OUR FACULTY

Sam Crossley

Studio Director and Teacher

Specializing in Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Technique & Contemporary

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.

Kayla Hanson  

Teacher

Specializing in Ballet - NBS TTP (DIP), RAD RTS

Kayla began her dance training in her home town of Grande Prairie, Alberta where she studied Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern and Lyrical.  After teaching for several years in Grande Prairie, Kayla was accepted into the Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, Ontario where she continued her dance education.  Kayla graduated from the Teacher Training Program in June 2014 with distinction and was the recipient of the Carole Chadwick award.  Throughout her studies, Kayla has gained a vast knowledge in RAD, Cecchetti, pedagogy, modern ISTD National character, anatomy, early childhood development, dance history and music theory.  Upon graduation Kayla taught Ballet for 2 years on beautiful Vancouver Island before her two passions of travel and teaching took her abroad for two years to Beijing, China.  Kayla is a passionate teacher who enjoys sharing her love of dance with students of all abilities and ages.  She holds her registered teachers status with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), as well as her teaching qualification with the Imperia Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), National Branch. 

Julia Mitchell

Teacher 

Specializing in Jazz & Tap

Julia Mitchell began her dance training at Steps Dance Centre in Trail, British Columbia. She studied intensively in Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Contemporary, Lyrical, Modern, Hip-Hop and Musical Theatre. With Steps Dance Company she performed and competed in cities across Canada, the United States and Mexico. During these years she also qualified for the BC Provincial Festival of the Arts in both modern and stage and participated in the Modern III category in 2011. After high school and during her post-secondary studies Julia gained experience teaching dance and performing with EnCorps Dance Collective and Trip the Light Dance Company. This past June Julia received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a concentration in choreography and performance through the University of Calgary. There she furthered her dance education learning from guest artists and professors from across the globe, including performing a contemporary piece by Peggy Baker. Julia is excited to make the move from Calgary and share her newfound knowledge and appreciation for dance in the Okanagan.

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. 

Elise Lownsbrough

Teacher

Specializing in Pre-Dance & Hip Hop

Elise has been passionate about dance for as long as she can remember. She started training in 2005 at Reflections Dance Studio, and she has steadily worked her way up to the award-winning Elite Company Competitive Team and Elite Company Competitive Hip Hop Team “Sockeye” here at The Village Dance Academy. Her extensive training in Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz, Contemporary, and Hip Hop has shaped her into the versatile dancer she is today. This dynamic training created a special place in Elise’s heart for fusion, especially that of Hip Hop and Contemporary.

The dance world has presented Elise with countless opportunities for which she is unspeakably grateful. Most recently, she was selected as a “Maximum Velocity Artist” for Velocity Dance Convention in 2019. This granted her the chance to perform onstage in Las Vegas, NV at the convention’s Season Finale Gala. While in Vegas, she was also in a music video for the global pop group “Now United” (choreographed and directed by Kyle Hanagami). In 2017, Elise represented her country at the IDO championship in Denmark as a member of the Canadian National Hip Hop Team. Aside from travelling to broaden her dance education, she has also been introduced to a multitude of genres from internationally celebrated choreographers through workshops at VDA. These enriching experiences contributed greatly to Elise‘s immense respect, admiration, and dedication to her local and global dance communities.

Elise has been an enthusiastic student teacher, and therefore understands the value of a strong and safe movement foundation. She is beyond excited to inspire and educate her own students this year. Elise is looking forward to extending the same loving, respectful, and supportive environment into her own classes that she was so fortunately introduced to as a student here.

Elena D'Archangelo

Teacher

Specializing in Hip Hop

Elena has loved dance ever since she can remember. She has extensive training in all genres of dance but her passion has always been Hip Hop.

