VOCATIONAL DIVISION ARTISTIC FACULTY

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

School Principal & Head of Open Division

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.

KerryLynn Turner

KerryLynn Turner

Head of Post-Secondary Bridge Program

ARAD, PDTD (RAD Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma)

kerrylynn@vaballet.ca

Born and raised in Vancouver, Ms. Turner was trained primarily in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and Vaganova styles of ballet through the Goh Ballet Academy.  At 17, she was the only Canadian competing in the RAD’s Genee Awards in London placing as a finalist.  She then spent one year in the inaugural year of Ballet B.C.’s Mentor Program before being asked to join the company as a full member.

Ms. Turner danced with the company for six years creating roles and working with many internationally renowned dancers/choreographers including; Jean Grand-Maitre (Alberta Ballet), Dominique Dumais (National Theater Mannheim Oper), James Kudelka (National Ballet of Canada, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie), Miko Nissenen (Boston Ballet), Patricia Neary (NYCB Pedagogue, LA Ballet), Michael Schumacher (Ballett Frankfurt), Chris Redpath, Victoria Simon, Michael Byers (all New York City Ballet Pedagogues), Crystal Pite (Kidd Pivot), Emily Molnar (Ballet BC), and John Alleyne (past Artistic Director, Ballet BC).  During the course of her career, Ms. Turner performed as a soloist and/or as a principal artist in several significant works ranging from Petipa to Balanchine to Forsythe to Pite, and was a guest performer with the National Ballet of Canada, Hong Kong Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Banff Festival Ballet and the Canada Dance Festival.

Upon retiring from the professional stage, Ms. Turner returned to London, England where she earned Distinction in the Royal Academy of Dance’s Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma program (PDTD), the only Canadian to hold this diploma at that time.  She also holds her Associate (ARAD) status with the Royal Academy and since graduating has been asked to teach for the RAD in London, as well as summer programs in the U.S. Ms. Turner has been thrilled to guest teach numerous times for the Canadian Cecchetti Society at workshops in Vancouver and the Cecchetti Awards.  She has also taught classes for companies; Ballet Hispanico, Random Dance:Wayne McGregor and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, and was the rehearsal director for Ballet Kelowna’s staging of John Alleyne’s A Streetcar Named Desire in 2018.

Ms. Turner’s choreographic work has been praised at competitions, continuing to win excellence in choreography awards, most recently 2019 YAGP Seattle’s Outstanding Choreographer Award. She has also served on adjudication panels for dance festivals as a ballet and contemporary specialist.

Ms. Turner has also appeared as a dancer in various commercials and made-for-TV movies, has had the privilege of performing in the Vancouver Opera’s production of “Faust”, has often performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and modelled in various fashion shows namely for Leone (Vancouver) and MAC Fashion Cares (Vancouver).

Her enthusiasm for teaching and coaching dance has always been for the benefit of the dancer and loving the work that goes into every class, rehearsal and performance.  As the director of Victoria Academy of Ballet’s Post-Secondary Bridge Program since 2013, Ms. Turner’s inspired teaching style passes on her knowledge and experience to instill the fundamental connections and love for the arts in her students that stays with them for a lifetime.

Marijka Stanowych

Marijka Stanowych

Classical Ballet / VAB’s Vocational Division Injury & Rehab Coordinator

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.

 Amalia Schelhorn

Amalia Schelhorn

Classical Ballet

Amalia trained in her home town of Memphis, Tennessee before coming to Canada to study at the National Ballet School. She danced as a 1st soloist with the National Ballet of Canada, where she had the privilege of performing a wide repertoire including the great classics and contemporary works.

Amalia has explored many different dance forms and is a student of yoga. She is interested in the various ways in which dance can play a role in individual and collective lives. 

