Cheryle Bodrug’s Burlington Dance Company is a family run business that has provided quality instruction to the Burlington Community for over 20 years. Cheryle Bodrug, BDC Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus, dreamed of creating a dance environment wherein students would find a sense of belonging and family, enjoy the art of learning, and in the process become highly skilled performers. Cheryles’ legacy of creating strong technical dancers, who also possess the gift of artistry, continues to be the guiding principle of BDC’s vision. Her innovative and original choreography have become a trademark BDC strength, carried on with great success by the current faculty. Cheryle has inspired many generations of dancers and served as ‘mentor’ to many young women in the Burlington community, some of which currently sit on the BDC Faculty. She is a past recipient of the CDTA Examiners Award of Excellence for having achieved the highest standing in Ontario, and proud to have been awarded a lifetime membership from the CDTA for her contribution to the association as an examiner, and her high standards as a teacher.
In keeping with this vision, and under the guidance of current Artistic Director, Kari Bodrug, BDC is consistently recognized for its’ unique choreography and outstanding performance quality, receiving several awards for excellence, including Overall High Score, Best Choreography, Creative Concept, Best Dance Presentation, Adjudicators’ Choice and Dance Ambassador Awards. In addition to providing a fun and nurturing environment for first time and junior dancers, the School also provides Master Classes for serious students who qualify. Students of BDC have been accepted into the programs of York University, Ryerson University, University of Calgary, George Brown College, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Quinte Ballet School of Canada and Sheridan College majoring in dance performance, with several graduates currently pursuing professional dance careers.
The objective of the Company is that students of all ages and abilities are encouraged to learn the art of dance within a friendly, yet productive environment. Each and every student at BDC is an important part of our special dance community.
Our Mission Statement
Mutual Respect, Commitment, Honesty, Responsibility, Teamwork
Faculty & Staff
Kari Bodrug (Artistic Director) is a graduate of the York University Dance Program, achieving her Specialized Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts, as well as a certified member of the CDTA. She danced her way through musicals (JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOUR DREAMCOAT, SOUTH PACIFIC, BRIGADOON) and feature films (BLUES BROTHERS 2000, SUPERSTAR), before shifting her focus to choreography & teaching.
As a choreographer¸Kari has worked across the GTA for professional theatre companies, recording artists, and television commercials. Favorite choreography credits include MADE IN CANADA, THE JUDY GARLAND STORY, and HONEY BUN for the Smile Theatre Company. She was thrilled to be a featured choreographer and performer in both JUST JAZZ concerts. In 2009, Kari enjoyed working as choreographer on HIPCHECK: THE MUSICAL which had its’ successful debut (Best of Fringe and Patron’s Pick) at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Over the last few years, she has been the recipient of numerous choreography awards for her work in the dance competition circuit, most recently for her Fosse inspired piece “Mr. Monotony“.
As a teacher, Kari has worked as a faculty member/guest artist at Metro Movement Dance Studios of Toronto, Inside Out Productions, and Arts York (Unionville H.S.). In 2010, she was asked to join the Quinte Ballet School of Canada faculty (Professional Training Program) as the exclusive jazz & tap instructor. She has completed four National Summer Tours of the USA with the New York based Dance Olympus/America where she enjoyed teaching master classes and performing as part of the talented faculty. Kari joined the faculty at Sheridan College in 2007, teaching jazz & tap, in the prestigious Music Theatre Performance Program. She loves sharing her passion for dance as the Artistic Director at BDC, a role she was born to fulfill!
Heather Lewis (Associate Director) has taught classes at the Burlington Dance Company in the areas of tap, jazz, and fitness for over 15 years. She is a full member of the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association (Stage Division). In 1988, she joined the staff of Burlington Student Theatre as their dance choreographer. She continues to work as a choreographer and teacher for elementary schools and churches in the Burlington area. Heather was thrilled to act as director/choreographer on the Praise and Worship video COME NOW IS THE TIME. In addition to this, Heather has completed her first year of the Dance Movement Therapy program and is also a Certified Fitness Professional (Can-Fit-Pro). When she is not dancing, Heather can be found working with the Halton District School Board as a Child and Youth Counsellor.
