Jane Elliott - Creative Director/Owner
Jane Elliott has been the owner and director of Ballet Etc… for the past 27 years. Dancing since the age of 4, Jane attended the National Ballet School in Toronto for more than 5 years beginning at the age of 9. During this time, Jane toured with the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker and was also a summer student at the Banff School of the arts twice. Upon returning to St.Catharines, Jane attended Grantham High School and taught for the Marian Macpherson School of Ballet, which she subsequently purchased and is now Ballet Etc… Jane is an honours graduate from the Dance and Performing Arts program at George Brown College in Toronto under the direction of Lois Smith and Nadia Potts and has attended numerous teacher training workshops including those offered at the National Ballet School. Since retiring as a professional dancer in 1989, Jane has focussed on teaching and her family. Sharing her knowledge and love of dance has been her priority for more than 27 years. Providing quality dance education in a caring and structured environment is the goal of the studio and all of it’s staff. The art of dance truly can give each child “ Grace To Last a Lifetime”.
Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Acro
Rachel Spencer has been on staff with Ballet Etc… since its opening in 1995. She enjoys teaching ballet, jazz,
hip hop, lyrical, acro and contemporary in both the competitive and recreational streams, as well as running BE’s successful summer dance camp programs. Rachel is also a Total Barre™ Qualified Instructor. Certified in Cecchetti ballet, her primary ballet/creative movement classes additionally incorporate LPCW syllabus. Appreciating the inspiration found in continued growth, she attends yearly teachers training through avenues such as National Ballet School of Canada, Dance Teacher Summit NYC and numerous facilities in Toronto; most recently attaining her teachers certification as an Acrobatic Arts instructor.
Known for pushing the boundaries in both choreography and in the expectations of her students, her approach has afforded students the catalyst to their own professional careers in the dance world. Branching out beyond the studio setting, her versatile teaching reputation has allowed her the opportunity to share her love of dance in the classrooms of the District School Board of Niagara for over 10 years.
Rachel is dedicated to bringing enthusiasm and creativity to each class; fostering an environment where each student can develop respect and love of dance, themselves and the world around them.
Cecchetti Syllabus Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical
Sarah Kirkness has studied many dance forms since the age of 3 and has developed an enthusiastic, musical and detailed approach to teaching. Sarah began her training in her home town of St. Catharines at The Marion McPherson School of Ballet (now Ballet Etc…) as a child and has continued to increase her knowledge of performing art at the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre, Ryerson University (Professional Dance Program), and the Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School, among others. Earning numerous awards and accolades from the competitive dance circuit, she is now a teacher and mentor to students at schools in St. Catharines. Sarah is an Associate to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and the Cecchetti Society of Canada. She has a passion to share the gifts of dance and music with children as each new encounter in her dancing inspires her to teach and share with her students as much as she can about how the body moves and expresses!
Head of Wardrobe
Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Musical Theatre
Kim Franic began her dance career at the age of 4. By the age of 8, she was a competitive soloist and group dancer. She represented Canada at the world level, bringing home many awards and participating in guest appearances. Kim was also graded under the RDA in Tap & Jazz and Highland SDTA. It was during her experience as a Teacher’s Assistant in her teen years that Kim decided teaching dance was her passion. She pursued dance studies at York University, Ballet Jorgen, Randolf Academy as well as countless conventions and workshops. Kim’s well-rounded dance training consists of tap, jazz, musical theatre, baton, ballet, modern, and highland dance. In 1995, Kim returned to Niagara to bring her love of dance to her community –teaching recreational and competitive classes. She founded Niagara’s Twirling Maple Leafs and became a member of TU and NBTA. In recent years, Kim has volunteered her time to teach dance at local elementary schools, youth groups, as well as assisting with school musical productions.
