Pauline Zamprogna

I found out today that a goddess finished her earthbound work and left us. I am floored. I am ashamed I have seen this woman once, in passing at a gala, in the last 15 years. More than anything, I am so very sad that I never had the time or the intelligence to tell her how astonishing she was.

To me Pauline was the so-much-better half to Lou Zamprogna. Teachers at Hamilton’s The Dance Centre and at the Theatre Aquarius Performing Arts Programme.  Lou was an incredible force in my life and in the lives of thousands of aspiring dreamers on their way to careers in the arts and fulfilling lives as lovers of music, dance and theatre. Pauline was mostly the same as I recall. They were both instrumental in drawing the absolute best effort from the students in front of them – but with wildly different perspectives. Lou was driven…  and was a driver. Lou expected much and pushed for more. He taught me how to teach. In fact in so many ways he taught me how to be in the world. But what I didn’t understand about Pauline until now – so very much later on – is how powerful she really was.

Lou, with his carved dancer calf muscles and his kick-you-in-the-ass-until-you-get-it-right approach would use volume, energy, and just the right amount of guilt/fear to move the company along, limping toward an idea of perfection that became everything to us. Pauline, on the other hand, beheld us.

I remember looking over at her at times in rehearsals for the shows we were creating and feeling ‘seen’. Lou would use pressure to conform us, Pauline would instead call us to our greatness. She saw it in us, and whether it was a choice on her behalf or a default position to balance out the fire in her husband’s eyes and heart, we would look to her to see what it was we could not yet see in ourselves. Sometimes, in the long hours of tech and the seemingly endless reworking scenes and numbers, we would become so exhausted and afraid we would never get it right. But a look from Pauline and even the most broken among us knew that, though we were not yet there, at least it was possible. She always made me feel like my own success was inevitable.

Pauline, you were the most remarkable woman. You quietly taught my adolescent self to see beauty, dignity, and self-confidence. I know you did the same for hundreds of others, around the world. I am so lucky to have had the chance to know you, and know that my awkward self was something to be proud of just because you looked at me.

Rest peacefully. For me, you are eternal.