PSB & INTERPLAY alumni

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 class a 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 is currently working for the Scarborough Rouge Valley Health Foundation as a Community Development Coordinator and teaching at PSB.

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Emma started dancing at the age of three. She was a dancer at the National Ballet of Canada in the Junior Associates program for 4 years, where she trained with Carina Bomers and Laurel Toto. She took part in the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker performances in both 2003 and 2004, before joining the Profile Dance Company and competitive team at PSB Dance Academy at the age of nine.  Since then, she has trained in Cecchetti Ballet under the direction of Karen Davies Thomas and Glenn Gilmour, has attained her Advanced 1 Cecchetti Certificate along with her Intermediate Royal Academy of Dance Certificate and is currently working towards her Advanced 2 in Cecchetti Ballet. Emma has also trained in various other dance styles such modern, acro, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre and National Folk dance. She is also a former high school graduate of Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts in Dance under the instruction of Lorne Matthews, Cinzia Pisterzi, Julia Lava and Marlene Engenheiro. She has taken part in multiple workshops with well known choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Blake Mcgrath, and Stacey Tookey. In 2011, Emma was awarded the Patricia Upcraft scholarship of $500 for “Most Potential” at the Orillia Muskoka Ballet Gala, as well as a finalist in the Canadian Exhibition’s Rising Star Talent Competition for her lyrical solo “Your Middle Name”, choreographed by Faye Rauw. In 2012 , Emma was granted the “Judge’s Choice” Award at Terspichore, Shine, and Just Dance for her Jazz Solo “Angry Bird”, choreographed by Christina Neves Tughan. Emma begun to choreograph for the Profile Dance Company in 2010. In 2011, her first piece “Daughter” was performed in the Muskoka Ballet Gala and won “Most Original Junior Choreography”.  After graduating from PSB Dance Academy in 2012, Emma continued on to pursue her love for dance with the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts Football team, as a Cheerleader with Head Coach Jorie Brown. She performed alongside various artists such as One Republic, Imagine Dragons and Alessia Cara. In 2016, Emma graduated from the University of Guelph-Humber with a Degree in Communications studies. She is currently working for the Scarborough Rouge Valley Health Foundation as a Community Development Coordinator, hoping to extend her love of dance and the arts by giving back to the community. Emma is thrilled to be back to PSB teaching acro and jazz this Fall! 

Charlene Gibbons

Charlene Gibbons - Alumni Life 2009-2015!


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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

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

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 Nikewomen.com 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.


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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.

Alexander Ellison

Alexander Ellison is currently dancing with Cas Public in Montreal.

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"My experience [at PSB & INTERPLAY] was lovely. I received excellent ballet, jazz and contemporary training which was friendly and inviting to a beginner like I was. I just graduated from NBS [National Ballet School] after three years at the school and I am now dancing in Montréal with Cas Public, a ballet-contemporary touring company."

Sasha Huebener

Sasha Huebener is currently continuing her academic studies at McGill University.

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Sasha is a graduate of PSB & INTERPLAY and completed her high school education at Earl Haig Secondary School in the Claude Watson Dance Program. She is currently continuing her academic studies at McGill University, where she dances with Mosaica Dance Company.

Dominique Tersigni

Dominique Tersigni has pursued a professional career in dance.

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Dominique Tersigni started dancing when she was seven years old. She trained with Interplay School of Dance (now PSB & INTERPLAY) for ten years and performed with the Company and Competitive Division for seven. After graduating high school Dominique decided to pursue a professional career in dance. She began teaching at Sprouts Growing Bodies and Minds with Faye Rauw who currently teaches at Interplay. While teaching she began freelancing in the Toronto dance industry. Dominique took many open classes to network with as many people as she could. From this she was able to perform work by artists such as Kylie Thompson, Christina Digiuseppe, Shawn Bracke, Jessica Ford, Melissa Williams, and Allain Lupien. Dominique has also had many opportunities to train with incredible artists in programs such as Ignite Summer Intensive run by David Norsworthy and Kristen Carcone, and most recently attended ProArte Danza's Summer Intensive where she worked along side Roberto Campanella, Robert Glumbek, Johanna Bergfelt, Ryan Lee, John Ottman, and Tori Mehaffey. Currently Dominique is training and performing with the Chimera Project's Company B run by Malgorzata Nowacka. This is an incredible company that has given Dominique multiple performance opportunities such as Toronto's Four Directions festival/ Arts in the park and most recently Dance Made in Canada at the Betty Oliphant theatre.

