Jackie Balls, Cert. Hon.
Jackie Balls, Certificate and Badge of Honour
For 37 years, Mrs. Jackie Balls has positively influenced thousands of girls in Cayman, enhancing character, self-image and cultural diversity.
Dance is the medium she still uses to impact their young lives, ranging from classical to modern, energetic to lyrical, and exuberant to artistic. She adds her own style to coax the best out of her students, inspiring them to display talents that many did not even know they have.
Her dedication to dance has made Miss Jackie a cultural icon in Cayman, as well as a household name. She remains true to her conviction that everyone can dance and her devoted teaching always reinforces that message.
But Miss Jackie does more than attune her students to the beauty of rhythm, form and balance. More importantly, she imparts the value of endurance, hard work, disciplined effort and teamwork to every one of her students, some as young as three, others in high school and beyond, qualities that continue to stand even former students in good stead.
Her love for dance stemmed from a childhood spent learning classical ballet in her native Guyana. Miss Jackie's talents shone so brightly even into adulthood, that soon after her family arrived on Grand Cayman in 1972, she was persuaded to open The Ballet School at St. Ignatius School with 32 members.
Within just two years, Nature's Four Seasons, a dancefest the likes of which Cayman had never seen, took centre stage in the capital's Town Hall. Since then the school, renamed Miss Jackie's School of Dance, moved into its own premises at Pasadora Place and has staged many major productions to showcase ballet, tap, jazz, modern dance and drama.
When it comes to putting on shows, her enthusiasm has never dimmed for they provide opportunities to reinforce her unwavering belief in her pupils' abilities. But they also allow her to pursue her first love, choreography, as well as set design which offers an outlet for her painting skills.
Through dance, Miss Jackie has provided a healthy outlet for children to engage in wholesome after-school activity, focusing on a disciplined art form, one that shapes both minds and bodies.
And through her Ballet Magnificat Club, she has also elevated dance to embrace worship. The club comprises a group of devoted students who are able to share God's love, pray, read scripture and dance. Funds from their dancing engagements go to charity, while proceeds from regular performances have gone towards a number of deserving causes.
Keen to provide more than mere dancing instruction, Miss Jackie has organised fun trips to places like New York, Orlando and Miami, enabling students to experience theatre, drama and dance as well as interact with Broadway performers.
Also involved with writing the dance curriculum for Cayman's government schools, her approach has long focused on giving students a foundation for life and more practically, to provide dance scholarships to deserving young persons.
In 1999, this energetic Cayfest and Children's Festival of the Arts supporter received the Cayman National Cultural Foundation's Creativity Award for her sustained promotion of dance in the Cayman Islands.
Ever thankful for what she describes as a 'blessed life,' Miss Jackie also acknowledges the keen involvement of her family, husband Peter, daughter Carol Ann and son Peter John, as well as her extended family, her students and fellow teachers. She loves them all!
For further information contact: Wosila Rochester