Ida Sauve hasn’t really thought much about it. But come May, it’s bound to sink in. That’s when a group of friends and former students will help her to celebrate 50 years as a dance teacher in Sudbury.
Sauve fondly recalls how it all began.
“When I was 12, I was taking classes – tap, acrobatic and baton twirling - with one studio. And I was taking ballet with another studio. And one of the teachers asked me to help out with her classes.”
Soon after, when the instructor became pregnant, Sauve was asked to temporarily take over.
The following year, Sauve’s father built her a small studio in the basement of their home in Minnow Lake.
Parents found it a more convenient location because they didn’t have to drive “all the way into town” to take their kids to dance. So, with the blessing of her teacher, Sauve began running her own classes.
“I really didn’t think about it much at the time. I must have been terribly weird,” Sauve says with a big laugh. “I look at the kids today and I think, ‘oh my God, I was 13 and running my own business’!”
It wasn’t much of a business really. She only charged her students a quarter a month.
But she had laid the foundation for a life in dance. It didn’t take long for her enterprise to take the next step. When her instructor moved to Toronto, just one dance studio remained in Sudbury. That left a huge void that Sauve was all too willing to fill.
Her class went from 10 students to 25 overnight.
“And it never stopped. By the time I got out of high school, I had about 35 students.”
When Sauve graduated from high school, she made what she now regards as a curious decision.
“I took a job with the city,” Sauve says. “I still didn’t know I had a business!”
She would work until 5; teach until 9 or 10 every night, and on weekends.
“It was basically two full-time jobs,” Sauve remembers.
The city gig lasted five years before Sauve “came to her senses.”
“It occurred to me, I couldn’t keep going like I was. So, when it finally registered that I could really teach dance full time, the choice was easy.”
In those days, there was a stigma attached to the arts. Some people didn’t consider teaching dance a “real job,” she remembers.
Thousands of former and current students are glad she quit her “day job.”
In the years that followed, Sauve taught in a few locations in Sudbury’s downtown core. But she always had her eye on her current address, a former apartment building on Pine St.
Sauve bought the building in 1993 and established the Ida Sauve Dance Studio.
“I should have done it a hundred years earlier,” Sauve jokes.
The three-floor studio allowed her to take on more projects. Both her recreational and competitive dance programs expanded. The trophies that line the main top-floor space are a testament to her many successes.
During the last half century, hundreds of competitive ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatic dancers have honed their skills under Sauve’s tutelage.
Some have even gone on to professional careers, and many more to teaching dance themselves; something that makes Sauve proud.
But Sauve says the kids who come in once or twice a week for fun and exercise are just as important. It’s their energy that has kept her going all these years. And she says they continue to inspire her, even after 50 years.
Sauve’s Golden Anniversary party is set for the weekend of May 10 and 11 at the studio.
Claire Zuliani is head of the committee organizing the event. She says the highlight of the weekend will be a recital of current and former dancers. And considering the pool of talent that has passed through Sauve’s classes, Zuliani expects the performance should be exceptional.
“With the number of dancers Ida has taught over the years, we have no idea what to expect,” Zuliani says. “People are living all over the place, so we really want to get the message out there that we are having this reunion. I think it will spark a lot of interest.”
The committee has set up a website and a Facebook group to help promote the celebration: www.idasauve.collectivex.com or www.facebook.com , search: Ida Sauve.