Pat Gee

I fell in love when I was 9 years old.  My father, B.C. Provincial policeman, had been transferred to Penticton and our new neighbor invited me to her dance recital. I had never seen dance in any form before and the heavenly sight of chipmunks, bunnies, fairies in tutus,clowns and children dressed in national costume took my breath away! Home I went with the one idea of taking dance lessons. It was  the 30's and policemen's salaries weren't the greatest so my parents didn't jump at the idea. However, when our family moved to Chilliwack I was enrolled in Miss Jean McCulloch's Academy.  Later I took class from  Miss Marie Lavoie.


In 1935 my career started to take shape. Tap dancing was in vogue as it was the Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers era and my teacher, Miss Pratten, was trying to teach tap from a book.  We were having difficulty following the slow instructions so I was muttering under my breath. I had been taking tap in Vancouver from the great tap teacher, Ted Cawker, so I was dismayed at what was happening. The next thing I knew, Miss Pratten was asking me to leave the class! She confronted me and I told her I couldn't learn tap that way and needed the step demonstrated. The next day she offered me a job as a tap teacher for her classes. I taught all that year. In September Miss Pratten  asked me to teach classes for her in Armstrong, B.C. and Lumby, as an apprentice.  I decided to open a school of my own instead.  I rented The Band Hall in Vernon, bought a second-hand record player (the old wind-up kind) and was ready to go. I worked hard calling all my mother's friends to try to recruit their children for lessons. It was slow at first but by the second year I had 75 pupils.  I hired an excellent pianist who could play all the current pop tunes and the young people flocked to my ballroom dance classes. I charged 25 cents and they each paid me at the door. I also opened a class in Armstrong and was hired as the Ladies' Instructor for the Pro-Rec classes in Vernon and Armstrong. In 1939 my father was transferred to Kamloops B.C. where he was staff Sergeant in charge there.


It wasn't easy to start again but I asked the nuns at St. Ann's Academy in Kamloops if they might be interested in dance training for their boarders and I was invited to tea. They offered me a job with very small renumeration but I would get a business course for free.

At the same time I opened a studio under Galloway's Drug Store. I taught classes there for a year or two and began putting on entertainments for various groups. I remember every Christmas we went to Tranquille School for the Handicapped to entertain and they loved it. We also were invited to perform at the local movie theatre called The Empress.

I was married in 1942 and had two daughters, Maureen and Janice.  When Maureen was four years old I started a dance class for for her. At first I taught  in a neighbor's rumpus room, then opened a studio downtown. My husband and I to build a larger home and included a real studio with a proper sprung floor in the basemen. We moved in around 1956 and I had over 150 students studying ballet, modern jazz, tap and highland dancing. Every summer I went off to study in the U.S.A., Banff and Vancouver to add to my knowledge.

During the next few years I taught in two Summer Schools of the Arts, entered hundreds of competitors in various dance festivals and became extremely busy. My pupils performed in concerts, high school productions and dance festivals.

 

In 1971 I decided to retire. I continued to teach dancing as a volunteer for many years until I reached the age of 87.

                                                                                                             _____________________

‚Äč

Pat Gee passed away April 10, 2014 at the age of 94.

All rights reserved 2020 Razzmatap