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The Serene and Graceful Caroline Potter of the The Bentley Potter School of Dance

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Bentley Potter School of Dance is a long-standing icon of the lush POS suburb of Cascade. Established in 1970 by classically trained dancers, Averil Potter and Eve Bentley, it has been molding graceful dancers for more than 40 years, and one of the most successful young graduates to emerge from their fold is Caroline Potter. 


Caroline has been dancing since she was 6 years old, blossoming into an extremely beautiful and talented dancer who breathed life and movement into every single role she played as a dancer. She went on to win both ‘Twelve & Under’ and ‘Teen Talent’, and after graduating from Bentley Potter, she was accepted to train at the prestigious Ballet Rambert in London, where she spent three years honing and polishing her talent. 


Caroline always knew that dance would play a major role in her life’s journey but thought it would it would be more in the role of teaching. Naturally a very quiet and demure person, she didn’t think that her personality was meant for the life of professional dancer, constantly stepping out on a stage and performing live in front of hundreds of people (even though she was very much aware of how her shyness tended to evaporate when she danced). So she returned home after Ballet Lambert and spent the next three years teaching. 


She still continued to perform on stage in the shows put on by the school, but the conscious decision to actually pursue a career as a professional dancer came 1990, during a performance as the lead dancer in “The Nutcracker”. I myself remember being a member of the audience mesmerized by her performance, never knowing that through it all she was dancing with an injured foot, painful enough to require numbing spray and a bucket of ice in between every act. 


It proved to be a defining moment in Caroline’s life. In pain and in tears and torn with indecision between taking care of her injury and taking her place on stage, she prayed for guidance and was moved to fulfill her role instead of letting her understudy take over. She says, “by the end of the show’s run I felt, even as much as I already loved dancing, it was as though a deep passion for it had been ignited deep within me, and I knew then that dance was my destiny”.


She then earned herself a place in the Vienna Festival Ballet, touring with the company for five years and performing in the role of senior soloist in many of the greatest classical ballets, such as ‘The Nutcracker’, ‘Coppelia’, ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Giselle’, and ‘Cinderella’, before returning to Trinidad in 1996 and co-founding the Cascade Festival Ballet. She says too that the years she spent abroad touring with the company - what may seem to some as a glamorous life but what in fact is grueling hours and bone-tiring work - gave her ‘a backbone’, and taught her to stand up for herself and to go after what she wanted. She is now imparting all of that learning and skill to other budding dancers, teaching her students to follow their own passions. 
The company is actually staging a show now, entitled "Capriccio" (loosely meaning "as you fancy"), and composed of light hearted, whimsical vignettes and show-casing various styles of dance, but all based on the classical technique for which the school is known. Caroline will also be performing in the show, and hints that it might very well be her last performance.


She is very firm in her faith and knows that her journey has always been guided, and has absolutely no regrets about the direction it took. She credits the love and support of her family, her parents, siblings, husband and children, as a strong and solid foundation from which she has been able to explore her fullest potential, and now looks forward to whatever the rest of her life will bring. If you would like to catch the performance, the show is on today at 6.30pm at Queen’s Hall, and you can call the box office there to find out about tickets.




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