Deborah Mitton, owner/operator of Show Case Shop & Dance Studio on the Esplanade in Truro, believes she has found the perfect niche in downtown Truro.
Mitton says she has finally found her destiny.
“It took a lot of paths and 40 years for me to get here, but this is what I was meant to do,” she said.
At the age of 13, Mitton decided her career goal was to be a figure skating coach. Along the way, however, she studied sport science, commerce and fashion merchandise design, then coached for several years in Nova Scotia and PEI before moving to England. During her eight years there, she studied jazz dance, trained with some Olympic skating coaches and enrolled in marshall arts classes.
When she returned to Canada, Mitton was busy raising three children and working in an office, but found time to skate with the local club and design costumes for carnival theme ice shows.
But it was when she returned home to Truro that her dream of coaching figure skating really began to take shape.
“I taught figure skating full time in Tatamagouche, Parrsboro, Debert and Truro, as well as teaching summer school in Halifax, Antigonish and New Glasgow,” she said. “I also took senior skaters to the National Training Centre in Ontario to train under Master Coach Doug Leigh. And I always kept my national certification as a coach upgraded by taking the necessary courses, some of which were online, others I had to travel to Ontario for. So I was definitely keeping busy.”
Two years ago, she decided less travelling sounded appealing.
“I decided I was going to stay in Truro and only teach part time,” she said.
Never one to be content doing only one thing at a time, however, Mitton soon became the founder and director of ‘Theatre on Ice’, giving young skaters opportunities to develop skills in skating, drama and performing.
“We’re affiliated with the Debert Skating Club where I’m Head Coach, but the program is open to anyone in the area.”
Show Case, her shop and dance studio, became Stage Two of her semi-retirement plan.
“My children were involved in gymnastics, highland dancing, ballet and tap and we felt there was a need for another dance studio in Truro.
“We’re offering classes in our studio that haven’t been available recently in the Truro area, including hip hop and tap,” she said. “We have several coaches – Jose Bourgeois, an award-winning professional dancer who teaches hip hop as well as Raymond Tynes and Chris Upshaw from Halifax Dance, and Cavalle Gilby, who teaches beginner ballet, tap, mom and tots and creative dance. I concentrate on working with private students to develop choreography routines, especially helpful to gymnasts or skaters.”
The shop offers dance and gym wear, skating costumes and ladies formal prom wear.
“Because I had 40 years’ experience with ice shows and designing costumes, it seemed only natural to open a shop along with the studio to help fill that niche, as well. We produce our own line of crinolines and eventually, we’ll also be producing our own line of dancewear, offering theatre supplies and more skating items.”
Mitton notes the response from the community has been rewarding, almost overwhelming in fact.
“Most dance classes are full, birthday parties (another sideline that offers a fun, creative party option for kids of all ages) are booking steadily, new stock is arriving daily, and we’ve only just begun!”
Mitton emphasized that being active in the community and supporting local producers and causes is very important to her.
“For example, I support two local highland dance costume sewers and feature the jewelry of local artisan Carol Roy in my shop. No one should isolate themselves. You have to be involved in your community,” she said. “Now that I’m not traveling, I’ve been able to develop a wonderful balance between my personal, family and business life.
“My two daughters have contributed to the shop and we make any major decisions together as a family. One thing I’ve learned is that it pays to be flexible. Life can be an obstacle course sometimes and you just have to work your way through it and try to avoid the ruts,” she laughed. “The right attitude makes all the difference! ”