OPEN DIVISION | ARTISTIC FACULTY

Artistic Leadership

Bleiddyn del Villar Bellis

Bleiddyn del Villar Bellis

Academy Director

Fellow and Examiner CC-CICB, Enrico Cecchetti Final Diploma

director@vaballet.ca

Ms. Bellis completed her formative ballet training in Victoria, British Columbia, under the guidance of Christine Richardson, Fellow and Examiner CC-CICB. She has worked as an international guest teacher, lecturer and choreographer throughout British Columbia, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, and England.

Before locating to the UK in 2003, Ms. Bellis was a faculty member of Vancouver’s Arts Umbrella and other schools located throughout the lower mainland. In the UK, Ms. Bellis taught for the Liverpool Theatre School and Kate Simmons School, teaching in the lower/upper schools and Teacher Training College Programs. As a fulltime staff member at the Hammond School in Chester, England, she choreographed for the Senior School’s professional touring company, and was instrumental in establishing the Cecchetti Method within the vocational school’s curriculum.

Ms. Bellis is a Fellow and Examiner for Cecchetti Canada, holds diplomas in Applied Anatomy, and continues to hold her Fellowship status with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Throughout her career, she has been recognized with many awards and scholarships including the Margaret Saul Scholarship by Cecchetti Canada (formerly Cecchetti Society of Canada) for her completion of the prestigious Enrico Cecchetti Final Diploma in London, England. Because of her dynamic and inspirational teaching style, she has been a frequent guest teacher and lecturer for organizations such as the British Ballet Organization, Cecchetti Northern Scholars in Manchester, England, the Cecchetti Northern Associates of the UK, and “Dancing Days” (British Ballet Organization, Elmhurst School of Dance Birmingham, UK), Random Dance UK, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School (Summer Intensive), Cecchetti Canada – Manitoba, Alberta and BC branches, Ballet Victoria, Ballet British Columbia, and The School of Ballet du Monterrey, Mexico. Her former students are currently working in renowned Canadian and American companies and around the world, such as at the English National Ballet, Semperoper Ballet Company and Karlsruhe State Theatre of Baden (Germany), with Matthew Bourne (London, UK), and in London’s West End Musical Theatre productions.

As Director of the Victoria Academy of Ballet, Ms. Bellis founded the Professional Training Program (PTP) and the Post-Secondary Bridge Program (Fully Designated by the Ministry of Advanced Education PTIB). Under her leadership, VAB has become one of Canada’s finest training institutions with students attending various academy programs from around the globe. Along with the expertise of her renowned and experienced professional faculty, Ms. Bellis has created an environment where artistic excellence is pursued in a nurturing and caring environment.

Ms. Bellis continues to examine nationally, and guest teach internationally, allowing her to inspire and motivate students and teachers alike.

Andrew Pronger

Andrew Pronger

Head of Open Division & School Principal

M.F.A – Creative Industries QUT, L.C.I.C.B. former Qld Ballet, Enrico Cecchetti Diploma, A.B.S. Diploma

andrew@vaballet.ca

Mr. Pronger completed his professional studies at the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne, receiving the Graduate Diploma in Dance. Subsequently he worked under teacher Janice Heale, completing all Cecchetti Major Examinations including the Enrico Cecchetti Diploma. Throughout his professional career, he has supported the Cecchetti Society as a guest teacher, choreographer, performer and adjudicator as well as being the State Organizer for the Cecchetti Ballet Australia – Queensland Branch, organizing workshops, competitions and examination sessions. In Canada he been a member of the Cecchetti Canada – BC Committee.

From 1992 to 1996, Mr. Pronger was a member of The Queensland Ballet. He performed diverse selection of the company’s repertoire from classics such as Giselle to new contemporary works. Mr. Pronger also had the opportunity to dance with Australian Ballet on a number of occasions and worked with many notable figures of Australia’s dance including Kelvin Coe, Garth Welch, Lucette Aldous and Valrene Tweedie.

Following his years at Queensland Ballet, Mr. Pronger broadened his horizons to a variety of dance styles through his work with the Australian Folkloric Dance Company, Toadshow Productions (Glamalot – Knights in White Satin), and Pointeblank Productions (Dare to Dance) for the Queensland Arts Council’s School Touring Program. He was the Principal of River City Dance in Brisbane (1997-2011).

In 2011 Mr. Pronger completed his MFA at Queensland University (Creative Industries – Dance). Also in 2011, Mr. Pronger accepted the position of Assistant Director at Victoria Academy of Ballet in Canada where he is developing Professional Training Programs for Canadian and International students alongside Bleiddyn Bellis and KerryLynn Turner.

