Doors Open Belleville Community Spotlight with Quinte Ballet School of Canada

Posted in Community, Featured, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

Doors Open Belleville Community Spotlight with Quinte Ballet School of Canada

Community events present unique opportunities for students to learn outside of the classroom, often free of charge. This is why the Teachers on Call tutoring team are big fans of Doors Open Ontario, taking place annually between April to October, thanks to the Ontario Heritage Trust, partnering cities and countless volunteers. We have been blogging about these opportunities throughout the spring and summer months. For fall, our in-person and online tutoring service is celebrating Doors Open with a twist, by sharing community spotlight interviews. Our president, Joanne Sallay, is selecting sites from participating cities who inspire the curiosity of our education community. While Doors Open Belleville has 19 in-person places to explore on Saturday, September 9, 2023, we particularly wanted to learn more about the Quinte Ballet School of Canada (QBSC). Read on for our interview with the artistic team at QBSC and how to take advantage of a visit with them. 

What is Doors Open Ontario and how does it work?

During select Saturdays and Sundays between April to October 2023, participating cities across Ontario are opening many heritage locations and other fun, cultural sites to the public, all in partnership with Ontario Heritage Trust.  Often, these attractions do not normally open their doors to the public – or let you see behind the scenes.

Since it’s unlikely to visit them all in one day or two, our in-person and online tutoring service is spotlighting participants this fall from each city.

Teachers on Call’s Belleville Community Spotlight

There are all sorts of interesting historical and cultural locations to visit and learn about during the Doors Open events, and the best part is: they’re free to attend. In this blog, we’re featuring Doors Open Belleville with 19 in-person sites to discover, including the Quinte Ballet School of Canada. Read on for our interview with the artistic team at QBSC.

An Interview with Quinte Ballet School of Canada (QBSC)

Please tell us about Quinte Ballet School of Canada (QBSC)? 

The QBSC is now in its 52nd year of teaching and sharing dance and inspiring our community and audiences with dance!

We provide 2 streams of dance instruction; one for the recreational approach which is called Assemblé Dance Program (ADP) and the other stream is geared towards students who wish to study on a professional level for a career in the dance industry, the Professional Training Program (PTP).

Our facility on Palmer Rd. (196 Palmer Rd, Belleville, ON K8P 4E1) was completed in 2000, it is equipped with 6 studios with sprung floors and pianos, dressing rooms, and its own dedicated wardrobe area provides all who engage in classes and perfect place to learn and study about dance!

The QBSC has a very special and privileged arrangement with the Hastings Prince Edward School Board where our full-time Professional Training Program students take their academics and receive a high school university level credit in dance. Centennial Secondary School (CSS) is conveniently right next door at to the QBSC building at 160 Palmer Rd.

Is this your first year participating in Doors Open Belleville? What can visitors expect?

Yes, this is our first time participating.  We are very excited to share with the public our amazing purpose built dance studios- the first and largest in the region. Visitors can expect to get a peek behind the scenes at what brings ballet to life.  Tours of our studio will include the Wardrobe which houses our extensive costume collection and a chance to see dance materials up close- ie pointe shoes and tutus. As well, we will be offering short demos and trial classes (for about 15mins on the hours 11, 12 & 1pm), information and photographs about our programs and school history, and a free yoga class open to all from 2:30-3:30pm.

For students in grades 7 to 12, QBSC has a unique partnership with Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board. Please tell us about your academic program for families interested in learning more. 

Our full-time students attend public school with the HPEDSB, receiving an academic credit for each semester they attend QBSC. This program is unique in Canada! Students in Grades 9-12 attend 3 periods at Centennial Secondary School (CSS), their 4th period becomes dance. This creates a very balanced schedule for our students, allowing them to start their dance classes mid afternoon, and be home at a reasonable hour to ensure they have time to have a nutritious dinner, and conquer their homework.

Balancing dance and academics is important to us, and we are very proud that we are able to offer this partnership to our PTP students. Because of this, at the time of their graduation, our students have every door open to them, allowing them to choose dance or academics for their post secondary studies.

While your school is based in Belleville, your students and alumni are beyond Ontario, to include across Canada and internationally. We would love to hear about the different locations your school community come from to train at QBSC. 

