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Faculty and Staff

Dance is a rich and ever-evolving art form. DanzArts Toronto is thrilled to have such a fantastic team of professional, knowledgeable and inspiring faculty and staff providing our students with the best in dance education.

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Tara Pillon

Artistic Director

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Tara Pillon is a professional dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. She graduated with honours from Ryerson University, where she received a BFA in Performance Dance. Tara is the Co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of ACE Dance Theatre, a professional contemporary dance company, and THE BALLET LAB, a workshop dedicated to developing dancers’ technique and artistry.

Tara’s choreography has been a part of several international tours to Portugal, Spain, Italy, Dubai, Singapore, and China, with companies including Creativiva, World Performers, and ACE Dance Theatre. She has choreographed for events including the Italian Contemporary Film Festival, Dance Ontario, Echo Chambers, New Blue Festival, Ricarda’s Grand Opening, PowerBall, Italian Heritage Festival, ItalFest, and the Allstate Honor Ring Banquet. Tara also choreographed for The Tenors’ Christmas music video – Santa’s Wish. Most recently, Tara was commissioned to choreograph on Ryerson University’s Dance Program for their Choreographic Lab.

Tara has performed professionally with Ballet Creole, Gadfly, Human Body Expression, Avinoam Silverman Dance, and Creativiva. She can be seen dancing in the Hallmark film “A Nutcracker Christmas”, and in “Diversion”, a dance film by Avinoam Silverman. Tara has performed in events such as the JOGA x Reebok Fashion show for Toronto Women’s Fashion Week, the Pan Am Games opening ceremonies, WeDay, and TedX Toronto. She has also performed in festivals such as Dance Ontario, Dance Made in Canada, and TUDS.

Tara received her Certificate for Russian Ballet Pedagogy in Amsterdam, Netherlands and is also a member of the Professional Adjudicator’s Alliance. Tara is an in-demand teacher, choreographer, and adjudicator throughout the GTA.

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Samantha Raymond

Dance Administrator

Samantha grew up in the competitive dance world and pursued dance her entire life, eventually obtaining a BFA in dance from Ryerson University. She spent the last decade performing, teaching and choreographing dance mostly in Ballet, Contemporary and Jazz. She has trained and performed in Toronto and abroad including Amsterdam, Brussels, Torino and Tel Aviv. Her love of dance pushed her to explore other movement styles, and she became a certified yoga teacher in 2018 through the Ruh Yoga school in Goa, India, where she then started SKR Yoga & Wellness providing free online yoga classes. Samantha also has experience behind the scenes working as an administrative director for Inspire Dance Challenge, Kick It Up Dance Competition, and The Extension Room Studios. Samantha is thrilled to be joining such a passionate and hard-working team at DanzArts Toronto and can’t wait to see what is in store this season!

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Liana Bellissimo

Liana Bellissimo is a professional dance artist based out of Toronto. She began her training with The Society of Russian Ballet and the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre. In 2014, Liana graduated with honours from Ryerson University earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance Dance. Since graduating, she has gone on to perform professionally with the Canadian Opera Company, ProArteDanza Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Creole, Alysa Pires Dance Projects and Creativiva.

Liana was also a cast dancer in Season 3 and 4 of the hit TV series “Reign”, in the Hallmark Channel film “A Nutcracker Christmas”, and most recently, “Star Trek: Discovery”. She has appeared in music videos for artists such as Feist, The Tenors, Scott Helman and Andrew Briol. Most recently, Liana co-founded ACE Dance Theatre- a professional contemporary dance company based out of Toronto and The Ballet Lab – a comprehensive summer training program devoted to technical excellence.

Furthermore, Liana is a certified teacher of the Ballet fitness program The Extension Method, as well as JOGA – a yoga program designed specifically for professional athletes. She holds her teaching certification with The Society of Russian Ballet and is an in-demand Ballet teacher throughout the GTA.

