Freshly sparkled and made up for the show, tiny dancers were given a small taste of what it is like to be a prima ballerina at their year-end performance last week.
The little preschool dancers are among the many dance students in classes taught by Melissa Newberry through the city’s recreation services program.
The little dancers meet in the Gibraltar Room’s theatrical change room which is just their size.
Melissa and her family immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1999 and moved to Williams Lake in 2001.
She and her husband, Charles, the human resources manager at the Williams Lake and District Credit Union, have been married 30 years at the end of this year and have three children.
Their son John, now 20, was born in South Africa and just finished his second year in the biomedical bachelor of science program at the University of Northern B.C.
Son William, 14, was also born in South Africa and is now in Grade 9 and plays violin.
Son Peter, 9, was born in Canada and is in Grade 4, and loves skiing and mountain biking.
In South Africa Melissa studied ballet at the Pretoria High School for Art, Ballet and Music then studied drama and psychology at Rhodes University.
“I have always loved teaching children any of the performing arts,” Melissa says.
“I started teaching classes when I was 18 years old and still enjoy it today. I have been teaching drama and dance in Williams Lake since 2005.
She has taught hip-hop, jazz, African and ballet dance to all ages from three to 65.
When she returns to the classroom in January 2013 she will be adding a new class to her roster for a tween group aged eight to 12.
“I think that ballet, and in fact all dance forms, are beneficial to everyone and will teach you balance, spatial awareness as well as musicality and rhythm,” Newberry says.
This past January Melissa also accepted a position as community development associate for the Cariboo with the United Way.
“I have enjoyed my position immensely and have found that it connects me to the community in a new way,” Melissa says. “We have such a generous community in Williams Lake.
“Our community has so many things to offer too. I enjoy participating in all the outdoor activities with my family and we spend weekends mountain biking, fishing or camping in the summer. In the winter we all enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing.”