Although we see the polished result from years of dedication to dance, each of our instructor's paths to the Young At Arts came with obstacles to overcome and mountains to climb. Challenges that revealed two things. They're deeply passionate about dance and even more so, they love sharing that passion. We're fortunate to have a strong team of authentic and knowledgeable instructors inspiring our students.
From an early age, Meghann demonstrated a flair for performing. A song in her heart longing to be expressed, she stood out from the pairs of nervous legs and butterfly filled stomachs that approach the Barré. Dance struck the first chord, igniting a passion that's never waned.
Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Musical Theatre. Like an ensemble building a cast, Meghann absorbed each genre with determination and focus until they became a part of her, fingerprints on her DNA. Her dedication didn’t go unnoticed, bringing opportunities to perform in music videos, commercials and musicals as well as choreograph musicals for the Footlight Theatre Company and the White Rock Playhouse, earning her a CTC nomination, and allowing her to add singing, acting, and voice to a growing repertoire.
Meghann began teaching at the Young At Arts over fifteen years ago, what would be another wave in a storm of demands. As fate would have it that once a week class become a tether, her students an anchor, as she tamed the tempest and set her ship right. Opportunities to choreograph and perform in shows for the River Rock Casino, Boulevard Casino, Casino du Montreal and Ottawa’s Casino du Lac Leamy were welcome wind in her sails, but the burgeoning responsibilities of a studio in desperate need was a call from destiny, Meghann couldn't ignore.
With her formative years behind her, while often intense, they proved valuable in forging Meghann's philosophy. Dance is more than learning technique and winning awards. Dance is a vehicle to build healthy bodies, strong minds and a positive outlook. Dance is a banner, under which to share the highs of success and embrace the motivation of close seconds, while bonding as a team. Dance is a framework that allows you to look within to find yourself and draw out the courage and self discipline to pursue dreams.
The Young at Arts is Meghann's home, dance her defining passion. A passion she excitedly shares with enthusiastic students and staff she regards as her family. As studio director she applies her boundless love for performing and more than twenty five years of dance experience and training in teaching over fifty classes while overseeing the operations of the entire studio. Meghann's vision is to build a thriving, supportive, community of dancers that welcomes students of all talent's and abilities. A studio free from pressure and judgement where teamwork is second nature, creativity is applauded and all out performances are always encouraged. Where students are as excited as she is to learn, share and inspire. A studio that offers the security and safety for dancers to openly express their art and dance like nobody is watching!
It was an invitation from a kindergarten friend that was to become Shannon’s first step in amassing over twenty years of training and teaching experience across Canada and the UK. While the love of dance was there from the start, when Shannon became a teachers assistant at age sixteen, her true proclivity shone through. By the time she assumed full teaching duties Shannon realized she was a natural at disseminating dance knowledge and she became an ardent student, matriculating with Grant MacEwan College, Simon Fraser University and the Cecchetti Society of Canada. Hard work at these institutions garnered Shannon a dance diploma, a BFA (majoring in dance) and an Associate Degree, respectively.
Shannon is privileged to have trained at London Studio Centre, Laban Centre and with London Contemporary dancers, completing her Associate Teaching Credentials with highly regarded examiners and master teachers at City University, London Campus. Shannon put her training to use teaching jazz summer schools and master classes for the Royal Academy of Dance, also teaching ballet, jazz and modern at various studios throughout London, UK.
After returning to Vancouver, Shannon taught at several studios throughout the lower mainland before joining the Young at Arts and has also become involved with the Kick for a Cure charity, which raises money to fight childhood cancers, acting as their entertainment director and choreographer from 2008-2014. As a member of the BC Cecchetti Council from 2011-2015, she helped organize many workshops and Cecchetti awards during that time.
Always looking to keep her skills on pointe, Shannon still makes time to learn from master teachers when the opportunity arises, attending National Ballet School of Canada’s teachers summer seminars and Dance Life Conferences. Courses on anatomy, injury prevention, choreography, dance history, music and class room management techniques round out her training.
