Who knew that even the wooden nutcracker had to audition for a part in his own ballet?
After 10 years of dedicated performances, the Fraser Valley Academy of Dance, located on First Avenue in Mission, is retiring its two “stars of the show” to the collection cabinet and unveiling a new face for the 11th annual production of the Nutcracker Ballet.
The dance academy, owned by artistic director John Carney and his wife and school administrator Carolyne, has been a part of Mission’s downtown core since 2008.
John began his extensive and celebrated career in dance as a child in England, training full-time at the Royal Ballet School. At the age of 17, he was invited to join English National Ballet, and later Rambert Dance Company.
Returning to the Royal Ballet School as teacher and choreographer, he would continue to share his extensive experience in Europe, the U.S., and Eastern Canada before finally turning the old Masonic Hall on First Avenue into a flourishing dance school.
The school, with its slogan “You Belong Here,” is home to more than 200 students, coming into Mission from all over the Fraser Valley, and has recently started an international program with students from Japan.
In summer 2018, three students from the academy – Andrew Delves, Isabella Almarez, and Anna Neudorf – were invited to Canada’s National Ballet School’s full-time professional training program. Neudorf, who played the part of Clara in last year’s Nutcracker in Mission, has now been cast in the same role with the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker in Toronto.
For 2019, five more FVAD students have been invited to the National Ballet School for their summer intensive, the second-level audition for their full-time program.
A now-annual event leading up to the show, the school has been busy touring nine local elementary schools, and will visit The Residence on Hurd Street, giving a free “mini-Nutcracker” performance.
The Nutcracker plays Saturday, Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Clarke Theatre.
Visit fvad.ca/events/the-nutcracker-2018/ for tickets.