Jayla Mathews has been a dancer since the age of 3, quickly becoming involved in all genres of dance at a competitive level at 8 years old. During her years of dance, she 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. Soon after, Jayla began choreographing at her childhood studio for the competitive circuit as an acrobatic teacher. 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 Ballet Etc... faculty and share her dance knowledge!
Nicole Robb is an experienced dance teacher from Toronto who has relocated to the Niagara Region. Nicole has almost 10 years of experience teaching at the competitive level and has a formal education from York University in Dance. Nicole has also been working with the students at Canada's National Ballet School during the majority of the pandemic and has learned a lot from that experience. Her specialty is in jazz and aside from teaching at the competitive level, Nicole has conducted many successful technique workshops and seminars in both Vancouver and Toronto. She has won choreography awards at competitions and has been commended for her timeless style and upbeat flair in the pieces that she creates! Nicole likes to get back to the roots of what makes jazz, jazz and has a deep appreciation for both classic and contemporary jazz styles. Nicole also has extensive experience with contemporary and lyrical both in choreography and technique classes. Nicole believes in creating strong dancers with a solid technical base as well as a comprehensive knowledge of each dancer's kinaesthetic awareness in space, and therefore she tends to prioritize conditioning in my lesson plans. She also emphasizes musicality in her classes and encourages dancers to find their own personal style that suits them best. Nicole provides a healthy and safe space (both physical and mental) for youth to develop as dancers and work with them in a collaborative effort to get the most out of their training and meet their personal goals!
Melissa Silva is a passionate, award-winning choreographer best known for her innovative and creative concepts. She has been named and won Best Overall Choreographer both regionally and nationally countless times over the span of her career. She is a very sought after contemporary/lyrical teacher and choreographer who has also won many teacher recognition awards and the highest mark of many competitions. Melissa has spent the past decade as a Competitive Director, a proud member of the Professional Adjudicators Alliance and faculty member at Sheridan Collage. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and understanding from all sides of the business. Melissa has been training and studying the art of dance since the age of 5 and also became a professionally working singer and actor. She spent 3 years living and working in New York City after she was the sole recipient of the National Scholarship Award to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Throughout Melissa’s career she has performed on stages in Hamilton, Burlington, Toronto, NYC, LA and overseas on a cruise ship. She has been fortunate to be a part of some amazing casts and companies. Some of Melissa’s favorite roles played are “Millie” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, “Queenie” from The Wild Party, “Shirley Temple” from A Day in Hollywood, “The Narrator” from A Christmas Carol and “Sue” from Rock Around the Clock. Melissa also spent a summer as a principal dancer and singer at Lake Compounce Theme Park in Connecticut where she shared the same stage as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald many years before her. You can also find her on The Oprah Winfrey Network starring in the TV show “Cold Blood” as the principal character Tamara Tadum. Melissa is very passionate about her dance education and has had the privilege of training with the best in the world. Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, Desmond Richardson, Tessandra Chevez and Brian Freedman just to name a few. Melissa’s extensive education and career have allowed her to guide her students onto professional careers of their own and she does so with a humbled heart. She takes her craft very seriously and is driven by a passion to help cultivate raw, honest, sincere work in order to create not just dancers but artists of the future.
Emma Steele Andrews
Emma Steele Andrews Born and raised in Burlington, Ontario, Emma began dancing at the young age of three and immediately found a passion for it. After just four years, she began competing and training in various styles such as jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, and more. Early in her teenage years, she discovered her true love for tap and contemporary and focused the majority of her time in those areas. Her hard work has been recognized with various awards throughout her dance career.
Over the past ten years, Emma has competed nationally throughout Canada and the United States, completed exams in both RAD and Vaganova ballet, and participated in the On The Floor Gala for Sick Kids. More recently, she’s been discovering and exploring her true love for education and choreography.
For two years now, Emma has been teaching and choreographing around the GTA for students of all ages. She is currently attending Brock University for Child and Youth Studies, with a minor in Business, and hopes to stay a part of the dance world for years to come.
