-year medical student at UBU| January 2011
“Dance has always been a passion of mine from a very young age. As a child, I always loved to dress up in my nicest princess dress and run around on my “tippy toes” pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or Odette in the Swan Lake.
Growing up in a family with four children resources were scarce, and I understood that attending an expensive Ballet school was not a reality for me. My ballet dreams seemed very far away. When I was 8 years old my mother enrolled myself, and my two older sisters into a ballet/jazz class at Creator’s Arts Centre. I could not believe it. I was encouraged to run around, point my toes and do plies for an entire 30 minutes! This was my dream, a dream I never thought would come true.
As the years passed, a new dream developed in my heart and I set my sights on becoming a physician–a goal that many thought to be impossible. During the long hours at school and studying, dance class continued to be the highlight of my day. This was not just because I was able to let the stress of the day pass through me when I concentrated on the music and my performance, but also because I was surrounded by people who cared for me and encouraged me. Instead of caring only about how perfectly balanced my pirouette was or how high I could lift my leg in a développé, the instructors cared about my soul. For them, Creator’s Arts Centre is a place to instill in young girls self-confidence, determination and love through the beauty and creativity of movement, and those are the qualities they encouraged in me.
I have just finished my first semester of medical school. Looking back at my journey through life thus far, I realize that many of the character traits that have brought me here and that I depend on, such as discipline, determination and faith, have come from the guidance and mentorship of Creator’s Arts Centre. Even now, when I am faced with the most stressful of situations, I can bust out a dance move and feel like I can conquer the world!”
Melissa Goertzen is a former student and teacher with Creator’s Arts Centre and currently pursuing a career in fitness as the Aquatic Lesson Supervisor at H2O| January 2011
“Creators Arts Centre has been a huge place of growth and influence in my life. The studio has an atmosphere of safety, care and discipline and has challenged me physically, mentally and spiritually in many ways. It has been a very influential part of my character development.
I began training at Creator’s Arts Centre when I was 7 years old and continued dancing there for 14 years. I can barely begin to express in this short letter my pride in having danced there as a student and served there as a teacher, nor can I count the blessings I’ve received through my experiences.
Creator’s Arts Centre doesn’t just strive to give students good dance training, it creates an environment where you can feel safe and express yourself. When training at Creator’s, I knew it was okay to make mistakes because the instructors teach with the intention of building the students “up” and encouraging us to be all that we can be. I have had the honor of having some fantastic instructors that have believed in me, pushed me and mentored me. These wonderful instructors invested themselves greatly to see me grow through giving of their time, caring for me emotionally, listening to me, giving me a hug, etc. I have been impacted and inspired through the people and vision of Creator’s Arts Centre in ways that I can’t even begin to express.
It is rare to see an organization with such an atmosphere of caring and respect for one another. Creator’s is a very unique and special place that has blessed me, my family and many others and it is my hope that this place continue to bless others now and in the years to come!”