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Fredericton’s “Dean of Dance” Bonnie Kilburn named 2013 recipient of The Playhouse Honours

by on May 8, 2013

Bonnie_LoResThe Fredericton Playhouse is pleased to announce that Bonnie Kilburn, Fredericton’s own “Dean of Dance”, is the 2013 recipient of The Playhouse Honours. A linchpin in the community, she has been a mentor, educator, and a philanthropist to many, setting an example for students and parents alike about the importance of giving back to the community.

Kilburn is a native of Fredericton and, since the age of 16, has been involved in the performing arts. As a young step and tap dancer in the mid 1960s, Kilburn would take the city bus from Fredericton to Oromocto and Silverwood to teach her first handful of students. By 1970, her class sizes really began to increase, and she traveled to the United States to further train and build upon her dance repertoire, where she was first introduced to the style of jazz.

By the 1980s Kilburn was in demand for lessons all over the region. She began sending some of her top students to teach classes at satellite studios to fill demand. Over the years, Kilburn has held classes in Nackawic, Burtts Corner, Keswick, Oromocto, Chipman, Minto, Doaktown, Fredericton Junction, New Maryland, MacAdam and Harvey – each location with its own year-end recital to celebrate with families, the progress of the students.

Kilburn has been teaching for 48 years, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of her Dance Spectacular at The Fredericton Playhouse.  What began as a hobby for Kilburn so many years ago has grown into a community mainstay, which now operates out of a 9000 square foot facility on the Hanwell Road with five dance studios, lots of common space for parents to observe, a nice reception area, and two administrative offices.

Very proud of what she has built from the ground up, Kilburn explains that “the children and adults that join our school develop a lot more than just dance; they also develop self confidence, leadership skills, basic social skills, and long list of those they can call a friend.”

Kilburn was surprised to learn that she had been chosen to receive The Playhouse Honours. “What a humbling feeling to be recognized by your peers,” says Kilburn. “I was very surprised when I received the phone call, but to be held in such high esteem as the previous recipients is truly an honour.”

Since 2008, the Board of Directors of The Fredericton Playhouse has given The Playhouse Honours annually. Generously sponsored by Outreach Productions, the recognition honours an individual’s involvement in the performing arts in Fredericton, fostering a deeper appreciation of the value that people can make to community life through their work in music, theatre, dance, spoken word, and multidisciplinary performing arts. A permanent display in the west gallery of the Playhouse recognizes the honourees.

President of The Fredericton Playhouse Board of Directors, Patrick Flanagan, couldn’t be happier with this year’s recipient. Says Flanagan, “Bonnie Kilburn has nourished generations of Frederictonians hungry for a creative outlet. My sisters were there as adults. And my children as well. Who in our community has not been touched at some point in their lives by the magic Bonnie and company makes from mixing kids and dance?”

“The Playhouse Honours is a way for our community to celebrate and say thank you to people who have made a significant contribution to Fredericton through their involvement in the performing arts,” continues Flanagan, “and Bonnie Kilburn is a shining example of that. She has made a difference in our community.”

Previous recipients of The Playhouse Honours include Ilkay Silk, Brent Staeben, Philip Sexsmith, Walter Learning and Mabel Doak.

  1. Donna permalink

    Congratulations Bonnie…. love you forever.

  2. Lynn Marr permalink

    Congratulations Bonnie. Well deserved!!!

  3. kelly Burns permalink

    Congratulations Bonnie! well deserved indeed!

  4. Kim Williams permalink

    Congratulations Bonnie!! Well Deserved, happy for you!

  5. Kathy Young permalink

    Awesome Bonnie, but then again our family already knew you were awesome even before this award 🙂 Congrats!!!

  6. Lynne permalink

    Congrats! She is a wonderful mentor and inspiration to youth. I have had the privilege of participating in many of her dance workshops as well as summer dance camps in the 80’s (via l’école de danse Le Soulier Musical in Edmundston, NB). It is quite an achievement to have been recognized by the Playhouse. She is very deserving of such a prestigious award! You are an amazing woman Bonnie!

  7. Twila MacLean permalink

    Congratulations Bonnie…very nice to read this article about the award and you !!! Congrats again

  8. pat Woodcock permalink

    Bonnie you look wonderful and you deserve it. Im so excited this year, Granddaughter will be dancing. so i was back in line to pick up tickets. Cant wait for the show.

  9. Andrea Painter Morissette permalink

    Congratulations Bonnie from a former student. No one deserves it more. So many good memories of dance and Dance Spectacular.

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