Grant MacEwan College

The College Instructor

In 1979 David was approached by George Naylor with the prospect of setting up a theatre program at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton. David had been thinking about switching into film and television at the time, but opportunity knocked …

He produced a great deal in his time at the College. Again, he was ballet master, choreographer and stage manager for the production of Working(1980). For lack of a writer, he undertook even more creative duties for CNAFU(1981). He continued with the College in various capacities until 1995; his influence on a generation of theatre artists is still being seen.

“When I found myself in a ballet class,” says David. “I did not rebel, I found myself in a ‘DANCE CLASS’ that truly was all that mattered. It went from there to many dance forms, all of which became part of the pattern.

“As a teacher I found myself being accused of trying to produce ballerinas. NO was my response, I am trying to produce dancers. Dancers who might use the technique that I taught, Ballet, or go beyond that and adopt some other dance form as their choice. The ballet technique is a good base to work from, no matter what the final outcome.

“Have that one discipline, and use it in your journey.

“I have watched dancers who decided that the ballet technique was too hard, too structured. They branched off too soon.

“There was the student at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, who was a rebel. She told me that ballet was stupid, she hated it, and it was useless. She was obliged to take ballet if she was to continue at the college.

“She was going to become a modern dancer, she told me, and she would forget everything that I had tried to teach her.

“A financial windfall allowed her to audition for, and be accepted into the Graham school in New York. I congratulated her, and wished her the very best of luck.

“The following Christmas she returned to Edmonton and paid us a visit at the college. She approached me, very sheepishly, and asked for a private meeting.

“I knew before she opened her mouth, what she was going to have to tell me, but I allowed her to put it in her own words.

” ‘I have to take ballet lessons at the Graham School. If I do not, they will kick me out. I must take every ballet class, plus the modern classes.’

” ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I knew about that. Aren’t you glad that you took my ballet classes while you were here at the college?’

“It was quite a blow to her ego, and her ideals, but it taught her a good lesson about the nature of dance, as a whole.”