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(902) 843-3773

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15 Arlington Pl. Suite 7 Truro, NS B2N 0G9, Canada

©2018 BY COBEQUID DANCE ACADEMY INC.

A TEAM OF DANCE EDUCATORS

Faculty 2019-20

At CDA we believe very strongly that our success is measured by the success of our students. Our teachers are highly trained, dedicated professionals that are passionate about providing the best dance education for our students. Our faculty participates annually in professional development opportunities, both as teachers, and as dancers themselves so they can continue to offer our students the most up-to-date, safe, and effective teaching practices.

Melissa Page-Webster, RAD RTS, TDip. MCPA

Owner, Teacher - Ballet, Jazz, Modern

Melissa is a Dance Educator and business owner based in Truro NS. Over her 30 year career, she has had the privilege of being taught by Sally Brayley Bliss, Robert McCollum, Suzette Sherman, Irene Dowd, Peggy Baker and Darryl Tracy among others. Melissa is a Registered Teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance and a graduate of the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts' Teacher Training Program. She has trained in Toronto at Peggy Baker's annual Educator's Seminar and at Canada's National Ballet School in the work of Irene Dowd. In the past, Melissa has been a company member with Symphony Of Movement (Consumer Experiment, gendeRBender) under the direction of Jennifer Rodgers, originated roles with independent choreographers, and choreographed for Ballet Jorgen Canada's Solos and Duets Series. She had the privilege of performing in Amanda LaRusic’s Edge Of Chaos at the St. John Contemporary Dance Festival in July of 2017. In May of 2018, Melissa's piece "Unintentional Soldier" debuted at Art At Night in New Glasgow.

In 2018, Melissa co-founded KickTalkDance Productions with colleague Amanda LaRusic as a platform to create, share and inspire dance and art in the local community.

Melissa also sits as a Director on the board of the Downtown Truro Partnership.

Katie MacFarlane, CDTA

Teacher - Early Childhood Movement, Ballet, Jazz, Acro, Adult Program

Katie began attending dance classes at the tender age of three in Pictou County, NS where she still currently resides. As a dance student, Katie actively pursued both Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and Canadian Dance Teachers Association (CDTA) examinations throughout her formative years. Achieving her RAD Grade 8 Award, RAD Intermediate Vocational Examination certificate and CDTA Grade 6 exams before graduation and hoping to continue both her dance education and work with children, she then pursued her Associate Membership in CDTA Ballet Division. 

Seizing every opportunity for further education and development Katie then pursued her NIA White belt training, HighFive Certification through Dance Nova Scotia (DANS) and Tumblebugs Instructor training.

Hoping to broaden her skill set and to develop a stronger Jazz/Modern program at the studio where she was teaching, Katie worked in conjunction with her dance mentor to become a certified teacher through the Association of International Dance Teachers (AIDT) based out of South Africa. Obtaining her Associate Membership in their Modern syllabus, Katie congruently became an Associate Stage Member of the CDTA in both their Acrobatic Jazz and Modern Syllabus and completed the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts Dance History course. 

Currently, Katie is pursuing the AIDT’s Advanced Associate Modern Certification, her Associate Membership in their Tap Syllabi, and is the organization’s local organizer for the East Coast of Canada. Valuing a strong dance and art community within Nova Scotia, Katie has been part of the faculty of Ross Creek’s Centre for the Arts Dance Summer Dance Intensive for the last two years and is a board member for New Glasgow’s Art at Night event. Pursuing her Early Childhood Education Diploma through the Nova Scotia Community College, Katie hopes to continue to her work with the youth of her community, promoting creation, development, and support of the arts in future generations.

Amanda LaRusic, TDip MCPA

Teacher - Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Clinic, Adult Program

Amanda is an independent movement artist and dance educator based out of Nova Scotia. She received her training from the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and The Maritime

Conservatory of Performing Arts Teacher Training Program in Halifax. She has performed works by Serge Bennathan, Anna Blewchamp, Sharon B. Moore, Valerie Calam, Allison Cummings, Christopher House, Jean-Pierre Perreault, Gerry Trentham, and William Yong.

Upon graduation of STDT in 2012, LaRusic performed with Peggy Baker Dance Projects in Night Garden and danced Christopher House’s Fjeld for Older and Reckless under direction of Claudia Moore. Independently, she has done performances by Kathleen Doherty, Marcia Dysart, Sasha French, Nicola Henry, Ruth Levin, Nikolaos Markakis, Megan Nadain, Lauren Runions and Darryl Tracy.

