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 - RAD

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 - RAD

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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Kennedy Knopf

Teacher
Specializing in Contemporary, Jazz, Technique & Tap

Kennedy Knopf was born and raised in the town of Vernon B.C. where she began her dance education. Continuing her artistic training in Vancouver B.C., she graduated from the Vancouver Training Society biannual scholarship, The Dance Initiative, as well as Harbour Dance Centre’s – Source and Aviary Dance Company’s’.


As an independent artist, Kennedy has been fortunate in working with Carlo Atienza in “Sonder”, Heather Dotto with ‘Dances for a Small Stage’, as well as a performing apprentice with Heather Laura Grey in her original work “The Tunnel” and many others. 

She is currently apprenticing with the successful, Vancouver based, contemporary company Radical System Art under the direction of Shay Keubler. Her most recent performance with Dancing on the Edge Festival 2020.
 

            A few other accomplishments include the short film, “She” by Adele Thomas awarded Accolade Award of Merit from The Accolade Global Film Competition, as well as 2 Laurel nominations. Kennedy was the primary dancer in Vancouver Spring Show 2016 (Joel Hanna). She was the BC Stage Provincial winner in 2012 and a Team Canada soloist dancing in the I.D.O World Championships (Danielle Fischer).

Kennedy’s TV and Corporate Credits include, PRP Productions and Disney.
 

            Knopfs’ humble dedication and persistence has made her a valuable artist. She is hungry to share her passion for movement and to continue excelling within as many facets of the industry she can get her hands on.

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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.  

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.