Mr. Pronger is a sought-after choreographer and teacher. He has been a consultant for the BC Performing Arts Festival (Dance section) and has been instrumental in the development of VAB’s programs for boys of all ages. His expertise and reputation for excellence has earned him invitations to guest teach around the world. In Fall 2019 he was invited to China to give master classes and judge at the Global Dance Challenge – Asia Pacific competition.

Mr. Pronger’s outstanding and inspirational teaching has contributed to many of his students establishing professional dance careers internationally.

Teachers

Marijka Stanowych

Marijka Stanowych

Classical Ballet

CC- Licentiate

Ms. Stanowych is pleased to be joining the artistic faculty of Victoria Academy of Ballet. She comes to Victoria Academy of Ballet from Winnipeg, Manitoba where she spent the past 22 years nurturing and guiding students of the Recreational Division, Professional Division and Teacher Training Program of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet towards their dancing and teaching aspirations. Ms. Stanowych possesses over 35 years cumulatively teaching Classical Ballet and Ukrainian dance/Character dance.

Over her 35 years of teaching, Ms. Stanowych has acquired a vast knowledge of character dance and classical ballet, specifically with the Cecchetti Method and Vaganova System of training classical ballet. Presently, Ms. Stanowych holds her Licentiate teaching designation with Cecchetti Canada. As a classical dancer Ms. Stanowych was one of the first in the province of Manitoba to be awarded the Advanced 2 dance examination from the Cecchetti Canada.

Ms. Stanowych trained professionally in Kyiv, Ukraine under the tutelage of Tetyana Akhykian, Mykola Apukhtin’ and Volodymyr Dvorovenko at the Choreographic School of Pavlo Virsky. Upon completing her studies in Kyiv, she returned to RWB to further pursue professional classical ballet training while enrolled in the RWB Teacher Training Program.

Prior to her professional training and studies, Ms. Stanowych spent 18 years performing and touring with Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  After auditioning at age 15, she was accepted as a corps member and rapidly rose through its ranks dancing solo roles, working with Ukrainian choreographers and teachers such as: Roma-Prima Bohachevska, Markian Komichak, Petro Niborskiy, Olha Dvorovenko, and Serhiy Makarov to name a few.  It is with Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble Ms. Stanowych had the great fortune of touring to and performing in: Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Canada and USA. Over her 18 years with Rusalka Ms. Stanowych not only danced but became an instructor, choreographer, co-artistic committee member and after retiring from Rusalka, its Artistic Director.

Along with her teaching responsibilities at RWB Ms. Stanowych choreographed, staged and rehearsed students for Recreational Division and Professional Division productions as well as rehearsed students for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company productions of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. She was instrumental in the introduction of goal setting for the RWB Professional Division student population and co-author of the RWB Professional Division Character Dance Styles curriculum. Throughout her tenure at RWB Ms. Stanowych was an instrumental contributor to the development of the Teacher Training Program; mentoring, training and preparing numerous aspiring teachers for qualifying teacher and dancer examinations. Ms. Stanowych was the sole creator and developer of an Historical Dance/Character Dance Styles program for the RWB Teaching Training Program. She delivered the contents of her newly developed program to the students of TTP to augment their existing programming components. Among her other specialities, Ms. Stanowych teaches Character Dance Styles, Pointe Work and Conditioning incorporating Pilates work and its principles.

Ms. Stanowych has adjudicated for Dance Manitoba as a National Dance category adjudicator and at Ukrainian dance festivals across Canada. Guest teaching includes Cecchetti International Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta and Manitoba Cecchetti workshops.

Most recently, Ms. Stanowych completed the Stott Pilates Intensive Reformer Course and is actively pursuing her accreditation as a Stott Pilates teacher.

Ms. Stanowych and her partner Glenn of 38 years have two sons Danylo and Maksym.

Angela Mousseau

Angela Mousseau

Classical Ballet & Contemporary Dance

 

Angela Mousseau is a 2002 graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA where she majored in modern dance focusing on Horton, Limon and Taylor techniques.  At University of the Arts she studied with directors, choreographers and dancers from The Paul Taylor Company, The Limon Company, PHILADANCO, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Koresh Dance Company, Momix and many others.  Angela has performed in Philadelphia and New York Fringe Festivals, at the National Dance Day in Philadelphia, and with The Next Stage Project (directed by Jana Hicks and AKRNYM Dance Company in New York City).