Few things make a teacher more proud than watching their students respond and thrive under their tutelage and Shannon is honored to have former students accepted at prestigious institutions such as Cecchetti Scholars London, Stella Mann College, London Studio Centre, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Alberta Ballet School, Randolf Academy, The Source and SFU Contemporary Dance Program. Many have also gone on to various professional careers and some have become dance teachers themselves.
Career and life path are terms that wouldn't enter most eight year olds thought process'. Amazingly, by that age, Stephanie already knew she wanted to be a ballet instructor. Talented and eager, she shone in competition but chose to ignore the chorus of voices calling for her to pursue a professional dance career and instead followed her heart. Inspired by Kristine Letson, director of Academy of Ballet, Stephanie discovered her love of teaching ballet at a young age, leading her to attended the prestigious teacher training program with the National Ballet School of Canada. Stephanie's course load included dance pedagogy, child psychology, body conditioning/ Irene Dowd studies and she graduated with honours in the Cecchetti Division.
With immense professional training and performing experience, Stephanie is highly sought out for both teaching and choreography, creating award winning routines for many dance companies and studios throughout North America.
Recognizing the value of keeping up to date with her training, Stephanie uses summers and off hours to attend professional training programs, refresher courses and workshops that keep her on her toes in the worlds of conditioning, movement, anatomy and Irene Dowd studies. Teaching in the Vancouver area for the past twelve years has served to reinforce the importance of education, not only in dance, but any pursuit, to which Stephanie readily attests, "Taking the teacher training program is the smartest decision I could have made for my career. There isn't a day in the classroom I don't pass on the inspiration and information I learned while attending school."
For Sheena, growing up dancing in Grande Prairie AB, four hour trips to Edmonton for dance supplies were the norm to fuel a growing passion for all forms of dance. Combining that passion with focus and determination allowed Sheena to excel on the stage, dancing in Edmonton School of Ballet's Production of Doll Makers Dream, the 1995 Canada Winter Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Alberta Summer Games Opening and Closing ceremonies and being a dancer for Rock of Ages. Through High School Sheena performed with Axiis Modern Company across AB, winning numerous awards competing across AB and BC. But all the while, teaching was where Sheena's heart was at.
Already certified as both a swim instructor and NCCP synchronized swimming coach, it was an essay in Sheena's grade nine year on 'Why we dance' that shined a spotlight on where her true passion dwelt. In search of more technical training, that same year brought a move to a new dance studio. A move that paid dividends as her new teachers knowledge of anatomy and technique were a fathomless source of inspiration for Sheena. Recognizing her affinity for teaching and dance, they, in turn, pushed Sheena to seek formal training, going above and beyond in their support for her to be the best teacher she could be.
In 2002 Sheena was accepted into The National Ballet School's Teacher Training Program, consisting of ballet pedagogy classes, anatomy, music, Irene Dowd work, body conditioning, and modern. After completing her RAD and Cecchetti Advanced I exams with Distinction and her National Dance Advanced II exam with Distinction, she worked towards her teaching exams, completing her RAD Teachers Exam with a 98%, her Cecchetti Associate exam with Distinction and her National Dance Teachers Exam with Distinction.
Following graduation from National Ballet School in 2005, Sheena came full circle, returning to Grande Prairie to teach Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary and National Dance. Sheena also directed The Nutcracker Ballet Production and Coppelia Ballet Productions and ran Spring and Summer Conditioning Classes.
Sheena loves to share her passion with her students while teaching them a good technical foundation in a safe, fun and loving environment. Herself now an inspiration, many of Sheena's students have gone on to dance in Professional Ballet Programs including Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, The National Ballet School, Quinte Ballet School and Austin Ballet School.