Krista Cardwell is an accomplished, performer, choreographer, adjudicator and teacher, with over 25 years in the industry. As a dancer she found her passion for the performing arts and always loved being on stage. Her career took her to industry events, dancing for young musical performers, as well as performing on television and awards shows such as the Juno awards. Her summers were spent in NYC dancing at conventions and at some of New York’s best dance studios. At a young age, she found her love for dance education and has never looked back. In 2016, Krista founded Ignite Dance Project, a Burlington, Ontario based boutique style dance studio. Ignite was a studio rooted in dance education, while maintaining a fun and healthy competitive environment for dancers. There, Krista offered dancers the opportunity to develop their own style and helped to guide them through their dance journey. As the studio owner and artistic director, Krista knows the work, training, and commitment, that goes into a competitive dance team. As a dance instructor and choreographer, Krista is best known for continuously striving to provide the best in dance education. She realizes the importance of preparing students for a career in dance and theatre. Her
students are continually recognized for their dance technique, cleanliness, and performance qualities. Her outstanding choreography has earned her the Overall Choreographer award at multiple competitions throughout her career. Krista’s students continuously earn top marks and overall titles such as Highest Mark of the Competition, as well as Dance Off Champions. Her students have also earned over $75,000 in cash awards, as well as countless
dance scholarships throughout North America and Europe. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers on stage and most recently Disney Cruise lines. She is so proud of all her students accomplishments. The future is so bright for young dancers! Krista is so excited to be able to share her passion and love for the arts. She hopes her wealth of knowledge will further the dancers success!
Mr. Jensen has over 35 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, has successfully acquired his Module 1 and Module 2 with Acrobatic Arts, and is 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 Rythum Plus Dance Company (Director Trish Thompson Creamer) Dance Works Millcreek (Director Kristina Obelienius) Theater Dance Academy (Director Barbara Szabunia Forrest) and Ballet Etc. (Director Jane Elliot). 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 help young and aspiring new adjudicators get a fantastic start to the world of judging!
Mr. Jensen has been a freelance teacher in southwestern 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, Tom Ralabate, Anthony Morigerato, and Mike Minery, has taught workshops, summer schools and master classes across Canada and the United States. Some of Mr. Jensen’s students have gone on to The National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet School, Point Park, The New York City Rockets, The Hochschule fur Schauspielkun, Berlin, Germany, and even Broadway. Other students have achieved many film and television credits.
Mr. Jensen is an accomplished and in demand 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, 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; working with the senior executives and marketing department directors to help produce their opening awards ceremonies in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mr Jensen's latest endeavor has been to dive into the world of Podcasting!! He has successfully launched the Dance Comp Chat podcast where he is found chatting and discussing all things in the world of Dance Competitions with amazing guests and artists from across Canada.
Aurora Martínez is a Mexican Ballet Dancer who began her dance career at the age of 9. Aurora attended the Superior School of Music and Dance of Monterrey (Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey) for 9 years. During this time, Aurora participated on multiple occasions with the professional company Ballet de Monterrey in their annual presentation as a Corp of Ballet The Nutcracker, also in Swan Lake and few others like La Bayadere. She took several summer courses throughout her career, attending to the International Meeting of ballet Academies in La Habana, Cuba and Córdoba Dance Festival as well, where she was awarded with the Admission Test Scholarship at The Rock School Ballet of Pennsylvania. After graduated, Aurora joined to the Ballet de Monterrey for 6 years, while participating in classical, Neo- classical and contemporary choreographies and touring with them all around México and Europe. At the same time she taught ballet, jazz and conditioning classes and became a coach of different methods such as Barre, Jump and Body Sculpt. She recently moved to Niagara Falls and wants to continue sharing her knowledge and help building the future of many other dancers. Aurora is Thrilled to be part of the team and work with all of you.
Office StaffHelmy Flus - Office Director
Kim Franic - Head of Wardrobe