She also appeared on the MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Gardens, NYC in 2003.  Angela’s choreography has been commissioned by studios and companies across the United States and Canada.  Many of her students have gone on to study at The National Ballet, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Toronto Dance Theatre, Ryerson University, Modus Operandi Contemporary Dance Program, Alvin Ailey and The University of the Arts.

Amber Lamanes

Amber Lamanes

Classical Ballet

Amber Lamanes has a passion for dance, music and children. Taking her very first “real” ballet lesson at the age of 15, Amber’s teen years were spent for the most part in the dance studio. Though she became instantly obsessed with her ballet studies, she also obtained a thorough grounding in Jazz, Modern, Musical Theatre and Tap.

Formal training as a teacher took place initially at the Edmonton School of Ballet’s Teacher Training Program. Acceptance into The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program gave her intensive instruction in Ballet, Character, Modern, Jazz, Anatomy, Dance History, Music History and Pilates. Before moving to Victoria, Amber taught dance classes at several schools in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Amber is a registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance, a certified Cecchetti Society of Canada teacher and a mother to 2 daughters (both VAB budding ballerinas).  In addition to being a teacher and a mother, Amber is a true dancer at heart, enjoying weekly ballet lessons as the student not the teacher in the classroom.

Ashley Evans

Ashley Evans

Classical Ballet

BA (Hons.), Associate Diploma CC-CICB, PBT Certified

Ashley started dancing at the age of 4 in Toronto, Ontario. She is a graduate of the Quinte Ballet School of Canada’s Professional Training Program under the direction of Brian Scott. She also trained at The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, The Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, and London Studio Centre in the UK. After graduation Ashley toured England and Wales with the ‘Images of Dance’ company. She has been dancing professionally in Victoria since 2005, performing with both Ballet Victoria and as Principal Dancer with Canadian Pacific Ballet. Ashley is currently Artistic Director, Choreographer and Principal Dancer with Ballet Étoile Canada, which she co-founded in 2013.

Ashley has been teaching ballet in Victoria and Vancouver for over 8 years, to students of all ages. She has both her Advanced II and Associate Diploma Teacher credentials with Cecchetti Canada and is a certified teacher of the Progressing Ballet Technique conditioning program. Ashley enjoys sharing her passion for dance with her students. She strives to pass on a strong understanding of the fundamentals of ballet technique while encouraging creativity and artistic growth. Ashley is currently completing a Masters degree in Dance Education focusing on bringing student-centred learning concepts to the ballet classroom.

Jessica McDonald

Jessica McDonald

Classical Ballet / Contemporary Dance

Jessica grew up training and competing in multiple disciplines of dance with her formative training taking place at SaskExpress- Regina, the Youth Ballet Company of Saskatchewan, and the University of Calgary’s Division of Dance. She had the privilege of completing numerous examinations and currently holds her Advanced 1 RAD, Grade 4 Tap and Advanced Jazz with honours from the Canadian Dance Teachers Association. In 2020 Jessica was awarded the Canadian Dance Teachers Association – National Certificate of Achievement in Jazz.  While training, Jessica also had the opportunity to demonstrate for Acrobatic Arts training modules 1, and 2 and aerial back handspring courses.  Throughout high school, Jessica spent every free moment she wasn’t dancing, assistant instructing classes for both competition and examinations, before progressing to teach classes in the genres of acrobatics, ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary and lyrical. In 2021, Jessica moved from Regina, SK to Victoria to continue her dance education with the Victoria Academy of Ballet and could have never imagined how much she would grow in a year. She is delighted to be training and learning from the directors and teachers at VAB and helping to grow the next generation of dancers.

Rachel Schilberg

Rachel Schilberg

Classical Ballet

At the tender age of 3, Rachel was immersed into a world of dance where she was eager to find her step. She grew up on beautiful Vancouver Island, and started dancing in the intensive program at Parksville Ballet School. During her training she completed her Cecchetti ballet exams up to Advanced 1, as well as ISTD tap exams. Over the years, Rachel ventured beyond ballet and tap into the world of jazz, contemporary, modern and stage.

