Nothing makes Abbie Roger happier than stepping onto the stage to dance and seeing the reaction on people’s faces.
Whether it be performing jazz at the Mary Winspear Theatre in Sidney or contemporary dance at the University of Victoria, entertaining audiences is when she comes alive.
“It’s fun, it’s a good way to express myself and to make other people happy while performing. It’s always nice to see smiles in the audience,” said the Grade 12 Royal Bay student and a member of the school’s dance academy.
Roger has always been interested in dance, but never had the opportunity to take it up when she was young. It wasn’t until Grade 7, when she joined the dance academy at her middle school that she fell in love with it and transitioned to Royal Bay’s dance academy when her entered the high school in Grade 9.
Not only has the dance academy allowed her to stay physically active over the last four years, but it’s helped her come out of her shell as well.
“I just didn’t really have that many friends, I was bullied a little bit through elementary school, so I was shy to talk to people. Having the close friends in the dance academy made it easier to make new friends,” Roger said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself, to be responsible for myself and be independent … I’m more outgoing now.”
Roger is one of 75 dancers with Royal Bay’s dance academy, which started a few years ago. As part of the 80-minute class that meets daily, students learn a variety of dance genres such as jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, tap, and hip hop. Students also go on field trips, visit the ballet, gain experience from guest instructors from its sister company, Boston Dance Collective in Victoria, and perform at festivals around Greater Victoria and on Salt Spring Island.
“One of the main benefits is that they become part of a very tight knit group of students who get to know each other very well,” academy director Leanne Harrington said. “Typically students will come in at the Grade 9 level, even if they don’t stay through to Grade 12, they build relationships within the school that are very solid and transfer to other parts of the school.”
Registration for the junior and senior dance academies for the 2018/19 school year opens on Feb. 1 at 6 a.m. For the more serious dancers, auditions for the advanced level take place on Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the school (3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way). For more information visit royalbaydanceacademy.weebly.com.