This little girl on the right, only 5, and trained for 3 months with Ms. Vera. This is the power of a professional educator.
Ms. Vera Stephenson, BLS, ARAD, RTS, Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance
Vera represents the whole teacher: training, performance and choreography. Trained in Canada at the prestigious Canadian College of Dance at Ryerson University in Toronto, Vera earned her Associate status in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) ballet program, International Society of Teachers of Dance (ISTD) modern and national dance, Elementary Tap in the Canadian Dance Teachers Association (CDTA) and International Ballroom and Latin through reknowned instructor Barney Cruickshank. Vera studied with Florentina Lojekova, Sonia Chamberlain, Maisee McFee, and Glen Gilmour from the National Ballet of Canada. Accepted into the Calgary City Ballet, Vera opted to stay in Ontario where she taught for her mentor Anna Marie Oliver whom she credits for her early training and visions for the future.
Upon graduation, Vera’s life was a ride of experience. Her strong ballet training and well-rounded dance experience in tap, jazz and contemporary landed her lead dance roles in the productions Carousel, and Brigadoon, where she was spotted by Canada’s best musical theatre director of the time – Alan Lund. He took Vera to the Charlottetown Festival in Prince Edward Island where she debuted the role of ‘Tammy’ in the musical Babies. Her strong tap and ballroom training made her perfect for the popular show “Swing”, and her petite stature and perky personality put her into the role of ‘Josie Pye’ in the Canadian National Tour of Anne of Green Gables. It was with “Anne” that she toured Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver where the company also participated in EXPO ’86. Other shows include: Nunsense, River Suite (with members of the Dance Theatre of Harlem), Anything Goes, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Me and My Girl, The King and I, The Swinging Years (with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony) Those Magnificent Movies, Folk Ballet Theatre, the Novgorod Russian Dance Ensemble, and the White Eagle Polish Dance Group. Vera is grateful to Alex Mustakas and Drayton Entertainment for the years of experience she attained in Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Swing (again), Me and My Girl (again) and Romance/ Romance. In 2004 Vera was asked to participate in Swing for the 3rd time – this time as choreographer! The show sold out to standing and dancing ovations. In 2006 Vera choreographed and danced in Swing again with the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony in Centre in the Square. In January of 2008, Vera choreographed Swing for the St. Jacobs Theatre for Drayton Entertainment and was so honored to be working with the distinguished music master and conductor Howard Cable.
Vera developed her love to choreograph at a young age while dancing with Anna Marie Oliver. Ms. Oliver encouraged her to explore movement in solos and Vera’s own classes. It was here that Vera was given, her first chance to set a musical by Tom Slater at John F. Ross High School in Guelph. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was only the beginning. Vera was asked to choreograph Annie, The Boys Next Door, Closer Then Ever, South Pacific, and Follies for Theatre Memphis (the very theatre where Elvis went to watch movies!). In 2011 Vera went back to Drayton to choreograph a ballroom and tap number for “Dance Legends”. At various summer schools, she directed and choreographed pieces like ‘The Birch Tree’, ‘You Can Call Me Al’, ‘Time After Time’, ‘Spirit of the South’, and at the University of Memphis ‘La Colcha’. Vera loves to choreograph in every medium and feels inspired to do so by her enthusiastic students! Vera’s focus in recent years has turned to becoming a better teacher. Vera’s goal was the inception of the Royal Academy of Dance program in northern Colorado with a stark following of only 6 students. Vera’s program grew at Dance Dimensions at Reverence and now at Elite Dance Academy. In 2002, Vera completed the Child Psychology course through the University of Waterloo, and the Music Theory course through the Royal Academy of Dance at the University of Durham, England to achieve the next level of Teacher Accreditation. Vera passed the Royal Academy of Dance, Teaching Diploma exam with Distinction. In June 2012 Vera brought the New Syllabi Course to Reverence, their school they owned together in Lafayette for 18 years.
Gerry, partner for 41 years and Vera love to bike, hike, do yoga and of course dance together for 43 years. Kalina and Nicole, daughter both grew up being RAD and well rounded dancers. Now Cora her granddaughter is taking RAD Grade 1!
Emery Feagin is a well-rounded, life-long dancer with a wealth of experience in different styles of dance. He has trained in Vaganova style ballet, Bartenieff Fundamentals, modern jazz, tap, contemporary, and hip hop and received a BA in Dance & Performance Studies and Psychology from Roger Williams University in Spring 2022. Emery also has extensive performance experience with many companies in many productions over the years including the Portland Ballet Company, RWU’s Dance Theatre Company, and the Western Maryland City Ballet Company. Through these experiences, Emery has had the opportunity to work with many dancing artists and has had many influential teachers including Cathy Nicoli, Michael Bolger, Ashley Rich, Hollis Bartlett and Nattie Trogdan, Aretha Aoki, and Heidi Henderson. In addition to his training and performance, Emery has five years of teaching experience that has included teaching ballet, jazz, tap, and creative movement in both a traditional dance studio setting and in a supportive, recreational setting to groups with diverse needs. When he is not teaching, Emery is working on his MA in Dance/Movement Therapy at Naropa University.
Cassie is an experienced instructor and co-director, specializing in voice, dance/movement, and theater. She has a background in curricular arts management and developmental music and movement connections. Cassie began her teaching career in 2020, focusing on physical development and skill progression for children. She will hold a bachelor's degree in fine arts, focusing on musical theater, music theory, music history, voice, and dance. Cassie is known for her fun, patient, and kind teaching style, which creates structured and positive learning experiences. She has worked with children in early childhood education and movement settings, as well as nonprofit organizations. Cassie's recent focus has been on voice studies, theater projects, and inclusive teaching styles. She is passionate about teaching the fundamentals of music and movement to inspire young minds and promote overall health. Cassie is a passionate and inclusive instructor who creates a fun and welcoming environment for all children, including those in the special needs community. She incorporates sensory-friendly activities, visual aids, and personalized support to ensure that every child can fully participate and thrive in her classes. With the power of music and movement, Cassie promotes self-expression, communication, and overall well-being for children of all abilities. Get ready for an incredible journey of learning and creativity with Cassie!