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Daniel Bordonali

Daniel started his journey in dance at the early age of seven, training in multiple genres as a competitive dancer for 8 years in Kleinburg, ON. Within those 8 years, he has been recognized and awarded at many competitions in North America. Further added to his education and training, he was accepted into Mayfield Secondary School’s Arts Program in Dance and gained more knowledge as an artist. Daniel has been given opportunities in commercial work including background work as a dancer on “The Next Step” and the MMVA’s. Alongside training and dancing, Daniel has 5+ years of teaching experience within the dance community and strives at cultivating dancers’ abilities and wellbeing. Daniel is currently working on creative projects in hopes to expand his creative portfolio as an artist.

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Sophia Carbone

Sophia Carbone is a dedicated instructor, choreographer and performer who loves nothing more than dance. Raised in Vaughan, Ontario, she has been studying dance since a very young age and is trained in all disciplines including Hip Hop, Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary and Modern. Being a competitive dancer for 10 years has taught her the value of hard work and teamwork. Working with and gaining experiences with choreographers such as Misha Gabriel, Teddy Forance, Akira Uchida, and many more, Sophia is extremely excited about sharing her knowledge with her students. She was also a performer for the Junior Aces which took part in touring across Spain in the summer of 2019.

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Nathan Espejo

Nathan is an incredibly accomplished instructor and choreographer. He holds his teaching Certificate in Stage with the B.A.T.D. and shares his love for dance with everyone he comes into contact with.

Nathan has performed in the first ever Choreographer’s Emmy Nominee Reception in Los Angeles. Some of his other credits include Canadian-based television shows such as YTV’s “The Next Star” and Family Channel’s “The Next Step”. Nathan has brought his talent overseas and traveled to Dubai and China. He can also be seen in Canadian pop star Shawn
Desman’s music video titled “Electric/Night Like This”, which was Much Music’s “Video of the Year” in 2011. You can see Nathan in Spin Master’s Bella Dancerella – “Disney’s High School Musical 1 and 2” dance instructional DVDs/toys.

Nathan can be seen in a virtual reality commercial for Samsung, and as a core dancer in Disney Channel’s Original movie titled “Disney’s Zombies”. More recently, he’s worked on the sequel to “Disney’s Zombies” premiering on the Disney Channel soon.

Nathan’s choreography credits include being an assistant choreographer to Amy Wright and guest choreographer on “The Next Step” Live On Stage Tour/”The Next Step” Live: The Movie and “The Next Step” Seasons 4 & 5. He also choreographed for “The Next Step” Dance Battles game/app for IOS and Android. More recently, he’s worked as the associate choreographer for “The Next Step: Absolute Dance” – Live On Stage Tour in Australia. Nathan was also the choreographer for the animated movie titled “Ice Dragon” produced by Tricord Media that was in theatres across Canada. Some of his other choreography credits include a national commercial for Yes TV Canada and pieces for The Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards & Gala and the Punjabi International Film Academy Awards, where he collaborated with Bollywood choreographer Divya Kumar for both projects.

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Adam Martino

The current artistic director of Breakaway Entertainment & Theatre Jazz faculty member of Millennium Dance Complex Toronto; Adam has been in the entertainment industry for over 25 years. Adam has had the privilege of training with some of the industry’s leading choreographers: Joe Lanteri, Andy Blankenbuehler, Dawn Martino, Sean Frederick, Glenn Gilmour, Linda Garneau and Dana Wilson.

He has had the opportunity to perform/work with such artists as Five Seconds Of Summer, Country Artists Meghan Patrick & Augusta Ray, Juno Nominees Peter Katz & Marlowe Stone, UK Music Sensation Gali as well as for such professional companies as Carnival Entertainment, AOL, World Pride Festival 2014, Nuit Blanche, Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, Ballet Jorgen, Danceology (Buffalo NY), Fiesta- Spain Show Team (Malaga, Spain), MTV Canada, CTV, CW’s Reign, Montana’s Cookhouse, TFO’s ‘BRBR’ and Niagara’s Fallsview Casino.

Adam has twice performed at the prestigious Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival directed by David Earl (Founder of the Toronto Dance Theatre).

