mhsb teaching staff
The artistic staff at the Martha Hicks School of Ballet come from many diverse, professional backgrounds such as the National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program, Ryerson University, York University and other recognized dance institutions. The aim of our staff is to provide a positive and caring atmosphere as a background for learning the discipline of dance.
Whether the student is 3 or 20 they will feel welcome and encouraged to explore the magic of movement. In addition to the primary instructors, many of our classes also have trained assistants who aid the teacher in demonstrating steps and technique as well as correcting the students. Professional pianists accompany and inspire every creative movement and ballet class.
MHSB also prides itself on a high level of administrative service to its clients. There are three full time staff members who work diligently to ensure parents are kept well informed of every aspect of their programs. Martha Hicks is always pleased to speak with parents who have any questions or concerns.
Martha hicks - director
Martha Hicks was born in London, Ontario, where she began ballet lessons at the age of five. She continued her training in Toronto and upon completion of high school entered the full-time dance program at George Brown College.
After intensive training in ballet, modern, jazz and choreography, she was accepted into the Teacher's Training program at the National Ballet School.
In 1990 Martha graduated from the three year program with the school's honour of distinction and began teaching immediately. In September of 1992, Martha returned to the Lawrence Park area and opened her own school - The Martha Hicks School of Ballet. The school started with one venue and 60 students. Through love, dedication and hard work, Martha has built one of the biggest and most reputable schools in Toronto. Today MHSB has eight locations providing over 1000 aspiring young dancers with superb training in an energetic, caring environment.
Julia received most of her dance training in her native Germany. While the focus of her training always lay on Classical ballet (Vaganova based), she is also experienced in a variety of other dance techniques including Modern Dance (Limón and Graham in particular), Jazz Dance, Character, National (Folk Dance), Tap Dance and Ballroom/Latin Dance. As a member of the pre-professional Student Company with DanceCenter in Augsburg, Germany, Julia also had the opportunity to be part of an International Dance Exchange Program with schools in the USA, Canada and Turkey. Apart from being involved in performing in various classical productions as well as Musical Theatre, Julia began to discover her passion for teaching and choreography.
After a year of dance studies at the University of the Arts in Arnhem, Netherlands, Julia was accepted in 2009 into the 3 year Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) in Toronto where she extensively studied both the Cecchetti (ISTD) and Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabi and pedagogy. Julia then went on to complete her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at York University and is currently completing her second degree, a BA (Hons) in Psychology.
As a child, Tanya Kosanovic studied RAD and the Vaganova method of ballet, but ultimately found her home in Cecchetti at The Martha Hicks School of Ballet. It wasn't until she became a student under Ice and Martha Hicks herself, that Tanya was introduced to a combination that she found lacking elsewhere: this being an emphasis on strong technique delivered in an encouraging manner. And thus, Tanya was thrilled when asked to join Martha's eclectic staff: endeavouring to continue in the tradition of great teaching in a warm and supportive environment.
Tanya Kosanovic is utterly devoted to the arts! She is a graduate of York University, achieving an honours double major in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is a poet who is published is Existere magazine, a recognized piano teacher with The Royal Conservatory of Music, and also holds her Black Belt rank with the Ronin Kai Karate Federation. More recently, Tanya has been certified in the Principal Barre method of fitness under Christie Ness and Heather Ogden, principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada. Currently, Tanya is continuing her studies at Canada's National Ballet School in the Professional Development Program in order to further inspire and challenge her students with a necessary Cecchetti flare!
Raised in Beeton Ontario, Madison Burgess started dancing at the young age of 3. During her teenage years, Madison started her pre-professional training through Braford Simcoe Dance Academy in many styles of dance including ballet, jazz, acro, contemporary and modern; it was here she developed a passion for dance. She started teaching in her early high school years, and found so much joy in working with students who share a similar passion for dance! In the summer before her last year of high school, Madison was 1 of 75 international students who where chosen to dance overseas with The Royal Academy of Dance in London, England where she trained for 3 consecutive weeks with elite choreographers and ballet examiners. After returning home from England, Madison decided to continue her dance training at York University where she is now a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours in Dance, specializing in Performance and Choreography. During her undergraduate degree, Madison participated in an exchange program in 2014/2015 studying at Chichester University located in Chichester, England where she performed in Lîla Dance’s show, The Deluge, choreographed by Abi Mortimer and Carrie Whittaker. Once returning to Toronto, Madison worked with the York Dance ensemble in 2015/2016, performing works by renowned choreographers including Carol Anderson, Susan Lee, Allison McCaughey, and Kiera Shaw. In the summer of 2016, Madison danced as an apprentice for the aLOFT Project; performing in a short contact improvisational film Momentary choreographed by Suzanne Liska. Madison also participated in the New Blue Festival 2017, performing in the festival’s first Creative Crunch choreographed by Jasmyn Fyffe. Most recently, Madison performed in Victoria Gubiani’s first full-length show, Between Contact. Currently Madison is dancing for Emily Rapley’s Nocturnal Space which will premiere as part of Toronto’s 2018 Fringe Festival. She is also continuing to inspire dancers and share her passion for dance and teaching throughout the GTA.
