Intensive students at Innovate Dance Arts in Parksville and the Qualicum Beach School of Dance will have the opportunity to combine their passion for dancing and academic studies next year.

Intensive students at Innovate Dance Arts in Parksville and the Qualicum Beach School of Dance will have the opportunity to combine their passion for dancing and academic studies next year.

Giving dance students some spare time

Program will offer school credits and schedule flexibility for serious dancers at Innovate Dance Academy and Qualicum Beach School of Dance

Local intensive dance students will actually have time to eat supper at home next year.

Parksville’s Innovate Dance Arts (IDA) and the Qualicum Beach School of Dance (QBSD) are collaborating with Kwalikum and Ballenas secondary schools to offer their hardest working dancers the ability to use dancing for school credits.

“Instead of going to PE, they’ll go to dance,” explained BSS principal Rudy Terpstra, who also said that students could also use the dance program for independent directed studies. “This is a way to acknowledge and give credit (to their work).”

This new program, which is specifically intended for those who already dance on a serious level, will allow students in grades 8-12 to complete their dance classes during school hours on select afternoons.

Terpstra and KSS vice-principal Don Bold said that the high schools will then arrange the dancer’s schedules in such a way that they still complete their core academic cirriculum and other electives during the time they are not in the studio. These studies will be offered through a combination of regular school classes and distance learning through CEAP.

“This is the best of both worlds,” said IDA co-owner Sarah DeVito. “It’s a big deal for these kids.”

“What this does is completely free up their evenings,” said QBSD owner Shari Selva, adding that this will give dancers more time for their family and a social life.

IDA co-owner Deena DeVito-Carl also said the program will also help lighten the students’ load at school and help them stay fresh.

While the IDA and QBSD owners all said they have been thinking about approaching the high schools about such a program for some time, DeVito-Carl said she finally stepped forward this year after hearing about the possibility of a hockey and soccer program running through the schools.

Unlike the hockey and soccer programs, however, Bold said that the dance academy will not be funded or taught by the school district. Instead, the students will sign up for their dance classes directly though IDA and QBSD. The high schools simply provide the flexibility and the framework for students to receive academic credit for their dancing.

No matter where the funding comes from, however, Terpstra said all of these new interest-based programs are in-line with the evolving education system. Today, he said schools are encouraged “to be innovative and creative” with their programs under the new, more flexible BC’s Education Plan. This includes directly engaging students through passions like dance and sports.

“This (new model) excited me as I have never felt that fine arts were ever considered a big part of general education,” said DeVito-Carl.

The new dance program is set to start in September. Anyone who is interested in signing up should contact IDA or QBSD.