Faculty Profile: Paul Chambers
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 Paul Chambers.
Paul started dancing in high school when he wanted to join a local production of Cinderella – truthfully, they needed more boys for the ballroom scene, so they jumped at the chance to have Paul join their classes and work towards participating in the show.
Through these free classes, Paul fell in love with dance. “The discipline, athleticism, strong bonds of respect, and well-being amongst the dancers that I experienced was like no other,” he describes. He continued to take dance classes long after his debut in Cinderella had ended.
Paul moved to Winnipeg after high school to attend the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School – and start his ballet career. He danced professionally for 14 years, including 7 with Alberta Ballet.
“Ballet careers have best before dates. At 35, I stepped away from the stage. I realized I needed to step away from dancing completely. At that time, I wasn’t emotionally confident enough to share dance as a rehearsal director or teacher. I needed that time away so I could experience a broader world,” Paul explains. The break from a rich dance career allowed him to discover other passions – and develop Dancing Goats Farm with his partner. The farm, to this day, remains an important part of his life and enables him to build community and relationships.
“I did end up returning to the studio nearly 8 years after my decision to end my dance career,” explains Paul. His transition from dancer to teacher did not happen quickly.
Teaching dance was never something Paul aspired to do. As a professional dancer, he thrived on physicality. Fully engaging his body with movement was where he found joy; giving to an audience and receiving their applause gave him purpose. His life was wholly filled as a performer. “I was a dancer, asking people to copy my movements. I demonstrated and gave corrections, but the intention was physicality. I had to learn that being a teacher required me not to speak but to listen.”
Paul knows that teaching children is rewarding but he lives for the challenge of teaching adults. “They literally keep me on my toes,” he exclaims.
Paul finds that each adult dancer participates in classes for very personal and specific reasons. He is conscious and aware that they have committed to investing in themselves to achieve personal goals. His aim is to help them achieve those goals. He uses the instruction of ballet technique towards:
- Personal development
- Social engagement
- Physical exercise
Adult dancers take ballet classes for many reasons, often deeply personal reasons, and come with physiques that may not be what society considers typical “ballet bodies”. Paul proudly welcomes them all. His teaching has evolved so students can discover joy in movement using ballet technique as a catalyst, not as an end goal. They can strive for personal and physical development in a studio where they are safe to be vulnerable. Paul explains that it is remarkable to witness the support and compassion they share with each other and to experience joyful dance as a shared endeavor.
“My students are most successful when I design a class that offers as many of their own goals to strive for. Adult dancers are eager to learn and literally stretch their physical and mental capabilities. The hours I spend with them are among my favourite each week. I gain an immense amount of personal pleasure by empowering others to rise.”
Paul knows that there is a wonderful social element to taking ballet class as an adult. “For many, this is “their time” – their only night during the week they can dedicate to themselves. Adults say the classes are their moment to re-charge or decompress. They find friendships in the studio that often continue beyond the dance floor and they tap into the healthy community of encouragement.”
Thank you, Paul, for being an example to all dancers – and an amazing support to our team and to adult dancers of all experience levels.
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.