Dancer stays in step with students

Anabel Ho is principal at Vancouver Academy of Dance, which is presenting Odysseo next week. - Phil Planta
Anabel Ho is principal at Vancouver Academy of Dance, which is presenting Odysseo next week.
— image credit: Phil Planta

A culmination of a year’s work will be on stage at Gateway Theatre next week when students of Vancouver Academy of Dance present a trio of year-end performances.

Getting them this far is a dedicated faculty led by principal Anabel Ho.

The academy had its beginnings in 1995, when Ho started teaching 25 students at rented studio space in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Ho had been teaching with her mom Mimie at the Strathcona Chinese Dance Company—a job she first landed at the age of 12.

Soon after breaking away from her mom’s school with her own, Ho found the current home for her academy in Richmond, near IKEA.

Dancers ranging in age from preschool to adult train in a variety of styles, including ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, musical theatre, tap, ballroom and acrobatics, along with Chinese dance—Ho’s specialty. The academy aims to inspire creativity, develop potential, promote cultural diversity and foster and appreciation for the performing arts.

Ho’s own training spans the globe and covers the full spectrum of dance styles. Her accomplishments include presenting command performances for royals and heads of state of many countries, along with serving as an advisor to the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Games.

Next week’s Odysseo—the title of her academy’s year-end performances—includes three different programs at Gateway Theatre: Friday, May 30, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 31, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $26 to $38, available at Vancouver Academy of Dance: 118-12838 Clarke Pl. (604-231-8293).

1. How much work goes into the year-end show? “Countless hours. The staff works tirelessly to ensure a successful performance that everyone can be proud of.”

2. What do students get out of it? “Students gain self-confidence, discipline and the importance of teamwork.”

3. After the last day of classes, where might people find you? “Preparing for Vancouver Academy of Dance’s Open House and Summer School.”

4. What’s one of the more popular dance styles today? “Contemporary.”

5. What level of interest is there for Chinese dance? “The majority of our students studying Chinese dance are Canadian-born Chinese. It is through dance where they have an opportunity to learn about their own culture and heritage.”

6. A city outside Canada where you enjoyed dancing? “Warsaw, Poland.”

7. What’s a favourite performance? “One of my most memorable performances is dancing on Parliament Hill on July 1, 1992 on Canada’s 125th Birthday for Her Majesty the Queen, the governor general and prime minister of Canada.”

8. Best pre-performance meal? “Something light and healthy.”

9. Best dance movie? “Singing in the Rain.”

10. TV dance show you might watch? “Dancing with the Stars.”

11. If you weren’t a dancer, what would you be? “An educator.”

12. Advice for young dancers? “The true reward comes with hard work and perseverance. Reach up high for the stars and never give up.”

13. A hobby or an interest? “Travelling the world and learning about different cultures.”

14. What makes a performance a good performance? “The excitement leading into the big day as well as sharing the enjoyment of dance to friends, families and the community.”

15. Sunrise or sunset? “Sunset.”

16. Best health tip? “Stretch everyday for a healthy body.”

17. A favourite Richmond restaurant? “Kiyo Sushi!”

18. Best age to start dancing? “Four to five years old.”

19. How old is too old to start dancing?  “Never too old. If you have the passion and desire, anything is possible.”

20. What drives you? “To witness the children blossom into young adults, and how dance teaches them how to be prepared for the real world by being disciplined and having a good work ethic.”

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