Johnny A. Wright

Johnny A. Wright

Classical Ballet

 

Johnny was born and raised in Vancouver.  Both his dance training and professional performing career led him into studios, and stages around the world for over 25 years.  Beginning his career with Judith Marcuse, then Alberta Ballet before quickly advancing to enjoy a 10 year tenure as First Soloist with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  Johnny has been fortunate to have danced both Principal and Character roles in many of the Classics and neo-classics by Petipa, Bournonville, Tudor, and Balanchine to name a few.  In contemporary works, he was known to command the stage with charisma, athleticism, masculinity, in addition of becoming a trusted, committed, and powerful partner.  During this first half of his career, Johnny spent most summers performing with the Festival Ballet Company at the Banff Centre as a dancer, Artist in Residence, or faculty member staging and coaching both original works or ones created on him.

Retiring from the concert world, Johnny transitioned to the theatre. This led to him starring as the leading man “Johnny Castle” in “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage”, first in Toronto at The Royal Alexandra Theatre, and then across the pond in London’s West End at The Aldwych.

Career Highlights are: travelling and performing worldwide, performing for HRM Queen Elizabeth II which resulted being awarded HRM QEII Golden Jubilee Medal for Artistic Achievement, being nominated and winning a 2006 Gemini for Best Performance in a Variety Program for “Tales of The Magic Flute”, and of course the privilege to work and create alongside countless talents in a wide range of dance, theatre, and film.

Johnny retired and left London in 2016, and now lives on Vancouver Island with his wife, son, and their two Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers Freddie & Lucy. He enjoys spending time fitness training, anything outdoors, gardening, paddle boarding, and beekeeping.

Ursula Szkolak

Ursula Szkolak

Classical Ballet

Ursula, a seasoned ballet dancer and passionate dance educator, began her journey with dance at age 5 in Toronto. She further refined her skills at the National Ballet School of Canada and the Kirov Academy in Washington, DC. At 17, and embarked on a successful ballet career that took her from Canada to Germany and the United States.

After her retirement from the ballet stage in 2011, Ursula turned her attention to ballet training and coaching. She’s held positions at the Allegro School of Performing Arts and Victoria Academy of Ballet, and has been invited to guest teach and stage ballets at several dance schools and youth companies.

In 2017, she co-launched the Victoria Dancer’s Collaborative. Today, Ursula is molding future dancers through her innovative platform, OnlineBalletTraining.com.

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.

Dyana Sonik-Henderson

Dyana Sonik-Henderson

Modern History

 

Dyana is a choreographer, instructor, and the Executive/Artistic Director of the Victoria based dance company Broken Rhythms Victoria Society. She is a staple in the dance community with weekly classes at the iconic Raino Dance studio, Victoria Academy of Ballet, Canadian Collage of Performing Arts and is a popular guest instructor at many studios across Canada. She has been recognized for her choreography, community work and artistic direction with five Pick of the Fringe awards, nominations for the inaugural Pro Arts Regional award, and finalist for Monday Magazine’s Best Dance company; she was awarded the LOLA Project International, working with Gabi Beier from Berlin, Germany and was most recently presented with the title of B.C Cultural ambassador for 2019/2020 due to her work with community engagement and recognition of artistic excellence.

Dyana has had work featured in Dance Current Magazine and Boulevard Magazine with her touring performance named as one of Toronto Star’s “can’t miss shows.” She has been commissioned to set choreography on local and national companies, received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council and the CRD, and has lectured at universities on artistic expression and creativity. She is continuously collaborating with artists across the disciplines, while simultaneously working with her company on creative projects. Her productions and choreography have been performed nationally, including Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and toured all across B.C. She has studied and performed widely, including at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (London, England), Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (Calgary), and One Immigrant Productions (Toronto). She continues to engage in contemporary multi-disciplinary areas of study and performance, most recently developing original research methodologies for her Masters research in the Sociology program at University of Victoria with a focus on movement and bodies through the lens of gender, race, history, and contemporary dance works (2020-2023).

Angela Mousseau

Angela Mousseau

Contemporary

 

Born and raised in Victoria, BC, Canada, Angela Mousseau is an independent contemporary dance artist, living and working on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen people, also known as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations communities. Ms. Mousseau has been teaching Contemporary and Modern dance for over 20 years. She 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 the 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.

