For the love of dance
A local dance instructor is following in her mother’s footsteps.
Candace Miller, program director for Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio, in Camas, teaches preschool ballet, tap and creative movement, as well as elementary classical ballet, tap and jazz and adult tap.
Her mother, Carol Opyt, owned Miss Carol’s Studio of Dance, in Dyer, Ind. Miller, 46, has been dancing since she was 2. She grew up dancing in her mother’s studio.
Miller also danced at Indiana University, while earning a bachelor’s degree in personnel management. Prior to working at Virtuosity, she home schooled her children and taught dance to small private groups.
Miller also led an adult dance team.
“The time was right nine years ago to combine all my experience and education with getting back to my first love, dance,” she said.
Miller said she enjoys the variety of her job, from teaching little ones to mentoring younger instructors.
“I often say my favorite part is when we perform in the community for the Loaves and Fishes luncheons or at assisted care facilities,” she said. “It often brings back wonderful memories for our audience members. Seeing the kids grow and shine on stage, and sowing into their lives a lifelong love for the art of dance are great too.”
Miller said her career highlights so far have included integrating the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum into the offerings at Virtuosity and receiving industry recognitions and awards for performances and choreography.
Miller’s favorite moments revolve around the kids.
“We get comments like ‘she’s a different person than she was before dance,’ and ‘she dances around the house all day, every day — she’s so happy,’” Miller said, regarding input from parents of her students.
During the summer of 2012, Virtuosity began a therapeutic class in rhythmic repetition for children with reactive attachment disorder.
Miller said one of the student’s caregivers was stunned at the degree of improvement in his coordination.
“Then she stated ‘you know, he’s not falling off his bike anymore,’” Miller said. “That’s at the top of my list [of career highlights].”
The challenges of teaching dance include developing creative and innovative tap routines year after year for 4-year-olds.
“As the studio has grown, it’s become increasingly challenging to coordinate the performances,” Miller said. “This year, we have two ballet performances in April and five or six recitals in June.”
Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio classes are available for toddlers through adults. Virtuosity, the Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy, VEGA Fencing Academy and a cheer program are located in the former National Guard Armory building, at 840 N.W. 10th Ave., Camas. VEGA-North is at 6707 N.E. 117th Ave., Ste. “D,” Vancouver.