Dance! Your Dream ~ Our Mission
We are here to guide and support every dancer that walks through our door
We recognize each student has their own unique set of talents and challenges and timing of achieving their goals.
Building self confidence is an aspect of the training we take seriously!
Artistic Director, Founder
Tanya Bakala, as a young girl, received a bursary to train at the National Ballet School in Toronto. Some years later, after her University studies, she returned to the prestigious dance school to train as a teacher. Tanya continued her studies in Spain and other European countries to further her training and knowledge in ballet, flamenco and modern dance. Tanya Bakala has taught dance in Germany, the Czech Republic, and in major Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.
As a professional dancer and soloist in Europe, Tanya danced a variety of styles, ranging from classical to musical theatre. In 1997, while living back in Toronto, she was featured in the documentary film Fringe Bound that aired on the CBC & CHUM TV/BRAVO!
Now residing in Kelowna, Tanya Bakala successfully coaches young dancers at her school, the Mission Dance Centre, in hopes of assisting the next generations of dancers to achieve their goals. Since she founded Mission Dance Centre in 2003, Tanya has produced a myriad of events and shows for the Okanagan and its residents.
Passionate about the magic that dancing to live music can inspire, in 2005 and 2006 Tanya Bakala was featured as a solo dance artist with internationally renowned performing artists, jazz pianist and Hollywood composer Stu Goldberg and violinist and concert master Denis Letourneau. The trio toured the Okanagan with performances in Vernon, Penticton and Kelowna. In 2007 Tanya’s dancers joined the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Rosemary Thomson in a concert entitled Carnival. Later that year, in the Symphony’s Fairytales and Fables, Tanya danced a solo role of Scheherazade in a world premiere of her new choreography to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov. Before coming to Kelowna, Tanya’s choreographic works have been seen at the Montreal Fringe Festival, the Music Hall in Toronto, the Vancouver Kiss Project, the Hamilton Place with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, McMaster University, and at the Mayor’s Gala ’97 at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga
In February of 2008, Tanya received the Okanagan Arts award for dance and her company was asked to perform the finale. In 2010, Tanya was once again honoured with the Okanagan Arts award.
It is because of Tanya Bakala’s own professional training and experiences that she can teach and encourage others to follow their dream. Her years of hard work and too often, struggling to make a living with becoming a professional dancer has taught her how to lead and help others to overcome their own hurdles on their journey. Tanya Bakala provides leadership, understanding, compassion and inspiration to students and professionals alike who seek her out.
Presently, the Mission Dance Centre student dancers are asked throughout the year to perform in various openings, events, and fundraisers. As Mission Dance Centre offers a pre-professional program, our dancers have developed a repertoire and are always ready for a show. The pre-professional program accepts students who find a passion in dance and would like to pursue this art. Mission Dance Centre has sent students to study at professional ballet schools, such as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet, to name a few schools. Above all, Tanya still finds time to see students privately to help them develop their skills further. Students will find that not only does Tanya guide them through dance; she also uses dance to guide them through life and to help them develop a strong character to prepare them for their future goals and dreams.
Erika Hartman Freitas,
Director of Operations
Erika is a full time student at Okanagan College studying business but dance has always been her first love. Erika began dancing at the age of 3 at The Robb Card Dance Studio. At the age of 10, her family decided to make the big move out East and stationed themselves in Kingston, Ontario. Upon settling in to their new home, Erika joined the Kingston School of Dance, a local non-for profit, pre-professional studio. Erika continued studying with a focus on Cecchetti ballet but also studied jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, acro, and modern. Her biggest infuences include the late Len Stepanik (Cecchetti ballet), Leslie Shroeder (open advance ballet and pointe) and Ebon Gage (Artisitic Director, jazz, lyrical etc) At the age of 11, Erika was put on pointe and was dancing on stage en pointe by the age of 13. Having a solid base and a heavy focus in technique is Erika’s passion. The final level completed was her intermediate level Cecchetti and she received highly commended. She has had the opportunity to be apart of local dance productions including Les Sylphides put on by the Kingston School of Dance. She also auditioned for the Moscow Ballets local version of The Nutracker and was selected to perform the Spanish Variation.
