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Local dance academy expands

The Fraser Valley Academy of Dance is expanding its studio on First Avenue after being here just three years.
Fraser Valley Academy of Dance student Maria Weiss has been accepted into the SFU dance degree program.

The Fraser Valley Academy of Dance is expanding its studio on First Avenue after being here just three years.

Owners John and Carolyne Carney knew they wanted more space from the moment the school doors opened. The question had been where and when. Now with more than 300 students and the space next door available, the time has come.

The pair admitted they had reservations about the downtown location when they first moved to Mission because they worried about the children’s safety at night, but the situation has improved with the street ambassador program and now they’re happy to be staying.

“It’s a character building and it’s hard to leave,” said Carolyn, noting classes currently run from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and hopefully with an extra classroom, everyone can finish earlier.

The new space is almost as big as studio A, and more spacious because it doesn’t have a pole in the centre. A spring floor will have to be built, bars installed and a sound system put in, said John, who expects the third studio will be ready for classes in September.

A mix of classes will be using room, such as jazz, hip hop, and a range of ballet.

Other parts of the building will be renovated too in the process. The front office will be moved and the entrance and waiting will be opened and expanded. Televisions will be installed, giving waiting parents an opportunity to watch their children in class.

“It can be crowded here when you have two groups coming and going,” said Carolyn.

The studio expansion is coming just in time as the school adds another class to its lineup. The Pre-Professional Dance Academy begins in September with students coming from Port Coquitlam, Langley, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge.

“It’s an intensive program concentrating on classical ballet for serious students contemplating a career in dance,” stated John.

Students audition for the program then arrange with their school to finish their academics in the morning and train at FVAD in the afternoon. There will also be specialized classes for boys.

“This gives them the opportunity to train for 20 hours a week,” Carolyne noted.

“The more hours you have, the better you get,” John said, adding the dancers will also learn about music appreciation, dance history, and health and nutrition.

FVAD has already produced some impressive dancers, such as Maria Weiss, who has been accepted into the SFU dance degree program, and Mikayla Petty, who has been accepted into the world-famous Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London, England.

John trained and taught at Rambert School and says having one of his students attending is particularly meaningful for him.

Petty, 17, will be enrolled in a three-year full-time program. The school is small, accepting less than 40 students each year, but one of the world’s best. About 90 percent of Rambert graduates go on to dance professionally around the world.

All students at FVAD are now preparing for the annual school performances, taking place June 24-25. The senior school show will be held Friday, June 24 from 7:30 to 9:30 and the junior school show will be on Saturday, June 25 from 2 to 4 p.m. Both performances will happen at the Clarke Theatre.

Tickets to the show are now on sale for $16/adult, and $13/senior or student.

For more information about FVAD, call 604-826-0097 or e-mail