Excerpt from 25 Transitions © 2011 Dancer Transition Resource Centre. Photo by Erich Kory.
Birthplace: Winnipeg, MB
Principal training: Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Le Groupe
Danced with: Louise Bedard, Danielle Desnoyers, Jean-Pierre Perreault and independently
Retrained in: Organic horticulture
Currently: Co-owner of Liberterre Farm
Right now, my sow is due to give birth to a litter of piglets any day, and my to-do list includes milking the cows, harvesting this year’s crops of potatoes and beans, and canning the tomatoes, plus beginning in the garlic crop
I bought the 25 acres of land that Liberterre Farm currently sits on six years ago, when I was still living in Montreal dancing, teaching and touring full-time. I had always maintained a garden, but my busy performance schedule didn’t allow me the time I needed to really focus on keeping it up – I only able to go up on weekends, which I did as often as I could. I had been dancing for over 20 years when one day in the studio, I looked out the window and suddenly thought, “I think I just lost my lettuce crop”. It became clear I couldn’t do both, that my split city/country life was not working, and I was faced with a choice: had I toured enough? Was dance still ultimately satisfying? Could I really make a change this big? I felt the answer deep down, “I have to do this, and though I don’t know why now, I will eventually.” My husband was the one who encouraged me to contact the DTRC.
As I began researching what taking farming full-time would involve, I realized the magnitude of what I’d have to learn just to begin. Additionally, since I was interested in small-scale, biodynamic organic farming, traditional education was not for me – I needed to learn with my hands. After a significant amount of research, I submitted my apprenticeship proposal to the DTRC. No one had ever proposed such a thing before, and I was nervous. However, my plan was accepted enthusiastically, and I was thrilled – and nervous!
I began with basics like soil dynamics and root systems, but most importantly of all, humility in the face of Mother Nature. The farmers from whom I began learning treated me like an equal right from the beginning and I realized that what I initially believed was an apprenticeship was actually my new life – the learning process is ongoing and lifelong, each year is different from the last, there’s always something new to learn, and there is no room for ego – much like dance. I wanted the same adrenalin rush and opportunity to create I got from dance, and not only did I find it in farming, but it also felt incredibly natural.
Helping dancers make necessary transitions into, within, and from professional performing careers since 1985.