Following graduation, Angela travelled between Canada and the US to continue training and performing in New York. After settling back in Victoria, BC in 2007 she began to shift her focus to teaching and choreography. Many of her students have gone on to join the company or study at The National Ballet, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Toronto Dance Theatre, Ryerson University, Modus Operandi Contemporary Dance Program, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Alvin Ailey, Lines Ballet in San Francisco, SEAD (Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance), Kibbutz Dance Company (Israel), Trinity Laban in London, Ballet Oklahoma, Ballet Edmonton, Orlando Ballet and The University of the Arts.

In 2017 and 2019 at Dance Victoria, she was one of 3 choreographers selected to participate in a 2 week choreographic lab directed by Wen Wei Wang (2017) and Justine Chambers and Susan Elliott (2019). In January 2018 and February 2020, Angela was invited to do a Choreographic Residency at Dance Victoria where her original work was presented as a part of Rough Cuts at the Metro Theatre. She continues to train in Counter-technique with Charles Slender White, Artistic Director of FACT/SF in San Francisco.

Angela is extremely passionate about mentoring and supporting young contemporary dance artists. She focuses on building a strong foundation while guiding the dancers to find their own voice.

Constance Cooke

Constance Cooke

Contemporary

Choreographer for Stage, Screendance and Site Specific Work, Educator of Contemporary Dance, Mentor, Somatic Movement Teacher

Cooke is an Established Canadian Dance Artist who lives, creates and works on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations, in Victoria British Columbia.  Her choreographic works for stage and screen have been presented in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Germany and The United Kingdom by numerous Festivals, Galleries, Theatres and Presenters such as The American Dance Festival, Dancing on the Edge, The Reel Film Festival, Romp, Dance Matters, Dance Victoria, Media-Net and more. Cooke also self-produces many of her own full length-works, has received commissions from Ballet and Contemporary Companies, as well number of Canadian and International independent Dance Artists.

For over thirty years, Cooke has made a significant contribution to the professional training of dancers in Canada. Former students have gone on to established their own Companies, Professional Training Programs, Independent Careers, Festivals, Presentation Series, and are currently dancing with companies throughout the world.

Cooke is a guest choreographer, teacher, and mentor with Professional Training Programs, Intensives and Mentorship Programs across Canada. As a mentor, Cooke has supported the creation of new works for Stage, Site- Specific Installations and Screendances. As Director of Dance for the Camera she has worked with numerous  dance communities across Canada. These workshops and mentorships have attracted artists from across the Globe.

Cooke teaches contemporary technique, experiential movement, choreographic composition, screen dance, and a new somatic movement practice called Surfacing. Created by Cooke, Surfacing is a creative, embodied practice that encourages receptiveness, curiosity, and a deeper awareness of being. To date Cooke has shared this practice with artists from a variety of disciplines including voice, movement, theatre and visual arts

Cooke has been the recipient of numerous awards, scholarships and grants from The Canada Council of the Arts, B.C. Arts Council, The Manitoba Arts Council, The Vancouver Foundation, B.C. Hydro, Dance Victoria and Private Supporters.

Tiffany Miton

Tiffany Miton

Jazz

Born and raised in England, Tiffany has been dancing since the age of 2. With a passion to further herself, she was accepted to Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in the UK, training in all genres while taking exams in RAD, Cecchetti and ISTD. Immediately upon graduating she was hired by Carnival Cruise Lines and had the opportunity to travel the world as both a dancer and an Adage couple on many of their ships for 10 years. Her incredible technique and understanding of style always made her stand out from the crowd.

She met her husband Jeremy on board and now lives in Victoria BC where she is currently the Co Chair of Dance at the Canadian College of Performing Arts. In addition to teaching all across Vancouver Island, she has adjudicated for many competitions across Canada. Tiffany has a Level 5 Diploma in Dance Teaching with the British Ballet Organization (BBO) and is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique and Acrobatic Arts. Her other dance credits include performances for Victoria Union Club, commercials for Big-O Tires and BC Transit, Corporate events, Gala performance at Shaftesbury Theatre London and Hallmark.

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 Hart, 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.

Jeff Poynter

Pianist

Mychal Drislane

Pianist