Britanny LaRusic began her dance training at Truro Dance Academy in her hometown Truro, Nova Scotia. She completed the Teacher Training Program at The Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts where she graduated with a diploma as well as her CDTA associate in ballet and jazz. Moving to Toronto to continue her training, LaRusic graduated from The School of Toronto Dance Theatres’ Professional Training Program in 2013. At TDT LaRusic has performed works by choreographers Marc Boivin, Rachel Browne, Peter Chin, Jennifer Dallas, Christopher House, Allen Kaeja, Louis Laberge-Côté, José Limón, Sharon B. Moore, Tedd Robinson, Julia Sasso, Heidi Strauss, and Darryl Tracy. Since graduation LaRusic has become a Principal Barre certified teacher and has performed work by Michelle Silagy in the Soul Pepper Dance Awards. She currently teaches at The Young Dancers’ Program at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, at The Martha Hicks School of Ballet, and continues to work along side Michelle Silagy on an ongoing project, teaching children with disabilities at Beverly Public School.
Nicole is originally from Brantford, Ontario and currently resides in Toronto. In her 20 years of dance experience, she has trained in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, Lyrical, Acro, Hip Hop, and Musical Theatre. Nicole is a graduate of The Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts where she added singing and acting to her repertoire. She was the recipient of the “Triple Threat” award for her graduating year. As well as an educator of dance Nicole remains an active performer in the industry. She is a recent company member of Helix Dance Project (unEarth) and some of her favourite Film/TV credits include dancing on: The Next Step (Temple Street Productions) LIFE (Gen One) Bomb Girls (Global), Frenemies (Disney), Suits (USA Network), Nikita (The CW) Highlights from her theatre and stage credits include: Fiddler on the Roof as Chava (Stage West) The Spelling Bee as Marcy Park (1000 Islands Play house) Annie as Molly (YPT). Nicole is a certified dance instructor under the affiliation of P.A.E.C. She is a member of ACTRA, CAEA, and she is also a member of the Professional Adjudicators Alliance. She works as a professional dancer/teacher/choreographer and loves spreading her knowledge, experience and passion for dance!
Mackenzie grew up in Lindsay, Ontario where she was trained in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, national dancing, highland dancing, hip hop and musical theatre. After 15 years of training in Lindsay, she then decided to attend the 5 year joint program with York University and Canada’s National Ballet School- Teacher Training Program. Mackenzie is now a recent graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School with her RTS in Royal Academy of Dance and is teaching ballet regularly. In 2019, Mackenzie will be graduated from York University with her BFA Honours in Dance Education.
In 2015, Mackenzie worked with David Leventhal from Mark Morris Dance Group to receive her certification for Dancing with Parkinson’s. She now regularly teaches people with Parkinson’s and dementia. She has also been involved for many years with The National Ballet of Canada’s production of The Nutcracker, recently with the position of rehearsal assistant This consisted of helping set the battle scene for students to perform with the company at the Four Seasons Centre.
Emilio Colalillo is a graduate from Ryerson University receiving his BFA in Performance Dance in 2014. Upon graduation, Colalillo has both danced and choreographed internationally. He has danced for Corpus Dance Projects in Les Moutons, Nuit Blanche and A Flock of Flyers to Japan, Denmark, Sweden and Canada. He also dances for A2D2 where he performs in Toronto at various events and to Bermuda to perform an adagio hand to hand circus act. Colalillo won the Paula Citron Award at the Fresh Blood Festival in 2012 for his choreography with Samantha Raymond in their duet Avadita. Since then, Choreography has become a great passion of his where he founded in 2012 his contemporary dance company emiMOTION. His company has put on several avant-garde full length dance works here in Toronto including Laughter, Love and Lessons, Beauty, Survival, Touch of Psycho,Virilem and Luxuria. His company works have toured to India and USA. Colalillo also enjoys Musical Theatre. He has choreographed, Shrek The Musical and Footloose for Innovate Arts. He also choreographed Alice In Wonderland, Pinnochio, Aladdin, The Little Prince for Creativiva which toured to Singapore, China, Dubai and all over the UAE. Colalillo continues to create and choreograph for his company and other companies as a free lance artist. As a dancer he has worked with Newton Morraes in Testosterone, The Canadian Opera Company in La Traviata, Colin Connor for CCDT, Jeff Dimitriuo and Mark Samuels for PanAm and ParaPan Am Games, the MMVAs and 7Sould. He is also the co-founder of INVERSE - a dance festival that showcases two choreographers to create two new works. Colalillo plans on getting his Masters in Dance and to continue exploring the world.
