About Us

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 Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association. Kari 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. Kari also 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 several years, she has been the recipient of countless choreography awards for her work in the dance competition circuit.

As a teacher, Kari has coached professionals and young students alike.  In 2010, she was asked to join the Quinte Ballet School of Canada faculty (Professional Training Program) as the exclusive jazz & tap instructor. She 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 Degree Program.  Kari also enjoys adjudicating for several dance competitions in both the USA and Canada. She loves sharing her passion for dance as the Artistic Director at BDC, a role she was born to fulfill!

Heather Lewis (Recreational Program 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.

Melanie Barreto (Dancin’ Tots, Acro Jazz, Tap)  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 Liaison & Social Media Specialist)  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 Liaison & Social Media Specialist.

Nicole Hamilton (Alternate Faculty) Is an award winning choreographer, facilitator and performer, and certified teaching member of Dance Masters of Canada, and Dance Masters of America.

A widely trained dance artist and teacher of over 25 years, Nicole has trained across North America in the disciplines of ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, modern, hip hop, West African, and Afro Caribbean movement. Nicole holds formal training in the syllabi and methods of; D.M.C, C.D.T.A, R.A.D, ADAPT, BATD, Cecchetti, Horton, Dunham, and D.E.A

As founder, and Artistic Director of Inica Dance Industries, Nicole has toured in Canada, and South Africa, and has been commissioned to create work for several major musicals, productions, and festivals. Selected credits include; Private Pain in Public Pews (2012), Pieces of Me (2013), and The Singers (2014).

A Toronto based media personality, Nicole is a Reporter for Los Angeles’s highly acclaimed Dance Channel Television, and works as a Producer, and on air Host for Turn Out Radio, and The Career Buzz Show.

An international adjudicator, Nicole operates as a judge at competitions across North America, and provides advisory support to dance organizations worldwide.

In addition to her creative work, Nicole is a Mental Health Counselor, and member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science. She is a Board of Director for Healthy Dancer Canada, co-presenting health research findings in dance institutes and conferences. Nicole continues to support dance works in educational institutes including George Brown College, where she functions as a student mentor.

Vanessa Holmes (Alternate Faculty) 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.

Raffaele Brereton (Hip Hop) It wasn’t until highschool that Raffaele Brereton was provided a platform to display his talents and embrace the love of dance. Self-taught, Raffaele mimicked iconic figures and music groups of the 90’s and early 2000’s. Continuous practice and training has allowed Raffaele to perform on small and large scale stages such as the International Indian Film Festival, America’s Next Top Model Toronto Showcase, Toronto Raptors, and So You Think You Can Dance Canada.  One of his biggest accomplishments to date was being part of the LifeTime BioPic of the late R&B phenomenon, Aaliyah Dana Haughton, titled Aaliyah: Princes of R&B

Influenced by many of his peers Raffaele has developed a keen knowledge and understanding of many urban or street dance genres such as, popping, locking, house, breakdancing, afro, and dancehall. This has allowed him the opportunity to work with various choreographers sand organization such as Christopher Clark, Shavar Blackwood, Leon Blackwood, Jae Blaze, and Luther Brown, Irie Music Festival, Mac Cosmetics, MLSET- the Toronto Raptors and The Toronto Argonaut’s, just to name a few.

GETMAD is an acronym for Get Educated Through Music And Dance, which is what Raffaele promotes throughout every aspect of his dance he’s involved in. Providing students with the proper knowledge and foundation of urban dance styles to ensure and promote these styles with authenticity.

Raffaele is also the Founder and Artistic Director of The GETMAD SYNDICATE ( The GMS) which is an urban dance crew and trading program based in Kitchener Ontario. His students have had the opportunity to perform and compete in Bring Your Own Beat ( BYOB) Urban Dance Competition, Irie Fest on multiple occasions across the GTA, perform for the Raptors 905 basketball game half time show, as well as various other showcases, studio and non studio based competitions. 

Raffaele’s commitment to self-improvement and passion for dance continues to motivate and push him to strive for more as a dancer, performer, entertainer, choreographer, teacher and mentor.