In 2015 she had the privilege of joining Dancetheatre David Earle in its final season, performing the iconic Sacra Conversazione. Most recently, LaRusic has had the pleasure of dancing with Connection Dance Works in St. John NB and Votive Dance in Halifax NS.

Currently, Amanda works as a dance educator at Cobequid Dance Academy and The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. She has taught at various schools and programs in Toronto, Halifax and across Nova Scotia. As well as exploring her own choreographic endeavours, you’ll find her creating art and practising many different kinds of physical disciplines.

Jennifer Rodgers, BFA

Teacher - Modern, Ballet

Jennifer holds a BFA in Performance Dance from Ryerson University in Toronto. She has trained at the Martha Graham School’s Intensive in New York City and Peggy Baker's Educator's Seminar in Toronto. During her time in Toronto, she had the privilege to train with renowned teachers such as Nadia Potts,Vicki St Denys, Stelio Calagias, Kenny Pearl, Maureen Consulati, and Eddison B. Lindsay. In addition she has had the pleasure to work with inspiring choreographers such as DA Hoskins & Heidi Strauss. 

She has played both offstage and on as choreographer and performer in her two works; The Consumer Experiment (2006) and gendeRBender (2007). The Consumer Experience, debuted at the Halifax Fringe Festival and was one of the few selected as a 'Fringe Hit!' with an excerpt featured in the opening gala.

After a 10 year hiatus, Jennifer returned to the stage to perform in Amanda LaRusic’s Edge of Chaos both at the St. John Contemporary Dance Festival (2016) and Kinetic Studio’s First Works (2017).

 

When Jennifer is not in the studio sharing her passion for dance, she is providing customer experience and communication services through her consulting agency or running after her two very busy sons. 

Makayla Criss, CDTA, TDip MCPA

Teacher - Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Adult Program

Makayla received her professional training through the Maritime Conservatory of the Performing Arts - Teacher Training Program. Her studies included anatomy, conditioning, and child development, all of which were tailored specifically for dancers. Makayla has also studied a broad spectrum of pedagogical approaches from highly respected and successful examiners and teachers. With training in a wide range of styles, Makayla's background includes Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Modern, and Hip Hop. Later deciding to focus on Ballet, Makayla has studied both the Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance syllabi, and is passionate about reflecting strong technical training while allowing the body to adapt to other stylistic forms of dance.

Donnie Geraghty

Teacher - Hip Hop

Donnie Geraghty has been popping and breaking for over nineteen years and has been a teacher for over fifteen. His teaching experience includes Foundations in London, Ontario, Street Dance Academy in Toronto, and break dance programs through Western University and Greenwood Private School, Before joining the team at CDA, Donnie was on faculty at Groove School of Dance and Turning Pointe Academy of Dance in Toronto. Additionally, Don taught breakdancing, popping, and hiphop for the Harbourfront Centre School Visits Program, and worked as the summer camps dance specialist.Donnie’s numerous choreography and performance highlights include but are not exclusive to the Krump Free Zone Competition, Red City, and the Battle of the Year competition in Toronto. In 2007, Don was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records for Longest B-Boy Cypher at 24 hours as a part of a team of eleven b-boys, raising over $15,000 for cancer research in the process. Donnie has enjoyed entering competitions for the past nearly two decades, either one-on-one or with his crews, Albino Zebrah and Conscious Souls.

Emma Smit-Geraghty, BFA

Teacher - Tap, Jazz, Early Childhood Movement

Emma is a graduate of Sheridan Institute’s Musical Theatre – Performance program. She has previously worked at the Groove School of Dance in Toronto as an administrator and a teacher, teaching ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, acro, Glee, music theatre, Zumba, and conditioning. She also worked as the voice teacher for Stagecoach West Toronto and as the music director for the Upper Canada Repertory Company. She loves story-telling in all forms, and is wrapping up work on her second play writing venture. In addition to school, she works out of her home teaching piano and voice lessons.

Kaitlyn Sears BKin, BEd

Teacher - Jazz, Lyrical, Yoga

Kaitlyn began her dance training at a young age at Truro Dance Academy under the direction of Margot Begin and Melissa Page-Webster. She has trained in many dance styles including ballet, jazz, modern, and contemporary, and has completed her Intermediate level ballet exam in RAD syllabus. 

