Center Stage: Dance Teacher, Rochelle Garter Primiterra Faces Brain Cancer with Strength and Grace

Rochelle Gartner Primiterra first started dancing when she was 3 years old, and she hasn’t stopped since. Over the years, Rochelle has inspired thousands of adults and children with her love and passion for dance as the artistic director of Dance With France Studio, and the founder and director of Artists Elite Int’l in Calgary.

This inspiration, perhaps, took on a whole new meaning in Spring 2019 when Rochelle was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, an advanced type of brain cancer. Not being one to give up easily, Rochelle continued teaching dance. She committed to ensuring that the year-end recital her students had worked so hard on would proceed. In fact, Rochelle herself danced in the recital on June 22, 2019, without anyone knowing (outside of immediate family), that she had scheduled emergency brain surgery three days later.

“Her ability to persevere and keep her commitments to her students is a testament to the true character of the special person that she is,” says her sister, Micheline.

Initially, Rochelle was very private about her diagnosis. Once she was able to process and reflect, the specter of cancer transformed into a call to action. Rochelle and her sister, Micheline began to share her story and advocate for others facing glioblastoma.

“I wanted to do something good as opposed to hiding behind it because there’s nothing positive about that. I wanted to help others going through the same thing. As a patient and family, you can get strength from hearing other people’s stories.”

This past February, Rochelle united the dance community to produce, The Dance of Thrones 2, a dance competition-fundraiser in support of glioblastoma research. Dancers from all over the province came to perform, compete, and help Rochelle champion her cause. Friends and family flew in from as far as Los Angeles, Toronto, and Vancouver. To finish the show, Rochelle performed with some of her longtime dance friends. The fundraiser raised an incredible, $14,200. Rochelle hopes that by sharing her story and raising funds in support of glioblastoma research, new treatments will be discovered to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.

Rochelle is currently undergoing her 10th round of oral chemotherapy. While the treatments can be arduous, Rochelle remains strong in spirit. She has resolved to continue living every day with strength and grace.

Share Your Story

You never know whose life you could change simply by talking about your own, share your story today.