Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D.
Merrilee Hodgins, the Co-founder and Artistic Director of The School of Dance, studied in Canada, England, Denmark, Germany and the United States. In 1971, she was awarded the prestigious Solo Seal of the Royal Academy of Dancing. In 1973 she became principal dancer with the Alberta Ballet Company, later working in Denmark, Germany and the U.S. as a freelance artist. Miss Hodgins, a recipient of the YM-YWCA’s 1997 Women of Distinction Award, was the 1997 Chair of the City of Ottawa’s Cultural Leadership Committee, was a member of the board of directors for Dance Ontario, and has been awarded Canada Council grants to research and develop projects to introduce children to dance. Recent artistic projects include choreographic commissions from the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, a collaboration with Canadian poet Susan McMaster, a commission to produce a concert version of Stravinsky’s Firebird for the Brott Music Festival in Hamilton, Ontario and a commission to create choreography for Carnival of the Animals for the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. Merrilee is a Director of the Celia Franca Foundation and she regularly collaborates with a wide-range of organizations such as the Ontario Arts Council, Carleton University, the National Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Canada and the Hnatyshyn Foundation. In 2013, Merrilee was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her contributions to arts education in Canada. In 2017, Miss Hodgins was presented with the Senate of Canada Sesquicentennial Medal in recognition of her valuable service to the nation. Miss Hodgins developed The School’s suite of inclusive outreach programmes including: Shall We Dance?, Dance is BEST and Canadian Stories in the hospitals of Eastern Ontario; the Dance of Life Health and Wellness programme; and Dancing in the Street which takes place throughout the City of Ottawa each summer. Miss Hodgins has also trained 9 arts administrative interns, in collaboration with CHRC, many of them working in Ottawa, plus provided arts internships for Potsdam University in New York and Edinburgh University in Glasgow, Scotland.
Mary Ross Fellow and Examiner,
Director of Ballet Studies
Mary Ross began her ballet training in Peterborough, Ontario with Marquita Whitham and Charles Lester. Miss Ross also studied in London, England and received her formal training at Canada’s National Ballet School where she later graduated with distinction from the Teacher Training Program. Miss Ross taught for many years at Canada’s National Ballet School under the mentorship of Betty Oliphant and Mavis Staines, and also worked as répétiteur and rehearsal assistant in several National Ballet School productions assisting James Kudelka, Robert Desrosiers and Peggy Baker, and with The National Ballet of Canada in performances of The Nutcracker at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. Miss Ross holds her Fellow and is an Examiner with the Cecchetti Society of Canada.
Sylvie Desrosiers, B.A.V., Certificate in Education
Director of Contemporary Dance Studies
It is under Peter Boneham’s direction at Le Groupe Dance Lab that Sylvie Desrosiers trained and started her career as a choreographer and a teacher. She eventually directed Le Groupe’s dance school from 1991 to 1993. In the fall of 1994 she joined The School of Dance to establish The School’s Contemporary Dance Division and College Degree Diploma Programme. She is director of the Programme, teaches modern/ contemporary dance technique, composition, and is a resident choreographer. Ms. Desrosiers has extensive experience in the conception and the delivery of dance classes and workshops in schools and universities and has been a guest choreographer in many performing arts schools. As a choreographer Sylvie Desrosiers has presented her work in many Canadian cities including Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. She has been the recipient of many creation and production grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa. Her full length works including à tire d'aile (2002), flots (2006, commissioned by the CDF), douce tourmente (2013, a duet for performers Marc Boivin and Heidi Strauss) and more recently Under petals of steel were presented nationally. Her shorter works Épaves (2003), Glace (2008), Distance (2009), volte-face (2011) were presented in many venues throughout the Outaouais region. Artistic Director of DORSALE danse, Sylvie Desrosiers produced the performance TOUT danse and fougue presented at La Salle Jean Despréz in Gatineau in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Sylvie Desrosiers is a founding member of Ottawa Dance Directive/ centre de danse contemporaine (ODD) and is the 2011 award winner of the Prix pour la création artistique du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec pour la région de l’Outaouais and the 2017 recipient of the Ottawa Arts Council Victor Tolgesy Award.
Barbara Roblin, B.A., ECE, Diploma Child Study, Ontario Teacher Certificate,
Director of Education, DragonFly®
Barbara Roblin is the Director of Education for DragonFly®, our programme for learners with Down Syndrome. She is a certified Primary/Junior teacher in Ontario with diplomas in Child Study and Early Childhood Education. Ms. Roblin has over 10 years of experience working with learners with Down Syndrome and has developed the Trio Foundation Program, which creates individualized learning plans in literacy and math for Down Syndrome students.
