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 Post subject: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2004 3:52 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
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Betty will be known to many of you as one of the founders of Canadian ballet and from the theatre in Toronto named after her. Here are some details about her life in dance from the citation when she was awarded the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards in 1997:

http://www.bell.ca/en/minisite/events/ggaward/1997/boliphant.htm

Sadly, Betty has been taken into hospital and is very ill. If you want to send her a message you can do so via Debbie Smyth at:

dsmyth10@cogeco.ca

I understand that Betty loves hearing from former pupils, associates and those who appreciate her many contributions to ballet in Canada and around the world. Here's a message that has been forwarded to me from David Nixon of Northern Ballet Theatre and previously Ballet Met:

Dear Betty,

I am very sorry to hear that you are not well. In our busy lives we so often forget to take the time to think about those people who have so influenced our lives. Believe me that you are never forgotten and are always some where in the back of the minds of the countless students, teachers and people whose lives you have had such a great impact upon. It is with distance and age that one begins to touch upon the understanding of just how amazing your life's work was. Your will to succeed and overcome what ever obstacle lay across your path was fuelled by an exceptional stamina and passion. I for one know that without you I would have never been able to realise the career I have had or to have known so intimately this very unique and extraordinary world of dance.

My thoughts and gratitude are with you at this time,

Love

David Nixon and Yoko Ichino

<small>[ 08 July 2004, 08:15 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2004 5:47 pm 
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Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
I’m saddened to read of Betty Oliphant dancing towards the Winter of her Four Seasons. I know she has been quite ill for some time now. The last time I saw her at the Ballet she was obviously in discomfort suffering from various ailments of old age and the wear and tear of devoting her life to creating ballet and the future of the National Ballet of Canada.

She was kind enough to share her thoughts over Kimberly Glasco’s battle with the NBoC with me many moons ago:

Quote:
Over the course of a dozen curtain calls, the Muscovites showered them with flowers galore! Glasco danced home with the silver medal in the senior woman’s division along with 2,000 rubles ($3,000 Canadian). One of the judges was none other than the NBoC’s very own Magdalena Popa (Principal Ballet Mistress since /82). Judge Betty Oliphant (founder of the National Ballet School and former Associate Artistic Director of the NBoC) was dancing on cloud 99: “When we went to the bus to go home they surrounded the bus calling their names. They thought Pugh and Glasco should have won. (Pugh won silver.) They’re so nice the Russians. They want the best to win.” Ballet Master David Scott (no longer with the National) was particularly red-faced over Glasco’s silver. Before the competition, he actually told Glasco to her face she was nothing more than window dressing for Pugh! Interviewed by Paula Citron for Dance in Canada, Pugh didn’t hold anything back: “I’m happier about her silver medal than I am about mine because she’s a strong girl, a fighter, and she pulled it off!”

A 20 year old Glasco was just beginning to blossom as an actress on stage. Everybody could see the foundation was there to develop a very special relationship with her audience. Today, the 38 year old Glasco is a ballerina dinosaur by the National’s youthful standards. “I don’t feel she’s declining. I started training Kim Glasco when she was ten. I taught her in my class for 4 years. She’s a totally natural, very instinctive dancer.” When 80 year old Betty Oliphant talks ballet you shut up and listen if you know what’s good for you! “It’s all there. It’s not a very cerebral thing. It’s an instinct. You have to have a good dramatic sense. It’s playing a part, taking a role. And I think Kim expresses it through herself well.” The National would be wise to heed the advice of this Stone Age ballerina.

The stay in Russia aged Miss O five years! Many things contributed to this aging: time change; emerging from her beauty sleep before 6 a.m.; a 95°F heat wave; rehearsal as well as judging duties; plus the loss of a diamond ring stolen from her hotel room. Of course, we all know none of the above could possibly age this ballerina dynamo! The number one contributing factor to the mysterious aging came from the pen of Paula Citron: “Betty Oliphant, now 67 years old, is unlikely to judge another Moscow competition but she has several happy memories to carry with her.” Miss O responded by writing the following in her Report of the Artistic Director and Ballet Principal: “...the attached articles by Paula Citron...are well written and correct, except for one small but important detail—I am not 67 years old!”

Though 85, Betty Oliphant is no ballet dinosaur. The former benevolent dictator of the National Ballet School knows how to handle nosy ink stained scribes like myself. There were two mentions of consuming vodka in her Moscow report. (1) “As for the rest of us, we lived on smoked fish, cucumber and sour cream, black bread and vodka.” (2) “...I would make a bee-line for the hotel restaurant, where...we would eat our smoked fish and cucumber salad and revive ourselves with vodka.” When asked about all this reviving through vodka, Miss ‘O’ replied: “ABSOLUTELY NO COMMENT.”

I’m sorry but I just couldn’t help myself! What dance writer could resist placing themselves in the company of Paula Citron? No ballet fan can resist her sweet muse. Poetic wax so good you can almost taste it! Her words literally jeté across the page. There are only two pleasures in life that hold a candelabra to Paula Citron’s prose: making love to music and ballet à la Kimberly Glasco! Miss O, only 80, will be celebrating her 81st birthday on August 5th.
Many critics are no doubt preparing a final good-bye of a life sacrificed to ballet. I don’t think anybody can write enough accolades or thank Betty Oliphant enough for the sacrifices she made to make the National Ballet School and National Ballet of Canada. It’s too bad there were some disagreements in how ballet should be created that created ill feelings between her and management of the two organizations. I hope the NBoC will dedicate the performances of the Contract to the memory of Betty Oliphant should she leave us. No doubt she will be watching from the National Ballet of Heaven-no doubt in a very prominent role! God bless. :)

<small>[ 07 July 2004, 08:56 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2004 5:52 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
From Paul Winston who used to dance with National Ballet of Cananda:

I just learned that Betty is extremely ill. Please send my best wishes to her family. Miss O has been one of the people who have figured most in my life and I attribute much of the successes that I have found to her high standards, encouragement and sheer stubborness. I had the chance to write to her a few years ago, so I am pleased that she was able to know how I feel. Please pass on my love, as a former student who's life would be be very different if Betty had not chosen to be a part of it.

