Jackie Burroughs, the stage and screen actress and member of the Toronto dance community, died on September 22nd at age seventy-one in her Toronto home. Best known for her role as school teacher Hetty King on Road to Avonlea, the British-born Canadian actress was a dance lover and supporter of the art of dance. “I will forever remember her in dance class at Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT); only a leotard, no leggings, and a lit cigarette in the hallway; sometimes she’d take a puff just before she went across the floor and smoke would come out her mouth as she walked across the floor in her very own distinctive and courageous way,” commented Michael Menegon, former dancer and long-time percussionist at TDT.
When asked to comment on Burroughs’ involvement in dance, Susan Macpherson, artistic associate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, responded, “Jackie Burroughs was a dancer at heart. She performed with Toronto Dance Theatre several times in its early days, appearing in featured roles in complex and beautiful works such as A Thread of Sand and The Recitation, both by David Earle. She took dance classes avidly from those early days in the 1970s through until a few months before her death. Alongside her stellar acting career, she worked with many dance companies and independent dancers over the years including, more recently, Bill Coleman, Jennifer Dick, Claudia Moore and Michelle Silagy. In the 1980s, she performed in Toronto and at the National Arts Centre with the Susan Macpherson Dance Collection, and also worked with Dance Collection Danse for their ENCORE! ENCORE! performances at Expo ’86 in Vancouver. In the 1990s, she performed with Peggy Baker in a moving duet by Doug Varone, The Volpe Sisters. Much as she was a great actress, she also gave her heart to dance. Dancers, dance students, and dance audiences will long remember her with deep admiration, affection and gratitude.”
During her career, Burroughs won three Genie Awards, two Canadian Film Awards, five Geminis, and in 2005 she received the Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award for the Performing Arts. Burroughs’ final project was a cameo in the movie Small Town Murder Song, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in September.