Studio AchievementsWe would like to congratulate the following students for their acceptances into 2012 summer programs abroad:
- Jordan B. - Move: The Company, Vancouver, BC
- Lexi C. - Rockette Summer Intensive, New York, NY
- Natalie K. -LA Ballet, Los Angeles, CA
- Chanel L. - LA Ballet, Los Angeles, CA
- Maddy L. - Rockette Summer Intensive, New York, NY
- Arielle L. - San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, San Francisco, CA
- Savannah L. -Washington Ballet, Washington
- Fernanda L. - SYTYCD Los Angeles, CA
- Natalia M. - Rockette Summer Intensive, New York, NY
- Natasha N. - Joffrey's Jazz Program, Los Angeles, CA
- Sophie Thurston -Alonzo King's Lines Ballet, San Francisco, CA
- Gabby Vecchio -UCLA's Musical Theatre Program, Los Angeles, CA and TUTS Summer Program, Vancouver, BC
- Sophia W. - Rockette Summer Intensive, New York, NY
At Vanleena from 1994-2000
Currently performing at the Shaw Festival
"Since graduating from Vanleena I attended the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and have made a living as an actor/singer/dancer. I was in the original cast of Jersey Boys Toronto, have worked at the Stratford FEstival, and many other theatres across the country. I was also recently on The Kennedys starring Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear.
Growing up, Vanleena was a place where I could be myself. I learned how to work harder than I ever knew I could and loved seeing myself improve and surpass my expectations as a dancer. I thinkg back to Vanleena and know that it's where I developed the skills I value the most: an ability to not only work hard but to find joy in hard work and its' rewards, to be a member of a team, to self-motivate and self-discipline, and to express myself in a special way. I know I was extremely lucky to grow up surrounded by people who shared my passion"
At Vanleena from 1991 to 1996
Currently in Rock of Ages on Broadway.
"Vanleena is a wonderful place to learn to dance and also discover if it's an art form you want to pursue. I would not be where I am today, without the encouragement and guidance of Kehree and Eileen. It's an atmosphere where children and teens can learn the fundamentals and also have the opportunity tp perform and express themselves.
I have so many incredible memories from my days at Vanleena it's hard to choose one. Of course the recitals were always something O looked forward to. Whenever we finished one, I couldn't wait to start rehearsals for the next show. I would watch the tapes over and over again, learning the choreography from all the numbers. Any chance to perform was a thrill.
Another fond memory that comes to mind, is riding in the back of Eileen's white convertible during summer school. She'd take us for lunch in style. It was so fun!"
Since I graduated from Vanleena last year, I’ve been living in New York studying Musical Theatre at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). While I can hardly believe it’s been a year already, I can say without a doubt that the time since I left Vancouver has been the most demanding, challenging, disorienting, stressful, blissful, and rewarding time of my life. I can also say with confidence that without my training at Vanleena, my feelings of fear and doubt upon arriving here would have been inconceivably worse. My program (called the Integrated Program) includes classes in Acting, Musical Theatre, Sight Singing, Vocal Production and Speech, and Musical Theatre History, as well as the weekly dance requirements of Jazz, Ballet, Tap, and Theatre Dance. At the beginning of each semester, we undergo a dance placement process, wherein we are divided into skill levels from 1 to 5 (1 being the least experienced). I have been fortunate for the last 3 semesters to have been placed in all the top levels of dance, and since starting here have learned much in terms of dance technique and performance skills.
The faculty at AMDA is truly amazing not only in their teaching abilities but also in that they are all working professionals, and therefore possess a rich history of experience, providing invaluable insight into the skills required for the audition room and beyond. My first year here can be described as not less than fantastic. I was chosen to perform in both Acting and Musical Theatre for the artistic director of our school last semester, have formed friendships that will last a lifetime, and professional relationships that will serve my future career, all the while working harder and pushing myself further than I ever thought possible. For if I’ve learned anything over these past 11 months, it’s that not only nothing replaces hard, focused determined work, a lesson the beautiful students of Vanleena never failed to show me, but no matter the circumstances, your hard work always shows.
And, as corny as it may sound, following your dream, while risky and potentially terrifying, is so impossibly rewarding. Not that any of the Vanleena students need any nudging towards going for their goals, but finding a place where you are surrounded by those who share your dream and who are willing to work as hard for it as you are is one of the most life-affirming and beautiful experiences I believe a person can have, and I strongly support you all in doing the same.