Adam is a regular guest faculty member at the Mayfield Secondary School for the Performing Arts. He currently serves as a faculty member of the Millennium Dance Complex Toronto, City Dance Corps, City Centre Dance as well as for conventions – Captivate: The Dance Movement, B.A.T.D., Breakaway Dance and Star Catchers Dance Convention; teaching the next generation of dancers across Canada.

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Alessia Piccinnino

Alessia graduated with honors from the dance program at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts and is currently studying at Ryerson University. She has trained extensively in ballet, pointe, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and lyrical dance and graduated from DanzArts in 2011.

During her years of competitive dance, Alessia had the honour of being selected to perform at Villa Charities Annual Venetian Ball, OTF’s Annual Gala for SickKids and The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery’s annual Power Ball. She was chosen to participate in ProArte Danza’s Aspirante Program. During this program, she worked with some of Canada’s top contemporary ballet teachers and choreographers.

Alessia volunteers her time at Humewood House, where she leads stretching and conditioning classes for young single mothers.

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Nicole Pillon

Nicole Pillon is a graduate from Canada’s National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program, where she received her teaching diploma. She holds a BFA in Dance from York University and her Registered Teachers Status with the Royal Academy of Dance. She has also completed her Advanced 1 ISTD National and Advanced 1 Cecchetti exams and comes with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Nicole has worked with some of Toronto’s top educators and choreographers including Kimberly Glasco, John Ottman, and Anushka Rose. She participated in 2 specialized workshops studying creative dance for young children under the tutelage of Mary Anne Lee. She has performed in events such as the Crystal of Dance Festival in Italy and Toronto’s Venetian Ball. Nicole has also choreographed for events including Castello Italia and the Mississauga ItalFest. She is an award-winning choreographer who continues to inspire and spread her love of dance through her unique and effective teaching style.

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Sophia Procopio

Sophia is a graduate with Honours from York University, majoring in Sociology. She completed her Bachelor of Education degree at Lakehead University and is qualified to teach from Kindergarten to grade 12.  She also received her Masters of Education degree at Lakehead University specializing in education for change.

Sophia began her dance training at the age of 3 and entered the competitive program at the age of 6.  She trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern, tap, acro, hip-hop and musical theatre.  Sophia is a graduate from St. Elizabeth Catholic High School Regional Arts Program where she majored in dance.  The program helped to strengthen and educate her as a dancer, choreographer and student.  She is very excited to continue growing with the DanzArts team, and sharing her love and passion for dance.

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Heather Purdie

Heather has completed her examinations through the British Association Teacher of Dance (B.A.T.D) in Jazz, Tap and Ballet.  She has also completed her certification with the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D) and most recently Acrobatic Arts.  She attended the Etobicoke School of Arts until grade 11 when she was accepted into Silverthorne Collegiate Institute in the High Performer Program for Gifted Athletes.  Heather is a graduate of the Computer Sales and Marketing Program and the General Arts & Sciences Program at Humber College.  She continued her education at Humber completing the Fitness Leadership Program Diploma.

Heather brings to DanzArts many years of teaching and choreography at local studios all over Ontario and a love for instilling her love for dance to our recreational students.

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Daniela Sanelli

Daniela graduated with honours from the dance program at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts and is currently enrolled in the Kinesiology program at York University, where she is connecting the science of movement with her extensive dance background. She has trained extensively in Contemporary, Modern, Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Acro and Lyrical Dance.
Daniela was an award-winning competitive dancer from the age of 9 and throughout high school, when she worked with many top teachers and choreographers in both Canada, the US and Europe. She was selected for Ace Dance Theatre performances in Toronto and Spain, the Venetian Ball, the OTF Sick Kids gala, Pro Arte Danza Aspirante program, and for numerous promotional dance initiatives. She continues to dance with the York University dance team and to teach and choreograph. Her early choreographic work has already gained accolades at competitions.