Laura Armstrong (Dancin’ Tots, Acro Jazz) is a recent graduate from York University’s BFA dance program and Bachelor of Education program. She has trained across many disciplines of dance including contemporary, ballet and modern at a pre-professional level. Laura performed as part of the York Dance Ensemble for two years and spent a summer under the direction of ProArteDanza. She has danced in works by Holly Small, John Ottman, Julia Sasso, Tentacle Tribe and Robert Glumbek. She has choreographed works for dancers at the competitive and University level. Laura is always looking to extend her knowledge as a dance educator and is currently working toward her A.D.A.P.T.. affiliation (jazz and tap). Laura brings her passion for growth and creativity to her classes and takes every opportunity to have students find their individuality and develop safe, strong technique. She is looking forward to a fun and fulfilling dance season at the Burlington Dance Company!
Melanie Barreto (Dancin’ Tots, Acro Jazz, Tap) *Maternity Leave* is a member of the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association and has been a BDC faculty member for over twenty years. As a Company dancer, she enjoyed many competitive and performance experiences and has toured the USA as a Dance Olympus VIP. She continues to explore the world of dance and when she has time enjoys adding ballroom and swing dance styles to her repertoire. Melanie has also completed her NCCP Gymnastics Foundations course.
Melanie currently teaches grade two/three French Immersion at John William Boich P.S. She graduated with a Masters of Education degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). This experience allowed her the opportunity to combine her love of arts, language and education in new ways. She has also been nominated for a Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence. As an advocate for arts education, Melanie has presented dance and movement workshops at various conferences including the Council of Drama and Dance Educators (CODE) and Charles Sturt University (Burlington campus). She is an active participant in Halton District School Board’a drama/dance festival “Creating a Scene” and is part of the founding committee for Halton’s International Dance Day celebrations.
Melanie also works as one of the choreographers for the Student Theatre, Performing Arts camp. Her choreography credentials include such musicals as: “Pirates of Penzance”,” High School Musical”, “Footloose”, and “Les Misérables”. Last summer she also started her own French Drama camp entitled ‘Découvertes Dramatiques’ for students eager to explore the arts in their second language. She is excited about the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead and wishes everyone “une année fantastique at BDC”.
Nicole Fraser (Company Program Coordinator) began her training here at the Burlington Dance Company under the direction of Cheryle Bodrug. It was here that she competed throughout Ontario and the Northern United States, as well as completing all levels of CDTA Examinations.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studies in Arts and Culture from Brock University with a concentration in Dance, Drama and Film Studies. In addition to obtaining a degree in the arts, she participated in and eventually took over the Brock Dance Team, becoming its president for the 2006/2007 school year. During her years teaching with the Brock Dance Team, Nicole’s choreography was awarded special awards for creativity and precision. Nicole subsequently earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Event Management and began working in the event coordination field. With a passion for the arts, BDC in particular, and a background in event planning and arts administration, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the role of Company Program Coordinator.
Vanessa Holmes (Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop) has been a part of the BDC family since she was 5 years old and is thrilled to be returning this season as a member of the faculty. Vanessa is a proud alumni and former Ensemble member of the BDC Company program where she was able to perform in both Canada and the USA.
Before leaving to pursue her post secondary degree in Communications from Brock University, Vanessa was thrilled to be a part of the Dancin’ Tots faculty. While at school, Vanessa enjoyed the opportunity to continue dancing and performing as part of the Brock Dance Competitive Team. In her 2nd year at Brock, Vanessa took on the role of teacher and choreographer, teaching Jazz, Lyrical & Modern. During her years at Brock, Vanessa’s choreography was awarded Judges Choice for ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Simply Heavenly’ for being clean and precise. Vanessa is thrilled to be back for another great season of dancing, friendship & fun.