Dr. Paul Winston
Toronto


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2004 2:45 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
From Jaimie Tapper and Johan Persson:

Dearest Betty,

All of my love and thoughts are with you as I heard that you had taken ill. You have been such an important influence on my life, from taking me in to the wonderful school you created to guiding me through and preparing me for not only the dance world, but life in general. I know that some of my proudest moments were when you came to watch me dance at The National Ballet, and you would come backstage after-wards and give me a complement. The thing is that I know you meant it because you never did say anything you didn't mean.

Jaimie is dancing Cinderella this evening in the US, as the Royal are on tour, and she asked me to pass on all of her love to you. We both have so much to thank you for! And our thoughts are with you.

Love,

Johan Persson and Jaimie Tapper


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:08 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
It was reported on the CBC news this evening that Miss Oliphant has passed away.

Kevin Pugh, Jennifer Fournier, and Mavis Staines were interviewed. Ms. Staines reported that she visited Miss Oliphant last week, and they had a good conversation....hadn't spoken in quite a few years.


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:11 pm 
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Location: Canada
Sadly, it was announced today that Betty Oliphant has passed away. But her personality and contribution to Canadian dance will be fondly remembered. The CBC has a news clip on their website: http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/07/12/Oliphant_040712


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:15 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
The National Ballet of Heaven has admitted a new ballet mistress and Canada has lost her ballet mother. Many of yesterdays and today’s stars owe a debt to Betty Oliphant for making their stars shine so brightly. Of course, not every dream of dancing music to life on the stage of the O’Keefe or Hummingbird Centre could hope of coming true. I like to think their stars also shone brightly in other careers thanks to the discipline, wisdom and care instilled by Canada’s greatest dance teacher. The pointe shoes she left will be impossible to fill. God bless.

http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/07/12/canada/Oliphant_040712

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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2004 9:03 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
The National Ballet of Heaven indeed. May she rest in peace.


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 4:52 am 
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Location: Toronto
This is for the family and friends of 'Miss O'. I am a former student and graduate of the NBS, and what a sad day this is. The strength and determination that Bettty showed throughout her life was an inspiration to us all, and the ballet world is mourning the loss of one of its greatest champions. We can all remember her ballet class in studio A on Maitland St., and I know that the NBS will never be the same. I wish her family all the best, and may she rest in peace. Michel Faigaux.


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 5:33 am 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Enclosed is coverage of Betty Oliphant passing.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1089670220190

http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040713.wxoliphantm0713/BNStory/Front/

The National Post and Toronto Sun went with Canadian Press coverage. I hope they will add more from one of their regular arts writers later.

http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=144c0717-a140-4e53-852d-1d0426892f8b

http://www.canoe.com/Theatre/jul13_obit-cp.html

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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 11:29 pm 
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Location: Estonia
Quote:
Founding principal of Canada's National Ballet School

By MICHAEL CRABB
The Independent
July 15, 2004

Her own training was in the syllabus left by the Italian ballet master Enrico Cecchetti but as a teacher she became pragmatically promiscuous, picking the best of what she discovered to create a distinct approach. Her ideal dancer was perfectly placed and free of mannerisms, especially of the Russian variety.
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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 4:46 pm 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
Thanks for posting the above story by one of my favorite writers: Michael Crabb. I must assume it is the very same Michael Crabb who reviews for the National Post and Dance International. The story is all the more impressive considering it was his 2nd. Both were written with care and respect for its subject and brought different insights.

Michael Crabb is a real and highly respected ballet critic. I read the review from the National Post when it was delivered to my door. Unfortunately, the review is only available on their website to those who pay for the web version.

http://www.canada.com/search/story.html?id=9ec09b96-1e89-4c8e-9b95-8a7599304090

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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:00 pm 
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Posts: 1863
Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
:D Betty Oliphant must be smiling in heaven! Her improved new $90 million ballet school has almost been funded in full with a most generous $15,000,000 donation from an anonymous source. This was much needed to keep the institution alive as it was nearing the pointe of achieving Poughkeepsie motel status! Years ago I visited the National Ballet School on a tour and could not help but notice the deterioration. One of the studios sported a floor more lopsided than the Leaning Tower of Piza!

http://www.cbc.ca/story/arts/national/2004/07/15/Arts/balletmoney040715.html

<small>[ 15 July 2004, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: Michael Goldbarth ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2004 5:03 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
See related story in the Managing Dance: National Ballet School (Canada) Capital Campaign thread. The donors who will announce on Friday are not entirely anonymous, however:

http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=15;t=000785

<small>[ 16 July 2004, 01:27 PM: Message edited by: Francis Timlin ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Betty Oliphant
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2004 5:56 am 
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Location: Stouffville, Ontario, Canada
The doyenne of Canadian ballet critics, William Littler, remembers
Quote:
“the doyenne of Canadian ballet teachers.”
William Littler

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