Ballet building goes Strait Up

Dance Studio

Johanna Waldorf is a busy person; she’s a ballet teacher and a performer, and she is organizing a recital on June 13 and 14 for 75 students. She’s also a business woman arranging the construction of her new dance studio. She takes time out from her ballet classes to show me through the new building at 5590 Wharf Ave. in Sechelt that will house two large practice rooms for the Waldorf School of Ballet and an adjacent room with a climbing wall for the public. 

The building is almost ready for use, though workers are still painting and hammering. “The floors are good to use,” she tells Coast Reporter. (They are sprung floors for softer landings and will have dance mats covering them.) “We’ve tested the sound system, the bathrooms are operating and we hope to get a use permit this week. The only thing we’re lacking is the ballet barre.”

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When that is installed, the two studios become classroom space for her many students, most under the age of 13. 

It’s a family affair. Don and Elizabeth Waldorf, Johanna’s parents, own the land. Jesse Waldorf, Johanna’s brother and his partner Leanne Waldorf, will run Strait Up Indoor Rock Climbing. Already the 30-foot vertical walls and overhung roof are in place for bouldering and for top rope climbing in which mountaineers clip in and follow a route to achieve height. Instruction in techniques and safety is offered by Association of Canadian Mountain Guides trained staff. 

Planning and construction have been in the works since 2016 while Johanna’s ballet students danced in a church hall. “It allowed me to establish the school over those two years,” she said. Last year the number of students she taught doubled, and next season the school will include teachers in ballet, modern dance and Pilates for the older students. 

All 75 young performers will be involved in Alice in Wonderland, the Waldorf Ballet’s recital at Raven’s Cry Theatre on June 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. It’s a story ballet, meaning that it’s entertaining for parents interested in theatre, music or dance, and it gives a chance for the little ones to take on multiple parts to the music of Tchaikovsky. Tickets are available in Sechelt at McLash Law, in Davis Bay at Kalijo Pilates, and in Gibsons at Peggy Sue’s. 

Two older students, Natalie Martin, 11, and Kaliyana Denham-Rohlicek, 13, will also be dancing and after the recital both have been accepted at summer schools that will help them pursue their art to a higher level. Waldorf Ballet also offers summer sessions, July 16 to 20 for ages three to eight and the last week of August for kids eight years plus. 

Another dance studio, the Coast Academy of Dance, is just down the street and there are two more dance schools in Gibsons. That is not an issue with Johanna Waldorf as she knows there is room for all.

“The dance community on the Coast is so supported here,” she notes.

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