Vera Stephenson ARAD, RTS, TC, TD, BLS, 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 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 and now at Reverence to over one hundred dancers.  Vera mentored Ms. Sheree to attain her Registered Teacher Status and now together they run one of the biggest, and one of only, programs in Colorado.  Reverence is an exam center for the local and National exams. In 2004 we hosted Christina Zati from Milan, Italy.  In 2005 Reverence hosted Vocational Examiner and Presidential Award winner Mary Moe Adams, LRAD and students came from Utah, Missouri, New York and Oregon to join Reverence students in taking their exams.  The Graded examinations were adjudicated by Angela Watkin, who is originally from South Africa. Other examiners Reverence has hosted include: Ms. Sandra Burnham, Ms. Merle Sepel, Marly Apaliano from Brazil, Valerie Harden from England, and Paula Lau originally from Hong Kong.  Vera with Sheree both continued on the path of continued education and hosted RAD dual examiner Gillian Davis for a weekend of syllabus classes and teacher training, welcoming local area teachers as well.  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. This year Vera organized hosting the Vocational Dance Days, when Mary Adams came to give Vocational Classes to only 6 cities in the country! In June 2012 Vera is bringing the New Syllabi Course to Reverence, again one of only 6 cities in the country.

Vera and Sheree traveled in 2007 to New Jersey to take the week long Teacher’s Course at the Dance Educators of America.  There they studied ballet with America Ballet Theatre instructor Raymond Lukins, Musical Theatre with Dana Moore from Mr. Bob Fosse’s original “Sweet Charity”, and tap from Steps on Broadway fabulous tap teacher Ray Hesselink as well as modern and hip hop.   Later that month, Vera and Sheree traveled to Cal State University at Long Beach to study the new Royal Academy of Dance Grade 8.   In 2008 Vera traveled to Toronto to take a Vocational Teacher’s Course with dual Examiner Lynette Kelly. In 2012 Reverence hosted Mary Adams in the Vocational Dance Days, and in June hosted Fiona Ellwood who taught the new RAD Grades 1-3 Syllabus to teachers at Reverence.

Vera developed Reverence’s Jazz and Tap Syllabi, based on the CDTA and Al Gilbert methods.  These are similar to the way the RAD supports a standard of excellence in training.  Vera developed the Tiny Tot program which also closely follows the Royal Academy of Dance Pre-School Syllabus.  Vera also created the Pre-Ballet and Tap progression to Beginning level classes at Reverence Academy of Dance. Children make tremendous progress through these methods of training. Vera’s tap and jazz students have gone on to win both regional and national awards in ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical.

Vera wants to greet every child with care and understanding and with a sense of discipline for the art. Vera’s respectful, dependable, pro-active and fun character, partnered by the exceptional training is her offering to Reverence. Vera is proud to have her family involved in Reverence.  Gerry, partner for 30 years, is Technical Director and Web Master for Reverence Academy of Dance and International Ballroom and Dance Teacher.  Kalina, who achieved a high standard of the RAD with her Advanced 1 Exam is an excellent teacher of ballet, tap, and jazz. Kalina directed the Junior Summer Intensive in 2008.  Kalina graduated from CU and then again from CU Health Sciences and is a Registered Nurse working in Labor and Delivery at Avista in Louisville.  Nicole – tap aficionado having trained for years, taught tap, ballet and hip hop.  Nicole is graduated from CU and majoring in Spanish Literature. Nicole is recently engaged and now works at Apple. Gerry and Vera love to bike,  do yoga and of course dance together for 37 years.

As an Examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance, Vera has traveled to Hong Kong, London, Australia, Chili, Canada, will travel to Brazil and does a yearly tour in the US. Vera is one of 10 Examiners in the US and 200 in the world.

“Vera- what you’ve managed to create in Colorado astounds me. I have complete respect for you and the positive, nurturing approach you have towards your students. You are one of the few teachers running an RAD program in that part of the U.S. I feel so fortunate to have found you- for Lujane. I use your studio as an ideal template. I love the feel you’ve created and the fact that you have the show photos of all your students-framed on the walls. Lujane hasn’t had this high caliber of a studio here- but I hope to create at least a fraction of Reverence in Bahrain. I wear my black Reverence t shirt to the gym often- with all of the students’ names on the back. I loved the camp- and the end of the week show- complete with costumes. Lujane had a great time and she worked hard too.

With love and best wishes for your studio and students,

Christy”