Alison Sherman teaches jazz, acrobatic dance, and her favourite style - ballet - at the Spectrum City Dance studio. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

MVP of the Week: Alison Sherman lands her first position

Dance instructor and master of ballet is working her dream job at Rupert dance studio

Prince Rupert’s Spectrum City Dance studio has been home to a number of impressive dancers during its long history. Sometimes, they even return to develop the next generation of talent.

That is the case with Alison Sherman, an instructor at the studio who began her career within its very walls. A born and raised Rupertite, Sherman began dancing in baby ballet classes at age three. Having gone away to school in order to hone her craft, Sherman has now returned to the studio that originally set her on the path to dance.

Sherman’s dedication to dance was tested with an early choice. A talented young athlete, both soccer and dance were sports she excelled at. But as dance got more serious, and competitions were scheduled for the weekends – conflicting with soccer – Sherman had to shift attention to one or the other.

“My parents asked me which one it was going to be, and there was no question,” Sherman remembers. “It was dance right away.”

Sherman teaches ballet, jazz and acrobatic dancing at the studio. While she enjoys and appreciates all three, (and of course the many other dance genres as well,) her passion lies with the genre of dance that started it all: ballet.

“I really appreciate how it’s the foundation of dance. It’s been around for so long, and that’s where you build your technique,” Sherman explained of her love for ballet. “It’s so beautiful, and there are no limits. You can always go further and further with it.”

“I think it’s really important to lay down strong technique when you are first starting, especially around ages 8-12. When we have kids come in for registration and they are looking at jazz and tap, we really try and push them to take ballet as well.”

Sherman grew up dancing Royal Academy of Dance style ballet, earning her way to provincial competitions for her techniques. She was guided along the way by instructor Ella Ferland, who continues on today as the trusty leader of the studio. Sherman credits Ferland not only for developing her dancing skills, but for introducing her to the role that she has chosen to make a career out of.

“When I was dancing in high school, Ella gave me an opportunity to be a student teacher and choreographer,” Sherman said. “So that’s really where my passion for choreography started. I had choreographed a small group, and we went to three festivals and placed first every time, and it was just like, wow. That was the moment for me where I knew I wanted to keep doing this.”

Sherman now has the chance to teach students in the very same space that she herself learned to dance. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

“Doing this” is no easy task though, as Sherman would learn after she graduated from high school. Sherman went to Toronto to study Associated Dance Arts for Professional Teachers, known as the ADAPT program. Perhaps the premiere dance instruction syllabus in the country, Sherman successfully completed her studies before moving on to Canadian Dance Teachers Association certification. Courses with the Royal Academy of Dance were next, followed finally by an acrobatics dance certification. Having accomplished expert training in her field, Sherman turned her attention to finding the right place to teach.

While her qualifications meant she could have her pick of studios, there was one in particular that Sherman had her eye on. “I knew I wanted to come back to Prince Rupert,” Sherman said. “I had been in contact with Ella, and when I finished my dance teaching certification she asked me if I would want to come back and teach, and I said absolutely.”

READ MORE: Tapping into talent: Spectrum City Dance workshops jazz up the studio

Sherman took the job without hesitation, and has now been teaching at Spectrum for the past seven years. Jazz, acrobatics, and of course ballet make up her course load. She says the inspiration she receives from her students is as strong as ever.

“It’s a really amazing thing teaching, you can really see the kids grow,” Sherman said. “Being a full-time teacher and choreographer, there are quite a few moments where you’re just sitting there in the audience and you’re watching your group that you choreographed on stage, and it just makes you feel really proud and humble.”

“Watching the kids work so hard and then get rewarded for it, it’s a really beautiful thing.”

Another perk of the job for Sherman: being able to work with the instructor that inspired her into a teaching role in the first place.

“Ella has become such a mentor to me, and she really inspires me,” Sherman said.

“I feel like our dance studio is a second home to kids. It was like that for me, and it’s still like that for me.”

Alison Sherman has taught at Spectrum City Dance since 2012. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

A town of Prince Rupert’s size would generally be lucky enough to have one high-level dance studio, let alone two. Sherman believes this speaks to the dedication that students, instructors and parents in town put into the sport, evidenced even more so by the impressive results of Prince Rupert dancers at regional and provincial competitions. The town attracts plenty of renowned guest instructors as well: as Sherman sits down for the interview ADAPT’s Brian Foley and choreographer and actress Bree Wasylenko are conducting a weekend workshop for the Spectrum students.

Sherman plans to make Spectrum her home for many years to come – while also ensuring other dancers see the studio the same way, just as she did growing up.

“For the rest of my life,” Sherman answers to how long she wants to teach dance. “There’s something new every day. You’re always watching the students growing and changing, it’s a really, really cool job.”

READ MORE: MVP of the Week: Duncan Ryan: Once a Rainmaker, always a Rainmaker


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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