Elena’s Hip Hop experience has given her the opportunity to receive in-depth training in all styles of Hip Hop, including Popping, Old School, New School, Waacking, and Krump, from various highly respected and well-known choreographers in the industry. She was part of Kool Kidz for 4 years under the direction of Paul Otterbein and then joined Street Kings Dance Academy in Vancouver, in 2013, when it first opened its doors learning from Paul Otterbein, Daryll Johnson and Michael Delleva.  At Street Kings she was part of the internationally recognized “Dominuss” Varsity Crew as well as the nationally recognized “Knights” Mega-Crew. With Dominuss she competed at Nationals for 3 consecutive years and at HHI in Las Vegas in 2016. During this time, Elena was also a part of the Canadian National Hip Hop team on 3 different occasions, representing her country at the IDO Championships in Germany, Italy and Denmark winning a Silver Medal in 2015. This past year Elena has been training at A3 District in Vancouver,  owned and operated by Jane Marlinga (Diamonds in the Rough) and Roberta Bierman (Diamonds in the Rough and Director of TwoFourSeven Company).  She also part of the TwoFourSeven varsity group, “Infinity”, training under the direction of internationally celebrated choreographer, Carlo Atienza, director of TwoFourSeven Company. 

Elena has found a love for teaching and has taught Hip Hop to all age groups and ability levels, from beginner to elite. Elena has a passion for learning, leadership, and all styles of dance, and is very excited to be dancing and teaching at The Village.

Vickie Gionet

Teacher

Specializing in Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Technique

Vickie began her dance training in Caraquet, New-Brunswick where she was born and raised. At age 9 she started her competitive career specializing in Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Acro and Hip-Hop with École de danse Tempsdem, where they trained, competed and performed in city’s all around Canada, the United States and Europe. 

Vickie started teaching at the young age of 15, where she fell in love with leading a class and being able to share her passion with other dancers. This step lead her to open her own dance studio in 2013 back in New-Brunswick.

The studio was highly recognized and awarded by many competitions around the east coast, year after year.  One of her greatest accomplishments was when she took her students to Nice, France where they studied different techniques with the industries top teachers from around the world. Vikidanza Dance Studio was a great success for four years, before she decided to move to beautiful Kelowna, B.C. to follow her dreams. 

 

After moving, Vickie started teaching various dance programs in northern B.C. before finally settling in Kelowna and having the opportunity to teach and be apart of the VDA team. We are incredibly excited to welcome her to our team.  

Emily Wikenheiser

Teacher

Specializing in Contemporary, Jazz & Technique

Emily Wikenheiser began dancing in Kelowna, British Columbia when she was three years old. She really started taking it seriously when she turned nine, taking more classes at the age of twelve, studying in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Flamenco. Within the last ten years, she has travelled to Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Toronto to perform and train with professional dancers and choreographers from around the world. Most recently, she traveled to Toronto to perform and receive training from the instructors from The National Ballet of Canada, Centennial College, George Brown College, Toronto Dance Theatre, ProArteDanza, and Randolph Academy. She has also recently had the opportunity to perform in the Lady of the Lake pageant, alongside many amazing artists. She deeply fell in love with choreographing while she was still in high school, as she assisted on choreography and choreographed her own individual pieces. Her passion and love for dance, teaching and movement continues to grow as she continues to learn more about the world of dance and the joys of being able to share it with people that surround her. We are pleased to welcome her to the VDA team.

Kimberly Harrison

Teacher

Specializing in Tap and Hip Hop

Kimberly is a well-rounded professional dancer, choreographer and instructor from The Okanagan, who is fully trained in a vast variety of dance styles. Once completing her local training, Kimberly moved to the city of Vancouver, in order to broaden her dance education and career opportunities. Throughout her years in Vancouver, Kimberly auditioned for and was accepted into Harbour Dance Centre’s Intensive Training Program (ITP), The Source Dance Company, La Chaleur female dance ensemble and the Exult Dance Company. As a multi-company member, Kimberly had the privilege of training in all styles of dance, working with world-renowned choreographers, performing on countless stages and touring British Columbia with a full-length show. Along with her diverse and extensive company work, Kimberly is also a self-represented professional dancer, acquiring an abundance of film, television, and industrial experience. Some of her more recent credits include: Jazzy B’s “Nakhro” music video, the CFL’s BC Lions opening ceremony and halftime shows, RELATE: The Documentary and Environment Canada’s Birthday Celebration. In addition to performing, Kimberly has a strong passion for teaching and choreographing. Throughout her many years of instructing dance, Kimberly has found that not only does she love to dance herself, but that she also thrives off of sharing her knowledge and helping other dancers grow to their fullest potential. Currently Kimberly instructs dance, acro, gymnastics, fitness and children’s yoga classes at multiple studios; providing award-winning choreography, impeccable technique instruction and a fun, positive classroom environment.

GUEST FACULTY

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1868 Spall Rd. Kelowna B.C.

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