Vanessa Padillo grew up in Calgary since the age of 3. She is known for her energy, positive vibes and most importantly her enthusiasm for dance. She hopes she can give an insight to aspiring dancers to allow them to find their own connection within themselves through movement.
Vanessa has been choreographing since 1999 and teaching dance since 2006. Being a diverse and versatile dancer herself, her classes will leave students inspired and energized. The foundations that realms her classes are based on having fun, exercise, and to grow a deeper understanding of dance.
Vanessa is also Founder and Owner of Common Ground Dance and Co-owner and Business Development Director of Movement With A Message Inc. Vanessa earned a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business majoring in Risk Management Insurance and Finance. Vanessa also holds a Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) and a Certified Management Accountants (CMA) designation. With this unique background, she’s passionate about consulting businesses and individuals involved in the Arts.
Tasha Lawson is the founder and Artistic Director of Tri-Tone Productions and the Artistic Director of Tri-Tone Rhythm Society. Tri-Tone Productions houses a pre-professional rhythm ensemble, a youth ensemble and an adult ensemble. The Company creates and produces interdisciplinary performance works through combining the mediums of body percussion, tap, and movement. Tri-Tone Rhythm Society is a non-profit arts society dedicated to preserving and promoting the art of tap dance and contemporary percussive arts and connecting diverse communities through world class performance, education and outreach programs.
A native Calgarian and graduate of Grant MacEwan College’s Dance Teacher Training and Dance Performance programs, Ms. Lawson continued her studies at Simon Fraser University while working as a Modern Dancer in Vancouver. She supplemented her tap and body music studies in New York, San Francisco and Brazil. For six years Ms. Lawson toured North America as a Principal Dancer with Tapestry Dance Company based out of Austin, Texas.
Tasha was nominated for Dancer of the Year by the Austin Critics Table Awards in 2007 for her performance in Acia Gray’s “Souls of Our Feet, a Tribute to American Tap Dance.” Serving as the Artistic Director of Tapestry’s apprentice Company, Visions In Rhythm, from 2002-2008, Ms. Lawson directed six new full-length concert works. Under her leadership, the Company integrated community outreach programs and toured to San Antonio and Chicago.
Alexis & Cristina Mora Blanco
AFRO CUBAN & SALSA
Alexis discovered his passion for dancing at just five years old in Havana. He entered his first dance competition at the age of seven where he won first place for his unique ‘Michael Jackson Style Salsa.’ Committed and determined, Alexis made the journey north to bring his love of dance and unique style to Canada. He and his wife Cristina founded La Rumba Cuban Dance Company. Their charisma and passion for dance are reflected in their friendly teaching style, inspiring enthusiasts to pursue dance and the arts.
Born in Trinidad, De-Ann has an unsurpassed love and passion for dance. She gained exceptional dance achievements throughout her childhood and held the title of Caribbean dance champ. She has taught more than 50 students ranging from the ages of 4 to 36, from Afro Jazz to West African and Afro Caribbean. De-Ann, is driven for success through the art form and will continue to touch lives through dance
Christopher Clare is a dancer and actor from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is a founding member of one of Canada’s oldest, active break crews, the Original Rudes. He has 18 years of dance experience and teaches hip hop dance and shares hisexperiences throughout schools in Alberta. Christopher is also involved in local outreach organizations, such as Refreshed and the Boys and Girls Club. In 2009, Christopher found another way to express himself when he got his first acting gig.Since then, he has continued to work in TV, film and theater. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta with his amazing wife and three young children.
Wunmi Idowu began performing traditional African dance styles at the age of 3 in her hometown, Lagos, Nigeria. She is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, instructor, and director of Woezo Africa Music & Dance Theatre inc. (Woezo Africa). She moved to Alberta in 1992 and continued immersing herself in the African dance community in the cities, Edmonton and Calgary. Prior to starting Woezo Africa, she worked with groups, Wajjo drummers and Kekeli dancers, Nigerian Okoto Dance Troupe, C-Stylz Dancers, Afrikanata Dancers and Asante Dance Troupe. Woezo Africa, meaning “welcome to the land of perfection”, was birthed in 2006 out of Idowu’s passion for sharing African dance and culture. This platform creates a space for artists from rich backgrounds of dance styles to entertain, educate, and empower their audiences through traditional and modern African modes of performing arts, including dance, music, theatre, and storytelling. Under her leadership, Woezo Africa created local and international productions, such as Africa Jo, UNITY: Dance Across Africa and UNGANISHA; as well as two editions of Woezo Africa Festival (2007 and 2012) in collaboration with the Guild of Nigerian Dancers (G.O.N.D) and Ijodee Dance Center in Lagos, Nigeria.
In 2016, Wunmi won an award for people’s choice Performing Arts in the category of Dancer at the Obsidian Award. In addition, the endless support of Woezo Africa resulted in the celebration of three major achievements and recognition in 2017 and 2018 by being a big part of the inauguration of Alberta’s first Black History Month. Furthermore, Woezo Africa was also awarded a Certification of recognition from the House of Commons of Canada (House of Parliament).
Elvio Dos Santos, known in Capoeira as Mestrando Tigrão, was born in Guarulhos, São Paulo, Brazil. He began training Capoeira at 11 and has not stopped since. Through his profession, Tigrão demonstrates his philosophy of life and his love for this Brazilian martial art, participating in and organizing numerous rodas, competitions, festivals and workshops around the world. Moreover, his experience in social work in São Paulo and Minas Gerais, Brazil, has taught him to value the benefits that Capoeira offers the community. In 2002, Tigrão became part of Grupo Axé Capoeira and began teaching in Vancouver in 2003.
Melvi Alvarado was born and raised in El Salvador, Central America and started dancing at 5 years old. At nine years old, he was introduced to Latin dances such as Merengue, Samba, Bachata, Latin Folklore and Afro-Latin Folklore. In 2008, he joined Adhesivo, an Estilo Urbano (Urban Style) dance group in El Salvador, where he learned more about Latin dances and Hip-Hop and was part of many festivals and dance competitions across the country. Melvi moved to Canada in 2010 and created Dance Fusion Calgary, a Calgary-based Latin dance group with the purpose of creating a safe and healthy space for the expression of community and culture through dance
Keshia Cheesman is a Caribbean-Canadian Calgary based creator and performer who is passionate about experiencing and creating performances rooted in the truth of humanity, and stories based on diverse and marginalized communities. In her work, she loves to combine her love for dance and movement with her passion for theatre. She is currently developing, “The F Word”, a show reclaiming the word “fat”, with her art partner, Bianca Miranda. Recent Credits include: Trophy(High Performance Rodeo), inVisible( Handsome Alice Theatre), In and Out of Love(One Yellow Rabbit), and Hamlet (Theatre Calgary's Shakespeare by the Bow)
Christopher Clare is a dancer and actor from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is a founding member of one of Canada’s oldest, active break crews, the Original Rudes. He has 18 years of dance experience and teaches hip hop dance and shares his
experiences throughout schools in Alberta. Christopher is also involved in local outreach organizations, such as Refreshed and the Boys and Girls Club. In 2009, Christopher found another way to express himself when he got his first acting gig.
Since then, he has continued to work in TV, film and theater. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta with his amazing wife and three young children.
Priscilla Cherry has used her education in Journalism and Mental Health to attract the attention of Breakfast Television, ET Canada, and LIVE with Kelly producers. After completing a crowd-funding campaign in 2015 for an online radio station she created in honor of her cousin who passed away, she believes in using all her life experiences for a meaningful purpose and hopes to slowly reduce the stigma of Mental Health by encouraging anyone with an open heart and mind, to do the same.