Robert Jensen (Acro Jazz) has over 30 years of experience dancing, teaching, choreographing and adjudicating. A full member of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association, Stage Division Tap and Jazz, and also a former Director on the Ontario Branch of the C.D.T.A., Mr. Jensen has also attained his Advanced 1 Cecchetti through examination by the National Ballet of Canada, and a post graduate and scholarship recipient of the Dance Master’s of America Teacher’s Training School in Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Modern. Mr. Jensen is now on Staff at the Rhythum Plus Dance Company under the guidance of Director Trish Thompson Creamer.
As Co-founder and Director of the PROFESSIONAL ADJUDICATOR’S ALLIANCE Mr. Jensen and his partner Scott Kufske hope to unite and educate adjudicators across North America, as well as helping young and aspiring new adjudicators get a fantastic start to the world of judging!
Mr. Jensen has been a free lance teacher in south western Ontario for many years, training and developing his talents as an inspiring choreographer and instructor. His award winning choreography has been showcased at many competitions and festivals throughout Ontario. He has studied with such teachers as Dulcie Lee, in Melbourne Australia, Sam Fiorello, Bob Rizzo, Gus Giordano, and Tom Ralabate and has taught workshops, summer schools and master classes across Canada and into the United States. Some of Mr. Jensen’s students have gone on to The National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet School and The New York City Rockets and even Broadway!. Other students have achieved many film and television credits.
Mr. Jensen is an accomplished and sought after adjudicator, judging competitions across Canada annually, has danced professionally in many industrial shows nationally, has worked professionally with Patti Labelle, Rita McNeil, the Bare Naked Ladies and Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon. He has appeared in several movies, commercials and T.V. specials. Mr. Jensen has been the choreographer for Genentech/Roche Pharmaceuticals Annual General Meeting for the past six years; working with the senior executives and marketing department Directors to help produce their opening awards ceremonies in Las Vegas Nevada.
Alayna began her dance training in Trenton Ontario, with Carol Brown School of Dance and accumulated many awards, scholarships and titles while under her tutelage. After graduating high school, Alayna continued her dance education at Ryerson University, training under instructors like Nadia Potts, Karen Duplisea, Stelio Calagias, Holly Small, Vicki St Denys , Kenny Pearl, Allen Kaeja, Robert Glumbeck and Roberto Campanella.
After Ryerson, Alayna performed with several companies such as Ballet Creole, Ballet Espressivo, The Dance Migration, TDC and, Kaverma. As a choreographer, Alayna has worked on everything from musicals like ‘Gypsy’ West Side Story’ and ‘Alice: Through the Looking Glass’ for various companies, groups and training programs. She has also choreographed for music videos and artists’ live performances, corporate shows, cruise lines, commercials, runway shows and fashion films. She has worked as the resident choreographer for Big Soul Productions and Lilogi Fashion.
Throughout the years, Alayna has been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to perform on stages for MuchMusic, MTV, TSN, TSN2, CJOH, and countless stages throughout Canada.Film Studios and F.A.T.
Most recently, Alayna has been hired by various Canadian dance studios to choreograph and train competitive dancers. Her routines and dancers have won awards like ‘Best Overall Choreography’ ,‘Top Contemporary Overall Mark’ ,‘Highest overall Lyrical Line’ , ‘Most Potential Novice Dancer’, and many other various awards, scholarships and trophies.
Beyond dance specific training, Alayna also works as a stage combat choreographer, movement coach for actors and preparation coach for dancers , prepping for auditions and dance title competitions.
