Dance can be a wonderful interest for children, teens and adults. Some of our students have been with DBA for many years and have formed great bonds with each other and our teachers. Some have grown up with us. They tell us when they dance they forget about all their problems and that their dance classes help them put life’s frustrations into perspective. Many have said that because of dance and the self-discipline it gave them early on in life, they have an easier time organizing their time, getting their homework done and prioritizing things. All of these important skills are facilitated through the study of dance.

Other benefits of taking dance lessons include:

Increased muscle strength and overall fitness
Improved flexibility
Improved posture and co-ordination
Improved balance and body awareness
Improved ability to focus and concentrate
Improved organizational skills
Improved musicality
Improved self-awareness and self-esteem
A place for self-expression
Improved self-discipline
The feeling of belonging to a second home and a second family
Lasting friendships

Expanded career options – many former students have followed careers stemming from their dance training.

These include:

Ballet teachers 
School teacher 
Fashion/costume designer 
Piano teacher 
We also have students who have been accepted to Capilano College’s Musical Theatre programme and Stage Technician programme as well as SFU’s dance programme.



Regular attendance is essential for the steady progress of each student. Please call or e-mail the school if your child will be missing or late for a class. 
Dance attire is just as important to the dancer as the proper athletic apparel is to the athlete. It is imperative that your child is properly equipped for his/her class. This includes hair. Arrive early for your class so your child has time to change to required dress and to do hair. Please see dress requirements later in this handbook. If your child is not dressed appropriately, he or she may be asked to watch class that day 
Students of the school are expected to have a good attitude and show respect both to their teachers and to other students. Parents will be contacted should there be a problem. 
Students of Douglas Ballet Academy are not permitted to take dance lessons at other dance schools unless Douglas Ballet has been notified 
Students or any person on DBA premises who commits a theft from the studio will be immediately suspended from the school. Anyone causing damage to the premises will be charged $10.00 per incident. Subsequent acts will result in suspension from the school. 
DBA accepts no liability for any accident or injury to a person, or theft of personal property that occurs on its premises. 
If classes have to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. snow) they will not necessarily be rescheduled unless more than two are missed in a term. 
Parents of young children are encouraged to come in and check your child into his or her class and then leave the studio until the class is over. 


There are two 15 minute parking stalls at the entrance of our door for you to use for drop offs and pick-ups. The 15 minute time limit will be strictly enforced.

You may park anywhere in the lower parking lot for 1 hour where the signs say parking for Office Depot or Tim Horton’s.  If you park there and then walk over to Boston Pizza or Cactus they will ticket you!! You will have to move your car over to their parking lot if you would like to eat there.


As there is no scheduled time in between classes, talking to a teacher during class time is not a good idea; it leaves the students unattended and takes away from lesson time. In the event that you have a question for one of our teachers or the principal, please call the school or email us with your request for a meeting and we will contact you with a mutually convenient time for you and the teacher.


A DBA administrator will be in the office during the following hours to answer your calls or contact a teacher for you 

Monday            12:00 – 8:00pm
Tuesday              3:00 – 9:00pm
Wednesday       10:30 – 8:00pm
Thursday            3:00 – 9:00pm
Friday                 3:00 – 7:30pm
Saturday             9:30 – 3:15pm

Missed Classes

Students may make up missed classes during the same month in which they were absent.
Please contact the studio for a list of classes that are suitable for your child’s make up classes
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer any make up classes after April 15th due to time constraints relating to the year end show.


Parents are welcomed into the classroom on “Parent’s Observation Weeks” which are at the end of every second month. Our experience has been that students are easily distracted when parents observe classes, so we prepare the students for these special parents’ weeks when they can show you their progress.

Please feel free to ask teachers about your child’s progress at any time. 


We encourage you to come in and get your child settled, but then leave for the duration of the class, coming back shortly before the class is over to pick up your child. Our staff is always close by to deal with little problems should they arise and we promise to take good care of your children when you are gone.

We can deal with bathroom help and little one’s feelings and possible shyness or nerves; most of the classes involving the very young students have a teacher’s assistant to help out with any minor emergencies.

