For exactly half a century the Bentley-Potter School of Dance, founded by Averil Potter andEvelyn Bentley, has been helping to enrich the lives of thousands of girls (and eventually, they hope, boys) by introducing them to the world of classical dance.
The school, as well as its offshoot the Cascade Festival Ballet Company, has been instrumental in developing the arts, offering classes in both modern dance and jazz. However, both of the founders emphasise that the main purpose of the school is not so much to train young girls for careers as professional ballerinas, though it has produced world class performers, as to in still in the students a love for the art form. Ballet, they explain, is not just something that the students practise for the hour and a half that they are in the studio, it is a way of life. They also proudly emphasise that classical ballet in stills many positive qualities in the dancers - discipline, elegance, and time-management.
“Ballet has it all,” says Evelyn Bentley, “dance, music, costume design…and this is why we believe that so many parents continue to send their children to learn classical dance.”
The school, while remaining faithful to the rigours of the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, also draws inspiration from the various art forms on the island. “While were main primarily a school for teaching classical ballet,” explains Mrs. Potter,“we have a deep admiration for the local arts in Trinidad and love to interact with them as well. We also remain very involved with the many other schools here including the Caribbean School of Dancing.” Dance, they stress, is about community, and they both agree that many of their students consider the ballet studio to be their “second home,” one which many of their dancers will treasure for life. Both Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Bentley attest to the fact that throughout the changing seasons of their own lives, the one thing that has remained a constant source of joy and inspiration, is ballet. In a world where everything is in a constant state of flux, they offer many young people a priceless gift which brings a sense of community, consistency, and transcendence to their lives – the gift of dance.