You will see Erika around the studio 4-5 times a week. Please do not hesitate to stop and ask her about any questions or concerns you may have.
MISSION DANCE TEACHERS
Senior Ballet, Contemporary Teacher
Originally from Brampton, Ontario, Kurt has been a dancer with Ballet Kelowna since the summer of 2012. Prior to his move, he studied with several of Canada's top professional ballet schools including the National Ballet School of Canada, The School of Alberta Ballet and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, where he graduated from their Ballet Academic Program in 2011. Kurt has also travelled abroad to Austria, England, Italy, New Zealand and the US in order to further his development and knowledge of dance.
During his five years with Ballet Kelowna, Kurt has performed in numerous mixed repertoire programs locally in the Okanagan Region and throughout British Columbia and Alberta. Most recently he performed in a collaboration with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra called Canadiana Suite in early May. Additionally, Kurt has been featured as The Cavalier, Nutcracker Prince, Snow King and Arabian Man in the local production of The Nutcracker staged by Canadian School of Ballet and will be making his Kelowna Actors Studio debut in their upcoming production of Billy Elliot.
In 2015, Kurt was the first recipient of the Brian MacDonald Dance Award (established upon his passing), and participated in The Banff Centre’s prestigious Summer Dance Program. Kurt is excited to join the Mission Dance Centre as a ballet instructor.
David began his ballet training in 2013 with Tanya Bakala at Mission Dance Centre in Kelowna, BC. After dancing for a year with Ms. Bakala, he was accepted into the Professional Division School at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. While training at RWB, David performed with the school in productions of La Fille Mal Gardée and Pinocchio, and performed with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet company in productions of Swan Lake and Giselle.
Jane Youngberg, originally from Edmonton, Alberta, is a graduate of the National Ballet School in Toronto, Ontario (class of ‘86), alumna of the Juilliard Dance Program in New York City, and former lead dancer with Ballet Jorgen Canada, of Toronto. Jane has extensive training in modern, classical, contemporary and flamenco, and enjoyed working with many choreographers, performing classical and contemporary pieces throughout North America for many years.
Jane has been a certified Pilates Instructor for 14 years, and completed the Dance Teacher Training Program in 2006, at Mission Dance Centre led by Catherine Buffie, formerly with the NBS Teacher Training Program in Toronto.
She also has many years of musical training, and continues to study and enjoy music and feels it is a very integral component to the study of movement.
Jane and her husband, residents of Kelowna since 1999, are raising two boys, living the acreage life with many horses, dogs and cats, and enjoy the Okanagan lifestyle and all the activities available such as downhill and cross country skiing, mountain biking, tennis and gardening.
She is happy to return to teaching at the Mission Dance Centre and be involved in the development of young artists in the valley.
Annick Le Quellec
Annick has been a self-employed dance and drama instructor since 1988. She taught drama at the Grimes Road Theatre school and jazz, hip hop and other dance styles in elementary and high schools in Aylmer, Quebec until her family relocated to Edmonton. There, Annick re-established English and French language drama and dance programs in area schools and community centers and operated private summer arts camps for children. She also served as “Artist in Residence” at Campbeltown School. She held the role of assistant artistic director for the Mayim and Aviv Israeli performing dance groups until her relocation to Kelowna in September 2014. She is passionate about visual and performing arts, music and gardening.
Erica Thomson was born and raised in Port Moody, BC. Erica studied dance at Caulfield School of Dance in Port Moody, training in styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary and hip hop, as well as volunteering as an assistant teacher. Now graduated, Erica returns each year to stage manage the Caulfield School of Dance year end shows. Erica also danced as a member of a Port Moody hip hop dance crew from 2012-2014 and competed locally under the direction of The Creative Outlet owner and director Andrew Galang. Erica received the 2013 Jennifer Jackson Memorial Scholarship as well as a 2014 Ministry of Education Dogwood Award for her dedication to dance. Erica then brought her passion for movement to her students in the City of Port Moody dance programs where she had the opportunity to teach the same classes that first sparked her interest in dance at the age of two. Now in Kelowna to study at UBC Okanagan Erica is excited to share her knowledge and true love of dance with the students.
