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From Calgary, Alberta, Helen began her training at The School of Albert Ballet. In 2009 she moved to Toronto to study at the School, after one of her teachers in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater summer intensive suggested she audition. Helen believes that what makes the School special is the bond that is created between students, teachers, and staff. She says, “They care about us as individuals, and every person involved in our learning constantly gives everything they can of themselves to see us grow.” In her third (and final) year of study, Helen accepted a position with EDge 2013, London Contemporary Dance School’s postgraduate performing company in the U.K.


Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Mateo studied classical ballet in Colombia and Cuba before expanding his training at the School. “While having high technical and physical demands, the School also encourages the students to question and investigate new possibilities for performing.” For this, Mateo credits the diverse range of faculty and choreographers. “Personally, my artistic views have been broadened immensely as well as my understanding of art.” During his time in Canada, Mateo has worked for Typecast Dance Company, Kokus Productions, Cadence Bridges Ballet, and 3 is Company. Upon graduation, he was invited to perform with Peggy Baker Dance Projects. He hopes to keep growing as an artist by embracing new challenges and giving all of himself to the art form, which he believes to be “one of the most important tools for societal growth.”


Toronto-born Jessica Hall began her dance training at an early age, and discovered her passion for modern dance at Etobicoke School of the Arts. She completed a certificate in Media Studies from Humber College, but her overwhelming love of dance led her to the School, changing her career path to something she felt “would be full of meaning, integrity, joy, and most importantly, purpose.” Jessica was honoured to perform the iconic Danny Grossman/Judy Jarvis work, Bella, in Acceleration 2013, and said: “At the end of three years I no longer wonder if I am a dancer, I know I am. As I look toward the future I know that I will be able to do what I love because of my training. This city is full of passionate, talented artists, and I look forward to becoming an important part of the dance community.”


Born in Montreal, Marie graduated from the school Ballet Divertimento before joining The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Marie says the faculty here “helped me build body strength, technical skills, and tools to be ready for the professional world. They made me realize how modern dance is intense physically and emotionally…. The teachers pushed and encouraged me to go further and not be satisfied with what I thought were my limits.” In January 2013, Marie had the opportunity to perform Rachel Browne’s KJ4 at the Fleck Dance Theatre with other third year students. More recently, she was featured in the launch of Desrosiers Dance Projects in a new solo created for her by Robert Desrosiers. Marie hopes to work in both Toronto and Montreal with as many artists as she can.


Natalia was born in Kazan, Russia, and studied choreography at Kazan State University. Upon graduation she spent a year skiing through the small village of Outokumpu, Finland, to get to contemporary class at the North Karelia College. While at The School of TDT, she enjoyed exploring new techniques, and says, “I like using improvisation in the creation of a dance piece, where movement is born naturally, spontaneously, in the present moment, as a conversation with oneself, with a partner, with the audience, with space and time. It’s always new and I like to surprise myself.” Now a graduate, Natalia values the faculty and choreographers she worked with at the School. “From each teacher I could take something that would be helpful. I went to the School to study dance and I feel that I found a professional family.”


Mikaela_website MIKAELA ORFORD
Mikaela was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, and began her dance training just before her fourth birthday. She spent the next 14 years training and competing with group dances as well as solos. From 2010-2011 (during Mikaela’s Grade 10 year in high school), she was elected co-director of the school dance company. Mikaela says: “I began my education at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre in September of 2013. Looking back on how much I have already experienced, that truly feels like a lifetime ago. I came into the School with a reasonably strong technical base but I soon realized that in order to grow I needed to let go of past conclusions… Read more about Mikaela here.


Raised in Brazil, Marco originally wanted to be a circus performer. He moved to Toronto to study English, and entered the School in 2011. He credits the amazing opportunity to work with such a range of choreographers as the biggest contributor to his artistic growth. “Some days I stop and think about all the choreographers I’ve worked with and I can’t believe it. Getting feedback from all of them is so valuable and has shaped me as a dancer.” The most difficult part of attending the School is being away from his family, but he says: “It’s just a matter of focusing on the dancing and how happy it makes me. I feel so lucky to be here dancing every day.” He says that his classmates at the School have become his family. “We are very supportive of each other. They really push me to do my best.”


