Some of Innovate Dance Arts’ highest awarded dancers strike a pose after one of the company’s best season’s yet, with top scores at Core Festival Nanaimo and nine selected to perform in provincial competition. — Adam Kveton Photo

Innovate dancers on pointe in competition

Wrap-up performances taking place June 17 in Nanaimo

With five dancers attending provincials, and some impressive scores in Island competitions, this year’s competitive dance season has been the strongest to date for Innovate Dance Arts dancers, said the owners.

In the three years Deena DeVito-Carl and Sarah DeVito have owned the company, formerly the Parksville Ballet School, the pair said they’ve never been prouder of their dancers, not just for their competitive results, but for their own personal triumphs as well.

“We had our biggest group of qualifiers to go on to the provincial level that we’ve had in years and years,” DeVito-Carl said, noting nine dancers qualified and five went on to compete at the end of May.

Dancers qualify for provincials via regional competitions. Hundreds of dancers across the province compete with the aim of qualifying, and about 20 in each style level are selected.

Provincial participants were:

• Sophie Carl for modern level 3;

• Ella Horton for modern level 2;

• Clara Keefer for ballet level 1;

• Morgan Kreschuk for modern level 1; and

• Hanna Richard for modern level 3.

One of the biggest coups for the dance company was the CoreDance Nanaimo festival.

“Our senior dance group, which is our senior intensive program, they basically won the entire festival,” said DeVito-Carl.

The modern group finished the competition with the highest score of all groups at the festival.

Makenzie Svenson went one step further, earning the highest score of any dance, including groups and solos, DeVito-Carl said.

While the accolades are an acknowledgement of where the relatively small studio stands in the local and provincial dance world, another prize was feedback DeVito and DeVito-Carl received on the maturity and intelligence of the dancers.

“We like to provoke them into being thinkers, because, at the end of the day, some of them will go on, but we are not just trying to make great dancers,” said DeVito. “We are trying to make great humans.”

Two graduating dancers who do plan to continue on with dance are Hanna Richard, who plans to attend a post secondary dance program in Vancouver, and Sophie Carl, who has been accepted to École de Danse Contemporairie de Montréal.

The studio’s upcoming performances at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre will showcase their recreational and intensive students of all ages.

Entitled Be Moved, the first show will be performed at 2 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17. Tickets are $20. For more info, go to