Valentin Chou graduated from the Paris Opera Ballet School in 2013. He has performed works by Rudolf Nureyev, Maurice Béjart, and George Balanchine and to work under the direction of Claude Bessy, Violette Verdy, and Nils Christe. Upon graduation, Mr. Chou joined Canada’s National Ballet School’s Post-Secondary Program performing works by Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, John Neumeier, Nacho Duato, Robert Binet, Demis Volpi and Aszure Barton. Mr. Chou participated in The Banff Centre’s Summer Professional Dance Program and premiered a new work by Gabrielle Lamb. This is Mr. Chou’s third season with Ballet Kelowna.
Bio coming soon.
Bio coming soon.
MISSION DANCE GUEST TEACHERS
Jera Wolfe is Métis. Born in Toronto and grew up in Kelowna. Student of The Mission Dance Centre before studying at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Jera was a finalist on CTV’s television series So You Think You Can Dance Canada. He was a first cast ensemble dancer for disney's Tarzan musical in Germany. Most recently Jera has worked as a choreographer and dancer for The Banff Centre and Red Sky's co production "Backbone" and continues to work for Red Sky in Toronto.
Taylor was born in Burlington, Ontario and began her professional dance training at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School where she studied for five years, receiving the Jane McEvoy O’Donnell Scholarship as well as the People’s Choice Award for her choreography. Taylor then moved to Vancouver to dance in the graduate program at Arts Umbrella where she graduated with a Dance Diploma. She has attended summer intensives at The National Ballet School of Canada, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance and The Banff Professional Dance Program. Taylor was an apprentice with Ballet BC during the 2014-2015 season and is currently a dancer with Project20 as well as assistant to the director Donald Sales. Taylor continued to teach throughout all her training and is very passionate about sharing as much as she can with those learning. She moved back to Kelowna to be closer to her family and step away from the busyness of Vancouver. When Taylor isn't dancing or teaching she loves spending time with friends and family, going for walks and watching movies. Taylor and her boyfriend Connor have a little black cat named Herriot and are loving settling in to life in the Okanagan.
Clare grew up near Saint John, New Brunswick, before she started her professional training at Canada's National Ballet School. She also studied at Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Arts Umbrella in Vancouver before she came to dance with Ballet Kelowna. She danced with Ballet Kelowna for three seasons before dancing with Ballet Ireland where she has been most recently. Clare very much enjoys teaching the lovely dancers at Mission Dance Centre.
Steven R. G. Bremner
Steven began as a classically trained ballet dancer, initially studying in Vancouver and then at the prestigious National Ballet of Canada in Toronto, continuing his training in the National school as well as working with the company.
Steven’s career has spanned all over the world, performing with major dance companies as a soloist and principle dancer in such notable companies as, the National Ballet of Canada, les Grande Ballet Canadiens and the Hong Kong Ballet Company. Steven has competed in several world ballet competitions around the world. In 1995 awarded dancer of the year in Hong Kong. In 1996, was awarded as one of the top 20 dancers in the world at the Masaka Oya world ballet competition held in Osaka Japan.
In addition to a professional dance background , in 1998 Steven began his studies in structural integration technique.
With a curiosity to understand and explore ways of improving and healing the body,
Steven went to Colorado to study ROLFING® at the Rolf institute in Colorado in 1997 where he explored human movement from a fresh new perspective beyond a dancers eye.
Once certified as a Rolfer, Steven also studied everything from kinesiology, body mechanics, myofascial release, Reiki and various other energy healing techniques, psychology and human behavior.
During his time at the Rolf institute Steven developed a system of movement classes called “Stretchrelease”, both a combination of passive and active dance based/ neuralfascial / whole body release techniques, Stretchrelease was designed to gently ad safely bring about a higher state of awareness and balance throughout the entire body system. Stretchrelease is beneficial for all persons.
