Ted Cawker

Ted Cawker, born George Edwin Alexander Cawker on April 1909 in Portnuef Quebec, just outside Quebec City. The family moved to Burnaby around 1916-1920. Ted’s father died in an industrial accident in 1923 and Ted left school to help with the finances. We don’t know much about his early career, but in 1932 he was mentioned dancing in the “Vodvil” Production of Del-Roy and Merinoff. His teaching career started around 1935 when he joined June Roper’s studio at 887 Seymour street in Vancouver. June Roper formed the BC school of dancing and Ted taught many of her students who were studying ballet. 1935 was also the year he married Isabelle Bruce from North Vancouver. He was mentioned in 1939 as Vancouver’s foremost tap and acrobatic specialist in the New Canadian listings of upcoming shows. He was also involved in the Sun Ray Revues where his students performed in the late 30s at the Empress Theatre. Ted toured North America with Fanchon & Marco with whom he wound up in California staging dance sequences in many 20th Century Fox musical productions. There he worked with stars like Betty Grable, Judy Garland and Ginger Rogers. 

Even after he moved with his wife and daughter to Bellingham n 1948 he kept close ties to the Vancouver tap scene. His students participated in Festivals, The Sun Ray revues, The Kitsilano Showboat, the PNE and many other venues in the 50's and 60s'. Ted taught anywhere and everywhere: in various private studios and student homes from Mission to Vancouver, and Seattle to Bellingham, where he opened the Cawker School of Dance. His legacy of performing and teaching for over 40 years was significant. He taught many who went on to be stars like Aida Alberts, Patience King, Duncan Noble just to name a few and teachers such as Kay Armstrong, Aida Hughesman and Pat Gee and Maylou Brien. 

Jean Jepson

Jean Jepson was born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1927 and attended Tecumseh Elementary and John Oliver Secondary schools. She started dancing as a young child and continued to perform, teach, and choreograph until she died in 1996. Early performances in Vancouver included “Cinderella and the Magic Belt” (Sun Ray Revue, 1934), “Miss Hook of Holland” (Lyric Theater, 1940), and “Hit the Deck” (Theatre Under the Stars, 1944). At the age of 17, she went to New York to join the Shubert Repertoire Company. She danced in their touring shows including “Rose Marie”, “Countess Maritza”, and “The Merry Widow” (1945-46). She also danced in “Gypsy” at The Latin Quarter in Boston (1946-47).

After returning to Vancouver in 1947, she taught ballet, jazz, and tap at the Rosemary Deveson Dance School. Some of Jean’s students there included Lynn Seymour (principal ballerina, Royal Ballet, 1959), Kit Copping (principal ballerina, Royal Winnipeg Ballet), and Maria Lewis (National Ballet of Canada, Montreal Ballet). Jean married Robert Deveson (cousin of Rosemary’s father) in 1948 and they had two children (Ken in 1952; Nancy in 1955). Jean opened her own school of dancing on Main Street in 1950, which she operated until 1961. Then, she taught from her home and from other studios (Mara McBirney, Kay Armstrong). Her choreography during those years included Vancouver Ballet Society Showcases (1956-58), “Touch and Go” (1953), “Dames at Sea” (1974, starring Valerie Easton), and a ‘dance’ for an A &W root beer commercial. Although she taught ballet, jazz, and tap throughout her career, during her later years, she taught only tap, from the studio in the basement of her home.

Jean was a charter member of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association (CDTA) and was an examiner for ballet, jazz, stage, and tap, including for those who were applying to be associates or members of the CDTA. In 1996 the Recital at the CDTA annual meeting was dedicated to the memory of Jean Jepson.

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