Carla Stewart, RAD RTS School Owner & Director
Carla began dancing at the age of 2. She trained at the Goh ballet, Flora Pigeau Dance Academy, and Cameron Dance Academy. As a young dancer Carla enjoyed many wonderful training and performance opportunities. Her most memorable experiences include weekly classes with Miss Pigeau, RAD exams, workshops and master classes at the Goh, Arts Umbrella down in Granville, and Royal City Youth ballet, competing in Surrey, Coquitlam, and Chilliwack festivals (favourite categories included ballet open solo, open duo, ballet set, and musical interpretation!), yearly recitals with Miss Pigeau, summer schools at the Royal Winnepeg Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, dancing many (almost all!) the roles in the Royal City Youth ballet Nutcracker, and countless other workshops and classes, and performances. Carla 'retired' from dance training when she was 16 because of a health issue and rekindled her passion for dance when she began teaching at the age of 18. Carla loves teaching! Carla began her teaching certification with the RAD and is now a certified and fully registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance and a member of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association. After teaching for a few years she decided to take the Kindermusik educator training which helped her to gain a better understanding of music training, how to foster musicality in young students and connect it to creative movement, as well as early child development and 'how children learn'. In 2005 Carla opened her first school 'Carla's Academy of Dance' in Abbotsford, B.C. The studio became home to over 150 dancers in the area,and made many happy memories before it was sold in 2009 after Carla had her first child. With the success of her first school, her experience as a teacher, a dancer, and a mother, Carla opened Aspire in 2012 to build a place where passionate dancers are crafted, friendships are formed, and happy memories are made. In 2014 Carla once again upgraded her training with the Acrobatic Arts teaching certification knowing that acro dance greatly increases strength, balance and flexibility in dancers and has become an essential component of dance performance today. Recently Carla again expanded her training with a certification in Marie Walton Mahon's innovative Progressing Ballet Technique program. Carla uses her combined knowledge and skills in dance, music, and acrobatics to create technical, musical, strong, fit, flexible, and versatile dancers. She knows that discipline and respect are tools that are needed to train successful dancers, and her students know that she teaches this way out of love and makes creating beautiful dancers a shared goal in her classes. Carla enjoys talking with,and observing children and finds that in this way she can tune in to how each child perceives the world and how they learn best. Carla believes that dance is a beautiful art form that can take a special place in one's heart, and benefit people in many different ways. She trains students as potential professional dancers, future teachers, and life long lovers of music, art and movement. Carla has dedicated her life to enriching people's lives with the many gifts that dance has to offer and looks forward to continuing her professional development.
Vishakha has been practicing art since her childhood. She always had passion for Art and always knew that she has to pursue it as profession. She enjoys drawing, painting, illustration,visual art,art history, designing and murals. After graduating in Applied Arts in India, Vishakha started working as a assistant art director in one of the most renowned production houses in India. She worked there for 4 years and successfully completed her two feature films.
Applied Art and painting have been always played vital role in Vishakha's life, whether a private lesson or a Art Exhibition. After moving to Canada and over the years of art practice lead to the next step and she did her first international art show in 2018 in Vancouver Art Show!
Vishakha is excited to continue sharing her passion for art with Aspire students.
Piano & Music theory
Packer has been playing piano since the age of 5. He studied music in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Canada, which provided him with some unique experiences, perspectives and international connections with different people. Packer has been teaching piano to children in church and his neighborhood for 7 years. He believes that it is important to communicate with students and get to know them so that he can find the best ways to teach while also ensuring students enjoy playing piano. Packer has achieved ABRSM Grade 6 theory and Trinity College of London Licentiate Diploma (LTCL) in piano at the age of 17. He also graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Music in 2018.
Packer also enjoys composing. He has composed music for music festivals and video games. He composed and performed piano in the Nocturne Arts Festival 2016 and 2017 which features improvisation music for an ensemble. He also composed and performed a piano solo suite in the Open Water Festival in 2017. Beyond piano Packer has also written Orchestral music. Tapestry (2017) is an orchestral piece composed by Packer which was performed by Symphony Nova Scotia. For video games Packer composed numerous electronic pieces for Dynamix, Arcaea, and an indie music group - “Z2O” based in Hong Kong. Packer recently entered his composition in the KPU International Music Festival and recieved a Gold Standing. Packer is happy to continue sharing his passion for music with Aspire students.