Jayla Mathews (Acro Jazz & Hip Hop) A graduate of BDC’s competitive program, Jayla Mathews returns to the Burlington Dance Company excited to share her dance knowledge now as a part of the faculty. She has been a dancer at BDC from the age of 3, joining the competitive program when she was 8, being involved in all genres of dance. In her time at BDC, Jayla was the recipient of many awards while attending dance workshops as well as throughout the competition circuit as an ensemble member and solo performer, including ‘Top Star Soloist’ in 2016. Currently, Jayla is entering her fourth year at Brock University, studying to become a high school teacher in both history and dramatic arts departments. While completing her studies this year, Jayla has also been given the title of President of Brock’s Urban Hip Hop club along with being the choreographer of their competitive team for the 2021/22 season. 

Jayla began her choreography journey beginning with the musical ‘Footloose’, presented by Innovative Arts in 2014. From that moment on, she continued to create pieces both for fun and performances, as her love for dance only grew. In 2018, she went on to earn her full teaching certification with Acrobatic Arts. This syllabus is designed to teach Acro safely and effectively in dance studios, providing hands on training opportunities for upcoming teachers. Recently, Jayla has been a student of the International Dance Mentorship, participating in workshops and tutorials focusing on the genre of hip hop. This mentorship allowed her to be mentored by industry professionals around the world, including Carlo Darang, director of Choreo Cookies based in San Diego. This program allowed Jayla to be trained in the fundamentals of hip hop, while also learning about the dance industry as a whole. Jayla is thrilled to be a part of the BDC family once again as she shares her passion for dance with the next generation of dancers!

Jayla first choreographed for the musical ‘Footloose’ with Innovative Arts, continuing to create pieces during her first year of university. Her passion and love for choreography started at a young age, always wanting to be a teacher at BDC.  Recently, Jayla earned her full teaching certification with Acrobatic Arts, a syllabus designed to teach Acro safely and effectively in dance studios.

Anton Pasquarella (Ballet) is a graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School in the Teacher Training Program graduating in 2015. Before commencing the program, Anton performed with several classical and contemporary dance companies, notably Canada’s Ballet Jorgen, OMO Dance Company, Ontario Ballet Theatre (where he also served as a rehearsal director) and the Banff Festival Ballet. Anton is a graduate from Ballet Jorgen’s George Brown Dance Program at George Brown College and has additional training from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and the Banff Centre for the Arts. During time NBS, Anton taught at the Adult Ballet Program and the Associate Program achieved his Cecchetti Associate as well as graduating with the National Ballet School Teacher’s Training Program Diploma.  Anton taught at several studios in Ontario including Burlington Dance Company before spending two years in Vancouver teaching at Dance Co.  Anton is thrilled to be back home in Ontario and at BDC!

Jenn Prince (Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Office Administration) 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!

Heather Suriano (Parent & Tot, First Steps, Dancing Tots, Adult Tap) became a member of the BDC family at the early age of 5 and is thrilled to be returning for another great season as a faculty member!  Heather enjoyed her many years as a Company dancer, training in many disciplines, including tap, jazz, ballet and lyrical and completed all levels of the CDTA examinations.

Heather has her Honours B.A. in Psychology and French and is also a Registered Early Childhood Educator with the College of ECEs.  She spent 10 years as a RECE at the Reach Out Centre for Kids/Ontario Early Years Centre in Burlington, delivering programs and services to families and children from infant to 6 years old.  More recently, Heather has taken on the role of DECE in the Full Day Kindergarten program with the HDSB and is entering her 5th year at Alexander’s Public School.  She is delighted to be continuing her work with preschoolers while sharing her love of music and dance as part of the Dancing Tots team and BDC’s 12 week preschool programs.  When needing a break from children under the age of 7, Heather can be found teaching our more mature dancers in our adult tap class.

