As a child, Fay Richardson wanted to dance, the grace and movement of ballet captivating her.
“There just seemed to be a freedom in being able to use your body that way,” she recalls.
It wasn’t on the books for her, with her family moving away from anywhere near a dance school, and as she notes, “Dancing also wasn’t something everyone could afford. .”
But now, at the age of 79, Richardson is fulfilling her childhood dream, as the senior dancer with the Youth Ballet of Saskatchewan, a dance school based in Regina.
As the instructor throws out a list of steps, Richardson listens intently and weaves his way through a spiral across the room, breathing heavily at the end.
With a hint of embarrassment, she admits that she is not as fast or as flexible as the other dancers. Although they can spin around the room, she may only be able to do one or two spins before she gets dizzy.
“I can feel my balance going. I’ve been told I have to stay on my feet and I think it’s wiser to stop at that point,” she said, laughing to herself. .
Richardson began dancing as an adult at the age of 45 and discovered that while grace was not something that flowed naturally, she enjoyed the movement of ballet.
“There was a joy and a kind of excitement in learning something new, learning it about my own body, learning it about dance itself.”
And although she thought about quitting, each time her classmates encouraged her to persevere, at the speed or level that she could.
“And I thought if they don’t mind having me in the class, then fine. And I really respect them for that,” she said.
Instructor Barb Cameron calls Richardson “an inspiration” and says she reminds everyone, including the school’s youngest students, that dance can be for everyone.
“To continue dancing and doing ballet at his age is amazing,” Cameron said. “There aren’t a lot of people doing it, so we’re glad to have it.”
The encouragement from his fellow dancers fills Richardson with emotion.
“It’s special, because I do it and I love it,” she said.
“It’s also special in how other people don’t say give up, or go out and let us show at a better level. They bring me up to their level, one way or another.”