1.    The noise level needs to stay at the level of a library!! It is extremely distracting to the teacher and students in the downstairs studio to have a high level of background noise. 

2.    Young siblings etc must be kept away from the studio door. 

3.    There must be absolutely no ball playing, no tag, no hide and go seek, no climbing anything by siblings no running in the hall or students waiting for class. 

4.    The kitchen  is for staff only.

5.    No student is allowed in either studio unless the teacher is present.

6.    Please clean up after yourselves and your children before you leave for the evening

7.    Snacks are only allowed in the change room and must be cleaned up after they are eaten. NO PEANUTS PLEASE. We have no garbage pick up and food mess encourages mice in this old building.

8.    Parents MUST supervise children at all times in the waiting room (especially at the water cooler.  

Our aim is to create a welcoming productive environment where students can learn as much as possible in the allotted time. Please treat the area as a business space.




Certain students will be invited to participate in groups, duos or solos. Specially choreographed pieces are taught which performance division students will perform locally year round as well as in competitions throughout the lower mainland.

Students are chosen for performance division based on a dedicated attitude, talent, a desire and passion for performance and family supportiveness. Students must also be taking ballet exams to be in the performance division.

For those who love to perform, this is a fun and rewarding experience and is really what dance is all about. It is for the very serious student and “dance family”.

Parents will be asked to read and agree to the terms listed below. Contracts for students taking performance division will be given out to the parents of the selected students.

To be eligible students must have the following qualifications:

Ballet – minimum two classes per week (excluding character) 
Jazz – one class of jazz, one of jazz technique, one class of ballet technique 
Musical theatre – one jazz or ballet or tap class per week in addition to musical theatre 
Tap – one jazz or ballet class in addition to tap 
Hip hop –  at teacher’s discretion 

Performance Division Contract

Group classes require an equal commitment from all members. If you cannot commit fully to the group, please do not enroll in these classes.

All performances and rehearsals are mandatory.

Students will be involved in 4 – 5 community shows during the year, most of which will be on weekends, as well as a preview show at the annual DBA Christmas party in December.

Groups will also compete in the spring festivals. Competition times are not set by the school and absolutely cannot be changed by the school. Nor can the school be held responsible for competitions running late etc. Sometimes competitions will be scheduled during school hours. Competitions have entry fees, payment of which is the responsibility of the student.

Costumes will be also required. You may sew or buy your costume yourself or have it sewn for you by one of our seamstresses. Typically costumes cost between $40.00 - $80.00 each. Ask for an estimate if you wish to have your costume sewn. These costumes are separate and additional to those required for the school’s year-end show. 

If a teacher decides your child is ready for a solo, duet or trio, you and your child will be approached and rehearsal times will be arranged privately with the teacher. Currently the private lesson fee is $45.00 per hour. A $180 deposit will be required before the start of rehearsals, cost divided between duo/trio members.

All Performance Division students in groups will pay $125.00 at the start of the season to cover administration fees, festival entry fees and theatre rental. Any shortfall/overpayment will be adjusted accordingly once outgoings are paid.

The final show for all performance students is in April. Attendance at this show is mandatory for performers. The show takes place at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.

It is up to you whether or not you accept this contract


The Royal Academy of Dance offers examinations for students aged five and over. Examiners come to our studio from all over the world and test the students on what they have been learning in their classes. From Primary level and over the students go into their exam in groups of two, three or four, without their teachers. Students are expected to be well prepared, confident of all their exercises and to be able to perform them without assistance.

Exams are scheduled any day from 9:00 – 5:00 including weekends. Douglas Ballet is not in control of exam times and has no power to change them. There are separate examination and mock examination fees. Typically, combined, they will be under $100.00.

Minimum Class Requirements for Exams:

The minimum requirement for participating in exams Grade One through Seven is one ballet class in that grade and the corresponding level Character class. (Primary and Grade Eight do not include Character classes)

The Major exams Intermediate Foundation  require two ballet classes and the corresponding pointe level.

Intermediate and Advanced One-Three classes a week and the corresponding pointe class

Advanced  Two-Fours classes weekly and the corresponding pointe classes

We strongly recommend that exam students take contemporary or jazz classes (creative/free movement for younger students) as well so that students have the opportunity to excel in their exam work.