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Jessica Sayde

Jessica was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia and began teaching Hip Hop dance at age 16. She competed in several east coast dance competitions and performed with her local dance team all year round at charity events, concerts, schools and for musical artists. She was the choreographer of the dance troupe for a professional basketball team in Halifax and the choreographer for Canadian artists such as Carl Henry, Classified and Hedley.
Starting at the age of 20, she traveled to Los Angeles, CA every year to train with top choreographers and dancers in the industry.

In 2008, Jessica moved to California to pursue dance as a career and continued to travel home to Canada to judge and teach at dance conventions/competitions. Jessica moved to Toronto tenyears ago and continues to teach, inspire, and mentor young dancers. She has experience teaching both recreational and competitive groups.

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Katerina Servello

Katerina is currently a student at Ryerson University. She graduated with honours from the Dance program at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, where she trained in Modern and Ballet. She performed lead roles in The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Legally Blonde. Recently, she has gone on to perform for many professional choreographers and dance companies in Toronto, as well as taking part in various music videos and dance projects.

Katerina began her dance education at DanzArts at the age of 4, where she trained extensively in ballet, pointe, jazz, acro and contemporary. She joined the competitive team at the age of 12 where she also trained to prepare for the Royal Academy of Dance Intermediate Ballet Exam and received Distinction for her performance. Through competing, she was chosen to perform at the OTF SickKids Gala.

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Monica Sorbara

Monica Sorbara began her love for dance at the age of three. Ontario grown, she was technically trained in acrobatics, jazz, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, tap and hip hop. She was trained at a competitive level, where she competed across Canada and the United States, winning many overall awards. After completing her competitive dance journey, she pursued her passion and now holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Ryerson University’s Performance Dance program.

Professionally, Monica was a member of the Toronto Raptors Dance Pak and the Toronto Blue Jays J FORCE team. Since graduating, Monica has been teaching competitive dance across the GTA with award-winning choreography. Monica is also the Co-Director of Matricks Acro, an intensive program geared towards training acrobats in a gymnastics facility.

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Shanna Sullivan

Shanna Sullivan is a Dance educator, Doctor of Chiropractic, and Barre instructor. She went to Dalhousie University where she studied Kinesiology and danced for the competitive Black & Gold Dance Team. In 2016, Shanna moved to Toronto to study at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. At this time, she founded Dance Mechanics, a company that teaches dancers and instructors dance anatomy, injury prevention, and functional movement techniques. Upon graduating, Shanna has founded a virtual fitness company, DMWfit, and will begin practicing chiropractic in the city of Vaughan, Ontario, with a focus on treating dancers and their families.

Furthermore, Shanna holds a certification in Progressive Ballet Techniques and in High FIVE Principles of Healthy Child Development. She is a Cecchetti-trained dancer and has won many choreography awards, specifically in Ballet. Shanna’s goal is to motivate and inspire young dancers, while teaching them valuable knowledge to take with them throughout their careers.

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Kelsey Willmott

Kelsey was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, where she first started dancing at the tender age of three. Starting with Ballet, Jazz and Tap as her dance foundation, that led to her training in various different styles of dance making her an overall versatile dancer.

Her first big performance experience was with The Young Canadians, where she trained for eleven years, and performed at the world-famous Calgary Stampede. While with The Young Canadians she performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.Upon completion of her training there, she continued with her career dancing for Carnival Cruise Lines as an on-board performer and entertainer. Afterwards, Kelsey moved to Toronto, Ontario, to allow her to further her career and has since had the opportunity to perform on stage with well-known Korean recording artist PSY and Canadian rock band Hedley at the MMVA’s. She has performed for recording artist Craig Smart, along with appearing on screen in music videos and national commercials. Her career has allowed her to tour many places such as Doha; Qatar, Sharjah; UAE, Turks and Caicos, all over the Caribbean and across Canada.

Kelsey is grateful for this career which has allowed her to travel, to perform in various productions and countries to continue with her passion for dance and entertaining. Teaching dance has always been a passion as well. Bringing students into the art of dance holds a special place in her heart. Watching them learn and grow and find their own love in the movements is something truly special.