At the age of 16, Rachel moved to Toronto to attend the two-year Dance Performance Studies Program at George Brown College. Here she trained under dance artists such as, Bengt Jorgen, Hanna Kiel, Cindy Macedo and Jane Wooding. Rachel had the opportunity to train in various styles such as, Modern, Contemporary, Composition, Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Acting, Vocals and Repertoire. During her time at George Brown Rachel performed in “Land,” a work by Bengt Jorgen, as well as works by Louis Laberge – Cote, Derek Sangster, Cindy Macedo and Susie Burpee. She graduated with a Diploma in Dance Performance with honors, and then proceeded into Canada’s Ballet Jorgen Mentorship program. This unique opportunity allowed her to work and dance in the company for a year, touring in Ontario with Nutcracker and performing in Coppelia. During her time as a Mentorship student, she had the opportunity to have private coaching with Svea Eklof, former principal dancer of Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Prior to completing her Mentorship, Rachel danced in the Chimera Project, which is directed by Malgorzata Nowacka- May. They explored combining classical ballet with Native Hoop dance and partnering. Then to finish off the season, she got a contract with Ballet Jorgen for their Ballet 101 program. This was such a wonderful experience, as she got to perform for children from all over Ontario, and share the love of dance.

Following her mentorship, Rachel moved to Montreal for a contract in Ballet Ouest’s production of the Nutcracker. During her time touring in Quebec, she danced the roles of Snow, Chinese and Waltz of the Flowers in 21 shows.

After performing professionally, Rachel shifted her focus and started teaching. She loves sharing her knowledge and passion for dance with her students. Rachel is focused on making sure her students are always learning and growing in technical, personal and creative aspects. She has also completed her Barre Intensity teacher training and certification, and will be working towards her Cecchetti associate. Rachel is thrilled to be back on the Island sharing her love of dance with the next generation of dancers. She is extremely excited to be teaching at VAB this upcoming season!

Alex del Angel

Alex del Angel

VAB Youth Company / Boys Can Dance

Born in Tampico, Mexico, Alex started his dance training at age 16 exploring street styles such as hip-hop, popping, and waacking. He later was introduced to contemporary dance at the age of 19, realizing that the exploration of diverse styles of movement was really exciting and necessary for his training.

To study classical dance basics, he enrolled in ballet classes at Monterrey Ballet School. Alex auditioned and was accepted into Victoria Academy of Ballet for the Professional Training Program and then into the Post-Secondary Bridge Program.

Besides the instruction from VAB Faculty, Alex has had the opportunity to train under Jermaine Spivey, David Raymond, Tiffany Tregarthen, and Kate Franklin, who inspired him to rethink dance with more purpose and feeling. He has also had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Alysa Pires, Lynda Raino, and Angela Mousseau.

Now completing the VAB Bridge Post Secondary Program, Alex is excited to be passing on his knowledge and experience to students in the VAB Boys Can Dance program and VAB Youth Company where he encourages the joy and energy of movement.

Kristen Reid

Kristen Reid

Jazz Dance

Kristen Reid began her training at the age of 5 with the Sitter School of Dance in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. There, she studied all genres including jazz, tap, ballet, and hip hop. In 2014, Kristen moved to Victoria where she spent a year with the Boston Dance Collective and went on to win the Most Promising Jazz Dancer at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival. In 2015, Kristen began training with Victoria Academy of Ballet, training predominantly in ballet and contemporary. Kristen began solo work at the age of 12, and in 2018, went on to place as the second runner-up in the BC Provincials in the Modern 1 category. In 2018, Kristen joined the Professional Training Program with VAB and then in 2022, Kristen won the Joy Butterfield award for solo work and the Rose Bowl award for duet work, both from the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival. Over the years, Kristen has had the privilege of working with numerous choreographers, including Alysa Pires, Angela Mousseau, Jeremy Miton, and Brenna Metzmeier. Currently, Kristen is continuing her studies at VAB and has recently added teaching junior dancers to her repertoire. Kristen is looking forward to another rewarding year with Victoria academy of Ballet! 

Accompanists

Luba Ellis

Luba Ellis

Principal Pianist

 

Luba arrived to Canada from the Russian Far East and started working for Island Dance Studio with Christine Richardson.

She is highly qualified; she holds Bachelor in Music and Concertmaster and Masters in Education. She has broad experience, accompanying for Ballet Master classes: she worked with Karen Kain, Evelyn Heart, Jean Grand Maître and many others. She is always invited to accompany for touring Ballet companies from Canada and around the world.

Luba is very selective choosing music for each and every exercise: she is steady in tempos and sensitive to character. She truly believes in power of Arts and Culture and her vibrant exuberant personality enhances class works for all levels in VAB.

Luba has a very strong work ethic: she is disciplined, reliable, also very friendly and a pleasure to work with.