Carla Stewart, RAD RTS Head of Ballet Program 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.

Ashley Donnelly,
After School Program Manager 
Acro & Musical Theatre

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.

Vishakha Patil,
Art teacher

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.  

Packer Woo,
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. 

Chris Hill,
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. 

Kaitlyn Cooper,
Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary

Kaitlyn has been dancing from the age of 3. Since then, she has trained in many styles including jazz, lyrical, ballet, modern and musical theatre. She has been dancing competitively for the past 10 years and has achieved great success with her wonderful dance team. Her passion for dance and her love for children lead to the next step in her dance career: teaching! Kaitlyn has been teaching for the past five years, loving being able to share her passion with her students. 

Kyla Couper,
Ballet, Dance Combo 

Kyla started dancing at the age of four at Surrey Dance Centre. She trained in all genres and attended many competitions. She won various awards, scholarships and trophies, including the Junior 2 Cecchetti Award, and the intermediate Stage representative at Surrey Festival of Dance. For two seasons, Kyla performed with the Royal City Youth Ballet’s Nutcracker. Kyla joined the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City as a full-time ballet trainee when she was 15. Kyla graduated from Joffrey’s four-year certificate program after dancing lead roles in Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Serenade, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire. Kyla has danced with Ballet Kelowna and performed with Vancouver’s Coastal City Ballet in Giselle and Swan Lake. Kyla has also performed in the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular on Vancouver Island for two seasons. Kyla graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of General Studies in Education from Simon Fraser University, and has formed her own Ballet company called Coupé Dance & Co. This will be Kyla’s third season teaching dance in the Lower-Mainland. She loves sharing her passion for dance with her students, enjoys seeing them improve, and wants to pass on the magical feeling that comes with dancing on stage.

Lexy Cox,
Acro Program

Lexy is a diverse performer, choreographer and instructor specializing in a variety of dance styles. She is a graduate of Ryerson University’s BFA program, majoring in Theatre

Performance and Dance. Her additional dance certifications include, the Canadian Dance Teachers' Association, the Performing Arts Educators of Canada, Alixa Flexibility, the Acro Dance Teachers Association, and Acrobatic Arts Canada. Lexy is also a qualified dance adjudicator with the Professional Adjudicators Alliance and a proud member of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance. As a choreographer Lexy has worked across Canada and the US on projects such as World Performers Canada National Dance Team (Spain, Portugal), Mini Pop Kids, Mirvish’s Matilda (Travelling Stage Artist Educator), Mirvish Musical Theatre Summer Intensive, Shrek The Musical (Rainbow Stage), Toronto Dance Teacher Expo, One Night Only Musical (Dora Award Winner- Now Audience Choice), Port Hope Capitol Theatre Company, New York City's Theatre Arts Centre, City Dance Corps, CNE Rising Star Talent Competition, Illuminite Toronto, Bravo Academy Toronto, and Google Learning Mini Series. Her performance credits include; Bound For Broadway (NYC Theatre Arts Center), A Chorus Line (Rose Theatre), Cory Lee’s Cruel Intentions Music Video, ET Canada, Much Music’s Best Dance Crew Commercial (New Music Live), Madonna Bazaar (Opera House), High School Musical 2 live on Stage (Jonathan Randall Productions), Peter Pan (Royal City Musical Theatre Vancouver), as Velma Kelly in Chicago (Treehouse Theatre), and as Bombalurina in Cats (Stanley Theatre Vancouver). Currently Lexy is the Artistic Director of Full Out Dance, Managing  Dance Attack

Acro Convention, Directing Move With The Beat Dance & Acro Competitions, The Certifications Director of the Acro Dance Teachers Association's Acro Teacher Training Programs, and adjudicating competitions/ guest teaching for dance companies across Canada. Lexy is happy to  be returning to work wit Aspire acro dancers again this season.

Sonja Beale,
Musical Theatre, Tap

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. 

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6554 176th Street Surrey, B.C. V3S 4G5 Phone: 778.808.3691  Email: aspirefinearts@gmail.com