Born in Barbados, Shakeil Rollock moved to Montreal at an early age before moving again to Durham, Ontario. His first childhood passion was reading the thesaurus, and it wasn’t until high school that he started dancing; he trained for three years in hip hop with a local company as well as studying ballet for one year. After this, the thesaurus was put to one side and his love for dance took off, landing him in the York University Dance program. He completed a year at university before he was encouraged to consider the School’s PTP program in order to expand his physical training, and gain a more thorough understanding of contemporary styles and techniques. “The School gives you a good grounding and understanding of what it will take to make it in the professional world,” he explains. “Thanks to the great training at the School, I know my options for the future are open and endless”.


joshuasailo JOSHUA SAILO
Joshua left his home in Mizoram, India, to study at the University of British Columbia, where he stumbled upon dance and began receiving lessons from friends in the basement of his residency hall, and taking classes at Harbour Dance Centre. Full of potential, he quickly found himself at the School. “The teachers have been very articulate in teaching me new dance vocabulary every day, and patient as my body adjusts to the movements that we do in class… and my fellow students have been very supportive and encouraging as I grow and train.” Joshua has also enjoyed choreographing in the student-run Coffee House series. “It has been a thrilling experience as I learn to use movement to project my thoughts and ideas.” In 2015, he was accepted into the Masters Degree program at the London Contemporary Dance School, England.


Born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Jarrett trained in Ukrainian dance technique and in 2006 joined the renowned Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. He also trained and performed with Citie Ballet in Edmonton.
To explore contemporary dance, he enrolled at the School and, immediately identified by faculty as “energetic, committed, and with the potential for a stellar career in dance”, was nominated for, and became the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Grant in contemporary dance. The jury was impressed by his strong athleticism and ability to convey nuance and subtlety in exploring grace and emotion. Jarrett says of faculty at the School, “they push you and truly want you to succeed”.
During his third year[…] Read Jarrett’s full bio.


EmilySpearing_Headshot_BWcrop   EMILY SPEARING
A 2016 graduate, Emily Spearing is a force to be reckoned with as a dance artist and role model to her peers at the School. Despite the challenges she’s faced along her way, there is no stopping her now; Emily studies full time at the School, choreographs for every Coffee House production, creates work with peers and friends outside of School, had the opportunity to perform with Gadfly this past summer, and (somehow) even finds time to teach at her old dance studio.However her journey to the School of TDT after graduating from high school was not a straightforward one. Initially Emily had enrolled at college to study Interactive Media before she soon realised that she wanted to explore and pursue her love for dance. After deciding to consider post-secondary options in dance, a serious injury resulted in two knee surgeries, and kept her out of any physical activity for 12 months…Read more


melissawatt MELISSA WATT
From Edmonton, Alberta, Melissa, while a second year student, was awarded the prestigious Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artists Grant in Contemporary Dance, a major honour for the dancer as well as for the School. The faculty was unanimous in nominating Melissa, believing her to have the potential for a stellar career in dance. In her artistic statement, she wrote, “Before my training here, I would often come off stage not understanding the experience I had just encountered over the last three to five minutes, but now I am able to be present in the world that my peers and I create together onstage. I feel that my appreciation and understanding for the deep art form that is dance have matured greatly, opening my mind and soul to the bigger picture of dance.”


Noelle Young started dancing in her home community of Chilliwack, BC. A highlight of her training was traveling to Frankfurt, Germany on Team Canada for the World Dance Championships in 2012. On the recommendation of Josh Beamish, she attended The School of TDT’s Summer School. “I knew I wanted to focus on contemporary dance, for the movement and the art of it. After doing the summer intensive, I knew it was the right place for me.” Noelle loves dancing all day. She says: “The student-teacher relationship is very positive; they truly only have your best interests in mind. The atmosphere feels professional; I feel we’re being trained to be professionals.” She’s also very enthusiastic about the performance series – inspired by a wonderful variety of dance artists like Peggy Baker and Margie Gillis.