To All Members of The Society of Russian Ballet
it is with great sadness that I announce the passing of one of our founding members and past Chairman, Ann Vanderheyden. Ann passed away peacefully at North York General Hospital on Monday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Ann was instrumental in forming the Canadian branch of the Society of Russian Style Ballet Schools which was brought over from England in 1973 by our founder Marijan Bayer. Marijan Bayer gathered together Ann Vanderheyden and a small group of enthusiastic ballet teachers; Dorothy Carter and Victoria Carter from London, Ontario, Joanne Ashe from Toronto and Nesta Toumina from Ottawa. Together they launched the Vaganova method of ballet teaching in Canada and created the all Canadian Society in 1975. The name was changed to the Society of Russian Style Ballet in the 1980s and again to the current title, the Society of Russian Ballet in the 1990s.
Ann was a passionate and dedicated ballet teacher. She inspired students through her nurturing and kindness at a variety of ballet schools in the Toronto area.
Ann was also a great supporter of the National Ballet of Canada where she worked on the volunteer committee as a financial advisor. It was there she was introduced to Marijan Bayer, then a principal dancer with the company. An immediate lifelong friendship was born. After Mr. Bayer retired from the stage, he opened a studio in north Toronto and hired Ann to work with him.
Ann Vanderheyden’s early training in England included musical theatre, plays, operetta and the early days of the ballet company Saddler and Wells. This experience gave her teaching a fresh approach and liveliness. Ann helped many young dancers begin their professional careers by offering sound technical training and a friendly environment.
As Mr. Bayer’s school grew, he started one of Ontario’s first touring ballet companies, City Ballet. Ann Vanderheyden took on the role of Ballet Mistress for the new company. Her unbounded energy was infectious among the dancers and respected by all who knew her.
As her own family grew, Ann was teaching less but remained an avid supporter of the Society of Russian Ballet. The executive appointed Ann as an examiner in the early part of the 1990s. Her role with the Society further developed when she became the Secretary/ Treasurer. Ann held the position of Chairman of the Society of Russian Ballet from 1998 until her retirement in 2009.
On a personal note, Ann was a part of my extended ballet family. She was my “ballet mom”. She not only inspired me as a small girl in ballet class but allowed me to be myself. She built my self-confidence and independence as a dancer. Ann taught me that ballet was a part of my life, not all of my life. She was a strong, happy woman who I always strived to emulate. I will always think of Ann with admiration, respect and love.
Ann, thank you for your contribution to the ballet and your undying spirit. We will all miss you.
For details of the funeral arrangements, please visit www.rskane.ca