Passionate dancer, York student dreamed of opening her own studio

Fourth-year Faculty of Fine Arts honours dance student Melissa Martin died on Aug.15 at age 23. The flag will be lowered, starting tomorrow at 9am until Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1pm, in her honour.

“She’d brighten up a room when she walked in,” said her mother, Liz Martin. “She was amazing, absolutely amazing.” Her light shone brightest whenever she danced. She was so passionate about dance, added her father, Richard Martin.

Melissa, the youngest child and only daughter of the Martins, began ballet classes when she was three years old and never lost her love for it. Melissa Martin“It was spectacular to watch her,” said her father.

Right: Melissa Martin

Melissa’s passion for dance also extended to children. She was in the teacher-training program with the National Ballet of Canada, where she had twice danced in the ensemble of The Nutcracker.

Her dream was to have her own studio, said Richard Martin. “I know she really enjoyed teaching the younger kids.” Melissa’s dream was also that of her family. “We were all part of Melissa’s dream to someday own her own studio,” said her father.

The family has operated their own small industrial sewing company for close to 20 years and Melissa was proficient at running the shop equipment, everything from a band saw, table saw, chainsaw, drill press and the sewing machines.

Her father said she would have been great at creating scenery for productions in her studio. “She was quite an artist,” he said. All the cards she gave out were handmade and often involved origami. She also drew, painted and played piano. “She was just an artist through and through,” said her mother. Melissa also added modelling to her repertoire.

Melissa Martin holding an auxShe also loved animals, having grown up on a half-acre family property bounded by hundreds of acres of farmland and wilderness in New Lowell, near Borden, Ontario, where deer, wild turkeys, Canada geese and even opossums roamed. She later acquired her own pets after moving away from home to attend York University, which included a dog, a cat and two rats.

A gregarious, hard-working and disciplined student of dance, Melissa never missed an opportunity to celebrate life with her friends and family. “She had a large extended family and many friends from York and the National Ballet,” said Liz Martin. “She did more in her 23 years then most people do in 80. Every day was just full.”

Melissa leaves behind her father and mother, her two brothers Gordon and Steven, and her grandparents, Gordon and Joan Martin. She was predeceased by her grandparents, Charlton and Jeanne McAdam.

A funeral service was held at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Toronto. Condolences can be made at Giffen-Mack Funeral Home & Cremation Centre.