My name is Derek Piquette, I have danced professionally for Bridge to Artists (BTA) Dance Company and plan to for many years to come. I had seen Vlad’s choreography previous to dancing in the company and was completely blown away. I had truly never seen anything like his work. His dancers were so invested, the storytelling was unbelievably real, and the choreography brilliant. A few weeks after seeing his work I received a call asking if I could come and be one of the “professionals” in his upcoming show, Carmen. Of course, I said yes immediately but once I got off the phone, I was extremely nervous to be working with this incredible company and director. When I came to rehearsals, they were vigorous and challenging. Vlad’s choreography is not only very physically challenging, but emotionally challenging. Before I started working with BTA, I found myself slowly falling out of love with dance being over trained. After the last performance of Carmen, I told Vlad that because of him and BTA I had fallen back in love with dance again, and for that I am forever grateful. BTA introduces pre-professional dancers into the world of professional dancing. It allows younger students to work around professionals to learn from their work ethic, training, and learning processes, as well as what their years of experience bring to the stage. No other company in Canada that I know does this. As much as I was brought in to be a professional, I feel as though I learned so much more from the pre-professionals, professionals, and of course from Vlad than anyone else. BTA gave me the push I needed to fall back in love with dance which led me to pursue a dream I had to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance”. I can honestly say because of BTA, I was able to tour as a Top 8 finalist with SYTYCD. I am ever so grateful for Vlad and all that he is doing for young dancers with this company and hope that it is around for years to come.