No dance community ever started on a momentary whim. They are the result of people passionate about dance who are committed to a vision for the future. We thought you might want to meet some of the people who made Delta Dance possible.
At the conclusion of Delta Cup’s inaugural event last October, we took a moment to recognize this group of exceptional leaders.
The people who made Delta Dance and Delta Cup possible. From left to right: Wendy Pytlik, George Pytlik, Barbara Child, Roger Everett, Sherry Everett, Maxine Levasseur, Wendy Wong, Andy Wong.
Here’s how each of these terrific people fit into the overall picture for those who love to dance in Delta.
Andy and Wendy Wong
This pair of Vancouver-area ballroom dance icons founded The Grand Ballroom, which gained renown as Canada’s largest ballroom dance studio.
Andy and Wendy had represented BC as champions in both Latin and Standard for many years. They originally met at the UBC Dance Club, a remarkable organization that has nurtured many of BC’s ballroom dancers, including many of today’s professionals. At one time fierce rivals in competition, they eventually became a dance partnership, fell in love and got married. In 1993 they felt it was time to turn professional. Andy left behind a career as a pharmacist and the two opened the first location of The Grand Ballroom in Richmond.
When we started out learning to dance, we turned to the Grand Ballroom at that first location and assisted in the exciting move to the newer facility a couple of years later.
After achieving our own success as BC 35+ Latin champions and podium finishes in the Canadian Amateur Championships, we were authorized to teach under the amateur teacher regulations. Andy and Wendy graciously mentored our development as teachers, allowing us to assist in countless classes and learn what great teaching looks like.
George had a long teaching background, including experience as a full-time driving instructor, so he already understood how to break down seemingly simple tasks into individual steps that a beginner could understand. But what he learned from Andy and Wendy was a deep understanding of keeping dance training fun and entertaining, filled with warmth and humanity. People dance to have fun and connect with one another and that needs to be nurtured. Andy and Wendy Wong were exceptionally skilled at this and created a solid teaching foundation.
We still turn to the Wongs regularly for advice and insights into various aspects of teaching and running a competition.
When the Grand Ballroom closed in 2013 as Andy and Wendy retired from the business of running a studio, we decided to turn professional and began looking around for a suitable facility to teach. There were no studios operating in North Delta and no teachers even active in the area. A North Delta location would be able to serve the communities of Surrey, Langley, Delta and even as far away as Port Moody. Naturally, we began to investigate the potential of serving the Delta region.
Maxine Levasseur, recreational director of Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre in North Delta, came forward and suggested that her center could benefit from a ballroom dance program.
We looked at the center and liked what we saw. It was in a convenient location, had a great floor, built-in audio system and plenty of free parking. Working together with Maxine we organized a complete program of beginner and intermediate classes for this facility. We also contributed to the marketing effort. There was an enthusiastic response. People showed up in significant numbers to take advantage of classes by a couple with qualifications both as dancers and as teachers, a couple who made it fun to learn quality dancing.
Roger and Sherry Everett
KinVillage Community Centre in Tsawwassen has a long tradition as a ballroom dance facility. In fact, back in the 1980’s Barbara Child helped organize a competition in that very centre! Currently looking after the dance programs and lovingly caring for the excellent regulation-sized sprung dance floor are Roger and Sherry Everett of Tsawwassen. Roger also served on the KinVillage board. They keep the floor clean, often having to wash it after events, clean up spills and even wax residue, and make sure that the South Delta programs are running smoothly. They also organize not one but two weekly social dances that take place Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.
Roger and Sherry heard about the success of Delta Dance in the North Delta region and thought that the Tsawwassen facility could benefit from the same quality teaching program. We established the same program there that we were running in North Delta, finding a dedicated group of dancers who wanted to learn how to look great on the dance floor. They practice hard and truly love to dance, making them a joy to teach.
As amateur teachers, we were required to study under authorized professionals, and needed a special mentor connected to the association. This role was filled by the very experienced Barbara Child, one of Canada’s best known teachers and judges. She has trained countless Canadian teachers in the International Style in both Latin and Standard. We studied intensely with Barbara as we prepared for the Latin examinations. George went on to get certified in the Standard discipline as well and recently completed his Associate examination in International Standard.
Barbara continues to assist as we work towards higher levels of certification. Her experience has proven tremendously valuable in so many aspects, including things we needed to understand when we first decided to organize a ballroom dance competition.
We are so grateful for these wonderful people who made it possible to establish a solid teaching program in Delta. There are many other individuals who stepped in and helped in various ways as well. But we are especially thankful to the people mentioned here because without them there would likely be no dancing program in Delta.