OUR FACULTY

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Sam Crossley
Studio Director and Teacher
Specializing in Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical & Technique

Sam Crossley is a well-rounded and versatile dancer, teacher and choreographer who began her training here in Kelowna, British Columbia, over 15 years ago. Sam was the Artistic Director of Reflections Dance Studio, but has spent over a decade as a dedicated teacher and choreographer to the studio. As of summer 2018, she became the proud new owner of the studio and has rebranded it into "The Village Dance Academy". Her goal is to create a studio that values love, kindness, respect, diversity and community.

 

Upon graduating, Sam moved to Portland, OR to further her training and open herself up to new and challenging experiences. She studied under Lorena Aranda and was invited to be a part of her Company, “Moveo”. She studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, tap and hip hop 6 days a week and would perform around thePacific Northwest in various showcases with other

professionals.

After her days in Portland came to an end, she went to pursue her dream of dancing with the world-renowned Hip Hop Company, GRV. During her time with the company, they placed 2nd in the World at Hip Hop International in 2012 and came out with two 1st place wins at World of Dance LA. The international exposure became greater and they eventually traveled as a team to Sweden to perform at the Hip Drop in summer of 2013. Her experience in L.A. ranged from community hip hop competitions to industry

work, performing for Nike NBA events and dancing in T.V. pilots and music videos.

When Sam made her move back to her hometown, she began to broaden her horizons and became a CrossFit Trainer. With this new-found love and passion for health and fitness, developed a greater and more in depth understanding of the human body, as well as proper human movement. She is a big fan of quality over quantity and making sure that dancers are always taking the proper steps before trying to dive into something their bodies are potentially not ready for. With 10+ years of

teaching experience, both recreational to professional, she understands the importance of developing a strong foundation and that passion, determination and attitude are everything.

 

Some of her most recent successes include choreographing for Team Canada Hip Hop, as well as creating and leading her own hip hop team “Sockeye” to be internationally recognized. Sam will continue to travel around to share her passion and love for dance whenever the opportunity arises.

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Brettainy Sutherland
Teacher
Specializing in Ballet - Certified R.A.D.

Miss Brett is a certified Ballet instructor with the Royal Academy of Dance, and holds her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Calgary.  This year marks her 20th season of teaching dance!

 

Miss. Brett began ballet classes at the age of three, studying at Calgary's premier ballet academy, McDonald Wilson Academy of Dance.  She has taken all levels of ballet examinations with the Royal Academy of Dance including her Advanced 2 examination.  Continuing to pursue her love of dance, she attended the University of Calgary receiving a Bacherlor of Arts in Contemporary Dance (with distinction) and continued her studies at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Rhee Gold's Dancelife conference (Arizona), Dance Teacher's Web Conference (Las Vegas), Harbour Dance Center (Vancouver), Canadian Dance Teacher's Association.  

 

Miss Brett is honoured and thrilled to be a part of The Village Dance Academy, and is known for her warm personality, panache for ballet technique, and encouraging each student to love the artistry of ballet. 

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Esther Buncic
Teacher

Specializing in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical & Pre-Dance

Esther was born and raised in Essex, England where she started dancing at the age of three. She found her passion for her dance and was accepted into London Studio Centre for a three year Diploma course in Performing Arts. During her years of training Esther was lucky to have some amazing experiences including charity performances, London's Grand Christmas Parade, modelling, dancing in television documentaries, commercials and the Youth Dance Company.

Following her graduation, Esther danced professionally in a dancing and singing touring group which toured England, Scotland, Wales, France and Germany. After a year of touring she danced in "Jack and the Beanstalk" in Blackpool, England, Chessington World of Adventures and then returned as Dance Captain in Jack in the Beanstalk in Bath, England.

Esther continued her dancing career on Carnival Cruise Lines and became a Dance Captain and Adage partner. She danced her way around the Caribbean for nearly 8 wonderful years.

In 2007, Esther moved to Kelowna and married her Canadian husband. She started teaching at Dance City Academy, Accentz and Aspirations. Over the past 14 years she has been teaching RAD ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, Musical Theatre to children and adults and is delighted to be joining the team at The Village and to continue sharing her passion in Dance!

Simonne Kraigher
Teacher
Specializing in Hip Hop

Born and raised in Surrey, British Columbia, Simonne started dancing at a young age, first taking ballet at 3 years old in a small home studio. She continued to dance through her young years but really became competitive at age 10. From that time on Simonne began broadening her interests in other genres but truly fell in love with Hip Hop.

 

In high school is when gears shifted for Simonne and she started to take Hip Hop more serious, at this point she was dancing full time with DREAM Dance Studio in their Company: Rythym Influenced. She performed openings for America's Best Dance Crew, done productions, attended competitions and many conventions around the world: Urban Dance Camp in Lörrach, Germany and Monsters of Hip Hop in Seattle, Washington to name a few. After graduation, Simonne moved up to Whitehorse, Yukon where she became a fulltime faculty member at a studio - teaching 500+ students a week. 

 

In 2014, after 5 years of teaching up in Whitehorse, Yukon, she decided to take on the biggest training highlight of her life – The 1 Year Education Program held at The Hip Drop Dance Complex in Malmö, Sweden. The program was eye opening to her, as she got to know the ins and outs of the industry by training under some of the most prestige instructors: Sho-Tyme, Keone & Mariel Madrid, Anthony Lee, Kyle Hanagami, Tony Tzar, Andye Jamieson and so many more. The program ended with Simonne and her peers living in Los Angeles for 2 months. At this time Simonne worked on three music videos, taught at Movement Lifestyle & helped with submission videos.

