PSB & Interplay Alumni

Many PSB and Interplay alums have continued their dance training at prestigious dance schools like The National Ballet School, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, York University, Ryerson University, Alberta Ballet School, Goh Ballet School, Quinte Ballet School, Les Grands Ballet Canadienne, and through summer study abroad opportunities with the Profile Dance Company and Interplay Dance Company, students have been accepted into the full-time program at Académie Méditerranéenne where they studied under the instruction of Thierry LeFloch and Mitou Manderon, former principal dancers of the Roland Petit Company de Marseilles. Several alums, Jacqueline Baker, Chrissy (Burrows) Frechette, Erin Poole, Christina (Neves) Tughan, Nicole Marrello, Emma Martin, Ruby Moreno, Tasha Rickman, Jannine Saarinen, Tanya Stewart, and Shannon Nezda, have become teachers and choreographers for PSB and Interplay. Other students have pursued other professional careers.


Our Alumni Stories

Tanya Stewart

Tanya Stewart has been the full time ballet teacher for the Claude Watson Program for the Arts at Earl Haig S.S. in Toronto since September 2013.

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At 8 years old, I was the first student to register when Karen opened Pickering School of Ballet, now PSB & INTERPLAY Dance Academy. That year there were a total of 12 students and we performed our year-end recital in the same church basement in which we practiced all year long. PSB only offered one classa week, so I also took classes at Interplay, where Karen was a teacher. Training with Karen and the excellent faculty (which included NBS renowned faculty Jean Geddes and Glenn Gilmour) at PSB and Interplay prepared me for several summer programs at professional ballet schools, as well as two years in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s professional division. I later attended Ryerson University for dance where I gained further choreography and performance experience. Karen has invited me back to PSB to teach and choreograph. My 'Much Too Crowded' piece won best choreography at the Muskoka Gala. Working with Karen's dancers is always such a pleasure as they are disciplined, motivated, and passionate about the art form. Though I have explored different pathways since attending Ryerson and completing my education at the University of Toronto, and teaching for a year and a half in Seoul, South Korea, dance has always been an essential part of my life. After attending teacher’s college and working with students in the Alternative Programs in the Toronto District School Board, I got my ideal job as the ballet teacher in the Claude Watson Secondary Arts Program at Earl Haig Secondary School. My life has come full circle, and I once again spend my days exploring movement in the dance studios with the wonderful students of the CW Program. Karen has joined us as a guest teacher for our auditions, and we teach several of the same students. I’m certain that much of my own teaching style has been shaped from the many years spent working with Karen!

Kevin Lau

Kevin Lau has been attending the full-time program at the School of Alberta Ballet since September 2015.

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In September 2015, Kevin had the opportunity to move to Calgary, Alberta to join the School of Alberta Ballet's full-time professional ballet program where he studies and focuses primarily in classical ballet and modern dance. Kevin is very excited to learn and be challenged in his dance and artistry on a daily basis. Above all, he is most grateful for the ongoing support and encouragement from his teachers and friends at Interplay School of Dance who have been like family to him.

Emma Martin

Emma Martin has been a member of the Toronto Argonauts Cheerleading team since March 2014.

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Emma Martin has been a member of the Toronto Argonauts Cheerleading team since March 2014.Emma has taken her love for dance, skills and qualifications through her training at PSB Dance Academy to extend her career in various performance opportunities and Jr. Cheer programs within the Toronto Argos Organization. Emma is planning to continue on with her Cecchetti training and complete her Advanced 2 certification after finishing her university degree in June 2016. Emma has taught for PSB and choreographed for the Profile Dance Company. Her first piece, “Daughter,” was performed in the Muskoka Ballet Gala, winning “Most Original Junior Choreography.”

Charlene Gibbons

Charlene Gibbons - Alumni Life 2009-2015!

Read more about Charlene ...

I grew up dancing at PSB and was a member of the Profile Dance Company until 2009. After PSB I obtained my BFA in Performance Dance at Ryerson University, and worked with many contemporary dance choreographers in Toronto. I have performed internationally with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a dancer and an aerialist. (Ms. Karen and Joel came to visit me onboard and gave me the BIGGEST surprise!) I am currently living and working at Tokyo DisneySea as an aerialist/dancer.PSB provided me with a strong technical background in ballet, while also helping me develop versatility, artistry and professionalism. I met many life long friends, and was provided with countless performance experiences that have shaped me into the person and artist I am today.


Julia Gray is currently pursuing her PhD at OISE/UT.

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I danced with Karen at Interplay in the early/mid-1990's, and was part of the early germinations of her contemporary dance company. I went to York University for theatre (and audited several dance studio courses while there), and have been working as a freelance artist since I graduated. I direct and write plays and much of my work is movement/physically-based, and for the past 10 years I have been working in health care, creating theatre projects as a way to engage the public with health research. I am currently pursuing my
PhD at OISE/UT and draw on theories of embodiment, imagination and performance through my scholarly work. So, while I'm not dancing in a formal sense anymore, my years of dancing have certainly informed both my artistic practice andmy current scholarly work. Oh, and I have two kids and we regularly have dance parties in our living room!