Well, that’s about all for me! I will finally have the opportunity to start going for auditions next semester (which starts in October), so hopefully next time I write to you it will be with good news of a first job! Hope to see some of you out here soon, and definitely keep an eye out for me cheering you on at the Santa Clause Parade this year!
Love and best wishes,
Vanleena has had a place in my life for the past 15 years. I started off at Vanleena when I was 11 years old, taking ballet with Mrs. Vanneck. I had danced at other North Shore dance schools before coming to Vanleena, but it was Mrs. Vanneck’s support and encouragement of me that cemented Vanleena as my dance home. I began taking a full dance curriculum at Vanleena, and had the pleasure of being taught by some of the best instructors in the business, Mrs. Lacasse, Ms. Colleen and the rest of the Vanleena faculty. I graduated from Vanleena in 2004, and left with the feeling that there would always be a place for me there.
This past winter, a group of us former Vanleena students, were reminiscing about our years spent at Vanleena, and how much we would enjoy taking ballet again. After a call to Mrs. Lacasse, we found ourselves back in the studio. Last Thursday, three of us even completed our first R.A.D ballet exam in over 8 years!
Having the opportunity to come back to Vanleena after all these years has made me realize the impact Vanleena has made on me as an individual. Vanleena has taught me the value of hard work, taking accountability for myself, and how to accomplish goals. My time at Vanleena has truly been an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.
My name is Ashley Gelhede and I am a Vanleena graduate from 2005. I attended Vanleena full-time for 7 years and even had the privilege of substitute teaching on occasion after my graduation. Vanleena was the beginning of my journey as a dancer as I was strictly a gymnast before. The faculty and my peers at Vanleena made this transition very smooth for me as I felt right away like I was part of a family. I loved every day after school coming home to get changed and head straight for dance all night long. Knowing I was going somewhere fun to learn my craft and be in company of some of my best friends was a great feeling. From competitive classes to skill building classes to the fun of parades and extra curricular performances, Vanleena made me the dancer I am today. With the guidance and friendship from Kehree, Eileena, and Colleen, I believed in myself as a performer enough to continue to treat dance as a career as I always wanted to. After graduating from Vanleena I attended Capilano University's Musical Theatre Program and have since then worked as a production dancer for Celebrity Cruises since 2010. I currently work on the Celebrity Century traveling all over the continent, and always remember that my love for the stage started at Vanleena.
I started going to vanleena for ballet in grade 6, I quickly became obsessed with dancing and joined Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Lyrical on top of ballet. I danced almost everyday of my high school life and will say it was one of the best things my parents did for me. Not only are you in the best shape of your life when you’re dancing, you are also being trained to dance properly and beautifully, this is something that dancers carry with them through life. I will never stop dancing, I have taken breaks here and there but its something that is in me.
Ms Lacasse, Mrs. Vanneck and Colleen are truly the best teachers out there. They inspire you to push yourself to your full potential and they are amazing choreographers. These women focus on each student individually to bring out their strengths so as a whole we look wonderful, they all also have the gift of making you want to work really hard, something that most teachers do not. I found Vanleena students to have a different caliber of training and dedication then that of students from other schools. We had so much fun with our dancing but were also taught to take it seriously. Another thing you learn from a young age is that hard work always pays off.
Dancing truly is one of the best forms of exercise, being so strong at such a young age has also taught me the importance of exercise in regards to mental health. It taught me how to take care of myself at a young age, something most adults don’t learn until later. Teenagers have so much energy, dancing is a perfect way to channel your creative and athletic abilities. When everyone else was partying we were dancing and loving it.
Just wanted to fill you in on your former student Natalie Hall. Since graduating from the Musical Theater program at AMDA, New York, Natalie has been working steadily. She performed at the Town Hall in Broadway's Rising Stars in which she sang a solo. Following was the New York Musical Theater Festival playing the role of Jenny in the Last Star Fighter. Natalie next shot a commercial for Carnival Shoes and shortly after became a part of Kid Concoctions with a group call Nfusion. They have produced a children's music video program which airs on PBS. Natalie will be on Law and Order SVU on January 1, 2008, a small role in which she is the murdered victim - yikes. Currently Natalie is in Florida performing in the lead role of the musical The Boyfriend playing Polly Browne. This show is at the Maltz Theater in Jupiter Florida and then on to Riverside Theater Vero Beach, Florida beginning January 4, 2008. Mrs. Vanneck, Natalie wanted me to tell you she is finally having to prove herself with her tap dancing. It has been a challenge, but she worked hard to learn the choreography and thought of you often.
We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and thank you for all the opportunities you gave to Natalie."
Congratulations too all our grads--We're proud of you!