 

Since then, Simonne has become a certified Health & Life Coach, been featured in music videos, done many live performances and even choreographed music videos in the Vancouver area. As much as she enjoyed being in front of the camera, her real passion is being the mastermind behind the camera and watching her creations come to life. She is very excited to be apart of the VDA family and can not wait to see what this year brings them. 

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Tatum Bell
Teacher, Admin & Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.)

Specializing in Contemporary, Jazz, Lyrical & Technique

Tatum Bell is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, and performer. She has competed in Elite teams across both Canada and the US, and has won provincial and national titles. She is heavily trained in Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Ballet and Hip Hop. She has won choreography awards for her contemporary pieces, and has choreographed and performed for a professional music video. Tatum danced in the pre-professional dance company “The Body Project” as well as starred in a contemporary film by the Centre for Arts and Technology.  Tatum has received numerous scholarships to dance in both Canada and US. She has performed at conventions for choreographers such as Dee Caspary. Tatum received the MVA scholarship award at the Velocity Dance Convention. Tatum is passionately excited to be teaching, sharing, and collaborating at the Village Dance Academy. 

 

Tatum is a registered Holistic Nutritionist, having specialized in Women’s Hormonal Nutrition, Athletic Elite Performance, Thyroid, and Metabolic Health Nutrition. Tatum got her degree at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in Vancouver, BC. Since then she has helped countless women experience thriving wellness and balance through diet, regimen and supplementation geared towards complete vitality and strength. Tatum is offering comprehensive consultations for both students and families through the Village Dance Academy.

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Melissa McCracken
Teacher

Specializing in Contemporary, Ballet & Tap

Melissa McCracken is a teaching artist and emerging choreographer originally from Prince George, British Columbia. Her professional dance training took place at both The Ailey School and Peridance Capezio Center in NYC, where she studied ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary and improvisation. After establishing herself as a dance teacher in BC, Melissa received a BFA in Contemporary Dance at Concordia University in 2021. There, she focused on interdisciplinary performance and somatic movement exploration to transform her choreographic process. 

Melissa's most recent works include Trembling Shelf, which premiered at the FOFA Gallery Undergraduate Student Exhibition in 2020 in Montreal, and Undark, an experimental dance film and 2021 official selection of international film festivals in Montreal, Ottawa, Indonesia, and Columbia. Melissa also served as a guest choreographer and workshop facilitator for Method Dance Society's 2021-22 season. Melissa is certified in Simonson Technique, a teaching approach that leads dancers through safe, anatomically aware patterns of movement and stretching.

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Maia Tickell
Teacher

Specializing in Acro & Jazz

Maia began dancing at the age of three years old with Goh Ballet and then trained at Vancouver Phoenix Gymnastics and Delta Gymnastics. At the age of nine, she began competing provincially, nationally, and internationally with Reflections Dance Studio, The Village Dance Academy, and the Kore Dance Project. Through these studios she has trained extensively in Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz, Contemporary, and Acro, while also attending several conventions. In 2019, Maia was a part of Level Up Entertainment, a pre-professional performance program, where she performed in, “Down The Rabbit Hole”.

 

In 2020, she was accepted into the Coach In Training Program at Okanagan Gymnastics Centre where she continued her gymnastics education and became certified in Foundations Artistic Gymnastics and Trampoline. She has been a certified gymnastics coach for over a year now, coaching a mixture of recreational and competitive levels and working with ages one to twelve years old. Maia is extremely excited to be a part of the Village Dance Academy Team to share her dance and gymnastics training!

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Sarah Shannahan
Teacher

Specializing in Tap, Ballet, Hip Hop, Contemporary & Jazz

Sarah has danced for as long as she can remember. She has extensively trained at Alberta Ballet, A3 district and many other studios on the coast. She has competed in various styles since a young age and has always been an assistant teacher in her youth. She has experience in choreographing Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Stage, Contemporary, and more. She has a strong passion for teaching Contemporary, but has a wide range of experience in teaching all styles, ages and levels. Along with spending years as a competitive dancer, she has also completed her Advanced Two Royal Academy of Dance ballet exam. She is excited to be able to share her love for dance with students at The Village Dance Academy!

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Jadyn Ringrose
Teacher

Specializing in Pre-Dance & Hip Hop

Jadyn started dancing competitively at the age of 3 at Peggy Peats Dance Studio, then continued her competitive years at the Edmonton Dance Factory.  She took part in the full company and the Elite Selective team for 7 years and was a competing member of SuperNova Acro club. In 2019, she joined the Village Dance Academy and continued her training in Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Acro and Ballet. As a young dancer, Jadyn was a part of the Women's FIFA World Cup opening ceremonies performance. She was also a backup dancer for the Rick Hansen 50th anniversary celebration, and has experience choreographing music videos for professional businesses. Jadyn is excited to continue her dance journey with us as a part of our Faculty!

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Cassidy Sanderson
Teacher

Specializing in Pre-Dance & Jazz

Cassidy started dancing at the age of 2, and has participated in competitive teams since the age of 8. She has traveled nationally and internationally with her competitive teams, and has attended many conventions across North America. She specializes in Lyrical and Ballet, but has also trained extensively in Jazz, Contemporary, and Acro. Cassidy has 5 years of experience working with young dancers at The Village Dance Academy, and has a continued passion for teaching.