Kaitlyn’s love for movement and living a healthy and active lifestyle led her to complete a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree at Acadia University and a Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant diploma at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. During her time at Acadia she was actively involved in the university’s dance community and taught numerous dance classes for the Acadia Dance Collective and the Acadia Dance Collective community programs. Kaitlyn was the Director of Dance Acadia in her final year of her undergraduate degree, leading the team in various competitions and performances. 

Kaitlyn went on to complete her Bachelor of Education degree at Acadia University and pursued a teaching career in the public school system, which led her to teach school in London, England. While living in London, Kaitlyn had the opportunity to attend dance classes at some of the world’s most popular drop-in dance studios; Pineapple Dance Studios and Danceworks. She practiced classical ballet under the direction of Franziska Rosenzweig and Hannah Frost, Contemporary with Jane Coulston and Jo Cork, and Commercial dance with Brendon Hansford, along with classes in jazz and musical theatre. 

In addition to dance, Kaitlyn began practicing yoga more seriously upon her move to London. Her time spent learning from Celest Pereira, a London-based international yoga teacher and author of The Yoga Mentor, is what inspired her to become a yoga teacher herself. Kaitlyn completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training with Celest Pereira and Nina Vukas (Croatia-based yoga teacher and owner of Spanda Vinyasa Yoga School) in Portugal in October, 2018. She has continued her training in teaching yoga in Ibiza, Spain, working with Celest Pereira and Kelly McHugh, and Bali, Indonesia, working with Adell Bridges. Kaitlyn is thrilled to be returning to CDA for the upcoming dance year teaching jazz, lyrical, and yoga! 

Hayley Bone, TDip MCPA

Teacher - Ballet, Early Childhood Movement

Hayley Bone is currently heading into her final year of the Conservatory School of Dance’s Teacher Training Program. She is an associate member of the CDTA ballet and stage jazz divisions. Her teaching experience thus far includes classes at Halifax Dance, The Conservatory School of Dance, The Leica Hardy School of Dance, and Plan A Dance Centre.

Hayley began her dance training at the age of three, at Dartmouth Dance Academy. She joined their competitive dance team Fusion (then known as Footsteps); and competed for many years; winning many overall and title awards. After realizing her love for the technique and discipline of ballet; Hayley focused her training primarily at the Leica Hardy School of Dance. She was a founding member of the school’s company, KiDanCo. She has performed in 7 consecutive seasons of Symphony Nova Scotia’s The Nutcracker, including soloist roles. Hayley has danced up to the advanced level of Cecchetti Canada, the Royal Academy of Dance, and the Society of Russian Ballet. Hayley has been fortunate to train under some inspirational master teachers in her career and is constantly learning from her students. She is excited to continue to grow as a teacher and choreographer in ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz and urban styles.

Gabrielle Murray, ARAD - Currently on study leave

Teacher - Private Lessons

Gabrielle started dancing as a student at Ashlei Ballet School in Pictou County at the age of 3. She went on to train through the RAD and CDTA syllabi and has completed dance exams in each. Gabrielle moved to Toronto to attend Canada's National Ballet School for the 2010-2011 school year, where she fell in love with the style and technique of classical Ballet. The following year, she went on to train at summer schools with the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida, and in 2013 at The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. As a performer, she has been featured in Kennett Oberly's the Four Seasons, The Little Match Girl, 14 in C Major, and Scenes from Childhood. Most recently, in 2015, Gabrielle had the opportunity to take classes with the English National Ballet school in London, and completed her Advanced 2 RAD exam with Distinction. In May of that year she traveled to Toronto to perform for her Solo Seal, the highest level of RAD examinations. Her love of learning about Ballet and it's teaching techniques have inspired her to begin the path to obtaining her Certificate in Ballet Teaching Studies through the Royal Academy of Dance. Gabrielle is thrilled to return as a member of the CDA faculty for the upcoming year.

Michael Pinto

Accompanist

Michael is a working percussionist versed in numerous styles such as latin, jazz, funk, classical, and world music.  As with his performances, you can always expect a lively attitude from Pinto. He is engaged in the creative process and committed to making musical experiences unique. 

Michael gradated from Holland College’s School of Performing Arts with a diploma in Music Performance, and received the Paul Barrett Outstanding Jazz Musician award while at Cobequid Educational Centre. 

Working professionally as an independent musician and song writer, Michael has worked and recorded with Bucket List, Indifference, Mark Shelley, Rocket Taylor and Punk Fungus.

Pinto is also a core member of the hit rock-opera "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", performed by Andrew Morrissey and directed by Margot Begin, which is currently touring Nova Scotia, PEI, and Ontario.