Director of Visual Arts
Since 1986 Maryse Maynard has collaborated with composers and musicians to create works which have been in performance here in Ottawa (Nepean Theatre, Museum of Nature, National Arts Centre, National Gallery of Canada) and further afield (Harbourfront, Toronto, The Hague , and New York City ). Her work has also been exhibited at the Sun Cities Art Museum in Arizona, the Lawrence Art Center, Lawrence, Kansas, The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery in Toronto and the Kamloops Public Art Gallery, British Columbia. Initially trained as a painter, she has extended her exploration of other media to include paper making, wood carving, masks, clay, papiermache and found objects sculpture as well as ritually based performance art. She has taught various art classes over the years as well as creative visualization techniques and plans to incorporate these into The School's multidisciplinary programmes. Her art is held by the University of Ottawa , the Royal Ottawa Hospital and numerous private collections in Europe, the U.S. & Canada . She has received three Ontario Arts Council grants and was granted Artist in Residence status at the Festival of the Arts in Orford, Quebec.
Anna Abraham, MA, MHK
With a passion for tackling mental health in sport, Anna holds a Master of Arts in Counselling and Spirituality (individual counselling) from Saint Paul University and a Master of Human Kinetics in Intervention and Consultation (health and sport psychology) from the University of Ottawa. With a sincere and empathetic approach, she has already had the rewarding opportunity of supporting clients through a variety of mental health issues and growing as a dynamic professional in her field. During graduate school, she completed internships with the Canadian International Hockey Academy, West Carleton Family Health Team, Carleton Ravens Summer Hockey Camp and Saint Paul University Counselling and Psychotherapy Centre. Anna also spent several years as Defensive Captain and eventually a Defensive Coach with the University of Ottawa Women’s Flag Football Team. Born and raised in the nation’s capital, she earned her Bachelor of Arts, Honours with Specialization in Psychology and Minor in service social (french immersion) from the University of Ottawa. She previously worked as a youth addiction counsellor, afterschool program team lead, Ontario Early Years Centre family resource worker and a summer camp coordinator. Anna currently volunteers in Child Access with the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa and will be continuing her work as the Mental Performance Coach for the University of Ottawa Women’s Basketball Team. As a life long athlete who achieved her black belt in tae kwon do and endured several recoveries from sport-related injuries, she can personally attest to the immense value of mental skills and well-being towards athletic performance.
Peter Boneham CM
Peter Boneham is one of the most important figures in Canadian contemporary dance. In a career spanning over five decades, Boneham is the founder and creator of Le Groupe Dance Lab, the first research and development centre of its kind for professional dance artists. An acclaimed international teacher, Boneham's signature technique focuses on cultivating the complete dance artist - one with creative efficiency, diversity, and longevity. Boneham's artistic roots can be traced back to the early years of Canadian contemporary dance when he worked closely with modern dance legend, Jeanne Renaud. Together, they developed Canada's first modern experimental dance company, Le Groupe de la Place Royale. During this period, Boneham created over 40 choreographies, and collaborated with one of Canada's most respected dance icons, the late Jean-Pierre Perrault. To date, Boneham has received The Order of Canada (2008), France's Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (2008), The Governor General's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Performing Arts (2005), the Victor Tolgesy Award (1996), the Dance Ontario Award (1992), and the inaugural Jean A. Chalmers Award for creativity in dance in Canada (1991). Boneham is the longest-serving Artistic Director in Canadian contemporary dance.
Lisa Brooks Associate, I.S.T.D. (C.S.B.)
Miss Brooks is a graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School's (RWB) Teacher Training Program. From 2013-2018 she was an instructor at the RWB School, teaching classes in multiple styles including Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Creative Movement. For the past three years she has also had the pleasure of working within the Sharing Dance Program, an initiative between Canada's National Ballet School and Physical Health and Education Canada which aims to promote an active and healthy lifestyle for all Canadians through dance and movement. Miss Brooks has been instructing students in Highland Dance since 2008 and holds her Membership qualification with the Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance (SDTA Highland Branch) as well as her Associate qualification with Cecchetti Canada (Classical Ballet).
Esther America Caron
Esther is a former dancer for Montreal's renowned Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. She has been teaching dance for over a decade. Esther graduated from L'École Supérieure du Ballet du Québec and has received many honours, prizes and special distinctions. She was also a soloist with Les Ballets Contemporains de Montréal and Ballet West of Montréal and a member of a Spanish dance and flamenco company, Alegria d'España. She received a certification as an associate of the Cecchetti Society of Canada. Since 2007, following the birth of her first child, Esther has been sharing her love of dance with other parents. She successfully introduced the Ottawa-Gatineau region to Babywearing Latin Dance and Babywearing Ballet classes. She has five children who all love to dance with her.
