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Classical Ballet School

Classical Ballet StudentThe Classical Ballet School offers training in classical ballet (Russian Vaganova and British Royal Ballet styles), RAD syllabus ballet, pointe, variations, and contemporary ballet, as well as boys-only ballet. Students may perform in The Nutcracker and the Annual Performances.

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Primary School Classes

Pre-School Dance Classes (ages 3-5 yrs)

While our school year classes normally require a commitment from September to June, we understand that 10 months can be a long duration for our very young students.  Our Pre-School Dance classes are scheduled in convenient 3-month sessions during  Autumn, Winter and Spring.  Students may enroll in one, two or all three of the  sessions over the year.  Each session follows a magical theme which connects fun-filled lessons in musicality, creative movement, and coordination exercises, and culminates in costumed performances for friends and family.  The November and March performances are held in our largest studio, while the June performance is part of our Annual School Performance for our Primary School at the Clarke Theatre.  (View Schedules)

Pre-Primary and Primary Ballet Classes (ages 5-7 yrs)

Students are introduced to the basics of dance in the Pre-Primary and Primary Ballet levels,  expanding on the musicality and creative movement of the Pre-School Dance classes. Children begin to develop the balance, posture, flexibility, strength and discipline required for all dance forms. Classes are based on a combination of Vaganova and Royal Academy of Dance syllabus.  (View Schedules)

Junior School Classes

Grades 1-5 Ballet Classes (ages 7-13 yrs)

Students progress through the FVAD graded syllabus starting with Grade 1 ballet.  All ballet classes combine the basic RAD syllabus with more advanced open technique of the Vaganova and Royal Ballet styles.  Students are introduced to Character Dance training (national folk dances) at Grade 1 ballet, continuing this essential aspect of classical ballet training throughout the grades.  Russian gymnastique (also known as floor barre) is also begun at this level to enhance students’ flexibility and strength required for classical ballet.  Students are required to train in a minimum of two ballet classes per week through their grades.  Students are also encouraged to take Stretch-Strength as well as Modern, Jazz and/or Contemporary for complete training.  (View Schedules)

Stretch-Strength-Dance Classes (Grade 1-4 Ballet)

Stretch-Strength-Dance enhance students’ ability beyond the basic vocabulary and technique of their ballet class, providing them more foundation in the necessary elements of classical ballet training.

For levels I and II, the classes are split between stretch-strength and dance.  In the first part, students learn how to increase their flexibility and strength specifically for dance to improve both their quality and technical ability.

In the second part, students learn the exciting styles of International Folk Dances used in so many classical ballets, and a core part of Vaganova and Royal Ballet School training.  (View Schedules)

Pointe Preparation (Grade 5 Ballet)

Pointe preparation is done for one year at the Grade 5 Ballet level to strengthen feet, legs and alignment, and to determine which students are capable of pointe work.  Students learn the techniques of pointe work in this class while in ballet slippers.  Assessments occur twice each year to determine whether or not students have the strength and alignment required for pointe.  Due to the severe risk of injury if not properly prepared, and understanding that a student’s entire weight is placed on their toes, our students only progress to pointe work if physically and emotionally capable.  (View Schedules)

Major company schools, such as the Royal Ballet School, can put entire classes on pointe at the same time as the students have already been selected by audition to the school to have the correct alignment, strength, posture and ability.  However, local ballet schools must consider each individual student and be aware that not every student can safely go on pointe.  Students not safely approved to be on pointe continue in their ballet training in the Int-Adv Youth Ballet levels.

Junior Boys Ballet (ages 8+)

Junior Boys’ Ballet classes with Mr. Carney provide a nurturing environment which encourage boys in their ballet training.  The boys work on strength, agility, and flexibility, and learn the techniques and steps specific to the male dancer.

