Sheena McCorquodale, Cathouse Gallery, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, BC
Isadora Arabesque by Sheena McCorquodale

It all began with that arabesque

I have been somewhat overwhelmed by the wonderful response to the photos I posted – on my author page on Facebook and here on my author website – of myself dancing with Sheena McCorquodale’s stunning wire sculpture, Isadora.

I had not included in my author biography anything about my dance background, but now seems an appropriate time to do so!

Svetalana Beriosova dances the lead role of Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake” with the Royal Ballet Company at Convent Garden, London, UK.

It all began with an arabesque

I took my first balletical bunnyhops aged three, at a local dance school in Kingston-on-Thames, UK. It was love at first hop.

When I was about eight, I was taken to see a performance of “Giselle” at Covent Garden. Afterwards, my aunt had arranged for us to go backstage and meet the prima ballerina, Svetlana Beriosova, in her dressing room. Lithuanian-born, she had begun dancing with the Royal Ballet at the age of nineteen. I was entranced, in awe of her petite, elegant beauty. She and her great bear of a husband, Oleg, were, in return, sweetly encouraging to a star-struck young balletomane.

Motivated by these kind words, and with an autographed photo of her pinned up on the wall in my bedroom, I continued with ballet classes at school and later at a private dance studio, studying variously Cecchetti, London Imperial and Royal Academy curricula of dance, taking exams as I went up the grades. Although I knew I did not have the talent to dance professionally, I could not (cannot) imagine life without dancing and dance music.

Svetlana Beriosova and Rudolph Neureyev, Swan Lake, Royal Opera House Convent Garden, London UK
Svetlana Beriosova, prima ballerina, with members of the corps de ballet , in “Giselle” at the Royal Opera House Convent Garden, London, UK

Both remained an important part of my life. I refused to throw away my point shoes; voted Edgar Degas’ little bronze “Dancer Aged Fourteen” in the Tate Gallery my all time favourite sculpture and attended performances by London Contemporary Dance whenever I could afford the price of the ticket! I danced at Pineapple Studios in London in my early twenties, and at a local studio in Saffron Walden in Essex, after leaving the city. On arriving a new immigrant in British Columbia, I took classes at a ballet studio in New Westminster and at City Ballet in Vancouver. Modern dance, tap, Red Hot Swing, and ballroom dancing widened my scope. I even continued to take adult classes locally at Ballet Victoria, here in Victoria, until the start of the pandemic when all classes were shut down. Nothing daunted, I found “Silver Swans”, classes run online by the Royal Ballet from White Lodge in Richmond Park, UK, and plied away, keeping fit and limber through those tough months that we all remember so clearly.

All these thoughts and memories have coalesced into words. I have spent this last week on a new series of poems with a working title of “Ballerinas”.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your ongoing encouragement and support!

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen 1880-1, cast c.1922 Edgar Degas 1834-1917 Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund 1952