An additional ballet class at the level one higher than the student’s exam level is also recommended from Grade Four and over. Remember – from Grade Four and up, passing these Royal Academy exams qualifies the student for high school credits!

Examinations set high standards and goals for ballet students. We have seen that ballet students who are capable of, and enter into examinations, fulfill their potential more than the ones who don’t. 

The students are given marks out of ten for the different sections of their dance study. Keep in mind that these marks are not like school marks, and it is far more difficult to achieve 10/10 in ballet than it is in math, for example.

The marking system is as follows: -

Grade exams:                                                    Vocational exams

0 – 39% - Unclassified                          0 – 39% - Unclassified

40 – 54% - Pass                                                40 – 49% - Pass

55 – 74% - Merit                                   50 – 59% - Pass with Merit

75% and over – Distinction                    70% and over Pass with Distinction

Presentation Exams

Sometimes, for one reason or another, a child is not ready to enter an exam. (Could be lots of lessons missed, illness, a late start, or a physical developmental stage where their muscles have not strengthened enough after a growth spurt etc.) In such a case the teacher may choose to have then entered into a ‘presentation exam’, which is not graded. This gives the child exam experience without the pressure of being marked.

*Please note: the pre-primary exam is presentation only as predetermined by the Royal Academy

High School Credit Programme

Students who are successful in the Royal Academy’s ballet exams from Grade Four and over are eligible for high school credits towards Grade 11 & 12. See your school counsellor for details.



Why is it so important to take ballet if my child is mainly interested in other forms of dance?

Often you hear teachers say, “If you want to be good at jazz, contemporary etc. you have to take ballet!” This is because ballet is the most classic form of dance there is and it gives the student the form, technique, posture and polish it takes to excel in any of the other dance forms. Studying ballet gives form and definition to movement. An accomplished ballet dancer  will find the transition to other forms of dance fairly easy. This is not the case in reverse.

What is the difference between the higher grades (6, 7, & 8) and the Vocational Grades (Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced 1& 2)?

After Grade 5 ballet, students and their teachers have the choice of the student taking Grade 6, 7 and 8 or of pursuing Intermediate Foundation to Advanced 2 exams. The difference is that the latter courses are more comprehensive and are a more thorough exposure to classical ballet technique. They involve pointe work and there is no character or free movement. This is the path to choose if the student has the physical facility and desire to learn all there is to know about classical ballet. It is the way to go if the student has any desire or potential to use their dancing for a career, whether it is to teach or to dance professionally.

Exams at this level are for the serious student, although we sometimes recommend students take these levels to supplement their dancing even if they don’t do the exams.

The higher grades 6, 7 & 8 are levels which are beautifully choreographed and which include a small amount of dance history in their syllabi. The study of character and free movement is continued from the lower grades. The dance vocabulary here is not as comprehensive as in the vocational levels, but it is still technically sound and valid. This is the path to choose if the student enjoys dance but does not want to do ballet more than twice a week, or if the body does not have the facility for the more strenuous needs of the vocational levels. With both the grade and vocational levels it will take 1 ½ to 2 years of study per level as opposed to one year per level up to Grade 5.

Can my four year old join the same ballet class as my six year old?

It would be convenient if this were the case, but in ballet for young children (3 – 6 years old) it is very important that the ages are kept quite separate. Muscle strength, coordination, learning patterns, ability to concentrate is quite different at these ages, so the class content is quite age specific. Also as a Royal Academy of Dance school, we have to follow and uphold the Academy’s minimum age requirements both for exams and classes. As the children get older, and with other forms of dance, the age differential within a class can be wider.

A career in classical ballet, like a career as a professional athlete, is hard to achieve, but as an activity to participate in when you are growing up – it’s great for all children!

Can/should boys take ballet?

Yes, of course if they seem interested there is nothing wrong with boys taking ballet. Boy’s training is very different from girl’s. They don’t dress “frilly” or wear “tutus”. The boy’s work is very physical and is just as beneficial for them as it is for girls.  As a point of historical interest – ballet was started by men! (Early beginnings in the 1600’s) It wasn’t until the 1820’s that women were “allowed” to participate in dance as a serious career.