From Highland Moor to the Young At Arts floor, one could say Corinne's passion for dance is in the blood and with a family tree that boasts champion calibre highland dancers, a career in dance was perhaps inevitable. An accomplished highland dancer in her own right, Corinne’s dance journey began at the age of three when she was enrolled in tap. More than twenty years on, the tapping hasn’t stopped and neither has her passion for sharing the world of dance, theatre, and art with people of all ages.
Corinne has performed and trained in many countries around the world including England, France, Austria, Holland and the United States. Trained in tap, jazz, ballet, theatre and highland dance, Corinne has also been a member of the SDTA and Scotdance Canada. Throughout the years she has taught preschool ballet, creative movement, musical theatre, acting, tap, jazz, lyrical jazz, and highland dance to students from two years old to adult.
With passions for child psychology, dance and early childhood education vying for her attention it would seem fate stepped in and dealt Corinne a winning hand allowing her to combine all three avenues in one fulfilling career. Even with many competitive high scores and choreography awards to her credit, she will always find the joy on the faces of her youngest students to be the best measure of success. The chance to introduce the the world of theatre to any and all, a generational gift beyond measure. Now residing in Langley with a loving husband and two adoring children, Corinne counts her blessings that she is able to live a life combining her love of children and her passion for dance together into one profession.
While most instructors' first foray into the world of dance is predominantly ballet, Alyssa took a more unconventional route in her ascent to the echelons of teaching. It was under the auspices of cheer and following in a sisters footsteps that Alyssa's future was galvanized. A quick study, Alyssa switched tack a few times, touching on dance and gymnastics as if she were in a complicated tumbling run before finally rounding out into competitive cheer.
When a favoured coach stepped away from coaching while in her mid teens, Alyssa was forced to re-think her trajectory. Without the challenge of competition to look forward to, cheer began to lose its lustre and Alyssa started looking for a new challenge to pique her interest. It was then she found her way into the big tent of acrobatics and contortion, a move that was to set her professional stage to this day. A late starter in the field, Alyssa's experience in cheer was easily adapted to acro and contortion and Alyssa excelled. Having been trained by some of the top trainers in North America, Alyssa was able to develop her skills as a contortionist, acrobat, aerialist, and dancer, becoming a professional a mere eighteen months after embarking on her path. Teaching followed shortly thereafter.
Always one to dabble, you may happen upon Alyssa training aerial hoop, silks, trapeze, acrobatics or harness. You can add in juggling and stilt walking as well, just for fun, but her first and foremost passion remains with contortion. A native of Vancouver, Alyssa routinely takes her show on the road, performing and teaching around the world and is highly sought after for her passionate and upbeat approach to workshops that make each class dazzle with fun and excitement.
From her very first class at CentreStage, Christina's unquenchable passion for dance has transformed her from a wide eyed three year old jumping around as Tigger in 'Winnie the Pooh', to dancing professionally on a cruise ship sailing the Caribbean. Through the years, Christina has reveled while learning ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, modern, and hip hop from CentreStage Dance, Harbour Dance Centre, conventions such as Mr. Yuval Beck’s tap and jazz workshops, Triple Threat, and LA Danceforce, where she won her first scholarship at the age of twelve.
Variety has been the spice of Christina's dance life since graduating, successfully attending many auditions and performing for choreographers from around the world before landing her first professional job dancing for the Vancouver Ravens. Christina stayed with the Ravens for their 2002 and 2003 seasons, during which she performed for an MTV Canada special, and from there moved on to dance for the BC Lions Dance team. Christina further honed her talents with The Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, where she was fortunate to work with renowned choreographers Jeremy Plumber (LA) and Sarah Davies (England).
But you can't take the student out of the dancer and to that end, Christina has completed her Advanced AIDT exams in both jazz and tap, with high marks, and recently secured Advanced Associates in the jazz teachers program, receiving Honours with Distinction. Over the past few years Christina has dedicated her time to students all over the lower mainland, sculpting routines that routinely receive "high score" and "choreography" awards in competitions and festivals.
