Connect with us

Features

For popular dance teacher Rheesa Schachter, Kids Etc. is a family affair

left: Rheesa Schachter (centre) with
daughters Taylor (left) & Jessica
right: dancers from Kids Etc.

By MYRON LOVE In more ways than one, for Rheesa Schachter, Kids Etc. Youth Movement Company is a family affair. Her daughters, Taylor and Jessica Smith, whom she describes as her two best friends, have been an integral part of Kids Etc. since they were teenagers – both as students and, later, as teachers – and, since 2017, have been her partners in the business.

Taylor is an award-winning dancer, a choreographer and a performer who has also qualified as a personal trainer and has her own personal training gym. Jessica’s credentials are equally impressive, having competed in the World Dance Championships and having been chosen as a Hall of Fame All-Star. Jessica has completed her Intermediate Level Cecchetti Ballet Exams. Her mother notes that she has assumed responsibility for Kids Etc.’s marketing and social media initiatives.
In addition, Rheesa notes that her husband, Paul, handles administration duties and is always available to help in a myriad of ways from providing bandaids to editing the music to cleaning the toilets.

On another level though, Schachter says that she considers her staff and students also as part of one big family. She observes that all of her students are like family to her and that half of her 20-plus teaching faculty are former students. During these past few months of pandemic closures, she notes, she kept all of her staff on salary and kept to a teaching schedule via Zoom.
Rheesa Schachter has been dancing – and teaching dancing – virtually all of her life. The daughter of the late Joe and Sunny Schachter – who grew up in River Heights – began studying ballet at an early age. She recalls that when she was young, ballet was the only option for aspiring dancers. Jazz dancing was only open to students 13 and older.
“I felt that jazz dancing should be available to younger students as well,” she says.

At the tender age of 16, the future dancing teacher approached the former Ramah Hebrew school – where she had been a student – about offering dance classes after school.
“I started with 12 children, twice a week, teaching jazz dance,” she recalls. “It was very exciting. I loved working with the kids.”
Over the next few years, while she finished her education – graduating from Grant Park and the University of Manitoba (with a B.Comm. degree) – she continued to teach dance and her student numbers continued to grow. She had also studied dance at York University during her summers off from the U. of M. and completed her Royal Academy of Dance ballet exams.
“After university, I got a real job at a bank,” she recounts. “I hated it. My passion was dancing. After a year, I quit and founded Kids Etc.”
While at university, she had taught her dance classes in rented spaces at churches in River Heights. In 1986, she opened her first studio on Academy Road in what had been Gerry Gurvey’s Uptown Drugstore. A couple of years later, she moved the studio to 686 Academy Road. In the early 1990s, she relocated again – this time to 3525 Roblin Blvd in Charleswood.
“With my student numbers continually growing, I had to keep expanding,” she says.

She also had to hire and train a growing number of instructors for the ever-growing number of classes that now include ballet, Jazz dance, Hip Hop, Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Musical Theater, Adult, and Pre-School dance programs.
In 2017, with her lease on Roblin coming due, Rheesa Schachter had a decision to make – retire or expand. “I wasn’t ready to retire yet, so I decided to expand. I looked up and down Portage and Grant and Taylor for a suitable new location without success. Then this space came up near McGillvary Blvd, (505 Fort Whyte Way). The developer was willing to build. It was fantastic.”
At over 11,000 square feet, she reports, Kids Etc. has the largest studio in Winnipeg. The building contains four large studios (one labeled AFK – alles for the kinder – in recognition of her parents’ influence on her), bleachers for spectators and a huge lounge area for parents.
Pre-Covid, Schachter notes, Kids Etc. was offering more than 100 classes a week – with classes averaging 10-15 kids each. “We prefer smaller class sizes so that we can give each child the attention each needs,” she says.
“We pride ourselves in that we challenge our students but also focus on maintaining balance,” Taylor adds.

Jessica further points out that the staff works to foster a close relationship with the students while also incorporating a sense of fun in their teaching.
Their mother notes that while Kids Etc. has produced some students who have pursued a career in dance, the staff works to encourage each student to build their self-confidence and strive to achieve their personal best in a non-competitive setting.
Schachter says that with the Covid situation hopefully improving, she hopes that Kids Etc can get back to normal business in the fall.
Asked about the accessibility of the Fort Whyte location, Schachter responds that students come from all over – including three students each from Morden in southwestern Manitoba and Arborg in the Interlake.
Schachter has thought about retiring in a few years and leaving the dance studio in the capable hands of Taylor and Jessica. “I will probably never completely retire,” she says. “I really love teaching dance.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Features

“Ain’t No Grave” – new novel set in Deep South in early 20th century combines interracial love story with searing description of the Leo Frank trial and lynching

