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's Bio

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.

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Julia gropper

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.


tanya kosanovic

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!

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Emily Rapley

From Simcoe Ontario has been studying dance with a focus on contemporary, modern and ballet. She has had the privilege to train and perform with Ballet Jorgen, and ProArteDanza, and has performed in original works by, Carol Anderson, Susan Lee, Michael Greyeyes, Allison McCaughy, Jasmyn Fyffe and Roberto Campanella. Emily graduated from York University with a BFA in dance, specializing in choreography and performance. Currently she is working on original work as well as practicing and performing in the Toronto dance community.

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Krista Newey



Jessica Germano



Katarina Tyson-Wallace



Mackenzie Little

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

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

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!


Cherise Williams

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.