She Dances off this Page! by Bonnie Kogos, Contributor to The M@Gazette

I glance at The Star two weeks ago to see a photograph of a beautiful young dancer, Kelly Lewis, of Sudbury and Little Current, who has been a longtime student at the Ida Sauve Dance Studio. The caption says OFF TO THE BIG APPLE!

Why, Kelly’s coming to town, having been accepted to the New York City Dance Alliance Summer Dance Intensive near Lincoln Center. Kelly’s not only won the Best All-Around Modern Dance award at Footloose in Ottowa, but Best Ballet $200 Scholarship at the Sudbury Kiwanis Music and Dance Festival, and a $250 scholarship from the Ida Sauve Dance Studio fund-raising committee. Her training in New York will feature 12-hour days and she will be taught by 20 famous New York dance teachers and choreographers.

You know how I love to celebrate our spirited New York-Sudbury-Manitoulin connection! I phone and find the charming Ida Sauve at her dance studio In Sudbury, and we chat about Ida’s long history, dedication and excellence in this area. I’d love to stop in and take a class with her someday. I ask if Kelly’s New York schedule permits that I may take her to dinner. We have in common the amazing Tillson Family of Little Current, and I’m eager to hear what a talented young person from Sudbury spending 16 days in New York will think of her experiences.

Happily, Kelly gets a free evening and we meet at a local bistro on New York’s East Side. She’s poised and lovely, eager to share: “I flew to New York! It’s a zoo! I went right to the YMCA on West 63rd Street, across from Lincoln Center. I knew no one, but I’m okay.” She certainly is! At 18, Kelly’s been dancing since she was 6 and joined Ida Sauve’s classes at 11, learning ballet, tap, jazz, modern, point and variations. I took ballet and tap, and now go to what I call exercise classes at the gym. We giggle. Exercise class is not the same.

Kelly bubbles happily: “Everyone I’ve been working with is so talented and has their own style! I knew classes would be physically demanding and I was prepared for that, walking home with my legs buckling! Yet, it’s demanding with the primary challenge in finding energy for so many teachers! I’m being surrounded by such energy and talent and finding my own place in it. Not getting swallowed up. It’s mental! We all saw a performance of The Lion King and today worked with their own dance director. I’ve had auditions for dance, vocals, musical theatre. Wow!”

At dinner, we share thoughts comfortably. “My parents, Diane and Glenn, are amazing people, giving me and my sister Leanne opportunities as long as we act responsibly. It’s my 4th summer at Phil Blake’s English Pantry in Little Current. I’ve done leadership training to build skills and work in groups with OSSSA.”

I’m pleased to be in her vibrant New York adventure, in the heart of New York, as she builds future career connections. We walk up the hill to my apartment. At home, I sing her my song, crooning my “Manitoulin Magic,” and do a tap dance! Kelly sings “Tomorrow” and does a few dance steps. We’re ever the hams! Hey, why not!

“It’s how you feel the dance. If it feels right, it usually is, and techniques where the training comes in. My style’s produced by working through training. Dancing is a celebration,” she grins.

What will Kelly choose next year? “A search for where I’ll be able to find a personal balance. Dancing gives me a sense of joy. Bonnie, all of us have opportunities to make life whatever we can want it to be.”

I am often “Auntie Bonnie” to the superb Ontario musician Kevin Closs, and watch Kelly’s animated face as she sings, seeing her interest in the world, making a place in it and giving back to us with her art. Listening to Kelly, a phrase from a dear Nova Scotia song throttles within my soul “We rise again….in the faces…of our children…”

Kelly’s done well in New York, graced an evening for me, and is now back serving a full lunch and dinner menu at English Pantry. Go girl!

–Bonnie Kogos, Our Travel Editor, will soon be up on Manitoulin to sit on the Kagawong dock quietly, and continue her writing.

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