Jacqueline Ethier is a Fletcher Pilates® Qualified Teacher and professional dancer who founded the Pilates Space in 2002. She was introduced to first generation Master Teacher Ron Fletcher in 2001 by her mentor Sagrario Castilla and has been studying with him ever since. She is now Fletcher Faculty for the Fletcher Pilates® Program of Study, formerly the Ron Fletcher Program of Study®. Jacqueline offered Canada’s first Comprehensive Program to qualify new Fletcher Pilates® teachers in 2008. She continues to inspire future generations of Pilates teachers through teacher training and workshops. Jacqueline is a 2006 recipient of the prestigious 40 under forty Ottawa Business Journal Awards and was a finalist for the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce 2009 Small Business of the Year Award. In 2006/2007, she held the title of community ambassador for Lululemon. Jacqueline graduated from the Contemporary Dance Programme at The School of Dance in Ottawa in 1999 and now leads their Pilates program. She continues to work as a professional dancer in Canada and abroad. Nearly 30 years of dance training gives her a unique sense of the body and how it moves. Jacqueline’s passion for teaching and helping others discover the strength of their own bodies makes for an always challenging and inspiring class experience
Assistant to the Artistic Director
A graduate of The School of Dance Contemporary Dance Programme, Nicola resides in Ottawa where she continues training, performing, creating and teaching, and works at The School of Dance as Assistant to the Artistic Director. Since 2008 Nicola has performed works by various Ottawa choreographers, along with dancing in her own creations. She currently works as a dancer for DORSALE danse/Sylvie Desrosiers and Cathy Kyle Fenton. In recent years she had the pleasure of performing in the Dance: Made in Canada Festival in Toronto, at the French Embassy in Ottawa, with the NAC Orchestra, in the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival and at the Brott Music Festival in Hamilton. For three summers, Nicola spent her time Dancing in the Street, a community outreach programme of The School of Dance. As a choreographer, Nicola creates works for the students in the Contemporary Dance Programme at The School of Dance and Canterbury High School. She was mentored by Peter Boneham in 2013 to create her first work on professional dancers. Nicola is the Project Leader of Dark Horse Dance Projects, an arts platform designed to create performance opportunities for contemporary dancers and choreographers from the Ottawa region. She coaches Ottawa Special Olympics rhythmic gymnast Kimana Mar, who was awarded 7 gold medals at the 2019 Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Loïc Gouadec started his training in the ancient art of Tai Ji Quan two decades ago. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Shirley Choi, he learned various series of the Yang style Tai Ji Quan (Long Form, Beijing Form, Sword form). He continues improving his skills and technique with the best teachers. Loïc joined The School's staff in 2000.
Lisa Hébert started her path in yoga when searching for a deeper healing following a debilitating car accident. Her recovery was so profound that she was inspired to share this transformative power of yoga and is grateful to her students who are sharing this journey with her. Lisa is a graduate of the Contemporary Dance Programme at The School of Dance. Her experience of over 25 years in dance training and performance give her a unique understanding of the body and brings a sense of movement and athleticism to her classes. Lisa recently performed a solo creation in the 2016 edition of Dark Horse Dance Projects.
Chisato Horikawa ADCSC-CIC
Chisato began her ballet training in her hometown of Nara, Japan when she was three years old. At age of eighteen, she was accepted into the professional ballet training program with the Showa School for Performing Arts in Tokyo. While at the Showa School, she participated in an exchange program with the Royal Ballet in England where she received intensive training. After graduating the Showa School, she began to teach ballet at Showa Women’s University and Company Bona Terra. Chisato moved to Canada in 2007 in order to continue her professional development as a ballet teacher through Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division Teacher Training Program, where she graduated with distinction. She has taught in several schools in Winnipeg, MB, and has successfully entered her students to the Cecchetti ballet examinations and to the dance competitions. Chisato currently holds her Associate Diploma teacher qualification and Cecchetti Diploma within the Cecchetti Society of Canada. She is also pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Dance Education through the University of Bath in partnership with the Royal Academy of Dance.
Mary Catherine Jack
After receiving a visual arts degree from the University of Waterloo, Mary Catherine Jack decided to expand her artistic experience through dance. In 2004, she graduated from the Contemporary Dance Programme at The School of Dance. Mary Catherine has performed with Opera Lyra, has been involved in various independent, theatrical projects around Ottawa. She has performed her own work at the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival and produced an intimate dance show featuring her own work as well as that of various Ottawa dancers/choreographers. Mary Catherine teaches dance in schools in Ontario as an independent artist and as a collaborating artist with Learning Through The Art. Most recently, Mary Catherine performed in the 2016 and 2016 editions of Ottawa’s Dark Horse Dance Projects and in the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival in a solo work by Cathy Kyle Fenton.
