The School of Dance, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Staff and Faculty

Artistic Director

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D.

Division Directors

Mary Ross Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB, Director of Ballet Studies

Sylvie Desrosiers BAV, C.Ed, Director of Contemporary Dance Studies

Barbara Roblin B.A., ECE, Diploma Child Study, Ontario Teacher Certificate, Director of Education, DragonFly Programme

Dance Educators

Peter Boneham CM

Esther Caron

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Jacqueline Ethier

Nicola Fridgen (Henry)

Loïc Gouadec

Lisa Hébert

Sarah Hopkin

Chisato Horikawa ADCSC-CICB

Mary Catherine Jack

Sonia Joanette

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Kim Laporte Associate, CSC-CICB

Alain Pauzé


Suzanne Plante Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB

Barbara Roblin

Avery Ross

Maria Shepertycki

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

Andrew de Lotbinière Harwood

Emmanuel Jouthe

Marquita Lester

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

Nenad Duplancic

Pierre-Luc Clément

Kristine Gore

Rob Graves

Elena Ilin

Nicholas Jodouin-Lund

Petya Karakoleva

Alvaro Yanez

James Wright


Alain Pauzé (Manager, DanceONTour)

Sylvie Desrosiers B.F.A.

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Nicola Fridgen (Henry)

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D.

Sarah Hopkin

Sonia Joanette

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Mary Ross


Fernand Villeneuve Director Client Services

Nicola Fridgen (Henry) Assistant to the Artistic Director

Hailey Danis Reception

Alya Graham Reception

Artists in Residence

Maryse Maynard

Audrey Greyeyes

Neera Huckvale

Beth Ross

Apprentices and Interns

Lisa Oliviero

Katherine Orfali

Martha Zacharias

Health Consultants

Pamela Place, PT, FCAMT, CAFCI, Registered Physiotherapist

Anna Abraham, MA, MHK, Performance Psychology

Susannah Juteau, Nutrition


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. 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, CSC-CICB, 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 BAV, 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. She is director of the division, teaches modern 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 creations 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 work includes à tire d'aile presented at La Nouvelle Scène in the fall of 2002 and co presented by the Canada Dance Festival (CDF) at the National Arts Centre (NAC) in June 2003. More recently she created flots commissioned by the CDF, a quintet that was presented at the CDF of 2005 and 2006 and was presented at the 2005 Dancing on the Edge festival in Vancouver. In 2008 études intuitives was presented at la Nouvelle Scène by Tara Luz Danse. In 2009 épaves and distance were presented in many venues throughout the region. Artistic Director of DORSALE danse, Sylvie Desrosiers produced the performances TOUT danse and fougue presented at La Salle Jean Despréz in Gatineau in 2011 and 2013 respectively. In 2012 she created and produced douce tourmente a full-length work for dancers Marc Boivin and Heidi Strauss that was since presented in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Sylvie Desrosiers is a founding member of Ottawa Dance Directive/ centre de danse contemporaine 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.

Barbara Roblin, B.A., ECE, Diploma Child Study, Ontario Teacher Certificate, Director of Education, DragonFly Programme

Barbara Roblin is the Director of Education for the DragonFly Programme. 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.

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.

Esther Caron

Esther América is a former dancer for Montreal's renowned Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, she has been teaching dance for over a decade in the Ottawa-Gatineau area. 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 Montreal and a member of a Spanish dance company, Alegria d'España. She is a certified 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 mothers. She successfully introduced the Ottawa region to Latin dance and Ballet classes for Moms and Babies. She has three children who all love to dance with her.

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Après avoir complété ses études en danse au Cégep de Drummondville, Marie- Michelle s'est joint au Programme de formation professionnelle en danse contemporaine de The School of Dance. Durant sa formation, Marie-Michelle a travaillé entre autres avec les chorégraphes Serge Bennathan, Mélanie Demers, Yvonne Coutts, Sarah Williams, Dana Gingras, Tedd Robinson et Heidi Strauss. Pendant les étés de 2013 et 2014, elle a fait partie de l'équipe de Dancing in the Street agissant à titre de coordonnatrice et de danseuse. Parallèlement, ses expériences acquises précédemment en tant que monitrice et coordonnatrice de Camp de jour auprès des jeunes, l'ont mené vers l'enseignement; elle enseigne la danse contemporaine, le jazz et le hip hop depuis maintenant 2 ans. Marie-Michelle a conclu sa dernière année de formation à The School of Dance alors qu'au Festival Danse Canada 2014, elle a interprété une chorégraphie de Tedd Robinson mettant sur scènes les 60 graduées des 5 écoles de formation professionnel en danse contemporaine au Canada.

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 (Henry), Assistant to the Artistic Director

A graduate of The School of Dance Contemporary Dance Programme, Nicola currently 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. 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, 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 has created 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 currently works as a dancer for Sylvie Desrosiers and Cathy Kyle Fenton. In June 2016 she performed a solo work in Raw Footage by Cathy Kyle Fenton in the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Nicola is the Managing Director 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 athlete Kimana Mar, who was awarded 5 gold medals in the Special Olympics World Games in July 2015.