Book cover/author Mary Glickman

Reviewed by BERNIE BELLAN In 1975, American novelist E. L. Doctorow made waves with “Ragtime,” a novel that interspersed true historical American figures from the first part of the 20th century with fictitious characters. The novel explored the overt racism faced by Blacks in America at that time, along with the antisemitism that was also prevalent.
Now, with a new novel by Mary Glickman, who has specialized in writing historical fiction centering around Jewish characters in the Deep South of the U.S., the themes of anti-Black and antisemitic prejudice in the South reach a traumatic apex, culminating with the lynching of New York-born Leo Frank in Georgia, in 1915.
But – since I don’t like to read too much about what a novel is about before I delve into it, I really didn’t know to what extent the Leo Frank case was going to play a role in this particular book. I prefer to be surprised. Unfortunately, if you’re also of a similar mind, I’m afraid I’ve already let the cat out of the bag.
The story opens, however, not in Atlanta, which is where Leo Frank was framed for the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, but in a part of backwoods Georgia known as Heard County, where we meet the two central characters of the book: Young Max Sassaport, the son of the only Jewish couple in his small rural village, and Max’s best friend, an equally young Ruby Johnson, the Black daughter of a sharecropper.
The two children – though from totally dissimilar backgrounds, share a deep bond – which they keep hidden from all around them. Glickman’s lilting prose and her depiction of rural Georgia life reminded me of another wonderful novel, also set in the Deep South: “Where the Crawdads Sing.”
Of course, a relationship between a Black girl and a White boy (and a Jew no less) is bound to come asunder – and even as youngsters, Ruby and Max are aware that they are fated to be split apart. Yet, with the introduction of a fascinating character known as Mayhayley Lancaster, who is described as a “witch,” but who later turns out to be a real person who actually played somewhat of a role in the Leo Frank trial, the children’s fate is foretold. (Again, I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but Mayhayley Lancaster’s transformation later in the novel turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of the book.)
As the first part of the story develops – and it becomes apparent that Ruby and Max are destined to take different roads in their lives, one of the interesting aspects of the story for Jewish readers will be what life would have been like for the only Jewish family in a small Southern town. The Sassaports operate a general dry goods store – as did many Jews in rural locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, but their connection to Judaism is tenuous at best.
In time, both Max and Ruby make their way to Atlanta, but with Ruby leaving when she is only 12 years old and Max waiting another six years before he ends up in Atlanta, neither one of them holds much hope that they will ever see each other again.
Max, however, meets up with a reporter for the Atlanta Journal known as Harold Ross (who would later go on, in real life, to found The New Yorker). Ross takes Max under his wing as a cub reporter and it’s in Max’s capacity as a reporter that he finds himself enmeshed in the Leo Frank trial.
As a press release for the novel explains: “1913. The year heart-sick Max travels to Atlanta to find Ruby, his lost love and childhood friend. And the year New York Jew, Leo Frank, is charged with the murder of a child laborer at the National Pencil Factory. Max is Jewish and Ruby’s Black. Their reunion takes place just as Frank is arrested, a racially charged event that sparks an explosion of antisemitism across the city of Atlanta.”
Although I had somewhat of a recollection of reading about the Leo Frank trial, reading about the events surrounding that trial and its aftermath comes as somewhat of a shock. Leo Frank was framed for the murder of a 13-year-old White girl but the degree to which the police and the prosecutor were determined to pursue a totally made-up case against an innocent Jewish businessman is still jarring to read. As well, when one contemplates how comfortable Donald Trump is with telling one lie after another to suit his agenda, it becomes much easier to understand how so many White authority figures in “Ain’t No Grave” were willing to engage in a total frame-up so as to enrage their White base. The role that many newspapers at the time played in stoking antisemitism also provides a salutary experience in how easy it has always been to dupe a huge proportion of the American public though fictitious media reporting. In 1915 it was through newspapers; today, it’s through the internet.
As the book’s press release notes the parallels between what was happening in the early years of the 20th century and what we are seeing playing out around the world today, “With global antisemitism on the rise, “Ain’t No Grave” draws attention to the fact that garden variety antisemitism can be stoked by bad actors and quickly explode into violence. Sometimes, the media play a role.”
The Jewish community of Atlanta in 1915 was so terrified by what was happening to Leo Frank that events at the time led to the creation of B’nai Brith’s Anti-Defamation League.
The juxtaposition of vicious antisemitism and anti-Black hatred in the Deep South with a love story between a White Jew and a Black woman makes for a compelling read. As a member of the Southeast ADL by the name of Sandra Brett noted after reading “Ain’t No Grave,” “Mary Glickman vividly captures milestones in the Leo Frank saga through sympathetic characters as real as the events surrounding them. She deftly intertwines Leo Frank’s trial and lynching with the founding of the ADL, the rebirth of a moribund KKK, and an interracial love story. Meticulously researched, fast-paced, and thoroughly original, Ain’t No Grave is a moving, satisfying read.”
And, as Pat Conroy, author of another best selling novel set in the Deep South – “Prince of Tides”, wrote about Mary Glickman: “Mary Glickman is a wonder.”

