Barbara Dearborn and
The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts
Barbara Dearborn’s first teaching job was in high school in Hampton (NB), and her first recital was held in a field with a goat! Now, almost five decades later, as the Chair of Dance at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts (MCPA) in Halifax, Barbara continues to educate, create, and build our regional and national dance communties.
From 1962-1967 Barbara was a student of Sheila Ross in Saint John. From 1975-1978 Barbara taught with Sheila, and upon Sheila’s retirement Barbara took over the school in the Sisters of Charity building across from the Cathedral on Waterloo Street. Barbara then went to Fredericton for two years, operating her Mime and Dance Company, as well as a school. She then taught in PEI for two years before moving to Nova Scotia in 1983.
Even from her post in Halifax, Barbara has continued to promote and collaborate with New Brunswick dance schools, dance students, and dance professionals. Port City Dance Academy is honoured to be affiliated with MCPA and to have Barbara Dearborn as a collaborator, advisor, and friend.
The following is taken from a letter from the Executive of the Atlantic Branch of the Canadian Dance Teachers' Association, outlining Barbara’s contribution to dance in Canada…
For over 20 years, while living in Halifax with her husband, Dr. William Vitale, and their six children, Barbara's contribution at the community, Atlantic Branch, and national levels has been extensive, meaningful, and enduring.
Barbara is a graduate of the Canadian College of Dance, Montreal, and the Ryerson UniversityTheatre Department with a Major in Dance She has been a choreographer for the Montreal Childrens' Theatre, has performed in musicals, ballet and contemporary dance, film and television, and has been the co-artistic director and choreogrpher of the "Step of Two" mime and dance company.
In 1983 she joined the faculty of the dance department of the Maritime Conservatory of Music, now known as the Maritime Conservatory of the Performing Arts (MCPA). This Halifax based, auspicious institution, with a history that spans over a century, is renowned for its graduates who have gone on to national and international acclaim .
As the first Dean of the Faculty of Dance at the MCPA, she has trained candidates in both the teacher training and the professional performance programs in the first eastern Canadian post secondary school of dance which she founded at the MCPA in 1997. These graduates are being recognized locally and nationally for their excellence. In addition to this, she supervises the dance faculty at the MCPA that teach the many adult and child classes using the syllabi of the C.D.T.A., both Ballet and Stage, as well as the R.A.D and Cecchetti.syllabi as appropriate. Over the years, under her direction, the school has offered Halifax audiences numerous full length ballets, most recently, "Beatrix Potter, Two Tales of Dancing" and "Alice'", which have received enthusiastic and positive reviews by both audiences and the media and which have enjoyed a number of 'sold out' performances.
Her local contribution to the cultural life of the city and the province do not end at the door of the Conservatory, as for over a decade she served on the Board of Dance Nova Scotia as a Director and advisor on numerous province wide dance events.
Her contribution of time and expertise for the benefit of the C.D.T.A. has been remarkably generous and of inestimable value in terms of organizational and artistic validity, as well as financial gain. Most of her work, in co-operation with the National Board, has been ongoing for over 20 years, supporting the revitalization of the national organization as a whole, and the Ballet Division in particular.
At the Branch level, Barbara has served as Branch President, Examiners' Committee Chair, and Ballet Chair. Over the decades she has served on the National Board of the C.D.T.A. as a representative of the Branch, as President of the National Board, Chair of the National Ballet Division and Ballet Consultant to the National Board. Her strong leadership as National Board President has resulted in many progressive steps towards creating a more creative and co-operative climate in which the business of the National Board is conducted.
Her contribution to the National Ballet Division of the C.D.T.A. is astounding. She chaired the National Ballet Syllabus Committee for 15 years and saw all projects pertaining to establishing the printed revised syllabi, both amateur and professional, through to completion; including a cross reference Ballet Dictionary produced by the leading expert in this field, Rhonda Ryman. As well, over the span of 15 years, she guided to completion, all recorded musical accompaniment for syllabus work and produced the DVDs which allow teachers across the nation to become aware of the national standard for C.D.T.A. Ballet medal and graded syllabus work.
We at the Atlantic Branch are confident that there is no other person in the history of the C.D.T.A .who has contributed more of their professionalism or of the one thing in life they can ever recover - time - to the C.D.T.A. as has Barbara Dearborn.
Barbara has dedicated herself to the development of ballet teaching to be performed safely and with artistry; with a respectful regard to the past, while keeping an eye on the future; gleaning what science and other learned studies can teach us about the limits and the possibilities of the human body, mind, and perhaps even the spirit, when engaged in dance. Barbara Dearborn is truly a 'one of a kind' Canadian. The Executive and members of the Atlantic Branch are blessed, honored and thankful for having Barbara Dearborn as a colleague, mentor, and friend. She is more than deserving to be named an Honorary Member of the Canadian Dance Teachers' Association.