Alberta Ballet School: Faculty Profile Graham McKelvie

Graham McKelvie

Alberta Ballet School is pleased to feature our talented faculty. The foundation of our school is built on the incredible level of expertise, experience, and professionalism that are cornerstones of each of our faculty members – and are engrained in our students. During times that can be hard, challenging, and unexpected there is a lot to learn from our experienced staff.

In this blog, we are excited to feature Graham McKelvie. Graham is part of the Schools’ Professional Division Team in Calgary. He is our Head of Contemporary Dance and has been with us since 2015.

We asked Graham to reflect on how dance has helped him pull through a tough time.

“I had to pause and think, dance, and experiencing life through movement, either as a figure skater, actor or dancer, has been with me for as long as I can remember,” explained Graham.

Graham explains that he grew up feeling a bit out of place. Being odd or “different” sometimes worked in his favor but just as often it was the source of pain.

“As I grew into my adolescence the complexity of my feelings grew as well. One’s teenage years can be punishing and mine was no different. Soon I had to add being gay on top of the more ephemeral many oddities of my character and in Saskatoon in the early ’80s that was nothing easy or pleasant to deal with.”

Matthew Shepard was one of the many victims of the kind of abuse Graham had to deal with during his high school years. The tragic story was close to home for Graham and, obviously, very impactful. When Matthew tragically died in 1998 Graham had fortunately already found dance – or as Graham says – dance had already found him.

“I found a home in dance. After my time at the National Ballet School, I fell upon the Toronto Dance Theatre,” Graham recounts. The Toronto Dance Theatre was a company with founders that had their training and dance experience with Martha Graham and Jose Limon in New York City. “They were champions of originality – they were champions of people like me who had always felt different.”

In the Toronto Dance Theatre and in modern dance in general, Graham witnessed the value and respect for individuality – it was necessary to the art form. Graham explained that the arts, in general, were then, and remain, a community filled with acceptance.

“Dance, therefore, freed me from the expectations of a society into which I never fit well, to begin with, and provided a safe place in which to explore observations and questions everyone has concerning existence in this society or life in general.” Graham believes his involvement in dance has been a response to the experiences he had growing up and the experiences he still has today.

“So, to answer the question of how dance has helped me through a tough event, I would have to say that the event has been my entire life,” says a proud Graham.

Thank you, Graham, for being an example to all dancers – and amazing support to our team and to every student.

Alberta Ballet School Faculty

 As the official training school for Alberta Ballet Company, our students are afforded the opportunity to train with the ballet’s artistic staff and dance in company productions. This, paired with the quality instruction provided by our acclaimed school faculty, ensures our students have every opportunity to develop their skills in a warm and positive learning environment. Learn more about the Alberta Ballet School team.