Dance dream comes true in the Glebe

By Ashwin Shingadia

Kailena Van de Nes realized her life’s dream when she opened the doors of KV Dance Studio on September 2 in the basement of 108 Third Avenue. Van de Nes was GNAG’s principal dance instructor for nine years and gave dance lessons at the Glebe Community Centre, Ecclesiax Church and other venues. More than 150 people helped Van de Nes celebrate at her opening party on September 5.

Van de Nes praised Mary Tsai-Davies, executive director of GNAG, for her mentoring. “I learned a lot from her about the workings of a business and she supported me in fulfilling my dream,” said Van de Nes, sitting in her new office with her grey weimaraner named Faeryn beside her.

Kailena Van de Nes, owner of the newly launched KV Dance Studio in the Glebe, and her weimaraner, Faeryn. Photo: Soo Hum
Kailena Van de Nes, owner of the newly launched KV Dance Studio in the Glebe, and her weimaraner, Faeryn. Photo: Soo Hum
“My five-year-old dog,” she said, “grew up in the Glebe Community Centre. Everyone knows him. The community made my dream come true. I had help this summer from kids, their parents – some even lending their cars.” She was also grateful for the contribution made by her contractor, Jason Lambert, who organized much of the work on constructing the three studios – blue, pink and green – framing, painting, and installing special sprung flooring with Rosco vinyl and mirrors.

Her dream began at three years old, when her mother enrolled her in dance classes in Toronto. Her parents were both in the airline industry – her father, a pilot; her mother an air hostess who also operated a knitting store and a restaurant. In 1987 they moved to Brazil on the coast by the beach (her mother is Brazilian, her father, Dutch). “I swam, fished – danced the rumba, samba, lambada (a Brazilian dance), also traditional ballet and jazz.”

Life became serious when Van de Nes’s family moved to Bedford, Nova Scotia. She attended the all-girls Sacred Heart Catholic high school. At 14, her dad asked her what she wanted to do. “I want to be a pilot,” she answered. She joined the air cadet’s summer program and obtained a glider and a private pilot’s licence (and only recently obtained a driver’s licence). “I could fly before I could drive,” she joked. In 2005 at Acadia University, she completed a degree in recreation management, but dancing remained her passion. After university, Van de Nes found a job with Harv’s Air in Steinbach, Manitoba and completed her commercial licence.

However, in rural Manitoba she felt lonely. “There was not much dancing.” She quit her job and moved to Ottawa where she worked for Dovercourt Community Centre before working full time in the Glebe.

In 2010, Van de Nes organized a coastal dance rage or dance convention in Ottawa, where some 600 dancers participated in classes with choreographers and in improvisational dance competitions. The Glebe/GNAG contingent did very well, winning several prizes (see Caley Proulx, “GNAG Dancers at Coastal Dance Rage,” Glebe Report, December 10, 2010). She met her husband, Nick, a financial planner, and they married in Blessed Sacrament Church in 2012.

Van de Nes and her instructors meet in KV Dance Studio’s “blue studio” to prepare for students. Photo: Soo Hum
Van de Nes and her instructors meet in KV Dance Studio’s “blue studio” to prepare for students. Photo: Soo Hum

KV Dance Studio offers some 90 classes, and already has enrolled 450 students, most new but many familiar faces. Classes are for all levels from three years old to adult and include ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, highland, acrobatics, tumbling, limbering, conditioning, contortion, sass (jazz-hip-hop), competitive and protégé. For ballet, students can prepare for examinations of the Royal Academy of Dance. Classes started at the same time as the school year – September 2. KV Dance Studio’s website at has more details.

Van de Nes, who teaches 26 ballet classes, is helped by 10 instructors and 10 support staff. Laura Van Herk from the National Ballet of Canada, one of her instructors, will be leading the production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker at the Bronson Centre on December 14.

KV Studio is close to the Glebe community, and indeed, to the Glebe Report. Van de Nes taught Glebe Report photographer Soo Hum’s daughter. Julie Houle Cezer, previous editor of the Glebe Report, came to many performances. Some of Van de Nes’s former students, whom she taught when they were young, have now become instructors. For example, Niamh Taylor (Glebe Report circulation manager Zita Taylor’s daughter) is now a junior instructor and assistant.

We welcome this new dance studio in the Glebe and wish Kailena Van de Nes, her instructors and students all the best in the future.

Ashwin Shingadia, Glebe resident, is a regular contributor to the Glebe Report and a former member of its board of directors.

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