The ballet teacher might be this little girl’s grandmother, and my mother, but what this woman has done for Merritt, and dance in two countries over 50 years cannot, and must not go unnoticed. 

Despite her credentials and experience, a list longer than and spanning more years than many of us have been alive for, Lizette Nel has invested herself in her passion, her students, her community, the people by whom she is surrounded, those who love dance but can’t or couldn’t dance for whatever reason as well as those who turned their passion into a career.  

Lizette invests in people.  She invests in them by means of time, money, dedication, emotions and thoughts not only during her time spent with, but also the hours after when others have already turned their attention to the next thing.  

I feel richer for it.  Growing up, all the hours, days, weeks, months, years spent at the dance studio, at rehearsals, in theatres and sleeping under the table where Lizette did paperwork so I could be close to my mom while she was a mother to many.  The 18 years of my life spent under her roof was filled with music, dance, memories, responsibilities and lessons in how to own, accept and navigate through what life throws at you, making plans to reach goals and adjust when necessary instead of making excuses and shifting blame.

What Lizette brings is worthy of so much more than “the obvious.”  She enriches the lives of those who are hungry to learn, those who have goals, those who have dreams and those who don’t know who they are or where they belong.  Lizette gives purpose to many.  Lizette brings to life, that something in your heart, which you might not know how to express in words.

During challenging times, Lizette has always found a way, many ways, to navigate, and create more or new or different opportunities to keep those who feel defeated, scared, frustrated and overwhelmed from giving up. She makes sure to redirect a path to a place where success and light can be found, and illustrates in real time that anything is possible and that opportunities are yours for the taking.

What Lizette deserves is the highest honour, respect and recognition for her work and investment in dance spanning over half a century.  Her investment in her dancers and people she has met along the way, not to mention the time she has given selflessly, never really ever taking a moment for herself.  

I am grateful that Lizette packed up her whole life and literally moved to the other side of the world, to a town, 142 times smaller than the city she knew, to share her knowledge.  I feel honoured that my daughter was privileged enough to learn from someone such as Lizette, who is well known and respected in the world of dance in South Africa, and who has received nothing but praise from fellow artists in the industry both in South Africa and in Canada.

What you might not understand is this, learning from someone like Lizette is not something that should be taken for granted.  It’s a privilege, a magnificent opportunity, and what she has produced to date is an honest and pure testament of her passion, ability, knowledge and dedication. 

Lizette is not merely a service provider, SHE IS A MASTER AT HER CRAFT.

Vanessa Van Rensburg

Merritt, BC