Young Dancers’ Program Director
B.A. (Hons) Drama, San Diego State University, California
Michelle Silagy is a graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program and has been active in Toronto as an independent choreographer, dancer, and teacher since graduation. She began teaching in the School’s Young Dancers’ Program in 1989 and is currently its Program Director.
Over the past 22 years, Silagy has received many awards through the Ontario Arts Council’s Artists in Education program to bring dance to schools throughout Toronto and the province. As well, she has taught dance to youth at the Canadian Opera Company, the Institute of Child Study, and the Toronto French School. As a mentor artist with The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Learning Through the Arts program, Silagy has worked across Canada and abroad as a creative movement specialist, including incentives in London, England, the Bloorview Macmillan Centre in Toronto, and Winnipeg’s Inner-city.
Silagy’s extensive work with youth joyfully informs her desire to create with artists of all disciplines through collaboration in dance. Her choreography, made in the company of Toronto’s independent community, has been referred to as “exquisite…filled with beautiful images that speak of rest, tranquility and hope” (Globe and Mail). Her full-length work, Necessary Velocity, premiered at the Winchester Street Theatre with the valued support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council.
Silagy’s choreographic work has been presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, du Maurier Theatre Centre [now Enwave Theatre], Dusk Dances festivals throughout the country, Koerner Hall, and at Series 8:08, which she co-founded. She is the inaugural recipient of the Toronto Dance Artist Award (for choreography) from the Toronto Community Foundation.
As the Young Dancers’ Program Director, Silagy is constantly seeking ways to improve the program, provide performance opportunities for young dancers, and involve youth from the local communities of Cabbagetown, Regent Park, and St. Jamestown. She was instrumental in setting up a sponsorship program for children and young people from Regent Park and St. Jamestown to allow them to participate in the YDP. Additionally, she advocated for the inclusion of a Creative Movement Made for Me class, an integrated class for children of mixed abilities. Silagy traveled to London, England for the Youth Dance England 2010 Conference where she was first introduced to dance for all bodies. She has received two prestigious grants from the Canada Council for the Arts to pursue her DanceAbility Teacher Certification at ImpulsTanz in Vienna 2012, and to pursue the newly-conceived advanced DanceAbility Training in Monte Video, Uruguay, in 2015. In 2014, Silagy travels by invitation to Mexico with 15 international artists, to envision next steps for DanceAbility International with DanceAbility founder Alito Alessi. She has also been invited to perform new work with DanceAbility while in Mexico.
A graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Andrew Hartley of Moncton, New Brunswick, has performed work by an eclectic group of creators and choreographers. He collaborates regularly with emerging and established artists and has danced in work by Joanie Audet, Serge Bennathan, Angela Blumberg, Sylvie Bouchard, Susie Burpee, Allison Cummings, David Earle, D.A. Hoskins, Indrit Kasapi, Noémie Lafrance, Meagan O’Shea, Andrea Spaziani, and Dan Wild. He is a founding member of Warm Laundry, creating and performing with his colleagues of the collective. His most recent creation was presented at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in an evening of work by emerging multidisciplinary artists. He teaches in the Young Dancers’ Program at the School of TDT and occasionally performs stand-up comedy.
Emma Kerson began her dance training in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She graduated from Dalhousie University in 2008 with a B.A. in Honours English, and from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in 2011. While at the School she worked with notable artists such as Marc Boivin, Dancemakers, Danny Grossman, Sasha Ivanochko, Sharon B. Moore, Julia Sasso, and Darryl Tracy.
Since graduating, Kerson has danced in works by Patricia Beatty, Elizabeth Chitty, Jennifer Dallas, David Earle, and Mary Jo Mullins, and in 2012 she co-produced and performed in Fantasies and Other Poisons, a full-length work choreographed by Sharon B. Moore. Kerson is a founder of the collective Warm Laundry with whom she works as both a choreographer and interpreter. She is currently in her third season with Niagara Dance Company, and she continues to work as a guest artist with Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects.
Her interest in teaching began in Nova Scotia, where she taught children and adults alike through the Halifax Regional Municipality’s Recreation Program and in Maritime Dance Academy’s Intensive Training Program. Kerson currently teaches in the Young Dancers’ Program at the School, and never ceases to be surprised by the creative possibilities discovered here. She is also the School’s Artistic Assistant for 2013 after receiving a Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Internship grant.
Britanny LaRusic began her dance training at Truro Dance Academy in her home town, Truro, Nova Scotia. She completed the Teacher Training Program at The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, and graduated with a diploma as well as her CDTA associate in ballet and jazz. She moved to Toronto to further her dance career, and is now a graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program. While studying at the School, LaRusic performed works by choreographers including Marc Boivin, Rachel Browne, Peter Chin, Jennifer Dallas, Christopher House, Allen Kaeja, Louis Laberge-Côté, José Limón, Sharon B. Moore, Tedd Robinson, Julia Sasso, Heidi Strauss, and Darryl Tracy. Also at the School, she was a volunteer in the Young Dancers’ Program for all three years. LaRusic has completed summer programs at the School, as well as at Montreal’s Transformation workshop in 2011, where she worked with choreographer Estelle Clareton.