Youth Ballet Classes

Youth Ballet (Beginner to Advanced)

Our Youth ballet classes allow students to begin ballet at a later age without having to join the younger classes.  Students aged 9 and above wishing to start ballet training, as well as those who have not taken class for several years, are fast-tracked through several grades in order to re-join the Graded level classes at an appropriate level for their age.  Students progress much faster at this age, and can generally catch up on two or three grades when working with other students of the same age.  (View Schedules)

Beginner and Elementary Youth ballet classes take students through Grades 1 to 5, and often result in students joining the main-stream ballet classes after two years.

The Intermediate and Advanced Youth ballet classes enable students to continue in more advanced classes each year without the commitment in time required for the Vocational levels, or the need to be approved for pointe work.

Senior School Classes

Vocational Ballet (Intermediate Foundation to Advanced 2)

Once approved for pointe work, students may move into the Vocational Ballet levels.  These are the senior ballet classes requiring a full commitment in all classes.  Students study the more advanced techniques of the Vaganova and Royal Ballet styles with former professional dancers.  (View Schedules)

Royal Academy of Dance syllabus classes are offered in additional coaching classes for those students who wish to enter their Vocational Examinations.   Exams are entirely optional and students are entered only upon approval by the Artistic Director.

Students approved for our Vocational Ballet levels are automatically eligible to enter the Pre-Professional Daily Academy.

Pointe (Vocational Ballet)

Pointe work is an essential aspect of professional classical ballet for girls which, due to risk of serious injury, must always be approached with care.  However, it is not a required part of ballet training for the recreational student.

Students approved for Pointe class following a year of Pointe Preparation may move into the Vocational levels (Intermediate Foundation to Advanced 2 Ballet).  While in the Vocational levels, students are continually monitored and assessed.  On occasion, as students mature, they may find that pointe work is no longer a safe option for them.  In these situations, students may transfer into the Intermediate or Advanced Youth Ballet classes to continue ballet training without the strain of pointe work.  (View Schedules)

Stretch-Strength Classes

Stretch-Strength classes enhance students’ ability beyond the vocabulary and technique of their ballet class, providing them with additional foundation in the necessary elements of classical ballet training.  Stretch-Strength class allows students to increase their flexibility and strength specifically for dance to improve both their quality and technical ability. While flexibility is an extremely important aspect of dance training, it is essential that students also develop the strength to manage this flexibility in order to help prevent injuries.    (View Schedules)

Senior Boys Ballet (ages 11+)

Senior Boys’ Ballet classes with Mr. Carney provide the advanced training required for boys to become successful ballet dancers.  The boys enhance their strength, agility and flexibility, further developing the virtuosity specific to the male ballet dancer.

Contemporary Ballet Classes

Contemporary Ballet (Grade 4 – Advanced Ballet)

Carney Technique Contemporary merges classical ballet with modern dance influenced by Mr. Carney’s work with Merce Cunningham.  Mr. Carney developed this technique as a bridge between classical ballet and contemporary dance while teaching at the Royal Ballet School and Rambert Academy in London, England. The elements of Carney Technique involve variations on the techniques and movements of classical ballet, and therefore require a solid base in ballet.  Students may begin training in Carney Technique at the Grade 4 ballet level. (View Schedules)

Specialist Ballet Classes

Master Ballet (Grade 2 Ballet & above)

The Master Class in ballet provides additional training for students showing a serious interest in ballet training.  Each year, Mr. Carney selects students from within the graded ballet classes to join his Master Classes.  These students train with Mr. Carney in advanced techniques beyond their ballet class level, as would occur at major ballet company schools.  Students must be taking all recommended classes in their current ballet level before being accepted into Master Class.

Students who are selected for Master Class have been identified as exceeding the expectations of their current ballet level and showing strong potential in ballet, while also displaying a strong focus, dedication and passion for their training.  These characteristics may change over the year, so students must be aware that the selection will be reviewed each year.  In addition, students who have not been previously selected, might still be invited at a later date.  So students must present their best at all times in all classes.

Students enter Master Ballet by Mr Carney’s invitation only.