Guitar, Bass, Piano, Drums
Chris was born in Montreal Quebec and moved to BC when he was five. Soon after, his love of music surfaced. His mother played jazz piano and his father played British invasion guitar mixed with the blues. So from an early age Chris had plenty of musical influences. When he was nine years old, his brother gave him a fretless bass and he received more guitars from his parents for birthdays over the next few years, including a fender Stratocaster when he turned 16. After playing in bands during high school, Chris attended Capilano University where he studied jazz. Following university, he played professionally in live studio situations for the next 20 years.
He then switched from studio work to teaching and has been giving lessons for the last six years. Chris takes great pleasure introducing people to music, watching them develop their skills and talents and hearing the tangible results. Chris’s teaching style accentuates individual expression in the form of improvisation so that a student doesn’t just learn a song but learns how to express themselves within the song .Chris finds it very satisfying to teach students how to take a song and make it their own while still being faithful to the original version. Chris is excited to be part of the Aspire staff team again this year.
Acro & Gymnastics
Ashley started dancing at the age of three, and right away she was hooked. Ashley studied in all styles of dance, but took a special interest in Acrobatics, and musical theater. Ashley has trained in high levels for all styles of dance, and has completed exams in Ballet (R.A.D & Cecchetti), Jazz, Tap, and Acro. Ashley encourage her students to build strength and technique while obtaining high level skills, to keep them safe.
Jillian has been dancing for the past 17 years. After falling in love with the art at the age of three, she began her extensive training in Alberta. From exams to competition, Jillian did it all. Completing many high level exams in ballet (R.A.D), tap (Al Gilbert and Adapt) and jazz (Adapt), as well as competing all styles of dance, Jillian feels confident in the knowledge she shares with her classrooms. She is a Youth Protection Advocates in Dance certified instructor and committed to continuing her education as a teacher. After graduation, she decided to continue her dance training by moving to Vancouver and joining The Source Dance Company. She has since performed all around Southern Alberta and the Greater Vancouver Area for events such as Young Living Essential Oils Canadian Convention, Harlem Globetrotters opener in Calgary, Small Stages Vancouver, and various parades and flash mobs. She was a finalist for the Youth Artist Award in Airdrie, and featured in a local magazine spread. Jillian has taught students choreography for Disney and local parades, as well as worked as a guest choreographer for competitive studios in Alberta. She is eager to get in the studio and share her love of dance and experience with the students of Aspire.
Sonja comes to us with 20 years of dance training at studios including Judy Russell’s Enchantment Dance Centre in Prince George , Studio 2 Stage and The Move Dance Center in Fort St John BC. During her training she was a competitive dancer and completed her RAD dance exams from Pre-Primary – Advanced 1 in Ballet and CDTA examinations from Pre-Primary – Gold Star in Tap and Jazz. Sonja worked with a Broadway training company called Broadway Live Broadway in Grande Prairie Alberta. The company is directed by Ken Perry who is a Juilliard graduate and was Sonja vocal coach for 5 years. Sonja did many shows with the company including The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, and Fame. This experience gave her the opportunity to work with professional actors, singers, choreographers and directors from all over Canada. She was hired as head choreographer for their production of Fame the Musical, choreographed 20 pieces for the show and worked with dancers of all levels. Working with Broadway Live Broadway gave Sonja practical skills in putting together a musical theatre piece, choreographing steps that are interesting and exciting for the audience and creating pieces that allow performers to sing and dance to their fullest potential. Sonja taught competitive and recreational jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary and a preschool dance combo program at The Move Dance Centre for 4 years before moving to Vancouver to pursue a career in Acting. At Vancouver Film School, Sonja studied acting, theatre, mask performance, movement and singing and had the opportunity to learn from many acclaimed Vancouver actors and performers. She graduated from the program in 2017. Sonja brings a fun and energetic attitude to her classes and really enjoys watching her students learn and grow as young artists. We are proud to have Sonja on staff again this season.