Michelle Dubinsky began dancing at 8 years of age and has not stopped since! She is trained in Acro, Ballet (both RAD and Cecchetti methods), Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Musical Theatre, Pointe and Tap dance styles. She won many medals and awards as a competitive ballet soloist. Michelle attended Earl Haig Secondary School, in the Claude Watson Dance program. During her studies at McMaster and Western Universities, she danced, taught and choreographed for their dance teams. Most recently, Michelle taught at Dance Steps and the YMCA in London Ontario. She is thrilled to be back at MHSB and excited to share her passion for dance with the students!
Born and raised in Toronto, Cherise began dancing at the age of three. She trained in various styles before finding her love for hip hop. While completing her business degree at Trent University, Cherise joined the dance team and was elected captain in the following years. She ran the competitive and recreational programs, choreographing tap and hip hop for both. This began her years teaching and choreographing. Since, she has taught children and adults for showcases, competitions, weddings and galas. Upon moving back to the city, Cherise continues to train and perform. She currently trains with The Girls Club under the direction of Tamina Pollack-Paris, and has trained with BOSS Dance Company and Dark Dance Company. Cherise loves the stage and has been fortunate to dance at shows and events like Toronto’s Original Choreographers Ball, Bazaar, Bring Your Own Beat and Toronto Pride Parade. She has worked with a few local artists; you can catch her in Def Jam Record’s Jahkoy’s latest video “Don’t Stop the Vibe.” Having just finished her postgraduate in public relations, Cherise begins a communications internship at the National Ballet of Canada. She is excited to start a year enveloped by dance.
Savannah’s enjoyment of dance began at the age of 3. She excelled as a competitive dancer in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Acro, Hip Hop, Lyrical and Modern, winning many outstanding and overall awards including a gold medal in Germany with Team Canada Show dance. At the age of eleven, Savannah attended The National Ballet School summer intensive. She continued to enjoy other forms of dance but decided that classical Ballet was her passion. She later joined the Neglia Ballet Artists where she trained intensely and performed in productions such as Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker and Baba Yaga. During this time Savannah attended summer intensives at The Kirov Ballet Washington DC, American Ballet Theatre and The Joffrey Ballet School. In secondary school she was actively involved in drama and vocal music and choreographed for the school musical. After graduating with honours, Savannah attended the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre professional program in NYC. She went on to become a Ballet trainee at The Joffrey Ballet School. She studied with distinguished classical, contemporary and modern instructors such as Mathew Prescott, Desmond Richardson and Misty Copeland to name a few. During her time in NYC she performed in classical renditions of Nutcracker and Cinderella and was cast by world renowned choreographers Josie Walsh and Earl Mosley in contemporary ballet pieces. Accepted to Nashville Ballet Company for the summer, she danced classical roles from Swan Lake alongside the second company. When moving back to Toronto she performed and trained with Toronto Dance Project in a variety of dance styles and with well known industry choreographers. Savannah performed in the 2015 PanAm Games opening ceremonies as a Hip Hop Dancer with Luther Brown and Cirque du Soleil. She danced at The Toronto Argonauts Pre Game Show, Choreography by Jocelyn Peden. Exploring theatre, voice and dance, Savannah was cast in the production Eleven with the Ismailova Theatre of Dance choreographed by Merey Ismailova. Throughout Toronto she continues to perform with Emimotion Dance Company. Savannah has successfully completed teachers training curriculum in Ballet education, anatomy, nutrition and injury care and prevention at both The Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre. Expanding her teaching with various dance styles, Savannah completed her Dance Teacher Certificate from The University of Nevada Las Vegas. She also holds a certificate for Yoga Tune Up, Anatomy Course. She has her standard First Aid CPR/AED Level C up to date. Her teaching approach concentrates on creating a balance of technique and health while embracing the joy of dance every step of the way. Savannah continues to train, audition and expand her repertoire. She is certified in Acrobatic Arts which is a professional curriculum for acrobatic dance, where she continues to expand and explore more teaching experiences.