The History of RNB Dance & Theatre Arts Society
This is a story of success on many levels. In the beginning there were three entrepreneurial women, Sharon Ryan, Charmaine Nobes (both emigrated from England in 1987) and Francine Baughman, who shared a dream of opening their own dance school. They wanted to introduce Canadians to the Ballet and Modern Theatre dance forms taught by teachers trained by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing ( I.S.T.D.) based in London. Their first challenge was to name their school and by combining their initials RNB was created! The first classes were taught at the local YMCA on Hendry and the gymnasium was the site of the first fund-raising show.
After a year, the business manager, Francine, left for health reasons. Suzanne Caple-Gordon joined the team and began teaching the first I.S.T.D. Jazz classes in Canada. Word began to spread about this new school and parents started enrolling their children. Brianna Giles, Vice-Principal of RNB was one of the first students.
In 1993, the District of North Vancouver decided to rent the building at 3355 Mountain Highway to a non-profit organization that would offer classes to local school-aged students. After much work by the RNB Board of Directors and many parents, the District chose R.N.B! September 1993, RNB moved in and parents started fund-raising for a sprung dance floor in the large studio.
In 1995, under the direction of Sharon Ryan and Dianna Cowden, RNB became the first dance school on the North Shore to maintain its own wardrobe department. Consequently students were not required to purchase expensive costumes for the June show but paid a minimal rental fee. The school continued to expand and students began to successfully compete in various dance competitions. With great success came a lack of space for classes…
After much soul searching, Sharon Ryan, Artistic Director, and Charmaine Nobes, F.I.S.T.D. examiner, gave up their ownership of RNB so that RNB could become eligible to receive funding from the BC Lottery Corporation, the Municipality, and various charitable organization. The decision was made to renovate and expand the heritage building after successfully negotiating with the District to extend the lease. Parents Mark Mayall (Architect) Ann Neumann , Brian Giles, and Terry Abrams spearheaded the fundraising efforts and in two years raised over $500,000 and created a fabulous dance facility. Who can forget the dance-a-thons, car washes, raffles, 50/50 draws, pie sales, "Buy a Brick for $100" and 5 fundraising shows?! The school and the architect won Heritage Awards from the DNV for the quality of the restoration. Read the names on the bricks of the patio in front of the school and you will see the names of many of the volunteers who helped "Raise The Roof".
RNB has always worked hard to maintain a strong feeling of family throughout the school. Students are encouraged to support each other and parents are actively involved in making costumes, fund-raising, serving on the Board of Directors, and finding opportunities for the dancers to perform for various charitable organizations throughout the District. It is interesting to note that people involved with RNB tend to stick around. Since its inception, RNB has only had three Principals, Sharon Ryan (1989-2006), Kristen Dennis-Glen (2006-2008) & Hayley Walker (2008-present) and only one Vice-Principal, Brianna Giles (2008-present). Each have put their own stamp on the school. There have been 6 Presidents since R.N.B. became non-profit: Ann Neumann (1994-2003), Sue Vieweg (2003-2005), Charlie Costello (2005-2010), Linda Tranter (2010-2014), Madeleine Tattersall (2014-2015) and Candice Olivier (2015-2019). Charmaine Nobes continues to share her experience and knowledge with her colleagues and students. Each of these women have provided R.N.B. with the leadership required to ensure continued success.
RNB is very proud of its students - past and present. From the beginning to present day, RNB strives to harmonize dance, family and friendship. With professional dance techniques, family participation and friendship among the students, our goals are being reached, rejuvenated and renewed everyday. The result - our students are well prepared to be tomorrow's productive members of society. RNB is also proud to say that some of the students have chosen to make "show business" their profession - perhaps they will follow in the footsteps of our founders!
OLD METHODIST CHURCH - NOW RNB DANCE & THEATRE ARTS
Originally located on Institute Rd., the church was built with a ground level basement and the church built on top.
The basement was immediately put into use as a child/daycare centre.
Later, it became the manual arts branch of Queen Mary School to teach local students rudiments of carpentry and housebuilding.
Later the church itself was skidded over the playing field to serve as a community centre and later became the School of Dance. Note the outline of the gothic type church windows still discernable on the walls.