664. 70 Years a Ballerina, Still On Pointe
Suzelle returned to London from Texas at 26. She had turned down a position teaching dance because she thought she was getting old and needed to focus on her own dance career. Little did she know, one day she’d still be dancing at 77 years young.
Madame Suzelle Poole is a professional ballet soloist of classical ballet. As a child, she achieved Cecchetti Grades under English Ballet teachers Betty Oliphant and Celia Franca. She performed professionally in Opera Ballet and on radio in an award-winning film and pantomimes. She also danced as a soloist in the Houston Ballet for nine years under the direction of Madame Tatiana Semenova, pupil of Mathilda Kschessinska. She lectured on music pedagogy at the University of Cape Town, as well as the largest teachers’ training college in Africa and the University Of Dallas. Since 2003 she has taught and performed for the Royale Ballet Dance Academy in Dallas, and recently taught for 9 years the advanced children Divertissements for the Moscow Ballet Nutcracker. Her students received Gold, Silver and Touch of Class awards at competitions. She continues to teach, choreograph and perform in the Dallas area. She narrated their Ballet dictionary “Ballet is Fun.”
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I began studying ballet at age seven with a good teacher in Canada. When my teacher realized I was serious, she passed me on to Betty Oliphant. Betty Oliphant did some professional performances which I was in, and she taught me the Cecchetti syllabus. I did “The Marriage of Figaro” with Celia Franca, who became director of the National Ballet of Canada. She examined me for the Cecchetti grades, and I achieved four of those.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“All the places I’ve lived have been wonderful experiences! I had the satisfaction of living in each place for several years, long enough to get to know them. When other dancers were going to New York, I went back to London, where I became head mistress of the Montessori School, but I quit to go back to my dance performance training. I met my husband, who helped me learn to do choreography. We went to Germany after England because my husband wanted to pursue opera. Then, we lived in South Africa for six years, a most beautiful place! Wherever I’ve been, I have always danced.”
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“Whatever you want to do as a dream, whether it is to paint, play the piano, or do anything that you really want to do, you have to find a good teacher. You have to learn the fundamentals, the technique. Pursue it, and do the work with discipline. At age 77, I still do, because I have to keep up my technique. Once you have a teacher, you must give the teacher respect and do what the teacher says. I think all of this adds up to doing what you want to do.”
Steps to Success from Suzelle Poole
1. When you know what you want to pursue, find yourself an excellent teacher.
2. Learn the fundamentals, the technique, of your art or your craft.
3. Develop discipline to keep up your technique and skill.
4. Do the work!
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