Blessed with an abundance, Christina continues to share her talents with all her students. For her the joy of watching them succeed is a jewel that never stops sparkling.
Amid the bustle of excitement and organized chaos that accompany a recital, Samantha appears. Costume bags slung over one arm, her gait devoid of the spring and bounce other girls have arrived with, Samantha walks like every step is a burden. Moving deftly past human obstacles, her long strides close the distance from front entrance to sign in table in short order. Up close, Samantha is pale, a tight line replacing her usual infectious smile but there's a fire in her eyes. A defiance. Finding her name on the sign in sheet, she draws a pen over and in flashing strokes applies her signature, dropping the pen to resume her march. She passes the table in silence, disappearing into her dressing room with nary a look around. Her mom follows close behind and as she passes the table, shares an anxious look, her face lined with worry.
It was June 2013, her graduating year, and Samantha was on the bill for no less than eleven dances that day. Despite battling the stomach flu, “like a pro” as it was relayed to the audience, she performed in all but one of her routines and also took part in the graduation ceremonies. Not content having missed that one dance, Samantha returned to the year end recital the following June as a special guest dancer, delivering a flawless performance of her solo to 'Lay Your Hand On My Heart', a song penned by her father.
The narrative above may be dramatic but being steeped in truth it is a powerful illustration of everything one needs to know about Samantha's passion for dance. Now another year on and Samantha has taken the same tenacity and devotion to dance and team displayed that day with her to Toronto as she continues to pursue her dream of being a professional dancer. Although she may be over four thousand kilometers away her presence will be felt in the routines she choreographed over the summer before leaving, one foot firmly in the Young At Arts door.
For six year old Sarah, tap was the proverbial tip of the iceberg, pulling back the curtains on the magical world of dance. With Pandora's box opened, the next two years would immerse Sarah in jazz, ballet, musical theatre, lyrical, hip hop and modern. Competitions further stirred Sarah's passion and drive for dance, letting the floodwaters of talent flow and by the time she was sixteen, Sarah was participating in more than twenty classes a week. Throughout her dance training, Sarah has competed in countless competitions and dance festivals throughout the lower mainland and in Los Angeles, receiving many high score medals for her solos, duos and groups. In 2010, Sarah was one of the few talented dancers chosen to perform in the Winter Olympic Games opening ceremonies tap routine.
Attending dance conventions all across B.C. and learning from world renowned choreographers helped Sarah develop the strong dance ethic she was recognized for in 2001 when she received a scholarship for her hard work and performance ability. A year later, at the same convention, she was selected out of hundreds of dancers and awarded once again for her outstanding abilities. Now, with her sights on teaching, the Association for International Dance Teachers (AIDT) saw fit to bestow 'Honors with Distinction' upon Sarah following completion of both her tap and jazz exams.
Over the past few years, Sarah has dedicated her time to her students all over the lower mainland, creating and instructing, "High Score" and "Choreography Award" worthy routines as a matter of course. A consummate educator, Sarah has taken in the experiences and opportunities given to her and is excited to share them with her students and watch them flourish.
Another Grande Prairie, AB product to grace the Young At Arts, Micaela began dancing as a bright eyed three year old. As she grew Micaela branched out, building a thorough compendium of knowledge and experience in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Pointe, Hip Hop and Musical Theatre. Completion of many C.D.T.A and RAD examinations in ballet, jazz, and tap as well as competitions throughout her home province whetted her love of performing as did being a part of her local Christmas productions including The Nutcracker and Coppelia for numerous years. Participation in countless other performances including the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Arctic Winter Games, further stoked Micaela's passion for dance.
Over the last three years, Micaela's focus has shifted from learning dance to sharing her passion for dance with children through teaching. Micaela will be continuing to further her dance teacher education while she works to complete her Bachelor of Education at the University of the Fraser Valley. Having recently completed her Module One certification through Acrobatic Arts, Micaela is very excited to share her new knowledge in her Acro classes.