Cathy Kyle Fenton
Cathy Kyle Fenton has performed extensively with Le Groupe (Ottawa) and Dancemakers (Toronto), touring internationally. She has danced in works by Jean-Pierre Perreault, Christopher House, James Kudelka, Carol Anderson, and Doug Varone, among others. Cathy studied at the MUDRA School in Belgium and also studied with such luminaries as Peter Boneham, Peggy Baker, Maggie Black, Irene Dowd and Lar Lubovitch. Cathy has received numerous grants and awards including Canada Council for the Arts grants, The Floyd Chalmers Performing Arts Award and The Erik Bruhn Memorial Award. She has also received grants for residencies in schools throughout the Outaouais region, conducting classes in modern/ contemporary dance and creative movement. In 2010, Cathy premiered her choreography in Series Danse 10. In 2011 and 2013 she self-produced her work in evenings of dance. In 2015, Cathy was awarded summer residency at Ottawa Dance Directive. The following June 2016 her work was performed at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Cathy’s most recent achievement was an evening of dance works presented at ODD BOX in October 2017. This show was also self-produced. In 2018 Cathy was the recipient of a City of Ottawa Creation Grant to choreograph a duet and solo. Her work will appear at Series Danse 10 in October 2019. Cathy is on the faculty of the Professional Contemporary Dance Program at The School of Dance, where she teaches and creates annually. She is a licensed Fletcher Pilates instructor, and is trained in Active Isolated Stretch (AIS) and Low-pressure (Hypopressive) Fitness. Cathy has contributed to the Ottawa dance scene since 1980 when she first became a company member of Le Groupe.
Kim Laporte Associate, CSC-CICB
Upon graduating from The School's Professional Programme, Kim moved to Vancouver to continue her training with the Arts Umbrella Graduate Dance Program and the Ballet B.C. Mentor Program. She then pursued a professional dance career that took her across Canada. Kim also lived in the UK and travelled though Europe before returning to Ottawa in 2011 to work with Mary Ross in developing her skills as a teacher. Miss Kim has been working in the classroom both teaching and coaching the ballet students.
Pamela Place PT, FCAMT, CAFCI
Graduating from Canada's National Ballet School, Pam Place danced with the National Ballet of Canada, rising to the rank of soloist. She received the Erik Bruhn Memorial Award (1997), the Karen Kain Award (1996, 1998) from the Dancer Transition Centre and the Mensa Canada Scholarship (1998). Now a physiotherapist in the field of orthopedics, Pam is a fellow with the Canadian Academy of manipulative Therapy and has a special interest in treating dance injuries.
Suzanne Plante Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB
Suzanne Plante studied ballet with the late Diana Jablokova Vorps. She completed her teachers training at the Canadian College of Dance, at Ryerson University, under the direction of Sonia Chamberlain and Maisie MacPhee. In her second year at the College, she performed and trained with Ballet YS and was invited to continue as an apprentice in the company. She chose instead to finish her training at Ryerson University, which led to her 30 year teaching career. As a teacher, Ms. Plante has worked for Elaine Werner and Jacqueline Lemieux in Chicoutimi, Quebec, including a guest teaching position with Québec Été Danse. While in Chicoutimi, she was invited to teach at Laine Theatre Arts and then at the distinguished Bush Davies School in England. Her 14 year sojourn in England gave her a chance to teach, lecture, choreograph, train and perform under the guidance of many internationally renowned teachers. It also led to a more than decade long mentorship with Richard Glasstone, whose knowledge in the field of Cecchetti training is legendary. Ms. Plante also holds the coveted Enrico Cecchetti Diploma.
Maria Shepertycki began her dance training in Ottawa at a young age, focusing her learning on the RAD exam syllabus as well as character and folk dance techniques. After performing nationally and internationally with Ottawa’s Ukrainian dance ensembles for several years she has remained involved in Ottawa’s dance community as a teacher and choreographer with both The School of Dance and the Svitanok Ukrainian Dance Society. Maria graduated from the University of Ottawa with a combined focus in Human Kinetics and Social Sciences and since 2007 has worked as a Physiotherapy Assistant. She continues to work in the clinical setting providing treatment activities specifically for people with Parkinson's Disease under the direction of LSVT and PWR! trained Physiotherapists. After attending advanced teacher training courses offered by Dance for PD®, Maria designed and continues to develop and teach The School of Dance’s ‘Connecting with Dance’ programme for people with Parkinson’s Disease. Maria is delighted to continue to combine her rehabilitative movement knowledge with her choreographic and teaching experience through The School of Dance’s new complementary programme for people with Parkinson’s Disease – Life with Rhythm!
Tanis Waller Associate, CSC-CICB
Tanis Waller studied ballet, jazz, tap and musical theatre in Edmonton, where she also started her teaching and performing careers. She went on to study at EDGE Performing Arts in Los Angeles, where she received extensive training in jazz and lyrical. Her performing career has given her the opportunity to dance in Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe. She resumed teaching and working as a choreographer whilst living in Europe and most recently in South Africa, where she became a Cecchetti Associate. Miss Waller loves sharing her knowledge and her passion for dance.