What is pointe?

Pointe is the quintessential study for a ballet dancer, and the image of a ballerina that first springs to mind is of one en pointe. Originally it was started in the 1800’s so that ballerinas could project a more ethereal image.

When should pointe be introduced?

Usually students do not go en pointe before the age of 11, when the hard bone has finished forming. Pointe work that is taught properly will not damage the feet. Students must have been taking Ballet consistently before they start pointe work. DBA staff takes extra care to ensure pointe is studied slowly and steadily in pointe classes, which focus solely on the technique required to dance en pointe successfully. Pointe shoes have to be expertly fitted at a dance shop in order to avoid injury.

Am I too old for ballet lessons?

We get this question a lot! The answer is No! Ballet can be taught to all ages and levels. Of course we will take a more recreational approach to adult classes, but the focus is still on

learning the basic steps with progression in mind. Taking ballet as an adult will certainly improve your posture, strength and co-ordination. If you’ve always wanted to try ballet, or if you took lessons as a child and quit a long time ago; we welcome you. Adult classes will be mixed level from beginners to those with a few years experience. Often our adults who are very keen and excel will try some of our regular classes with the other students and do very well.

Isn’t he/she to tall/short to do ballet?

The answer to this is easy! NO NO NO! For some reason this is a widely misunderstood concept. There are very short dancers everywhere! Ballet can be done by everyone.


What is Jazz?

Jazz is a commercial style form of dance. It has its roots in ballet, but uses pop music and “flashier” movements. It focuses on stretching, turns, conditioning (sit-ups & push-ups etc) leaps and “pizzazz”.

What is Lyrical Jazz?

Lyrical Jazz is expressive jazz movements to slower popular songs. It is important to take ballet if the student wishes to do well in any form of jazz.


What is Contemporary Dance?

Contemporary is a creative, exploratory form of dance, which blends modern dance with ballet. Modern dance is both expressive and athletic. It again, has roots in ballet and was developed in the early 1900’s as a vehicle of self-expression for dancers. It focuses on body awareness and encompasses the exploration of organic movement, improvisation and choreography. Younger students take part in creative movement classes which focus on letting them use their imagination to explore different movement patterns and body shapes. Some of the most thought provoking dance is contemporary.

Musical Theatre

What is Musical Theatre?

Think of Hairspray or Little Shop of Horrors. In these classes students learn excerpts from popular musicals, which they sing, dance and act. Older students are introduced to harmony. Primarily classes focus on vocals, lyrics and characterization. It is therefore helpful if a student takes a jazz , ballet or tap class to help with the dancing involved in musical theatre.

Do I need a good voice?

It is not necessary to have a perfect voice to do musical theatre, but you ought to be able to carry a tune. Most of the time you will be singing in a group not solo.

What is Stage?

Essentially Stage is musical theatre without the singing! There is slightly more emphasis on the dance element. In both musical theatre and stage the primary focus is that the routine must be entertaining in the “Broadway” sense. Again a dance class of jazz, ballet or tap is recommended.

Do I already need to know how to dance? 

It is helpful if you are already attending some dance lessons as stage and musical theatre are not dance classes, but focus more on acting, timing and musicality.


What is Irish dance?

The Irish taught at DBA is authentic Irish folk dancing. Riverdance may have made Irish dance popular, but it has been around for centuries. Slipjigs and reels are some of the soft shoe Irish dances taught in the school. The more advanced students will learn the hard shoe ‘tap’ Irish, which focuses on rhythm and traditional steps. Irish may be taught in groups spanning many ages, unlike other forms of dance, which have more strict age divisions. 


What is Tap?

Tap is a dance form with roots in both traditional dance and African/American dance. The name “tap dance” first appeared in the U.S in the 1920’s, but the movements themselves were a continuum of “buck and wing”, itself a fusion of African/American rhythmic footwork and traditional Irish and British clogging steps. Students learn to count rhythms and syncopation with special ‘tap dance’ steps.

Hip Hop

What is Hip Hop?

A dance style that became popular in the 1990’s and which can be seen in most music videos. It is fun, trendy and a great workout requiring a degree of athletic ability and considerable concentration.