Most recently, Micheal has begun collaboration with Yohvn Blvck. Having just finished performances for the Halifax Jazz Festival, they are preparing to take their show to bigger stages across Canada.

Andrew Miller

Accompanist

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Andrew Miller is an award winning drummer, composer and teacher based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Andrew graduated from The University of Toronto in 2016 and worked as one of the most in demand jazz drummers in Toronto. He is a recipient of the TD Stingray Rising Star Award, a two time recipient of the Jason Lang Scholarship, and a recipient of the Buddy DeFranco Outstanding Jazz Soloist Award. Recently, Andrew has began leading a new Trio in Halifax, Nova Scotia featuring his own compositions. 

As a side man, Andrew has played with Port Cities, Michael Formanek, David Liebman, Norma Winstone, Andrew Downing's Otterville, Mike Murley, Jim Vivian, Brad Roberts (Crash Test Dummies), Jimmy Rankin, Phil Nimmons, PJ Perry, Tommy Banks, Dillon Ponders, Upstream Music Association, Halifax Dance, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, among others.

Andrew has a busy private studio in Bedford, Nova Scotia and presents school clinics around the maritimes.  

Emma Purdy

Student Teacher - Ballet

Emma began dancing at the age of four under the direction of Margot Begin and Melissa Page-Webster.  At the age of 10, Emma completed her Grade 4 RAD exam and later successfully completed four Vocational level exams - Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced Foundation, and Advanced 1. She has furthered her training by attending Ballet Jörgen summer II intensive in 2017, and has also attended Canada’s Alberta Ballet School in 2018. This past summer, Emma returned to Ballet Jörgen for their 5 week summer IV Intensive. There she had the privilege to train with Ballet Director, Bengt Jörgen and many company members.  Most recently Emma has the amazing opportunity to attend classes at The Martha Graham School (NY), Steps on Broadway (NY) and The Ailey School (NY). Emma has also been in many local performances as a member of Cobequid Dance Academy’s. At home she has taken workshops with Darryl Tracey (TDT), Ballet Bob (NBS), Sion Irwin-Childs, Marcia Dysart and many others over the years. She has been a performer as a local participant in Canada’s Ballet Jörgen in their production of Sleeping Beauty. She also has been a part of CDA's The Nutcracker since 2012.  In the coming year Emma is commencing training for her Advanced 2 RAD exam and is looking forward to starting grade 10 at CEC.  Emma plans to pursue dance and dance teaching as her profession, and looks forward to the coming years at CDA.

Bridgit Tooker

Student Teacher - Ballet, Modern, Adult Program

Bridgit Tooker began her dance training at the age of 5 and immediately fell in love with dancing. Bridgit began training for Royal Academy of Dance ballet exams and to-date has successfully completed Grades 2-4 and all Vocational levels up to and including Advanced 1. Bridgit has furthered her training in Toronto at Toronto Dance Theatre for the one-week Teen Intensive in 2016 and most recently the two week Pre-Professional Intensive in 2019. At home she’s had the privilege of training with Daryl Tracy (TDT) and Robert McCollum (NBS) during the CDA's annual Development Weekend. She has also received training from members of Ballet Jörgen, Marcia Dysart, Sion Irwin-Childs and many others. Bridgit has been a part of CDA's annual production of the Nutcracker since 2011 and also a part of CDA’s Cobequid Young Company (CYCo) since it's founding in 2016. She plans to continue dancing throughout her years at CEC and also hopes to continue on with her love of dance after high school. 

Chloe Duguay

Student Teacher - Ballet

Chloe began dancing at the age of five in Ballet and Jazz and immediately developed a passion for dance.  At the age of 10, Chloe began more intensive study and began completing Royal Academy of Dance exams. After successfully completing her Grade 5 exam, Chloe went on to Vocational level study and achieved her Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate level exams.  Chloe has attended numerous intensive study programs including Ballet Jörgen Summer II Intensive in 2016 and Ballet Jörgen Summer IV Intensive in 2018 where she had the opportunity to study directly with Bengt Jorgen and numerous company members. At CDA she has taken workshops with Darryl Tracey (TDT), Ballet Bob (NBS), Sion Irwin-Childs, Marcia Dysart and many others over the years. Chloe has also been in many local performances as a member of Cobequid Dance Academy’s Young Company. She has been a performer in CDA's The Nutcracker since 2010. Chloe plans on continuing her training at CDA over the next two years. She is a grade 11 student at CEC and plans to study music after high school. 