A little late to the party or merely a case of impeccable timing? One could argue the latter as after dabbling in dance classes with other studios, Aysia settled in with the Young At Arts as an eleven year old, coincidentally or not, right around the time she began taking dance more seriously. Comfortable in her new dance home, Aysia dedicated herself to dance and put in the hard work teachers and fellow dancers alike can admire.
In her seven years as a student with the Young At Arts, Aysia went full out, accelerating, not only her dance education but high school as well, collecting graduation's for both in June of 2015 and February 2015 respectively. And, somewhere along the line, found time to be a teachers assistant for three years and participate in two of the YAA trips to Disneyland where she savored the amazing opportunity to perform in the park, topped only by the chance of a lifetime to lead a Disney parade with her team.
Opting to let the dust settle after graduation, Aysia feels working with the Young Arts is a great way for her to continue to explore the world of teaching while deciding on a definitive career direction. The Assistant training program leaves her feeling prepared and excited for challenges that come with teaching and working with children and Aysia's passion for dance will be easily relatable to her students. Aysia's mentors at the Young At Arts always inspired her to put her heart into everything she does and she is very excited to be a part of the team of instructors this year and help others discover the treasures dance has to offer, just as she has.
“I find dance rewarding because I have met some of the most amazing people I will ever meet through dance and I have been given great opportunities. It's a fun way to stay healthy and it's a great outlet if your ever feeling down.”
A ballet student of Miss Corrine at age three, Cassidy took a break from dance, coming to YAA two years later, making the jump to competitive tap, and hasn't stopped dancing since. A student of all dance styles, Cassidy is enamored with each styles uniquity and difference of expression. She recognizes the value of dance being an avenue to express emotions and creativity and loves to open other's eyes to the same realization.
Like a cozy blanket, dance feels like home to Cassidy and she envisions herself teaching in some capacity as she moves forward in life. Transitioning from student to teacher can be daunting for anyone. Fortunately for Cassidy, and her students, her love of dance will be a wellspring of courage to draw from. Her energy and outgoing personality will engage her students, making them feel comfortable as they continue to learn and grow together. The smiles she sees when students figure out new moves will be more than enough to keep them both coming back.
A painting greets every person as they enter the Young At Arts. An expertly crafted metaphor for dance, it's of a tree and adorns an entire wall. Delicate leaves and colourful flowers roll from its branches in ornate curls and spirals, leaping from the canvas and drawing our attention, but its true beauty, however, lies in it's body. From roots to trunk and trunk to branches, the tree is constructed entirely of profound and motivational sayings. Axioms that have been the basis of Nathalia's dance education since stepping onto the studio floor.
Being the middle of three sisters, all of whom dance(d) with the Young At Arts, as did her mother and yes, even her brother, Nathalia's dance roots run deep. The longest attending active student, YAA is the only studio Nathalia has ever known. From the donning of those tiny kinderdance tap shoes to her graduating year, Nathalia is the embodiment of Young At Arts dance philosophy.
Confident. Poised. Talented. Modest. And whether it's onstage or simply waiting for class, her perennial smile affirms the deep passion Nathalia harbours for dance. A passion she began to share as a teachers assistant in the Prima Project and now looks to take to the next level as an Instructors Apprentice. With graduation looming, Nathalia seeks to give back. To draw deep from her training and share the flowers of knowledge she has gleaned and help shape the younger dancers. Encourage them as they define their own passion. Guide them as they develop strong dance foundations based on hard work and dedication, so they too can blossom into brilliant dancers.
We can't thank our guest choreographers enough for sharing their passion and creativity with the Young At Arts. A dance routine may take many hours to choreograph and only minutes to run but your gift to our dancers is beyond measure.
|Christina Hamdon||Fonda Bloy||Jordan Allarie||Kelsey Chace||Robin Merchant|
The engine that keeps everything running smoothly, the office staff are dear to our hearts and at the heart of it all.