Monday, October 24, 2005

Lee Saunders: Entrepreneur, Dancer for Health

Petitcodiac Profile: Lee Saunders, An Entrepreneur and Specialist in Dance- Pilates and Mind-Body and Mind Centering®

As originally published in The Community Digest October 2005

Petitcodiac - A mouse in the corner sees many things. Laughter being the best medicine, it is not surprising that the sound of laughter causes this little mouse to peek from his house to see what‘s going on in the world.

What is seen on this occasion is about 6 people, adults and children alike, enjoying themselves. Each one lies on a separate mat on the floor, breathing in, breathing out and performing designated movements in response to the steady tones of an instructor saying, “Inhale … and on the exhale . . .”

They are doing Pilates (pee-la-tays). Their leader, Lee Saunders, is an Internationally registered Pilates Instructor who lives and works in Intervale near Petitcodiac, NB.

Pilates is a series of nonimpact and non-weight bearing exercises devised by German-born Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s. The people on the mats are improving their body alignment, building up resistance to injury and gaining increased flexibility through correct breathing and simultaneous stretching and strengthening.

Used for decades by professional athletes, dancers and actors, Pilates is an effective conditioning program that emphasizes precise flowing movements, mental concentration and breath control. Anyone at any level can participate: from babes to seniors, from severely movement-challenged individuals to high performance athletes, men and women of any age who just want to look better in their clothes or improve their work performance.

Muscles are never worked to exhaustion and there is no soreness the next day. The ideal class size is from 6 to 7 people, which allows for individual attention. Private workouts on Pilates Equipment is another available option.

The most qualified teachers are those who have completed a program which has a significant functional anatomy component. As a practitoner/teacher of Body-Mind Cenering (BMC®), Lee meets this criterion.

Body-Mind Centering® is an educational and therapeutic approach to health and healing that addresses all the body systems including respiratory, digestive, circulatory, nervous, hormonal, ligamentous, soft tissue and perceptual. BMC® practitioner/teacher certification involves extensive study and experience in movement, anatomy, physiology, infant and child developmental movement, hands-on work, course development, analysis, teaching and communication skills.

Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in the 1960’s and 70’s, BMC® evolved from some of the same principles that influenced body-mind movement pioneer, Joseph Pilates.
In order to recuperate from an injury and to augment her professional dance training, Lee began her study of BMC® in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1982.

By combining the two disciplines of Pilates and Body-Mind Centering®, Lee found the perfect way to offer her multifaceted capabilities to the pulic. Her BMC® certification qualifies her as member of ISMETA- International Somatic Movement Educators & Therapists Association and a member of l’Association des naturopathes professionnel.le.s du Québec.

In her private practice she works with people of all ages: from newborns to seniors, at all levels of movement ability. She has a special interest in babies and children with developmental and physical disabilities.

Parents are included in sessions with children, where through touch and play, they learn how to help their child become more physically able and socially interactive. The techniques learned can be integrated into their daily lives.

As a case in point, at a camp run by The Dragonfly Centre for Autism in St. Andrews, NB, Lee works as the Head Therapist. As well as working with the children, she trains the staff or parents in the fundamentals of movement education and therapy, so they can incorporate the techniques in their interaction with the children.

The Centre was founded and organized by Cynthia Bartlett, daughter of Lois Bartlett and the late Rev. Hubert Bartlett. It addresses the needs of children with autism from Charlotte County through summer camps and after school programs based on Art Education, Music Therapy, Movement Therapy and Excursions in Nature.

An article written by Lee about her work with a child with autism and the child’s mother, was published in “Self & Society,” the Journal for the British Society of Humanistic Psychology.
All of her life, Lee has danced to the beat of a different drum and followed her heart in the direction it led. As a pioneer in her unusual field, her search for a niche has been long, but a rewarding learning experience at every level. As a professional artist she works in the field of the Performing Arts.

She began dancing at an early age mastering the Highland Fling and other Highland dances. She competed in festivals around the Maritimes and performed at community gatherings in her native city of Moncton.

After high school she and her dancing friends dispersed. For awhile dance was on a back burner. As with most young people, deciding which road to pursue was difficult, but after a year of university, she enrolled in the NB School of Craft and Design, graduating with a major in Pottery.

For 7 years she ran a pottery shop and studio on the family farm in Intervale. Examples of her work are in the NB Provincial Collection and the National Massey Collection.

Filled with a desire to study art history and have a deeper foundation for her work as a potter, she enrolled in the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, to get a BFA with a major in pottery. As an elective, she began to study dance improvisation and choreography from her childhood friend and fellow dancer, Diane Moore.

Diane had become a professional dancer and told Lee she too, had what it takes to be a professional. Lee switched from pottery to dance and created her first professional show as a final project for her Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Since then she has been a dedicated performer and promoter of Atlantic dance regionally, nationally and internationally. In Moncton from 1986 to ‘89, as founding artistic director of NB Independanc.s.e N-B, a dance presentation company that was part of the Candance National Touring Network, she presented professional dance companies from across Canada.

Her presence as a performer and/or teacher has been sought by vanguards in dance such as La Compagnie Marie Chouinard (Quebec), the European Dance Development Centre (Netherlands), Live Art Productions (Halifax), the Sound Symposium (Newfoundland), and Symphony New Brunswick.

