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 Director of Contemporary Dance Studies

Dance Educators

Kirsten Andersen

Peter Boneham CM

Esther Caron

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Jacqueline Ethier

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Loïc Gouadec

Lisa Hébert

Nicola Henry

Mary Catherine Jack

Kateri Jacobs C.A., Associate, CSC-CICB

Sonia Joanette

Kim Laporte Associate, CSC-CICB

Chantale Lussier PhD(c). Associate, CSC-CICB

Kiyoko Makimura Licentiate CSC-CICB, Associate I.S.T.D. (National Dance)

Alain Pauzé


Suzanne Plante Fellow and Examiner, CSC-CICB

Barbara Roblin

Maria Shepertycki

Tanis Waller Associate, CSC-CICB

Guest Teachers and Choreographers

Massimo Agostinelli

Peggy Baker

Marc Boivin

Anik Bouvrette

Annemarie Cabri

Charles Cardin-Bourbeau

Robert Desrosiers

Sylvain Lafortune

Andrew de Lotbinière Harwood

Emmanuel Jouthe

Marquita Lester

Kathy McLelland and John Nolan

Meagan O'Shea

Christine Richardson

Erin Robertson

Lola Ryan

Julia Sasso

Heidi Strauss

Jane Wooding


Earl Doherty

Nenad Duplancic

Pierre-Luc Clément

Kristine Gore

Rob Graves

Elena Ilin

Petya Karakoleva

Alvaro Yanez

James Wright


Alain Pauzé (Manager, DanceONTour)

Sylvie Desrosiers B.F.A.

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Cathy Kyle Fenton

Nicola Henry

Merrilee Hodgins A.R.A.D. 

Sonia Joanette

Mary Ross


Fernand Villeneuve Director Client Services

Nicola Henry Assistant to the Artistic Director

Hailey Danis

Alya Graham Reception

Artists in Residence

Maryse Maynard

Audrey Greyeyes

Neera Huckvale

Beth Ross

Apprentices and Interns

Lisa Oliviero

Audrée Papineau-Chartrand

Sophie Charron

Katherine Orfali

Health Consultants

Pamela Place, Registered Physiotherapist

Susannah Juteau, Nutrition

Chantale Lussier, Mental Performance Consultant

The Artists of The School of Dance

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

Miss Hodgins studied in Canada, England, Denmark 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 projects include choreographic commissions from the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, a collaboration with Canadian poet Susan McMaster, and a commission to produce a concert version of Stravinsky’s Firebird for the Brott Music Festival in Hamilton, Ontario. In 2012 Merrilee Hodgins was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of her dedicated service to her peers, her community, and to the world of dance.

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 and is the Director of The School’s Professional Ballet Studies Programme.

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 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. As a choreographer Sylvie Desrosiers has presented her work in many Canadian cities; in Ottawa at La Nouvelle Scène, Arts Court, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canada Dance Festival; in Gatineau at La Salle Jean Despréz; in Montréal at Tangente, Studio 303 and the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse (FIND); in Toronto at the 1997 and 1998 FIDA; and in Vancouver at the Dancing on the Edge festival (DOTE). Over the years she received many grants from The Canada Council for the Arts (CCA), Le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), the City of Ottawa and the City of Gatineau for the creation and production of works such as à tire d'aile (2002), épaves (2003), flots commissioned by the CDF (2005), distance (2008), études intuitives (2009), volte-face (2011) and douce tourmente (2013). Sylvie is artistic director of DORSALE danse and founding member of Ottawa Dance Directive/Centre de danse contemporaine.

Kirsten Andersen

Kirsten Andersen completed her dance training at both Arts Umbrella in Vancouver, and at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre. She then joined the company in 1995 under the direction of Christopher House. She performed and originated roles in works of Christopher House, David Earle, Mitch Kirch, Tedd Robinson and James Kudelka. She also enjoyed the vibrant independent dance community in Toronto working with Sasha Ivanochko, Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux. She had the privilege of training with Peggy Baker, Christopher House, David Earle, Pat Minor and Michael Trent. In 1999 she was awarded a Canada Council Award to study dance in Montréal. She then moved to Montreal to work with Company Marie Chouinard, created featured roles in three original productions. Kirsten toured and performed the company's large repertoire in over 15 countries. She enjoyed teaching roles and Marie Chouinard's unique movement style to new Company dancers over the nine years she was affiliated with the company.

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.

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.

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.

Nicola 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, including Cathy Kyle Fenton and Caroline Barrière, 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. In 2011, she co-founded the Dusk Dances Ottawa Collective. She was mentored by Peter Boneham in 2013 to create her first work on professional dancers. In the summer of 2015 she performed two solo works by Cathy Kyle Fenton in Ottawa's Dark Horse Projects and at ODD BOX in Raw Footage. Nicola coaches Ottawa Special Olympics athlete Kimana Mar (a member of The School's DragonFly programme for learners with Down Syndrome) who was awarded 5 gold medals in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July 2015.

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 Professional Dance Programme at The School of Dance. Mary Catherine has performed with Opera Lyra, has been involved in various independent, theatrical projects around Ottawa and has performed her own work at the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival. Most recently, Mary Catherine 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.

Kateri Jacobs C.A., Associate, CSC-CICB

A native of the Ottawa region, Kateri started her dance training at a young age studying ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop. She completed her training at The School of Dance before going to university in Nova Scotia where she continued to dance and teach. Now a chartered accountant and arts administrator, Kateri returns to her roots as a teacher.

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.

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.

Chantale Lussier  PhD (c), M.A. (Kin), B.A.(Hons Psych) Associate, CSC-CICB

Chantale Lussier, PhD (c) is a registered member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association. She has over seven years of experience as a Mental Skills Consultant with athletes and artists. She has also worked extensively with dancers, consulting for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Professional Division (2002-2004) and now The School of Dance (2005-present). A graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Professional Division Teachers’ Course, Chantale is a professional member of the Cecchetti Society of Canada with Associate Diploma teaching certification and Advanced Cecchetti (ballet) with 12 years teaching and performing experience. Since 2009, Chantale has taken a seat on the National Committee of Physical and Health Education Canada’s Dance Professional Advisory Committee.

Kiyoko Makimura Licentiate CSC-CICB, Associate I.S.T.D. (National Dance)

Kiyoko started her ballet training in Osaka, Japan, and continued in Canada. She has studied Russian, RAD, and Cecchetti methods of ballet. She is a graduate of the full-time three years Teacher Training Program in Professional Division at Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and also studied in the part-time program of Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School. Kiyoko has completed the examinations for R.A.D. Advanced 1, Cecchetti Advanced 2, and National Dance Advanced 2. She holds her Licentiate teaching qualification with the Cecchetti Society of Canada, and also associate teaching qualifications for National Dance with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.

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.

Barbara Roblin, Ontario Teaching Certificate

Barbara Roblin is the Director of Programming and Education of the DragonFly Learning Alternatives 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.

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.