Nikki Huebener is currently studying sciences at McGill University.

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Nikki is a graduate of PSB & INTERPLAY and completed her Cecchetti Advanced 2 exam during her time at Interplay. She completed her high school education at Earl Haig Secondary School in the Claude Watson Dance Program. She is now studying sciences at McGill University.

Ruby Moreno

Ruby Moreno is currently living in Vancouver working as an Online ESL Teacher to young students in Beijing, China.

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Ruby Moreno started with PSB Dance Academy (now PSB & INTERPLAY) in 1991. She spent over 18 years training with Karen Davies Thomas. While Ruby was at PSB she committed herself to intensive training in Cecchetii Ballet, Jazz, Hip-hop, and Contemporary. She was a member of the Profile Dance Company and Competitive Division (now PSB & INTERPLAY Dance Company and Competitive Division). Ruby made the transition to teach for PSB and Interplay dance schools. She taught both Recreational and Intensive Jazz and Acro, as well as guest choreographed for the Profile Dance Company.

Ruby has been a guest teacher and choreographer for multiple schools in the Greater Toronto Area. She has also had the opportunity to guest choreograph for studios in British Columbia. Ruby was invited to teach Master Classes in Acro for the Canadian Dance Teacher Association's (CDTA) annual student workshop in British Columbia. Ruby also gained experience in the professional dance world as a commercial dancer. She danced with companies Lady Luck Productions and R.S Divas Dance Company. She also freelanced and worked shows at MTV Canada, Toronto Pride, and multiple special events.

Ruby is extremely grateful to PSB and Karen for the discipline, training, and family she gained from her years at the studio. Ruby is currently living in Vancouver working as an Online ESL Teacher to young students in Beijing, China.

Rebekah Bloomfield

Rebekah Bloomfield is currently studying at the National Ballet School.

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As a mother looking for the best training for her very passionate dancer, PSB & INTERPLAY kept coming up as the studio I should choose. Rebekah came from a comp studio which focussed on tricks at the expense of technique. Her goal was to get into Canada's National Ballet School for grade 7. Karen assessed her and suggested the best schedule for her to accomplish this goal. Karen and her staff are simply the best. Focussing on the fundamentals, openness and performance, they transformed Rebekah. In this era of Instagram stars, it's hard to compete with extreme poses and flashy feet. But that's not what gets you a career in dance, if that's what your child wants. Rebekah got into NBS and in our interview we were told we had done rightly by attending PSB & INTERPLAY. Rebekah will be graduating NBS this year, grade 12 and is planning on post secondary training in Europe and hopefully a career in ballet. Slow and steady wins the race. From playing Marie in the Nutcracker when she first got in, to being one of the dancers chosen to perform in the NBoC gala last year, she wouldn't have achieved her dream without the foundational excellence of Karen's school. Here's to continued success for Rebekah! And PSB/Interplay! We ❤️ you all!! With gratitude, Nadine Bloomfield

Jacqueline Baker

Jacqueline Baker is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at the University of Guelph.

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I began dancing at the age of 4 and joined the Profile Dance Company (now PSB & INTERPLAY Dance Company) at PSB Dance Academy (now PSB & INTERPLAY) at the age of 12. Under the direction of Ms. Karen Davies Thomas and the faculty at PSB, I was given the opportunity to train intensively in a number of styles and perform for a wide variety of audiences. In addition, I attended high school at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts where I was able to continue training within their dance department. Following graduation from CCAA, I attended the University of Toronto. Not being able to let go of my love for dance in university, I continued to teach recreational and competitive programs at the Interplay School of Dance. During this time I was also a member of the Silhouettes Dance Company (2014-2017) where I continued to dance, choreograph, and perform. I recently wrapped up my undergrad and graduated with a Bachelors of Kinesiology with High Honours. I am currently attending the University of Guelph as a Masters of Public Health Candidate.

Overall, growing up at PSB helped to shape me not only as a dancer, but also as a person. Dance provides the opportunity to learn so many things beyond the art form; from time management to compassion, teamwork, and discipline, the list could go on and on! I will be forever thankful for the time I spent as a part of the PSB/Interplay family and hope to continue to share my passion for dance as much as I possibly can.