Too live is to dance.
That is the credo Patty Fleming has been passing on to her students for the 23 years she has operated the Just For Kicks Dance Studio.
And the message is getting through loud and clear.
Students Emilie Bradford, Taylor Boschman, Nathan Fadear and Paige Wolf travelled to Poland in July to take part in an international dance festival.
An excited Fadear will soon be heading to Los Angeles for six weeks of training with Princess Cruise Lines.
Then it’s off to Greece Nov. 12 to join a cruise ship that, over the next six months will travel to more than 20 countries.
“I’ll get to check out the world and I’ll be giving some dance love to the world too,” he says with enthusiasm.
Boschman just learned he has been accepted into Vancouver’s The Source dance company and another student, Tamara Shields, will begin intensive dance training in the same city.
Trista Blain won a scholarship to the University of Calgary’s dance program.
In total, 11 of Fleming’s students have recently graduated or are attending dance programs throughout North America.
“Our ballet department had a successful year under the direction of Sonja Woods,” says Fleming. “We entered many students into exams this year and all of them passed with merit or distinction.”
Born into a family of dancers in Saskatchewan, Fleming is a graduate of many programs, including Utah State University’s Dance West program.
“This is not me,” she said Saturday evening, turning the focus back on her students, who have successfully completed another set of routines on the fall fair stage.
Despite the heat, the students have performed with energy and an obvious love for what they are doing – including several young men.
That was not always the case.
Arriving from Saskatchewan where boys are proud to perform with Ukrainian dance companies, Fleming was surprised dancing definitely was not considered to be “cool” in Salmon Arm.
But, over the years, initially by word of mouth, Fleming’s dance company has grown. And that includes the male quotient – something Fleming attributes, at least in part, to movies and TV shows like the popular Glee.
Where once there was one teacher, there are now as many as nine at any given time, sharing their expertise in a Royal Academy of Dance ballet program as well as classes in jazz, tap, modern, lyrical, musical theatre and hip hop for all ages and all levels, recreational and competitive.
A performance class, whose members perform at fall fair, Canada Day celebrations and other events, meets Thursday evenings, toward the end of a long dance week.
“I feed off their energy. Sometimes I am so tired, I think, ‘can I do this again? Then I teach a class and I feel energized again,” she says. “Dance brings such joy. That’s why I do it. I want other people to experience it too.”
That joy was absorbed by Kali Gawley, one of Fleming’s students who has earned a Bachelor of Dance from Brigham Young University.
Graduating with a specialty in kinesiology and child development, Gawley is back, this time as a teacher and is looking forward to combining that knowledge with dance technique.
More than a teacher, Gawley is helping Fleming in several other aspects of the Just For Kicks dance company.
“For years I’ve said I need to split myself in half and now I have,” says Fleming.
“I grew up dancing with her, it’s embedded in me,” adds Gawley.
The two fuel each other’s passion for dance and for teaching, even at the most unlikely moments.
“We were on one of the wildest rides at Disneyland and she’s leaning over whispering about what we’re gonna do next,” laughs Fleming.