Alejandra Valiente Sánchez (Ballet Director) is a professional performer, instructor, adjudicator and choreographer with over 35 years experience specializing in Ballet, Floor Barre, and competitive choreography. She was awarded Teacher of the Year at St. Lawrence College in Canada (2007) and Best Choreographer by Dance Studio Tecamachalco in Mexico. (1986). Alejandra graduated from The National Ballet School in Mexico City (1987) and furthered her dance education earning her Associate at The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. In addition, she has studied at the Vaganova School (Mexico), and completed several intensive courses for The Royal Academy of Dancing and The Harlem Ballet. In 2017, Alejandra earned both her Cecchetti and Progressing Ballet Technique Certification. She has worked for Professional Training Programs at the Academia de la Danza Mexicana, and Modulo Dancistica Company in Mexico. In Canada she has collaborated with Ballet Creole (company member and ballet instructor), Yo-ha-he-o Company (performer), Sean Boutilier Academy of Dance (ballet instructor and choreographer), Metro Movement (ballet & floor barre instructor) and St Lawrence College, where in addition to being the Head of the Dance Department, she also served as choreographer on shows such as CATS, Cabaret and Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Over the span of her professional career, Alejandra has collaborated with Santee Smith, Alejandro Ronceria, Milton Meyerles, Gaby Camino, Patrick Parson, Debbie Wilson and among other Canadian choreographers. Her choreography experience ranges from Classical and Neo-Classical Ballet to Folklore European, musicals and TV shows such as Sesame Street. She enjoyed the opportunity to be the Creative Director for Conexion en Movimiento (Mexico), an organization with extensive experience in managing large corporate events for companies like Reebok, Toyota, Bimbo, LG, Umbro, Trident and Sol. Most recently, Alejandra worked as Choreographer/Director for Para Pan Games Guadalajara 2011, and the presentation of the mascot 2015/Panamerican games Toronto 2015. She is thrilled to be returning to The Burlington Dance Company for another season!

Emily Williams (Tap & Jazz) has been dancing since the age of 3 and is thrilled to return to Burlington Dance Company as a faculty member. Emily has trained at BDC since the start of her dance career, and is an alumni of the competitive program where she trained in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and pointe. Throughout her time in the competition circuit Emily received many awards as part of the ensemble, and for her solo work, including ‘The Ultimate Ballet’ award, and the ‘Eastern Canadian Tap Conference’ scholarship. In addition to participating in recitals and competitions, Emily also enjoyed returning each summer as a camp lead for the Summer Dance Experience camps. Outside of BDC Emily participated in a production of  “The Nutcracker” at the FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton, continued her tap training through workshops at The Tap Dance Centre, and enjoyed working with The Halton Dance Network as Dance Captain in 2017.

Currently, Emily is working towards her BFA Specialized Honours in Dance at York University. In the performance and choreography stream Emily trains in ballet, modern, contemporary and improvisation, and learns new techniques and strategies to produce choreography. At York Emily is also a current member of the York Dance Ensemble, the university’s select pre-professional performance company. Through this she trains further in contemporary choreography with industry leading choreographers, and has the opportunity to share her passion for performing with her peers and the community. Emily is excited to share her love for dance while creating with the next generation!!

Eric Dahlinger (Hip Hop, Jazz / Contemporary, Lyrical, Acro Jazz, Recreational Performance Team) started dance at the age of 5 and is an alumni of the Burlington Dance Company, which he joined as a teenager before moving on to Sheridan College for a degree in musical theatre. During his time at Sheridan he worked on musicals such as ‘In The Heights’, and the world premiere of ‘Brantwood’. Eric is a triple threat performer who’s professional career has taken him across the country to work in many Canadian theatres.  Favorite roles include Snowboy in West Side Story at the Citadel, and Charlie Sloane in Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival. He has also worked with many great Canadian choreographers such as Robin Calvert, Kerry Gage, and Marc Kimelman.  Eric is trained in Ballet, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, and of course Musical Theatre. Eric is thrilled to be returning to BDC as a member of the faculty.

Talena Schuster (Dancin’ Tots) is very excited for another season as BDC Faculty and a member of the ‘Dancin’ Tots’ team. She has been an active contributor to the preschool programs at BDC for the past 7 years. Talena has been dancing at the studio for 20 years, studying jazz, tap, hip hop & musical theatre. With a degree in Child and Youth Studies, from Brock University, and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s, 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 the English half of French Immersion to grade 3 students at Charles R. Beaudoin Public School, in Burlington. She is very involved in the school community running choirs, talent shows, dance club and choreographing school-wide musicals. She organizes a creative workshop each year for International Dance Day, celebrated at HDSB. She is looking forward to a very exciting year of dancing, fun and friendship

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