Facebook Messenger Conversation, 22 March 2020
Ms Laura: Hi Michael, are you the individual who called me just before this epidemic started and wanted to chat on the history of dance in Port Arthur/Fort William? I have some information that I can add--1. Sylvia Horn School of Dancing & Baton was what the school was called. 2. I also studied with Betty Goodings until she left Thunder Bay. 3. Irene Daris also ran a ballet school for a few years. I started my ballet training with Irene.
Michael: Yes that is me. Thanks! Who was the most skilled teacher of all the teachers you worked with? Miss Sylvia was locally educated, so perhaps Betty was at a higher level?
Ms Laura: Both Sylvia and Betty had their plus. Betty was fabulous for ballet, Sylvia was fabulous for many other forms especially tap. She could still out tap me when she was in her 70’s.
Michael: Do you recall any rivalry between Miss Sylvia and with Amelia Jackson's studio? It seems like they operated in very similar years.
Ms Laura: Yes lots of rivalry between Jackson and Horn and Goodings. In fact even between Pozihun and Goodings. Rivalry still exists now between A and B and C. I don’t like getting caught up in that nonsense.
Michael: You took classes from both Goodings and Horn, I wonder what they thought of that! 😜
Ms Laura: Sylvia Horn was the one who advised my mother to enroll me with Goodings for ballet. She saw my talent and wanted me to get the best I did.
Michael: Given that Sylvia ran the Chapples Santa Claus events it seems like she was by far the dominant figure in Thunder Bay, though.
Ms Laura: Yes she was. I only participated in 2 Santa Claus shows. My first show I was a North Pole person just wondering about the ice. The last show and my first I was an Eskimo.
Michael: Just as it seems you are dominant now with IDA. Fay Gleeson emphasises more acro and Zumba and such, and many other studios exist but do not seem quite as serious.
Ms Laura: I have always had a hunger to give my students the very best so to this date I am always dedicating myself to further education and certification so they receive the most comprehensive training possible. Many of my students have gone on to teacher or form their own studios plus dance professionally. Abigail Sheppard, a IDA pupil, is now a Principal Soloist with the Finnish National Ballet. In fact they created a new ballet Pippi Longstocking with Abby as the star.
Michael: Wonderful. Do you see elite professional-track dance training in Thunder Bay as more, or less, popular than it was in the 2000s, the 90s, the 80s, the 70s? Is your school the same size?
Ms Laura: I have less students now than in the 90’s because there are so many more studios in town. I feel that the caliber of dance in Thunder Bay is truly elite pre professional.
Michael: Perhaps Lakehead Festival should emphasise competition to rank the studios so that it is easier for parents to tell which studio to put their child in. I view it as a tragedy for a talented child to end up captured by a mediocre studio unable to nurture their talent.
Ms. Laura: Dance Schools Deborah Delvecchio and Kathryn Griff both teachers from Sylvia Horn started their own studios in Thunder Bay in the 80’s. Debbie still lives in Thunder Bay. Kathy (Castonguay I believe that is her married name) married and moved to Calgary. Valerie Greer Picard also a teacher from Sylvia Horn started a studio and called it Centre Stage. When some teachers left her to open a studio of their own it ruined her and she shut down. I believe she still lives in Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay Dance Club was run by a couple of parents it was around for about 5 years in the 90’s. Contact Margaret Leblanc Ecuimates. She ran her own studio in Red Lake but was forced to close due to back problems.
Michael: And also, Studio One Dance, founded by Miss Sylvia's student Lisa Fedoruk? Correct?
Ms. Laura: Yes Lisa MacMillan Fedoruk. She was a student at Sylvia Horn, which I taught her as well there, she studied also with Debbie Delvecchio.
Michael: Ms Sylvia's student Jane Nicholas wrote this article which was published just after her death in 2005. Have you seen it before?
Ms. Laura: No I have never seen that article. Jane never ever told me about me. I taught Jane as well. She did ballet with me and tap with Sylvia 😘