Steven teaches and works with clients all over the world and from such diverse backgrounds as professional athletes, dancers, performing artists, namely Cirque du Soleil artists, iron man and triatheletes, world champion jockeys, airforce pilots as well as opera singers, stage and film actors, yoga teachers and professional orchestral musicians .
For more info on Steven go to:
Kira Hofmann began her training at the Canadian School of Ballet in Kelowna, B.C., before leaping over, at the age of thirteen, to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. After years of hard work, she graduated with distinction from the Professional Division. Next, she set her sights on Europe and began training at the prestigious John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany. After only six months, Hofmann was offered a contract with her dream company, the Stuttgart Ballet. Now, back in Kelowna, after dealing with a severe injury, Kira is eager to share her knowledge and passion with the students.
Connor grew up on Vancouver island where he trained at Kirkwood Acadamy for the Performing Arts and Parksville Ballet School. He later trained at the National Ballet School and Arts Umbrella. In his teenage years he worked as a dancer in movies, television, and modeling. His first professional experience came as a member of the Banff Centers Professional Summer Company. He then worked for Ballet Victoria before graduating from high school and later started his career full time with Ballet Kelowna. After one season in Kelowna he moved to Vancouver and began the first of nine seasons he would spend with Ballet BC. He was fortunate to perform featured roles in pieces from the worlds foremost choreographers, including: William Forsythe, Medhi Walerski, Jorma Elo, Emily Molnar, and Crystal Pite, as well as many others. He was also fortunate enough to choreograph on the dancers of Ballet BC, Arts Umbrella, and many others. Away from the studio Connor has been internationally recognized for his photography, being featured in the Globe and Mail, the Dance Current, The Georgia Straight, The Vancouver Sun, as well as in many advertisements and online media sources. While continuing to dance at his own pace, he turned a hobby of woodworking into a profession. He refinishes furniture, builds furniture, and also works at Norelco Cabinets. You can read more about Connor, his career and his furniture by going to www.Apt206.co
Born in Vancouver and raised in Kelowna, Mylina Marie’s passion for dance started at the early age of 4. She started her training with the Canadian School Of Ballet until the age of 18. She took classes in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, and Musical Theatre. After graduation she was offered a job to dance professionally at a resort in Mexico. She then danced and trained for several years at The Grand Palladium Resort and Spa on the Mayan Riviera. It is there that Mylina trained in salsa and traditional Mexican folklore. After dancing for 7 years in Mexico, she then home to Kelowna due to an injury. After taking some time off she joined Mission Dance Centre and is thrilled to start teaching what she loves.
Fiona Malena, flamenco dancer
A dancer of “verve, theatricality and engaging magnetism” (Eco de la Memoria), Fiona Malena is known for her distinctive, imaginative style and highly musical approach. Her recent productions include “La Cueva” (2014) and “Arbolé” (2015), which toured to several International Flamenco Festivals and featured her collaboration with one of Spain’s most vital progressive flamenco dancers, Karen Lugo.
Born in Calgary, Canada, Fiona now performs worldwide; including in Israel, Ecuador, Turkey, Germany, Canada, the Czech Republic, Spain, the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Fiona has shared the stage with many prominent Flamenco artists such as El Torombo, Pedro Sierra, David Palomar, Victor el Tomate and Ramón Martínez. Fiona is very active in Southern Spain, where her ensemble performed in consecutive sold-out concerts as well as successful tours throughout the UK and Western Canada. It was there in Spain where she first received her training and formation as a dancer under the direction of dancers such as Farruquito, Concha Vargas and Andrés Peña.
Fiona was recently featured in a high profile dance video for a global ad campaign by the London-based Molton Brown and has completed shooting a separate film project in Turkey with director Saulo Jamariqueli. She currently performs in Europe, including Germany (Passions Kirche Berlin, Das Internationale Theatre Frankfurt), the Czech Republic (Royal Theatre, Prague), Spain (T de Triana, Sevilla) and upcoming tours include Russia with the Oscár Guzmán Trio. Fiona is the Artistic Director of the Calgary International Flamenco Festival which is produced by the non-profit organization, the Fiona Malena Flamenco Society.