May 6, 2013 4:05 pm
Updated: May 6, 2013 5:51 pm

Regent Park dance company offering dance classes to youth

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TORONTO – Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, a prestigious dance company located in Regent Park, is offering free contemporary, ballet, and hip-hop dance lessons for students between the ages of 10 and 18.

Portia Wade, a graduate of the teacher training program at Canada’s National Ballet School, has spent the last twenty years focused on classical ballet training, and is now dedicating her time to teaching the company’s free ballet youth class.

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Wade can also relate to some of the students whom she teaches.

“I didn’t come from a family with money. I came from a family that wasn’t very privileged at all so I had to work very hard,” said Wade.

During a recent class, the ballerinas of Wade’s class received a special gift from Laurel Toto, Wade’s former ballet teacher and the Manager of the Junior School at Canada’s National ballet School.

“We were able to give all these girls today ballet shoes. Five pairs in total. This was their first pair so it was very, very exciting,” said Toto.

For one hour a week the young girls in Wade’s ballet class work at learning ballet from a teacher who has taken an unconventional approach to classical ballet by adding new and innovative techniques that bring a fresh style to her class.

“I’m so happy when I come  here like I’m away from the real world and it’s just a really great feeling,” said Camille Fleurent, one of Wade’s students.

Wade said that ballet can be intimidating, but indicates that if students “have the right attitude and the right optimistic perspective then they can actually change what they think ballet is to what they could make it become.”

Not only do these free youth dance classes allow students to learn from some of the best dance instructors in the city, they also provide students with a new sense of confidence and self-respect.

“They have their interviews for summer jobs and eventually their future jobs,” said Wade. “And they’ll sit in their interview…with pride and respect for themselves and a lot of that comes from the art of ballet.”

© 2013 Shaw Media

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