Pre-Professional Coaching

In preparation for entry into the Pre-Professional Academy, and for students who are unable to coordinate the PPA schedule with their academic schools, the Pre-Professional Coaching classes provide semi-private advanced coaching.  Each year, Mr. Carney identifies students from within his Master Classes who are potential candidates for Canada’s National Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and other company-affiliated professional training schools.  These students will be invited into the Pre-Professional Coaching sessions. To be selected, students must have exceptional dedication, focus and passion for their ballet training, as well as the necessary physical attributes such as good ballet feet, physique and turn-out.

Students enter Pre-Professional Coaching by Mr Carney’s invitation only.

Private Coaching

A limited amount of studio time is available for private coaching for students who wish to advance their training in a one-to-one setting.  Each request will be evaluated based on the student’s current performance, their dedication and commitment to their training, and their motivation to improve their current level.  Please contact the office with any request for private coaching.

Students must be approved for Private Coaching by Mr. Carney.

Syllabi and Assessments

Vaganova Syllabus

Originally developed by the Russian dancer and pedagogue Mme. Agrippina Vaganova over one hundred years ago, the internationally renowned Vaganova Syllabus fuses the romantic style of the French ballet and dramatic soulfulness of the Russian character with the athletic virtuosity that characterizes the Italian school.  This notated and progressive training program has produced some of the best dancers in the world including Anna Pavlova, Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolph Nureyev, choreographer George Balanchine, and professional dancers found in almost every company in the world. 

The Vaganova method is designed to involve the whole body in every movement, with equal attention paid to the upper body, legs and feet, thus increasing consciousness of the body, and creating a harmony of movement and greater expressive range.  The syllabus emphasizes the development of both technical proficiency and individual artistry, with a complete range of expression that comes out of proper placement and a strong classical dance foundation.

Students at Vaganova-based schools are expected to take daily courses in ballet as well as character (folk) dance, modern dance, calisthenics/strengthening, and study dance history, music, and language.  At Vaganova-based pre-professional schools, students also take courses in choreography and pedagogy.  Unlike other classical ballet school syllabi, these two subjects allow Vaganova-trained students of all abilities to go on to become both choreographers and well-trained teachers.

Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus

The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) is one of the world’s most influential dance education organisations.  Founded in 1920, its intention was to set standards for teachers within the UK, ensuring a consistent approach in training particularly for teachers who had not been professional dancers.  Today, the RAD has a presence in 83 countries, with 36 offices, over 14,000 members worldwide, and more than a quarter of a million students are being examined on RAD syllabi.  On approval, students have the option to enter the Royal Academy of Dance examinations overseen by a visiting international examiner.

Fraser Valley Academy of Dance Syllabus

Fraser Valley Academy of Dance has developed its own syllabus which incorporates the RAD syllabus, but expands greatly on that book-based syllabus training to include the more advanced techniques taught by former professional dancers at the Vaganova Academy and Royal Ballet Schools.

Since first experiencing the Bolshoi Ballet performing the original production of Spartacus with Vladimir Vasiliev and Ekatarina Maximova on stage in London in the early 1970’s, Mr. Carney has held the Russian technique in very high esteem.  While his training at the Royal Ballet School with former dancers of the Royal Ballet provided the exceptional training required for his professional career that would span two decades touring the world, he never forgot the impression of the dramatic Russian style, technique and artistry.

As with the Royal Ballet Company and School today, which hire both British-trained and Russian-trained dancers and teachers, Mr. Carney believes that the marriage of the British Royal Ballet style with the Russian Vaganova method offers the strongest form of classical ballet training in strength, technique, movement and artistry.  It is this union of traditional, classical methods that is the basis for the Fraser Valley Academy of Dance Syllabus.

The results speak for themselves as our students are accepted every year into prestigious Pre-Professional and Post-Secondary Training Programs in Dance and Performing Arts schools around the world.  Read our Student Achievements page for further details.

Internal Assessments & Report Cards

Our students are assessed internally twice each year, receiving formal report cards. As our teachers are primarily former professional dancers who have been trained by former professional dancers, our own syllabus trains students beyond the more limited RAD syllabus, allowing them to cover more advanced technique for their level.  Placements for the following year are based on the assessment of this syllabus.

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