She pirouetted into Collingwood more than 15 years ago, and is celebrating the beginning of her studio’s 28th season this fall.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Sharron Fleet, 68, owner of Fleet-Wood Dance Centre.
Q: For how long have you lived in the area?
A: About 15 years.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was a military brat, so I lived all across Canada from Halifax to Vancouver Island.
Q: What brought you to Collingwood?
A: I married a military man and he had a posting at Base Borden. An early-out package was offered and we decided to stay in Ontario.
Q: You own Fleet-Wood Dance Centre. What is your dance background?
A: I was trained in a Cecchetti method of ballet. I started quite late. Many people thought I wouldn’t make it. I started at the age of 30.
I did it over eight years.
My early life started with highland dancing and that carried me over into my 20s. I noticed ballet people always had an edge.
Q: Have you always known you wanted to be a dancer?
A: Darn tootin’.
I have pictures going back to when I was 18 months old... dancing. I don’t remember it, but I have the pictures. My memories start kicking in around three or four and I was always dancing.
Formal training didn’t start until I was eight, but I was driven to dance.
Q: Why is dance so important as an art form?
A: For anyone who has a passion for dance, it’s a life for us. If there was no music, we would just shrivel up.
Through COVID-19, I always had music going. It lifted my spirits. If I didn’t have music going, I was thinking too much about COVID and the problems it was creating.
Q: Did you have to close the dance centre down during COVID?
A: Yes, we had to close twice. We went to Zoom right away. I saw a lot of people’s living rooms. (laughs)
We all did the best we could.
Q: Will you be returning to in-person classes in the fall?
A: Yes. We will have COVID-19 protocols in place. We’ll be teaching at our two locations. We’re going through growing pains even with COVID. My school is mostly geared toward students who... want to do post-secondary training. Fleet-Wood trains in ballet, jazz and modern.
We don’t have as much time to do the recreational dancing that I would like to do. I’m actively looking for a second location. Maybe this interview will help me find one. (laughs)
Q: How long has Fleet-Wood Dance Centre been in business?
A: In 1994, my ballet teacher was Jane Wooding.
She was living in Collingwood when I was transferred to Base Borden. She became my coach, and we decided to open a studio together. She was with me for eight years and got me through my ballet training and exams. She left me for a man and moved back to Toronto. (laughs)
Now, she’s teaching in Halifax.
I took over ownership in 2002 and have kept it going. This is our 28th season.
In 2011, I received the inaugural Collingwood Arts and Culture Award because I have trained so many students who have gone on to professional dance careers. It’s really cool.
Perhaps that was a highlight of my teaching career.
There’s a kind of a sisterhood that goes on in the dance (community) and I guess I’m kind of like their surrogate mom.
Q: Do you have other hobbies or interests outside of dance?
A: No. (laughs)
Well, actually, I love to sew. When my children grew up, instead of buying costumes for the students... I invested in three sewing machines and I now sew about 90 per cent of all the costumes the kids wear. It taps into my creativity. My mother was a painter and my sister was a potter and a beautiful artist. It’s all kinds of creativity coming out in me.
The other thing I really love to do is garden.
I’m teaching at the studio from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday.
It’s a life I love. I couldn’t imagine not doing it.
For our feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will run on CollingwoodToday every Saturday. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email email@example.com.