Buy this book on Amazon

Ain’t No Grave
By Mary Glickman
280 Pages,
Publication Date: July 2024
Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.


Continue Reading

Features

The environmental benefits of lawn care

(NC) Caring for your lawn isn’t just about aesthetics – it’s about nurturing a healthy ecosystem right in your own backyard. A well-maintained lawn not only adds charm to your property, it also plays a crucial role in supporting a healthier environment. Here are some of the ways that taking care of your lawn can benefit our surroundings.

Enhancing air quality: Your lawn acts as a natural air purifier, capturing dust, pollen and other airborne particles, making the air cleaner. Through photosynthesis, grass absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) and releases oxygen, helping to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Preventing soil erosion: Healthy lawns are crucial to preventing soil erosion. The dense grassroot keeps the soil in place, minimizing the risk of decay caused by water or wind. Soil erosion not only strips away valuable topsoil, it can also pollute nearby water bodies.

Cooling outdoor spaces: Compared to urban areas filled with buildings and concrete, places with more grass and trees are noticeably cooler. Additionally, it requires less energy to cool a building surrounded by grass than one surrounded by concrete. A lush lawn not only keeps your outdoor area cooler but could also lower air conditioning bills.

Ensuring clean water: Maintaining a healthy lawn contributes to better water quality. The thick grass cover is a natural filter for rainwater, cutting down on runoff and stopping pollutants from reaching waterways.

How to keep your lawn healthy

To keep your lawn healthy, it’s important to focus on three areas: fertilizing, watering and cutting.

Fertilize: Plants need the proper balance of nutrients to grow and stay healthy. Fertilizer ensures your lawn has all the nutrients it needs in the proper amounts to grow. Fertilize your lawn every other month, beginning in the spring when it starts to turn green, and continue until just before the ground freezes to promote thick, healthy growth that can fight off weeds.

Water: Regular watering is essential to maintaining a healthy lawn. Water your lawn early in the morning to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.

Cut: Mowing your lawn correctly can greatly influence its health. Keep your mower blades sharp and set your mower to the correct height for your grass type.

When fall begins, it’s important to continue caring for your lawn to ensure it remains healthy. Fertilizing in the fall helps strengthen roots and provides essential nutrients for the colder months. Additionally, keep up with watering if there is insufficient rainfall and continue mowing until the cold weather hits.

A vibrant lawn isn’t just a patch of green – it’s a miniature ecosystem that offers a variety of environmental benefits. By taking care of your lawn, you’re enhancing your property’s appeal and playing a vital role in preserving our planet’s health.

Find more information on lawn care and environmental benefits at fertilizercanada.ca/lawncare.

Continue Reading

Features

4 things to know about the Canadian Dental Care Plan

(NC) Have you heard about the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP)? It’s a federal government program that helps reduce the cost of dental care for Canadian residents with a family income under $90,000 who do not have access to dental insurance.

Here are four things you should know about the plan.

What does it cover?
The plan helps cover a wide range of oral health services for eligible Canadians, such as examinations, teeth cleaning, X-rays, fillings, dentures, root canals and oral surgeries. Some services may only be available as of November 2024 and will require prior approval on the recommendation of an oral health provider.

When can I apply?
The application process began in stages, starting with seniors. As of June 27, 2024, two more groups can sign up for the plan: children under the age of 18 and adults with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate.

When will other adults be able to apply?
All other eligible Canadian residents will be able to apply in 2025. Once fully rolled out, the plan aims to help reduce the cost of dental care for up to 9 million Canadians.

Does it fully cover all dental expenses?
The CDCP will reimburse a portion of the cost, based on established plan fees and your annual family income. There are three tiers of coverage that are based on household income.

  • If you have a family income lower than $70,000, 100 per cent of the plan’s established fee for eligible services will be covered;
  • If your family income is between $70,000 and $79,999, 60 per cent of the plan’s established fee for eligible services will be covered;
  • If your family income is between $80,000 and $89,999, 40 per cent of the plan’s established fee for eligible services will be covered.

The plan may not cover the full cost of your treatment, even if you have a family income lower than $70,000. You may have to pay a portion of the cost if the plan’s established fees are lower than what your provider normally charges. Additionally, you may agree to receive treatment that is not covered by the plan.

Before receiving oral health-care, you should always confirm that your provider is accepting CDCP members, that they will bill Sun Life for direct payment and ask about any costs that won’t be covered by the plan.

Learn more about the plan at canada.ca/dental.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News