“I got to see the dress rehearsal with the live orchestra in Sheridan. You get to see the process. That’s always interesting.”
Canada’s Ballet Jörgen programs and performances would not be possible without the contributions of dedicated volunteers. Meet Dave Gill from Calgary, Alberta! Dave’s decision to volunteer with CBJ was inspired by a special connection to the company: his daughter, Taylor Gill. Taylor danced with CBJ for nine years before retiring as a Principal Dancer in 2018.
For the past four years, Dave has been playing a crucial role on company tours as a volunteer driver. We caught up with Dave in Sheridan, Wyoming to chat about his role, the highlights of the western tour, and benefits of being a CBJ volunteer driver.
Could you share your experience as a volunteer driver for CBJ?
I drive to support the dancers. The group is really great. I’ve known some of them for nine years, with Taylor having been in the group. If I wasn’t driving, the dancers would be driving on tour, and that would be a bit much for them on top of their dancing. Being a retired M.D., sometimes I am also asked about medical conditions or to drive the dancer to the local doctor for assessment.
Surprises happen on tour. We started this tour in Calgary. I picked up the first four dancers, and we went to Nelson. That was easy. Daniel was on a different schedule. He wasn’t traveling with the group. Once he left Toronto, he couldn’t land in the small place close to Nelson because it was closed from the weather. He landed in Cranbrook, and I drove the three hours to get him and the three hours to bring him back. Nobody else could have done that. That was a service I could do so the dancers or Bengt didn’t have to drive. I’m happy to do that kind of extra stuff.
What have been some highlights of the western tour of Coppélia?
This year, we drove the southern route from Nelson South, to Manning Park, to Hope, and that’s not a well-travelled route. You usually go from Kamloops down to Hope. So, the southern route was interesting. I got to do a bit of driving where I haven’t driven before. We were also able to take a side trip to the natural hot springs at Yellowstone National Park, so that was excellent.
On this tour I have also been able to look up old friends, scattered in various towns or cities. We go for coffee or a meal together, and some even come to the ballet! I watch all the ballets on the tour. Some of the dancers are surprised at that! Yesterday, I got to see the dress rehearsal with the live orchestra in Sheridan. You get to see the process. That’s always interesting.
What would you tell others who may be considering a volunteer role with CBJ?
I would tell potential drivers that it’s a good chance to see the country. When my job of driving is completed for the morning or at the end of the day, I am free, like on a holiday. I can go look at the local town, do a local hike, or if I have extra hours and it is close by, I can go ski. Drivers get to see new places and new country, experience the different cultures in the small towns, and enjoy the hotels along the way. The comradery with the group is another thing. They include me. We go for dinner once a week together to one of the local places. They’re good friends and I love helping them out.
If you’d like to support CBJ as a volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor.
Follow us on Facebook @balletjorgencanada to stay current on news, events and performances.