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Ms. Vera Stephenson, BLS, ARAD, RTS, Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance

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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!