Kerri Nowacki (Office Administrator) Kerri Nowacki is thrilled to be back at BDC! Kerri is a proud alumni who started dancing at the age of 5 under the direction of Cheryle Bodrug, and continued dancing until her early twenties. In her time at BDC, Kerri enjoyed much success on the competition circuit in both Canada and the USA, which included attending a National Finals in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney World. She also enjoyed performing as part of the Hamilton Ti-Cats dance team “The Prowl”. After graduating, Kerri studied business administration at Mohawk College. She is now a partner in the very successful ‘Sugar Gals’, a small cookie business in Burlington, and a busy mom to Carter & Lily. She is looking forward to this next chapter at The Burlington Dance Company, as she returns to her dance family in the new role of Office Administrator.
Jenn Prince (Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop) is a graduate of the Ryerson University Dance Program, holding a B.F.A. degree in Dance and Theatre Performance. While attending Ryerson, she had the opportunity to work with many renowned choreographers such as David Earl, Vicki St. Denys and D.A. Hoskins.
Throughout her career, Jenn has had the chance to travel and compete in dance throughout Canada and the Unites States, winning various awards and scholarships.
Performance and choreography credits include Inside Out Productions’ dance series JUST JAZZ, as well as INTEGRATED DANCE ARTISTS COLLECTIVE, a company based in Toronto. Through IDAC, Jenn toured across Saskatchewan as a guest teacher for workshops and performed in the show, IN MOTION. She has also had the opportunity to teach workshops as part of International Dance Day for the Halton District School Board, and theatre arts camp for STIRLING FESTIVAL THEATRE.
Other credits include Black Walk Productions where she performed as a featured dancer in music videos for artists such as JAZMIN and MCMASTER AND JAMES. Jenn was thrilled to perform at Deerhurst Resort in the shows IMPACT and VIBE, as well as contracts out at sea performing for HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE LINES (Dance Captain), where she had the opportunity to travel around the world!
Lisa Sousa, B.F.A. -Dance, A.C.S.C. – C.I.C.B, A.R.A.D. -R.T.S. (Ballet) *Maternity Leave* Mrs. Sousa’s dance career began at Deborah Thomson School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario where she trained in Ballet, Jazz, Acrobatics, Lyrical and Hip Hop. After 11 years of dance training and assistant teaching, Ms. Sousa attended York University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Program (B.F.A.-Dance). During her time at York, she continued to teach both recreational and competitive levels, in addition to performing and choreographing at York University. Since receiving her degree, she has attended the prestigious Canada’s National Ballet School’s Teacher Teaching Program to become a certified ballet instructor. During this time she received her Advanced Registered Teachers Status with the Royal Academy of Dance (Advanced R.A.D. -R.T.S.) and Associate Teacher Status with the National Dance Branch of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (A.I.S.T.D. -National).
Mrs. Sousa has been teaching in studios across the GTA helping students to succeed in examinations and competitions. Mrs. Sousa holds many ballet awards herself including: Solo Seal Award (highest Ballet exam with the R.A.D.), Highly Commended for Advanced II Ballet Exam (Cecchetti Society of Canada C.S.C.), and Honours for Advanced I National Dance Exam (I.S.T.D.).
This past summer Mrs. Sousa completed her Associate Ballet Qualifying teaching exam with the Cecchetti Society of Canada and was Awarded Distinction (A.C.S.C. -C.I.C.B.). She is thrilled to be educating the students at BDC under this esteemed ballet method.
You may recognize Lisa from appearances (2010, 2011) on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, where she was featured as part of the Toronto audition day and made it to the Finals Week.
Mrs. Sousa brings both a balanced joy and discipline to all her classes and firmly believes in strong technical training, artistry, and injury prevention for all of her students.
Heather Suriano (Parent & Tot, First Steps) became a member of the BDC family at the age of 5 and after recently taking a short break to focus on career and family, is thrilled to be returning this season as a member of the faculty. Heather enjoyed her years as a Company dancer, training in many disciplines, including tap, jazz, ballet and lyrical. She was also a faculty member for a number of years teaching tap as well as assisting many classes including, more recently, the adult tap and jazz classes.
