The School of Dance

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D., Artistic Director.


The School of Dance Staff and Faculty

Artistic Director

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D.

Division Directors

Director of Ballet Studies

Mary Ross Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB

Director of Contemporary Dance Studies

Sylvie Desrosiers BAV, C.Ed

Director of Education, DragonFly®

Barbara Roblin B.A., ECE, Diploma Child Study, Ontario Teacher Certificate, Inclusion Specialist

Director of Visual Arts

Maryse Maynard

Dance Educators

Shaun Amyot

Peter Boneham CM

Lisa Brooks Associate CC-CICB

Esther America Caron

Jacqueline Ethier

Nicola Fridgen

Loïc Gouadec

Jean Grand-Maître, C.M., LL.D. h.c.

Lisa Hébert

Chisato Horikawa ADCSC-CICB

Mary Catherine Jack

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Kim Laporte Associate, CSC-CICB

Kiyoko Makimura


Suzanne Plante Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB

Barbara Roblin

Maria Shepertycki

Robin Treleaven

Tanis Waller Associate, CSC-CICB

Guest Teachers and Choreographers

Massimo Agostinelli

Peggy Baker

Serge Bennathan

Marc Boivin

Anik Bouvrette

Annemarie Cabri

Charles Cardin-Bourbeau

Paul Chalmer

Yvonne Coutts

Robert Desrosiers

Sylvain Lafortune

Marquita Lester

Andrew de Lotbinière Harwood

Emmanuel Jouthe

Gerard McIsaac

Kathy McLellan and John Nolan

Lana Morton

Meagan O'Shea

Christine Richardson

Erin Robertson

Lola Ryan

Julia Sasso

Heidi Strauss

Andrew Turner

Carla Weber

Jane Wooding


Earl Doherty

Pierre-Luc Clément

Kristine Gore

Peter Grant Mackechnie

Rob Graves

Elena Ilin

Margaret Macpherson

Sergio Parra

Janusz Rothbard

Abbey Sugars-Keen

Tamiko Yamane

Alvaro Yanez

James Wright


Sylvie Desrosiers B.F.A.

Nicola Fridgen

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D.

Mary Catherine Jack

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Mary Ross


Fernand Villeneuve, Director Client Services

Nicola Fridgen, Assistant to the Artistic Director

Lisa Brooks, Assistant to the Artistic Director

Artists in Residence

Maryse Maynard

Beth Ross

Jean Grand-Maître, C.M., LL.D. h.c.

Assistants and Interns

Katie Simcoe

Emilie Lum

Health Consultants

Pamela Place, PT, FCAMT, CAFCI, Registered Physiotherapist

Anna Abraham, MA, MHK, Performance Psychology

The Artists of
The School of Dance

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D.
Artistic Director

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.

Maryse Maynard,
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, RP

As a Registered Psychotherapist (CRPO) with a person-centered, strength-based approach, Anna has the rewarding opportunity of supporting clients through a variety of issues related to mental well-being and performance. With a passion for mental health advocacy in sport, she holds a Master of Arts in Counselling and Spirituality (individual counselling) and a Master of Human Kinetics in Intervention and Consultation (health and performance psychology). She is currently the Varsity Mental Health Coordinator and Counsellor for the University of Ottawa. 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 health and skills 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, Member SDTA & Associate CC-CICB

Miss Brooks is a graduate of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School's Teacher Training Programme (Johanne Gingras, Director) and holds her Associate qualification with Cecchetti Canada (Classical Ballet), her Member qualification with the Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance (SDTA) and her Level 2 certification in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT). Miss Brooks has been teaching in Québec since 2008, taught at Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School from 2013-2018, and currently teaches in Ottawa. As a competitive dancer and performer, Miss Brooks has had the pleasure and privilege to represent the province of Québec at the ScotDance Canada Championship Series (SDCCS) on three separate occasions, and has performed with numerous groups, including the RCAF Pipes and Drums and the RCMP Pipes, Drums, and Dancers.

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

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

Nicola Fridgen,
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

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

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 contributed to the Ottawa dance scene since 1980 when she first became a company member of Le Groupe with whom she performed extensively, as well as Dancemakers (Toronto) with whom she toured 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, The Erik Bruhn Memorial Award and, most recently, the 2021 City of Ottawa Arts Council Creation Grant. 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 Ottawa. In 2011 and 2013 she self-produced her work in evenings of dance, again in Ottawa. In 2015, Cathy was awarded summer residency at Ottawa Dance Directive. The following June 2016 her work was performed at the Ottawa Fringe Festival. In October 2017, Cathy presented an evening of self-produced work at ODD BOX. In 2018 Cathy was the recipient of a City of Ottawa Creation Grant to choreograph a duet and solo. Her work appeared at Series Danse 10 in October 2019. Cathy is on the faculty of The School of Dance Contemporary Dance Programme, where she teaches and creates. She is a licensed Fletcher Pilates instructor, Hypopressive Canada fitness trainer, bone health instructor (Osteoporosis Canada, Buff Bones USA) and is trained in Active Isolated Stretch (AIS).

Kim Laporte, Associate Diploma CC-CICB

Upon graduating from The School of Dance Professional Ballet 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 through Europe before returning to Ottawa in 2011 to work with Mary Ross and Suzanne Plante in developing her skills as a teacher. Kim earned her Associate teaching qualification from Cecchetti Canada in 2013 and her Associate Diploma teaching qualification in 2021. Kim also became a Fletcher Pilates® teacher in 2015. Miss Kim works in the classroom both teaching ballet and coaching the ballet students.

Pamela Place PT, FCAMT, CAFCI

Pam Place is a top-tier classical dance veteran, with deeply studied knowledge of movement and its anatomical components. Pam is a graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School. In her career, she danced with the National Ballet of Canada, with many classic solo roles including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker and Concerto. Retiring from performance, Pam trained as a Physiotherapist at the University of Ottawa and continued her education in orthopaedics. She is a fellow with CAMPT and holds a CAFCI from Acupuncture Canada. Pam brings extensive classical knowledge and a love of learning to training young dancers, along with a rich understanding of the physical capabilities of dancers. She loves guiding students into the world of dance.

Suzanne Plante, Fellow and Examiner CC-CICB, ISTD IMB and National. Enrico Cecchetti Diploma

Suzanne Plante studied ballet as a student with Diana Jablokova Vorps. Under Diana’s direction, she later performed as a soloist with the Canadian Junior Ballet Company for three years. Miss Plante completed her Teacher’s Training at the Canadian College of Dance (Ryerson University) under the direction of Sonia Chamberlain and Maisie MacPhee. During the second year, she performed and trained with Ballet YS whose director invited her to continue as an apprentice with the company. Miss Plante chose instead to finish her training at Ryerson which led her to a long and enriching teaching career; she has taught, choreographed, lectured and danced in diverse locations from Chicoutimi, Quebec to London, England. Suzanne Plante has been a senior teacher of The School of Dance for the past 14 years.

Maria Shepertycki

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.