Glass Houses: Merle Holloman, Grace Miyagawa, Helen Jones, Learie McNicolls, Luc Tremblay © Cylla von Tiedemann

Helen Jones, a long-time, greatly valued member of our core faculty, recently decided to withdraw from teaching, at least for a while, and we miss her knowledgeable and authoritative insights into the Graham technique. Her experience as a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company gave her a deep understanding of the technique, which she shared with many generations of students here at the School.

Helen began dance classes in her home town in Wales when she was four, and at ten successfully auditioned for the full-time program at the Royal Ballet School where she studied for eight years. The first dancer from Wales to be accepted at the RBS, she was awarded a full grant from her local town, for which she will always be tremendously grateful.

Helen was introduced to modern dance in England, with the newly formed London Contemporary Dance Theatre, and also explored experimental theatre there. She left London to join Toronto Dance Theatre when she was nineteen and, in those exceptional early years of TDT, she had the opportunity to develop her craft touring across Canada, into the U.S.A., and to Europe. She went on to perform with companies and choreographers in Belgium, Canada, and the U.S.A., notably as a member of the Graham Company. She returned to live, perform, and teach in Toronto with the arrival of her son Evan. For the past 19 years, Helen has lived in the village of Flesherton, north-west of Toronto, en route to Owen Sound. There she is part of an active community of artists, and her home has a wonderful extended garden, where she has spent many happy hours tending a glorious collection of flowering plants and trees.

Helen Jones in Lethe – direction: Aubrey Reeves,
cinematography: Marcos Arriaga

Alongside her stellar and lengthy dance career, Helen has taught in many schools and universities; besides her long tenure at the School of TDT, she taught for many years in the Department of Dance at York University. She founded, and for 15 years ran, a community-based dance project in rural Grey County, running classes and events including Dusk Dances – Flesherton, and has also taught at the Owen Sound Academy of Performing Arts (now the Owen Sound Dance Academy).

Academic credits over the years include a B.Sc. in Psychology at the University of Toronto, a Diploma in Adult Training and Development at OISE, and courses in ballet pedagogy and creative dance for children in the Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School.

Professional highlights from the past few years include working with David Earle, acting in the Aubrey Reeves’ short film, Lethe, running workshops, contributing to a theatre piece on bullying for youth, funded by the Canadian Mental Health Association, and creating a dance work for the Owen Sound Academy of Performing Arts. Maggie Armstrong, now a second year dancer in our PTP, was training there at the time, and was a featured performer in both the theatre and the dance piece. 

We wish Helen well in her lovely country home, with many hours of pleasure from her beautiful garden (photos below). Should she miss the dance studio enough to contemplate returning to teaching, she will always be welcome back at the School!