We welcome students from all over Canada and abroad! The majority of students in our full-time program are not local to Belleville. Currently, our student body consists of students across Ontario from Belleville, Brighton, Kingston, Muskoka, Stratford, as well as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Ukraine, and Switzerland!

We have also welcomed International Students from Spain, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Italy, Japan and Germany, to name a few! We are fortunate to have the partnership with the Hastings and Prince Edward DSB International Student Program, who advocate for us on their recruitment tours promoting study in southeastern Ontario. Often, international students will choose Belleville for their year abroad, specifically to attend QBSC!

For ballet fans and community members and who want to attend your students’ performances, please tells us about your professional productions in December and spring. 

The QBSC presents 2 performances throughout our school year. Our first performance is our Holiday Dance in which many of the favourite dances from Act 1 & 2 of the Nutcracker are performed by students in both the ADP and PTP. We present 2 public performances on a Saturday and Sunday, and our ever-popular Monday morning student performance at the CSS auditorium is filled with students from the surrounding area, experiencing a live dance performance, many for the first time.

In June students of the Assemblé Dance Program present Assemblé! A delightful afternoon of joyous dance and creative choreography by the talented teachers of the QBSC and their students, this is usually held the first weekend of June. Students from the PTP showcase their year’s accomplishments in the 2nd week of June in the Dance of Spring performance. This features a wide variety of the dance styles in the training curriculum, such as Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop and always a classical ballet selection demonstrating dancing on pointe.

Whether you’re are a family member coming to witness your child’s performance or just curious about dance, we can assure you these shows are for everyone and you will be amazed by the talented dancers in both performances.

In addition to your school, what types of classes are available to children, youth, and adults? 

We have a wide variety of dance classes available for students ages 3-103!  We have 3 recreational programs: Petites Assemblés for ages 3-6, Assemblé Dance for ages 6-18, and Adult Dance @QBSC. All of our programs are non-competitive, meaning we choose to focus our time in the studio and do not have added pressure of competition.  We like to think of ballet as our foundation from which students can explore many varieties of dance including jazz, tap, contemporary and hip hop; all of which are offered in both our Child/Youth and Adult classes.

What inspired your special Dancing with Parkinsons programme and what has been the response from participants and their families? 

Answer provided by Instructor, Kristina McIntosh:

The Dancing with Parkinson’s programme has been a part of numerous communities for over 25 years in other parts of Canada and North America, but it wasn’t until Laura Ryan came to Belleville that our city’s programme was born. Laura was new to the area and was taking dance classes at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada and had taken the Parkinson’s training course. She spoke with Catherine Taylor – our artistic director – and the Quinte Ballet School of Canada’s Dancing with Parkinson’s programme began! This past May 2023, we celebrated our 200th class! I have had the honour and privilege to teach within our Dancing with Parkinson’s programme for the past 5 years.

The response from the community has been incredible. We have a group of dancers of all ages and in different stages of Parkinson’s as well as their partners and care givers and other dancers who don’t have Parkinson’s but other health concerns attending our classes. I always say that this class is the closest thing to witnessing magic that you can get. Our dancers are motivated, dedicated, inspirational and fantastic people to be around. They have taught me so much over the years and have inspired so many people to join us and dance! 

Belleville has an aging demographic; this programme helps provide a need for our older population to remain active and creates a community for people to come together and share dance. Dance is a universal language and our Dancing with Parkinson's class is one of dances most beautiful stories.

There seem to be many ways to become involved with your organization. Please share the opportunities to connect and support QBSC. 

QBSC is a not-for-profit organization and is supported by amazing volunteers, including those who sit on the Board of Directors, work in Wardrobe department, members of various Committees, and help with special events!

We are always seeking community members who are interested in being a part of the QBSC family in some way. We also rely on local individuals and families to be host families for our out of town students. Host families are paid a monthly fee directly from QBSC families.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to get involved with QBSC, please email desiree@quinteballetschool.com.

We hope you enjoy learning more about the artistic school, community and programmes at QBSC. If you are interested to visit additional sites in Belleville and neighbouring Prince Edward County, you can access the full list through the official Doors Open Belleville website. Alternatively, if you live closer to Brampton you are in luck, as Doors Open Brampton is taking place the same weekend!

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