Street Jazz

What is Street Jazz?


What type of yoga is taught?

The focus at DBA is on Hatha yoga, which encompasses both pranayama (breathing) and asana (postures).It is ideal for adults or students who want to gain strength and flexibility. It promotes balance and posture and an overall feeling of health and well-being. This is perfect for beginners and a great complement to active lifestyles – runners take note!

What if I/she/he doesn’t like the lessons they are enrolled in?

Sometimes young children find the first few lessons intimidating. New faces and surroundings and a structured time period can make some little ones not want to leave mom or dad. They may cry a little or  want to sit out and just watch for a while, and sometimes they may want to leave before class is over. These are all normal reactions and we encourage you to keep bringing your child for  the full quarter (approx 10 lessons) to get a really good idea if your child really doesn’t like it, or if it’s first lesson jitters.


Our year end show is a unique feature of our school. More than just a dance recital, we create a full length story production, in which each class plays roles integral to the story line. Every student dances in the production. Show time is a fun but busy time of the year; we try to make things as convenient as possible for parents, but there are a lot of activities involved in putting on a production.

Show Time – We perform a matinee and an evening show on the same day. Ordinarily younger students are involved in the matinee show only, but a few exceptions do apply.

Lead roles – senior students of the school are always needed for the production’s lead characters. This does require dedication and lots of extra hours of dancing throughout May & June. Please see Miss Douglas if you are interested.

Costumes – A fee of $45.00 per class for  students 13 years and under and $50,per class for students over 13  is levied to cover the cost of a costume which will be ordered for each student. On some occasions a costume may be sewn by the school’s seamstresses.


We encourage students to join the student council. The minimum age to join is nine. Older students and a supervising adult organize the student council meetings and activities.

Usually there are four or five meetings a year. The students plan and organize two annual events. The first is a Christmas party for the school, equipped with Santa, games, prizes and a bake sale. There is a short preview show from the performance division. Next is school spirit week in May. The student council puts together theme days such as pyjama day and crazy hair day. Each participant receives a DBA school spirit ribbon.

Throughout the year the student council members are asked to act as school ambassadors – making everyone feel at home, helping to keep the student changing room tidy and also giving their input for the DBA clothing line.

The Council also holds one or two car washes each year to raise money to fund its activities.

The Council gives the students an opportunity to give back to the school and share their input with the administrators. It also gives them an opportunity to practice their organizational skills and run a budget. 

Each new student council member receives a student council T-shirt.

AWARDS: Sponsored by Advocates of Dance Society

Exemplary Attitude Award 
This award goes to a senior student who shows leadership qualities, a positive attitude and attentiveness – someone who is always helpful to their teachers. He or she sets a good example for the younger students of the school.

Artistic Award 
For the student who brings his or her own creativity to their work. For someone who demonstrates independent artistic thinking and shows this through their dancing.

All Round Student Award 
As the school grows many students are taking different classes with different teachers. Teachers are asked to choose one or two of their students for awards each year. Sometimes the same names come up over and over, which means those students are excelling in each of the classes they take. They are demonstrating many of the required talents and characteristics we look for in the other awards – leadership, stick-to-it-ness, attentiveness, helpfulness, artistic merit and commitment to self and classmates.

Conviction Award – in memory of Miss Josephine Slater 
Miss Slater was a ballet teacher of Miss Douglas who taught the value of conviction and plain “stick-to-it-ness”. When Miss Slater passed away this award was made in her honour and is given to the student who demonstrates the most that resolve which is required to be a successful dancer.

Student Assistant award—a scholarship going to an outstanding student assisstant

In addition the school has special awards sponsored by individuals.

10th Anniversary Certificates

The school recognizes students who have been with us for ten years. They will be given certificates in class and recognized at our year end show upon their 10th anniversary. Presented by Miss Douglas. 

Ashley Brear Memorial Award

Ashley Brear was a long-time student of DBA who died tragically young from cancer in 2006. In her memory the students who knew Ashley nominate one of their own who most exemplifies the spirit of dance in all its joy and enthusiasm.
Presented by Miss Douglas and the students