By Melissa Anderson
After 32 years of service and hard work with The Young DanceMakers, director Christine Ollerton retired last June from one of the loves of her life.
She has worked with thousands of children and helped build the BYU Children”s Dance Company from the beginning.
“How grateful I am for the support everyone has given me and how much I love the children,” Ollerton said. “I have come to the place where I can see the fruits of my labors. Some of my students are in companies as some company dancers, some are teachers at the university level and some have become good mothers.”
In honor of her contribution to dance at BYU, the performance, “Childscape,” will be dedicated to her this Friday.
Ollerton began dancing at age 5. Polio was the reason she began to dance as the doctors suggested it as form of physical therapy. She moved to Salt Lake City when she was 14 to live with her instructor, Virginia Tanner.
In 1962 at the Seattle Worlds Fair, she performed a solo in the originally choreographed piece “Woman the Pioneer,” by Virginia Tanner.
Ollerton was a charter member of Repertory Dance Theatre, which began with five women and three men in 1966.
Ollerton has studied with modern dance greats, such as Jose Limon, Martha Graham, Helen Timiris, Mirth Cunningham and Alwin Nicolais.
In the early 70s she took over as the director of the BYU Young DanceMakers. Since that time they performed in the 2002 Olympic Games, “Light of the World,” participating in 13 performances. The company also put on an annual concert in the De Jong Concert Hall for the past 13 years.
“The one I most remember is when I re-choreographed ”Women the Pioneer” for my teacher Virginia Tanner before she died of cancer,” Ollerton said. “It is re-shown every four or five years here at BYU so it is the most performed piece.”
Some of her dancers said, Ollerton has worked very hard and put a great deal into this program, building it from practically nothing that it will be sad to see her go.
“The time has come to simplify my life,” Ollerton said. “I feel confident that Kathleen Sheffield will do a great job as she takes over as director.”
Ollerton is married to a pharmacist, Gerald Ollerton, and they have six.