While June is often a bittersweet time of the year for teachers who say ‘goodbye’ to their graduating class, that isn’t quite the case for Leanne Harrington, director of Royal Bay secondary’s dance academy.
That’s because Harrington’s former students tend to hang around even after they’ve graduated through the academy’s alumini association.
“They come back and help,” she said, noting that one alumnus choreographed one of the academy’s dances. “We’ve had alumni travel with us on some of our excursions this year. They always find a way to connect.”
This year’s graduates, along with the rest of the academy’s students, will be showing parents, family, friends and the general public what they’ve learned over the course of the year when they put on two end-of-season shows on June 14 and 15.
They’ll also be hosting a special preview show on June 13 that’s intended for parents and elementary and middle school students who are interested in learning more about the academy. Performers from Dunsmuir Middle School’s academy will also be performing.
“We have teamed up to try and promote the academy within the community and offer this preview show free of charge just to let the community know what the academy is all about,” Harrington said.
During all performances, dance genres will range from hip hop and jazz to ballet and tap, and it’s the last two that Harrington says is typically the most challenging for her students.
“Tap is probably the most challenging because it’s the one where they have the least experience and they probably find ballet to be similarly challenging,” she said.
While many students have gained experience dancing with studios prior to entering the academy, others come in with limited or no experience, and that’s part of what makes the program great in Harrington’s eyes.
While studio programs can be very costly, the academy’s tuition is roughly $1,100 for the year, making this more accessible for families in a variety of financial situations.
“About a third of our dancers come to us with prior dance training … many dancers find the academy is an opportunity to do dance where they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity,” Harrington explained.
It has been a successful year for the academy and their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
Among the honours the program received this year are the “Secondary School Shield” at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival and the Karen Clark Jazz Award at the Dance Works Festival.
Tickets for the June 14 and 15 shows are available at the school’s office or at the door, although seating is limited to roughly 350 people at the Teechamitsa Theatre. Funds raised from the $10 tickets support the academy’s programs and excursions.
Parents, elementary and middle school aged students interested in checking out the free preview show on June 13 should email Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange to pick up tickets or to have them set aside at the door.