Sydney LeBlanc is currently attending Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Sydney began dancing at PSB Dance Academy in 1998, and was a member of the Profile Dance Company from 2005 to 2012. A graduate of Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, she began her post-secondary education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and will graduate in June 2016 with a Bachelor (Hons.) in English and Religion and Culture. Sydney has kept her love of dance alive while at Laurier, taking weekly ballet, jazz, lyrical, open and contemporary classes, even dabbling in hip hop, Dancehall/Soca, burlesque and chair dancing! In 2015-16, Sydney joined the Laurier Athletics and Recreation Department as an instructor, teaching weekly Advanced Open classes and choreographing for Laurier Dance Showcases.

Elena Vazintaris

Elena Vazintaris resides in New York City working as a performer and choreographer.

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Elena began her training at PSB in 1993. After years of immersing herself in Karen’s programs, her love for the art form only grew. Upon leaving PSB, Elena went off to spend two years at York University’s Dance Program and immersing herself in Toronto’s dance scene performing and creating for festivals like Honey
Jam and Dance Ontario, Canada AM, Musique Plus and various venues city wide. In 2002 Elena moved to New York City. There she has worked extensively as a performer and choreographer. She has performed for MTV’s Video Music Awards for Ludacris and Shakira, Nike’s Body by Dance Print Campaign, for and numerous commercials and industrials. Her choreographic work has been seen in music videos for bands like TV on the Radio, Yip Deceiver and Mates of State, shorts films and dance festivals like New York City’s Summer Stage, Triskelion Arts CollabFest and The Current Sessions. Some of her video work has garnered
recognition in film and animation festivals internationally, most notably SXSW Music and Film Festival.
Elena continues to create work that spans fashion, film, photography, technology and the stage. Elena resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and son.

Victoria Bellingham

Victoria Bellingham is currently completing her Masters in Education (Dance Teaching) through the Royal Academy of Dance.

Read more about Victoria ...

On my return to Toronto from England, I chose to attend Interplay to which I was accepted with open arms. I received an invitation to be part of the Youth Ensemble and have very fond memories performing with the goup in various shows as well as Faye Rauw’s jazz classes, until Grade 12 when I sadly had to leave due to being in Peterborough. After Interplay I was accepted and attended both George Brown College and Cambridge
Performing Arts College in the UK both for dance performance, earning a certificate and a National Diploma. Since graduation I have had the privilege of being both dancer and choreographer of various shows. I have been a dancer with Ismailova Theatre of Dance performing the role Redival in their production of "Till We Have Faces.” I have been performing with Diamond Dancers and choreographed as well as performed in "Ode To
Peace" this past summer at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre to an audience of over 1500. My work as both a dancer and a model has been seen in ads and runway shows such as PSB headphones, Toronto Fashion Week, Vogue Italia and Elle Canada just to name a few. I am currently a dance teacher at various studios teaching a variety of styles such as ballet, pointe, jazz, Brazilian Samba and tap while working with various ages
from tots to adults. I have begun my Masters study in Education (Dance Teaching) through the Royal Academy of Dance. I am very excited to see what else the future has in store for me and my dancing.

Austin Sora

Austin Sora is currently a company member with the Bruce Wood Dance Project in Dallas, TX.

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Austin Sora also trained at Canada’s National Ballet School and the Quinte Ballet School of Canada. She earned a BFA in Dance and a minor in Arts Management from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. Following graduation, she was the recipient of Marymount’s Gold Key Award for excellence in dance. Austin has spent her summers studying on scholarship at The Ailey School, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and with Twyla Tharp. Austin has performed with Buglisi Dance Theatre in New York, Nikolais Dance Theatre in China, and played the role of Connie in “A Chorus Line.” She was involved with pre-production for "The Odyssey" (The Public Theater), ”The Anthem" (Off-Broadway), and Disney Cruise Lines. She is a teacher for Artists Striving to End Poverty and was the Assistant to the President at The Clive Barnes Foundation. Austin is currently a company member with the Bruce Wood Dance Project in Dallas, TX

Maxine McDonald

Maxine McDonald, in her current role at Media Profile, oversees Starbucks Canada's public relations initiatives.

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Maxine McDonald studied ballet and hip-hop at PSB throughout elementary and high school. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Ottawa and York University and a post-graduate certificate in corporate communications and public relations at Centennial College. She served as vice-president of Langton Communications and spent over nine years working with top beauty brands such as Elizabeth Arden, OPI and Moroccanoil. In her current role as director at Media Profile, she oversees Starbucks Canada's public relations initiatives.