by Lorraine Payette, written May 25, 2013
(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) “‘You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.’ This quote by William W. Purkey sums up what I have tried to try to live by here and I leave these thoughts to continue on at Dreams in Motion,” said Deborah Donaldson as she greeted the crowd just before “Cirque de Swan Song”, her final dance recital, began. Founder of Dreams in Motion, Donaldson is retiring after thirty years of teaching people of ages to follow their dreams and fly.
“Cirque de Swan Song” referred to this final show, this last opportunity to present before the community she loves. Having spent thirty years as instructor, mentor and participant, Donaldson has devoted her life to dance and teaching, to reaching out and helping others achieve their artistic dreams, no matter how big or small they might be.
A standing room only crowd of friends, families and supporters spent three delightful hours watching as singers and dancers came forward to present on this special evening.
“I have enjoyed every minute of these past thirty years,” said Donaldson. “Debbie’s Dance Academy started as a result of wanting to get my daughters into dance. I started with seventeen students in the basement of our house in Seeley’s Bay. God bless my husband who went along with all of my crazy adventures.
“The dances tonight have been choreographed to songs from the many Cirque shows we have performed on the stage. We also have special guests to share this evening, some well known to Dreams and others new.”
Students past and present, along with instructors and family members, all got up to show their appreciation. From instructor Alicia Jessup’s interpretation of “Man in the Mirror” to student Carine Brunet’s “Anything Goes”, the Donaldson descendants doing their own number and students from 17 and more years ago performing duets as they had done them way back then, the evening was filled with joy and a certain poignancy. Everyone knew that this would be the last time, the final chance to do something like this.
“Dreams became a reality on September 30, 1994, at 3:00 pm and we had to be open on October 4 at 9:00 am for a Pilates class,” said Donaldson. “Jennifer Butchart and I as partners started Dreams In Motion. My parents Yuvon and Phil Marra, always a rock in my life, were scrubbing carpet and tiles with Jennifer, her husband Tim, my husband Steve and anyone else we could get in for a few hours of work.”
And from there it just grew like Topsy. Whatever the community wanted, Donaldson tried to provide. Any style of dance, many styles of theatre, but always with the hope of nurturing and encouraging the artists of the future. Help was found everywhere – from Greg Wanless at the Thousand Islands Playhouse, to instructors from as far away as the National Ballet. Everyone pulled together to make Dreams a reality.
“Many years have come and gone – I am sure I have touched the lives of thousands of children and children at heart, whether it be at Debbie’s Dance Academy or here at Dreams, in the schools as a part of the Curriculum or our Swing The Mood Ballroom Program,” said Donaldson. “In Kingston at LEAP or Clayton, New York with their summer camps or Watertown with Lyric Theatre or maybe Ottawa with the Sacred Dance Guild.
“Tonight is my last Senior Coffee House – I love all my dancers, I love Dreams In Motion in what it was and what it has become. I will be moving onto my next path just as Carine and Sabrina (two senior students who have aged out and moved on) are, but in my stead I leave behind so many that have Dreams that they now want to fulfill.”
Although Donaldson is leaving, Dreams will continue on to achieve new heights.
“Gerry Mitchell will be now the General Manager, and with open arms and great gratitude Dreams welcomes Gerry,” said Donaldson. “Gerry has a background in entertaining and business and will be a great asset to Dreams. Kerri Paquette will remain in the office administrator position, with Jennifer Butchart by her side helping in the office when she can. Jacey Donaldson will be in charge of All Dance programming, Shannon Olivier will be in charge of the Drama Programming and Gerry and Kerri will maintain the Art and Music Programs. Dreams being a not for profit organization relies on its Board and we have a great Board of Directors who I will introduce at this time. Trevor Wallis is our President, Tracy Wallis past president, Kim Thomas Vice President/Treasurer, Val Kellogg Secretary, Catriona Mackenzie Gray, Betty O’Neill and Shelly Hunt. Dreams needs new board members. Dreams also needs volunteers to take on projects.”
To complete the evening, Donaldson took the stage and performed a special dance with a group of friends choreographed to “Endangered Species”, a dance of strength and pride.
“This dance I chose because of the strength of women, of my own personal strength and what and where I am, who I am and the strength of the women who stand beside me,” said Donaldson. “These dancers who are always there to support me though we may never go through the things that many women have to deal with to know another woman supports and mentors and cares for another, in times of happiness or sadness is a blessing, these dancers are dancers are past dancers returning home.”
To contact Donaldson for comments and a chance to say good-bye, or to reach Dreams In Motion about any programs or other points of interest, please go to http://dreamsinmotion.ca/ or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org .