Olivia Grund

Student Teacher - Ballet

Olivia began her dance training with Cobequid Dance Academy (CDA) when it was formerly Truro Dance Academy (TDA) in 2008 at age 6. Since then, she has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Hip-Hop, Tap, Acro and Musical Theatre Jazz. She has passed her Grade Four and Five Royal Academy of Dance exams with Merit, as well as three Vocational RAD exams; Intermediated Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Foundation. She has performed in CDA’s production of the Nutcracker since 2012 and has been performing with Cobequid Young Company since 2016. Olivia has had attended workshops with Darryl Tracy (TDT), Ballet Bob (NBS) and Sion Irwin-Childs. While in New York City with CDA in May of 2019, Olivia attended workshops and took classes at Steps on Broadway, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and The Ailey School. She was a local participant in Ballet Jörgen’s production of Sawn Lake (2016) and Sleeping Beauty (2017). Olivia is a grade 12 student at CEC and will be completing her final year of training with CDA working towards her RAD Advanced 1 exam. 

Rachel Kamphuis

Student Teacher - Ballet

Rachel started dancing at Truro Dance Academy at the age of 3. She continued to train with the TDA faculty when it became Cobequid Dance Academy. Over the years, Rachel has had the opportunity to participate in many workshops and take classes with amazing teachers including Darryl Tracy (TDT), Robert McCollum (NBS), Sion Irwin-Childs, and many more. Rachel has also taken part in CDA’s production of The Nutcracker since 2013, and has been a part of Cobequid Young Company since 2016. Through Cobequid Young Company, she has had the opportunity to take part in many local performances. Rachel has successfully completed 3 RAD Vocational level exams including Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced Foundation. Rachel is a grade 11 student at Cobequid Educational Centre, and is very excited to teach and continue dancing at CDA for the next two years. 

Camryn Rieksts

Student Teacher - Ballet, Lyrical, Modern

Camryn starting dancing at the age of 8 training in Ballet and Jazz and successfully compled her Grade 2,  3, 4 and 5 RAD ballet exams. She continued to train more intensively in Ballet and Jazz and added Lyrical and Modern dance to her studies, completing  3 Vocational RAD exams which include Intermediate Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Foundation levels. She has attended Ballet Jörgen’s Summer Intensive ll as well as participating in Ballet Jörgen’s production of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake as a local participant. At home she has also performed in CDA’s production of The Nutcracker for the past 6 years. She has been in many performances as a member of CDA's Cobequid Young Company. She has participated in workshops with teachers including Ballet Bob, Darryl Tracy, Sion-Irwin Childs, Marcia Dysart, multiple members of Ballet Jörgen’s company and many others. She has taken part in local choreography shows and participated in DANS Taking Steps To Fly competition with her own choreography.

Keelyn McLane

Student Teacher - Jazz, Early Childhood Movement

Keelyn started dancing when she was 3 years old at Truro Dance Academy under the instruction of Melissa Page-Webster and she continued dancing with her when Cobequid Dance Academy was formed. Keelyn has trained and continues to train in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical and Hip Hop. Keelyn has performed in many of local events and performances as she is a member of CDA's Cobequid Young Company. Keelyn has been a part of CDA's The Nutcracker for 5 years. Keelyn has completed her grade 4 and 5 RAD exams and her Intermediate Foundation assessment. Keelyn also had the opportunity to travel to New York City in spring of 2019 and had the privilege of taking classes at Steps on Broadway, Alvin Ailey and The Martha Graham School. At CDA, Keelyn has taken workshops taught by Daryl Tracy (TDT), Robert McCollum (NBS) and Sion Irwin-Childs, as well as others over her years of dancing. Keelyn looks forward to going into her grade 12 year at CEC and also her graduating year as a dance student at CDA.

Kate Vandermeulen

Student Teacher - Jazz

Kate started dancing with CDA back when it was TDA in 2014. Since then, she has continued her training in ballet, jazz, modern, tap and hip-hop with the lovely faculty at CDA. Kate has also trained in New York City at the Joffrey Ballet School's Summer Musical Theatre and Dance Intensive and was delighted to return to New York in 2019 to take classes in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Modern with CDA. At home, she has trained under Darryl Tracy (TDT) during CDA’s annual Development Weekend. She has successfully completed four RAD exams up to the Intermediate level. Kate has also been a part of CDA’s Young Company (CYCo) and the annual production of The Nutcracker since 2017. Kate plans on continuing to dance throughout her next two years at CEC and is hoping to pursue her love for dance and music theatre after high school.

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