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.

Sarah Hopkin

Since graduating from Ryerson University's Performance Dance Program, Sarah has performed as an intern with Mocean Dance, and as a Junior Company Member with Toronto Dance Theatre for their 2015/2016 season. She has choreographed and performed in The 2015 Ottawa Chamber Festival and with Mocean Dance in their performance/creation project EMERGE, mentored by Sara Coffin. Sarah also performed in Dance Ontario's Dance Weekend 2015 with Tziporah Productions, and has worked with established choreographers such as Christopher House, Louis Laberge-Côté, Hanna Kiel, Robert Glumbek and Roberto Campanella. She choreographed in numerous collaborative projects with composer Julia Mermelstein, and recently was commissioned by Julia with the generous support of the Toronto Art Council. Sarah has also choreographed for the Atlantic Fringe Festival in 2014, and for the 2015 RayD.ance Gala. She has participated in summer programs with École Supérieure De Ballet Du Québec, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, ProArtDanza, and Peggy Baker Dance Projects. Most recently she demonstrated for Peggy Baker for her classes at the National Ballet School, and for her Dance Educators' Seminar. Sarah was nominated for a 2016 Dora Award for best ensemble dance performance as a part of Toronto Dance Theatre's cast of Echo. Sarah would like to thank the Nova Scotia Talent Trust for all of their financial support throughout her dance career. It is a wonderful organization that has helped many Nova Scotian artists find their way to success.

Chisato Horikawa ADCSC-CICB

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.

Sonia Joanette

At a young age Sonia started moving through leisure classes with Double Creation Dance Studio and Rockwell Family. It was early on that she decided to pursue a dance as a profession. Sonia is a recent graduate of The School of Dance Contemporary Dance Diploma Programme. While in the Contemporary Dance Programme, she trained primarily with Sylvie Desrosiers and Peter Boneham and had the pleasure of working with renowned Canadian choreographers such as Louis Laberge-Coté, Serge Bennathan, Mélanie Demers, Darryl Tracy, and Heidi Strauss. Sonia emerged in the professional world beginning with an internship at The School of Dance in the summer of 2015, where she was the coordinator of Dancing in the Street, one of The School's many outreach programmes.

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Cathy has performed extensively with Le Groupe de la Place Royale (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 grants, The Floyd Chalmers Performing Arts Award and the Erik Bruhn Memorial Award. She also received grants for residencies in schools throughout the Outaouais region, conducting classes in Modern Dance and Creative Movement. In 2010, Cathy premiered her choreography Moon in Series Danse 10; in 2011, she co-produced an evening of dance with Caroline Barrière; in 2013, she produced a full evening of her choreographies at the ODD BOX including Outskirts of Town, Dominoes and Drink the Water; in July 2015 her work was performed in Dark Horse Projects; and in August 2015 she presented Raw Footage, an evening of her latest works. Raw Footage was presented again in June 2016, as the only dance production featured in the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Cathy is a licensed Fletcher Pilates teacher and personal trainer.

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.

Alain Pauzé

Alain Pauzé graduated from Canada’s National Ballet School. He danced professionally with both the National Ballet of Canada and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. He has been teaching dance in Canada for over 25 years. Prior to joining The School of Dance faculty in 2001, he was Director of the Alberta Ballet School of Dance for 8 years and was previously Program Head/Member Artistic Committee at l’École Supérieure de Danse du Québec. Mr. Pauzé is the Manager of our DanceONTour programme. He directs his private consulting firm providing management services to non-profit organizations.

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

Maria Shepertycki began her dance training in Ottawa at a young age, successfully completing her Elementary Level RAD ballet exam. From 1979 until 1993 she performed internationally as a soloist with both the Dnipro Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Svitanok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, and for the past 35 years has taught ballet, jazz, folk, character, Ukrainian dance and fitness classes to children and adults in the Ottawa area. Maria combined her studies in the School of Human Kinetics and the Department of Social Sciences, graduating from the University of Ottawa with a B. Soc. Sc., Hons. Sociology. Since 2007 Maria has worked as a Rehabilitation Assistant for a select number of Physiotherapy practices in the Ottawa area and, under the direction of a supervising Physiotherapist, has provided comprehensive client-centered community and clinic-based care with a focus on neurological, cardiorespiratory, orthopedic and chronic pain rehabilitation.  Maria is a certified Nordic Walking instructor. For the last three years Maria has received training and provided treatment activities specifically for people with Parkinson’s Disease under the direction of LSVT Big! and PWR! Clinicians. She has recently returned from New York where she was enrolled in a comprehensive dance teacher training workshop offered by Dance for PD® a non-profit collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group. Maria is thrilled to combine both her skilled therapeutic and anatomical movement knowledge with her love of dance in The School's new programme for people with Parkinson's.

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.

The School of Dance is a registered, non-profit charitable, educational organization currently celebrating its 38th anniversary season.