She received the coveted Prix Éloizes - Artist of the year in Dance in 2000 from l’Association acadienne des artistes professionnel.le.s du N-B. In November 2002 she was featured on french national television as one of 26 artists from across Canada in the film Artiste dans l’äme, which is often seen globally on Bravo.

Lee is the daughter of Sylvia Saunders and the late Allan A. Saunders of Petitcodiac. She currently lives with her husband, Ruell Sloan and her mother, on the family farm in Intervale, near Petitcodiac.

Recognizing the value of the farm as a place for study, a sanctuary for renewal and rehabilitation, a site for practicing her therapies and for teaching others what she has learned, in ‘95 Lee and Ruell began developing a Business Plan (BP).

The BP became a touchstone and guide for each goal-related decision. By 2001, elements written into the plan began to manifest themselves and the building of a studio, a place for the dream to be realized, began.

In addition to clients from the Sussex and Petitcodiac areas, whom she teaches in her home pending the completion of the studio (in the fall of 2005), Lee has clients in Moncton, many of whom are referrals from physiotherapists or doctors. Her Moncton studio is located on the third floor of the Theatre l’Escaouette, 170 Botsford Street.

It is accessible by elevator for those unable to manage stairs. She also has private clients who enjoy their workouts on Pilates Equipment.

If you think Pilates with Lee Saunders might be the way for you, the number to call for Petitcodiac is: 506-756-9008 and for Moncton: 506-855-8240.

When asked to sum up her work, Lee replied, “The need for creative expression, knowledge and the management of chronic pain were the driving forces that led me to the professions of Dance and Movement Education.

When helping others to achieve their goal of optimum health or rehabilitation, my intention is empowerment of the individual. I see the body as the conduit for the spirit.

Sometimes the conduit is clear, sometimes it embodies obstacles. Whatever the condition, somewhere within, the spirit resides. Whether performing or teaching, in all my work it is the spirit that I address.

“My family is the lifeblood of my work, and I want to acknowledge the support of my husband whose belief in me has helped me in my moments of doubt and enabled me to go on.”

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Star Sixty-Nine Rocks The House.

Star Sixty-Nine Rocks The House.

The local band Star Sixty-Nine has seen many changes this past year since coming back from the ECMA in Newfoundland. For those of you who don’t know of them or their music, let me introduce you to the guys. Star Sixty-Nine was formed by three singer-songwriters (Stephen Schwetz, Ron Hooper and Adam Friars).

The three played as a trio until Bill Stackhouse the bands drummer joined the others in August 2002. Through years of preparation and the ECMA 74hour jam now behind them they have added a fifth member. Trevor Wheaton joined as a third guitarist and fourth songwriter in July 2004.

On January 22, 2005. At the Salisbury Legion I had the opportunity to talk to several of the band members before the show. “We do mostly our original material” says Stephen “Last weekend we played Friday and Saturday night.

The Friday night show we played all original songs. We really want to get some of our tunes out there. Some nights we have a thirty song show and we have all thirty original songs.”

“ We’re still kickn’ around a few ideas for the CD launch” Adam says, “ We write our songs, so our songs are really close to us it’s going to be really hard to pick only ten to put on a CD.”

“Our plan is to do more shows and get some feedback from people that we know.” Says Stephen.
“Some people will come up to us and say ‘Hey I like that song.’ Adam added, “We have three or four that we know are going to be on the CD, just from the amount of positive feedback we’ve been getting.”

The interview came to an end just as a crowd began to arrive. Opening for Star Sixty-Nine was Jeff Townsend, a talented musician formally from Halifax and has just moved to the Moncton area.

As Jeff played his first set on his acoustic guitar I thought to myself, if the opening act is this talented the rest of the evening is going to be good, I was not disappointed.

You could describe Star Sixty-Nine as a Rock n’ roll band and you would almost be right. The feel of their sound range from country to rock, a little of the old rocker with a new twist.

Much of the uniqueness of the music comes from having so much writing talent in one group with each individual being inspired be a wide range of stiles and artist. Whatever the process or mix these guys come up with it just works. Part way into the first set I forgot my notes and took to the dance floor.

For more information on Star Sixty-Nine visit their website at Were you looking for up coming appearance as well as bios, rough cut samples, and lyrics to songs. The Community Digest will also keep you updated up local talent.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Community Digest Today-Online

Hi Westmorland and Albert Counties, this is Jeannette Hibbert, from The Community Digest announcing our new online coverage and latest innovation in maintaining a blog about the counties of southern New Brunswick.

The Community Digest monthly is now online with its own blog to keep you uptodate on events, activities and events that occur between our monthly publication dates.

If you have something that you want covered, just use the convenient email link at the bottom of each post and email me the information and it will post automatically or send us by Fax your information, and we will add it to the blog on so that your information is immediately available.

Welcome to Albert-Westmorland Counties on line. You can find many of our current issue stories on line by visiting the
where several of our current stories as well as all of our 2004 archives are online for your reading pleasure.

If you have trouble finding our newspaper at the stores in the Elgin, Petitcodiac and Salisbury regions, then email me below and we will make sure that you get a copy of The CommunityDigest in print.

Want to read us online each month or know someone from the area that wants to keep in touch with home in the Westmorland-Albert communities, then send them these two urls for their web browser. will lead them to our stories online and web presence for the newspaper and will bring them directly to our new Blog where the news is as new as we can post it.

Enjoy TheCommunityDigest Today.