Heather has her Honours B.A. in Psychology and French and is also a Registered Early Childhood Educator with the College of ECEs. She was a lead RECE at the Reach Out Centre for Kids/Ontario Early Years Centre in Burlington for the last 10 years, delivering programs and services to families and children from infant to 6 years old. She has just recently left ROCK/OEYC to embark on a new career with the HDSB in the new Full Day Kindergarten Program. Heather is delighted to be continuing her work with preschoolers while sharing her love of music and dance in the BDC’s 12 week preschool programs.
Suzanne Tomory (Acro Jazz) is delighted to be returning for another season at BDC. After graduating from Electrical Engineering at McMaster University Suzanne decided to pursue her love of teaching and obtained her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa. Suzanne’s choreography credits include high school and student theatre productions of the musicals PIRATES OF PENZANCE, GREASE, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. In addition to teaching acro jazz at the studio, she teaches a wide range of fitness classes. Suzanne is a full member of the Canadian Dance Teachers Association and a member of the Canadian Fitness Professionals. She has been with the studio for 25 years and looks forward to another great year!
Alejandra Valiente (Ballet) is a professional dancer, teacher, Ballet and Jazz Adjudicator and choreographer specializing in teaching Ballet, Floor Barre, (CI Training), Contemporary Ballet & Modern. She was awarded Teacher of the Year at St. Lawrence College in Canada and Best Choreographer from Dance Studio Tecamachalco, Mexico.
With 30 years of extensive experience in performing and teaching, Ale started her career as a Ballet teacher at the National Ballet School in Mexico City and complemented her studies at The Imperial Society of Dance Teachers’ as an Associate. In addition to this, she continued her studies in Mexico at the Vaganova School, several summer intensives for The Royal Academy of Dancing, The Harlem Ballet in Mexico and Cecchetti days at the National Ballet School of Canada.
She has worked for Professional Training Programs such as the Academia de la Danza Mexicana, and Modulo Dancistica Company in Mexico. In Canada Ale has enjoyed working with Ballet Creole as a company member and Ballet Teacher.
In addition to BDC, Ale can be found working with Sean Boutillier Dance Academy as a faculty member, and also at St Lawrence College as a choreographer (Cats, Cabaret and Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dream Coat), & faculty member.
Ale has collaborated with Santee Smith, Alejandro Ronceria, Milton Meyerles, Gaby Camino, Patrick Parson, and Donna Greenberg among other Canadian choreographers.
Her dance experience is in Classical and Neo-Classical Ballet, Folklore European, performing Latin dance forms like Salsa & Danzon and eventually dancing in musicals as Cats, Saturday Night Fever, and the Walt Disney Tour “Dream is a Wish“.
Choreography credits include: TV shows such as Sesame Street, and TV Commercials, all of which gave her the opportunity to be the Creative Director of Conexion en Movimiento (Mexico), a company with extensive experience in managing massive events and shows like soccer games, carnivals, and parades, for Companies like Reebok, Toyota, Bimbo, LG, Umbro and Sol. Also most recently Ale worked as Choreographer Director for the Para Pan Games Guadalajara 2011.
Talena Waldron (Dancin’ Tots) is very excited to be joining the BDC Faculty as a member of the ‘Dancin’ Tots’ team. She has been an active contributor to the preschool programs at BDC for the past 3 years. Talena has been dancing at the studio for 17 years, studying jazz, tap, hip hop & musical theatre. With a degree in Child and Youth Studies, from Brock University, she brings a heightened understanding of young children and their needs to the Dancin’ Tots program. While at Brock, Talena continued to train, perform & compete as a part of ‘Brock Dance’, an extra curricular dance organization designed for students who wished to continue their training while away at university. When Talena is not at the studio she is teaching a grade 3-4 class and music for grades 1-5 at Charles R. Beaudoin Public School. She runs the primary and junior choirs, the school talent show, choreographed the school musical “Rats”, and created a school wide spirit dance. She is looking forward to a very exciting year of dancing, fun and friendship.