Get to know Cadance Academy | Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Let’s start by telling everyone who you are and about your studio.

“Cadance Academy is located in New Minas and Greenwich in the Annapolis Valley and was founded by Linda Jess (my mother) in 1979. I took over the studio in 2006 when we moved here from Calgary. I am married to my husband Paul and we have 3 sons who all love to dance.”


Why/How did you get into dance?

“My mom – she wrote in my baby book that I was going to be a ballerina. She was the founder/teacher of Cadance Academy and I trained with her and other teachers.”

What training have you done?

“I have danced since the age of 3 at Cadance academy. I pursued intensive and continuous dance training (ballet, jazz, contemporary) in Nova Scotia before attending York University in Toronto, where I earned a Bachelor of Dance and Kinesiology in 2001. Also, see bio below for more training that I have done.”

What classes do you offer and for what ages?

“Cadance offers many different styles of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Acro, Hip Hop, Yoga and so many more. Cadance is dedicated to providing qualified instruction in a non-competitive atmosphere. Cadance is a performance school that encourages not only the creative development of all its students but the development of a strong technical foundation from which they are able to rise to new heights. The ages start from around 2 to adults.”


Why do you think children or teens benefit from learning dance?

“There are so many reasons which I have listed below but the main one is just pure joy. It makes you feel like you can fly which takes you away to another place. Everyone needs an escape from our everyday life, this is so important for all people but crucial for children and teens that are developing and growing. Children and teens need something that they can grab a hold of as they journey through life and dance is one of the best things they could reach for. Dance burns calories, strengthens muscles, improves balance, increases flexibility, and gives the heart a good workout. Dance has also been proven to increase cognitive development.

1. Dance classes promote fitness for a lifetime! I cannot tell you how easy it is for dancers to transition their skills from dance class to so many other fitness arenas. Dance also provides the necessary daily physical fitness recommendations of most health care professionals. Promoting physical fitness as being fun and easy from a young age, creates an excellent foundation for future lifelong health and fitness.

2. Confidence, high self-esteem and personal expression. Dance is a great way to connect emotionally with an audience and other people. Throughout the KDC classes, expression, smiling and reflection will be promoted. This creates a healthy environment in which students can express their feelings in a productive manner while learning to control their emotions.

3. Lifelong friendships and bonding. Most of the friends I’ve made in my life have come through my dance and yoga training. Each started with a bond formed in the studio and continued growing. As a result of working on team, partner and solo performances, we develop comfort in working independently, a taste of healthy competition and inspiration from our peers.

4. Discipline and Focus. Students will experiences challenges in their dance classes, just as people experience challenges in their life. From retaining choreography to setting and achieving goals, dancers will feel success at such a young age. They will also learn that it takes hard work and sweat to achieve their goals and dreams. Their work ethic in the dance studio spills over to their schooling and other activities.

5. Flexibility of the body and mind. By the age of 11, most people are the most flexible they will ever be, so it is important to start stretching at a young age. Students will not only gain and expand their physical flexibility but also mentally as they learn to control their energy and bodies in their full range of motion.

6. Creativity and imagination. Dancers will work on creating shapes and movements through imagination and exploration. This is beneficial to all aspects of life, creating endless opportunities for future development.”

Do you have anything you would like to add?

“It is never too late to start dancing!”

Director Biography

Gaea Jess

Gaea Jess Artistic Director/Owner of Cadance Academy
Double Honors degree in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Dance and Kinesiology and Health Sciences
Canadian Dance Teachers Association (CDTA) Ballet Chair (Atlantic Branch)

Dancing since the age of 3, Gaea pursued intensive and continuous dance training (ballet, jazz, modern) in Nova Scotia before attending York University in Toronto, where she earned a Bachelor of Dance and Kinesiology in 2001. During her time at York, she won various awards for her exemplary record of achievements in the Department of Dance including prestigious Fine Arts Awards such as: Kondor Fine Arts Scholarship, Menaka Thakkar Award in World Dance and a Nirvana Bhavan Foundation Scholarship. Her training culminated with being invited to tour as a guest professional dancer across western Canada with the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company, enabling her to extensively study a variety of world dance cultures, especially East Indian. In kinesiology, Gaea specialized in Learned Self Regulation – training people to maintain their bodies at an optimal performance level through stress management, performance and health enhancement, wellness and educational applications.

After graduating, Gaea spent a year studying and teaching dance in Australia before traveling extensively throughout New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia.
She then returned to Canada and studied and taught at the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary. While in Calgary she danced and choreographed performances as a company member of 12th Avenue Dance Company, an eclectic dance group. She also performed as a freelance for Carter/McRae events. During this time, Gaea trained to become a Stott Pilates Instructor and a AFLCA personal trainer while working and teaching at different health clubs in Calgary and with the Calgary Hitmen.

Gaea returned to Nova Scotia and in 2006 became the owner and Artistic Director of Cadance Academy, formerly owned by her mother Linda Jess. In 2006 she earned her Hatha Yoga certification. She also obtained certification in CDTA Acro, Zumba, Zumbini and continues to attend many workshops and training sessions to keep her teaching methods up to date including teacher training at the National Ballet School of Canada.

In 2012, Cadance Academy was awarded a prestigious “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Valley Chamber of Commerce.  In the same year, the Honourable Ramona Jennex (MLA of Kings) passed a motion with the Nova Scotia House of Assembly to recognize the outstanding performance of their annual “Nutcracker” performed at a “professional level and brings individuals from this region together for a showcase of local arts and culture.”

Under Gaea’s direction, Cadance became the first dance academy certified by the Nova Scotia Department of Education to grant High School Matriculation credits to its ballet students upon completion of their CDTA intermediate or advanced ballet exam.

Gaea continues to share her passion for dance, health and wellness throughout the Annapolis Valley and beyond.

To contact Gaea and Cadance Academy check out their website or Facebook.

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