MELISSA MAHADY WILTON, M.A. Executive and Co-Artistic Director; Member of the International Dance Council (CID)
Instructor Ballet, Company, Pointe, Young Dancers
Melissa Mahady Wilton is a former Senior Manager of Strategic Planning at Deloitte Consulting. She holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Queen’s University, where she was awarded the W.R. Thompson Prize; Medal In Psychology; Ontario Graduate Scholarship; Queen’s University Graduate Award; A.Z. Arthur Prize; Queen’s University Graduate Fellowship; R. Samuel McLaughlin Fellowship; and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship. Ms. Mahady Wilton has formally trained in classical ballet (Vaganova, Cecchetti), ballroom (international, social), Latin (international, social), wheelchair dance, flamenco, Spanish classical, tap, jazz, Afro Cuban and numerous cultural dances. Melissa applied to and completed intensive teacher training in the Vaganova method with the Open World Dance Foundation, under the direction of renowned master international coaches Irina Kolpakova, Ekaterina Shchelkanova and Anton Boytsov. She holds a Certificate of Merit with Honours from master teacher Finis Jhung’s ballet teacher intensive training. Melissa also holds dance medicine certificates in foot and ankle function, injury prevention and assessment, pointe readiness and shoe fitting, and adolescent dancer health from the Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries, at NYU’s School of Medicine. She has completed Level I Teacher Training, Level II Turnout Training for Young Dancers, Level II Flexibility Training and Level II Pointe Intensive with internationally renowned dance physiotherapist Lisa Howell; including: developmentally-sensitive progression and assessment of dancers, functional anatomical study of posture, flexibility, core stability, classical and pointe technique, mechanics of the hip, jump technique and recovery from injury, spinal mobility, arabesque, injury recovery and management. She is certified in the Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced levels of the leading-edge dance conditioning program, Progressing Ballet Technique, and is a Master Teacher of wheelchair ballroom dance -- the only teacher in Canada certified by the American DanceWheels Foundation. Melissa has completed the Progressive Pointe Method Basic Training pointe shoe fitting certification under the direction of DanseMedica founder and internationally renowned fitter Josephine Lee; she is the only certified pointe shoe fitter in our region.
Melissa has coached numerous students who have gone on to successfully audition for both summer intensives (Alvin Ailey School, Gelsey Kirkland Academy, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Jörgen) and post-secondary performing arts programs (George Brown Dance, Sheridan College, Randolph College, Queen's University, Brock University, Simon Fraser University, University of Alberta, Concordia University). She is a proud member of UNESCO's International Dance Council (CID) and DanseMedica, an international community of Dance Specialists that share ideas, create relationships and build projects to further dance education and training. She was honoured to be one of a dozen dance educators from across Canada invited by George Brown Dance/Canada's Ballet Jörgen to participate in a national research task force on the future of dance education and performance in Canada. She has a current CPIC and First Aid.
Building upon her clinical and dance training and commitment to therapeutic arts, Melissa is the founder and director of ConCorpsDance Inclusive Dance Programs, a Kingston organization devoted to dance for people of all abilities. Her expertise in inclusive dance has been recognized by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Kingston, the Kingston Arts Council, the Ontario Communities in Action Fund, Exceptional Families Magazine and Queen’s Alumni Review. She has presented master workshops to Variety Village, Bloorview Kids’ Rehabilitation Centre, the Canadian Paraplegic Association, and Queen’s University. She is the creator and head of the dance program at H’art Centre, and provides inclusive programming to school and community groups. She is the Choreographer for Peerless Productions, a production company she founded with Kathryn Mackay and David Archibald, dedicated to presenting professional theatre for all abilities, whose works have been supported by the Kingston Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
As the City of Kingston’s Dance Engagement Coordinator, Melissa liaises with professional dance artists to create residencies, master classes and educational events, under the Ontario Dances Program. She was appointed by Ontario Dances to lead an inaugural dance outreach project in four Northern Ontario communities, and has been asked to serve on Ontario Arts Council dance grant juries. She is the former Chairperson of Canada DanceSport, host of the 2009 World Senior Standard Ballroom Dance Championships. Under her leadership, Canada DanceSport became a leader in the management and organization of ballroom dance events, and her consultation was sought by international dance sport leaders in developing their own programming. Melissa is honoured to be nominated by the Kingston community and chosen as a recipient for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to community and exemplary attributes of service and dedication.
Looking to bring a dance conservatory experience to Kingston, Melissa founded the The Conservatory with Anthea Morgan, where she co-directs the Ballet Program, directs The Conservatory Ballet Company, and teaches First Steps, Young Dancers I and II, Ballet I/II/III/IV/V, Pre-Pointe, Pointe I/II and II/III, Conservatory Company Technique, and Adult Ballet. It is her great privilege to share the joy and beauty of dance, and she hopes to offer integrity, inspiration and inclusion to the community.
ANTHEA MORGAN, M.A., E.C.E. Co-Artistic Director; Member of the International Dance Council (CID)
Instructor Ballet, Repertoire, Flamenco, Spanish Classical
As a former dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, and flamenco teacher for Esmeralda Enrique’s Academy of Spanish Dance, Anthea’s aspiration is to foster classical and UNESCO heritage cultures, with respect for inclusive and diplomatic cultural practices in multicultural Canada. As a dance educator who has specialized in Early Childhood Education and as a beneficiary of ballet teaching legacies from both a Fokine and from the Vaganova tradition, she hopes to share the harmony and fluidity of movement that the Vaganova and Russian classical style encompass, as well as the diversity of styles she experienced as a professional dancer (Danish, English, Spanish, Balanchine), as a means of inspiring joy of dance, technical clarity and the profound experience of the beauty of classicism within the context of holistic practices.
Raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in a blended family, the older generation of whom were Baianas do acarajé, repositories of the oldest form of samba, now inscribed by UNESCO, and of African, Portuguese and Indigenous traditions, Anthea’s early dance experiences reflected the values of these cultural confluences. She studied ballet with Irine Fokine, whose teachers, illustrious dancers from St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet, included Anna Pavlova, her godmother, Mikhail Fokine, her uncle, and Alexandra Fedorova, her mother, who taught Alicia Alonso, founder of the National Ballet of Cuba. In her final year, Anthea also trained with Luba Gulyaeva, a former Kirov soloist and student of Naima Baltacheyeva, Agrippina Vaganova’s assistant.
Anthea danced professionally with the National Ballet of Canada with such luminaries as Karen Kain, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ekaterina Maximova, Carla Fracci and Alessandra Ferri, and with the Canadian Opera Company. She has performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Stuttgart Opera House, National Arts Centre, and Kennedy Centre, in repertoire featuring the works of Petipa, Balanchine, Bournonville, Ashton, MacMillan, Cranko and Fokine.
She has a Master’s degree in Classics (Queen’s University) and was the recipient of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship and of a McLaughlin/Bracken Fellowship. Her archaeological research on ancient dance imagery featured at a UNESCO heritage site in Tuscany, Italy, is being published. In 2019, she was invited to speak at Canada’s first Symposium for Cultural Diplomacy by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, a UNESCO International Bureau of Education partner, because insights from her study of ancient dance models, of post-colonial perspectives and of dance “dialogues” in samba and flamenco, inspired advocacy for fairness in artistic exchanges and respect for human rights in diplomacy.
Anthea has a diploma in Early Childhood Education and a current CPIC. She specialized in provision of flexible and stable care for diplomatic service, Queen’s University, CFB Kingston and United Nations families (1997-2018). As a reflection of her commitment to providing dancers with the safest, most current, scientifically-supported training, Anthea has completed Level I Teacher Training, Level II Turnout Training, Flexibility and Pointe Specializations with internationally renowned dance physiotherapist and master teacher Lisa Howell; including: developmentally-sensitive progression and assessment of dancers, functional anatomical study of posture, flexibility, core stability, classical technique, mechanics of the hip, jump technique and recovery from injury, spinal mobility, arabesque, injury recovery and management. She has also completed Level 1 PBT.
Certified in Vaganova methodology by former Kirov Principal artist, Irina Kolpakova, a student of A. Vaganova (2018) and by former Mariinsky artists Ekaterina Shchelkanova, a student of L. Safronova, and Anton Boystov (2018 and 2021), through the Open World Dance Foundation, Anthea also learned pas de deux methodology from the danseur’s perspective with former Kirov soloist and Vaganova graduate, Yaroslav Fadeyev (2019). While preserving foundational progressions, transcendent elements of the Vaganova and Russian Classical methods and the fluidity of the Mariinsky style, Anthea, in alignment with Irine Fokine’s approach, fosters authentic artistic expression through classes tailored to dancers' learning processes, aspirations and needs. Invitations to the Vaganova Academy (2018, 2019, 2020), and to the National Ballet of Cuba (2018) were extended in recognition of Anthea’s dedication to holistic practice, as a continuity of Anna Pavlova’s and Irine Fokine’s belief that humanity is the foundation of cultural experiences. Insights from these opportunities impressed upon Anthea the merit of sharing cultural languages in a manner that respects diverse local contexts and global connectivity. This is especially so for non-verbal languages such as dance, because these can help people in a divisive world to find common ground and shared truth. She is a proud member of UNESCO's International Dance Council (CID).
As Co-Artistic Director, it is Anthea's privilege to share a vision for ballet education, in which the older legacies of single teachers are transformed into new legacies of collegiality, where traditions are informed by diverse perspectives. Anthea’s commitment to inclusivity, aims to keep ballet’s access “open”, as an intangible culture that belongs to humanity.
SAM CROSBY, B.A., C.D.T.A.; Instructor Modern and Contemporary
Sam began dancing in Port Colborne, Ontario, under the tutelage of Ava (Balogh) Dalcourt of Ava Balogh’s School of Classical Ballet, at the age of 4. Ballet and tap were her first passions, which would soon be followed by jazz and lyrical styles. Sam engaged in formal examination studies under Ava’s instruction for Ballet (ISTD), and with Donna Moreau in Tap and Jazz (CDTA). As her levels advanced, she also embarked on Teacher Training through CDTA, garnering levels and certification in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Modern Dance.
Sam has had a variety of experiential training, including classes at Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT), with the Niagara Civic Ballet Company and with Peggy Baker’s Teacher Intensives. She has performed extensively. She has been trained/certified in CanFitPro, Pilates Mat, POUND, Zumba, NIA and Block-Flexibility. She has a current CPIC.
Sam completed her undergraduate degree at University of Guelph in Sociology and English. After touring with her band, Sam Crosby and the Cavalry, she re-entered the Dance Education world. Sam was the Interim Ballet Director at Port Colborne Dance Academy from 2000 – 2002, where she conducted classes in Cecchetti Technique, in Musical Theatre, Urban Funk, Percussive Dance and Contemporary/Modern. She was also responsible for yearly examinations with CDTA in Classical Ballet.
Sam attended Teachers College at Canisius in Buffalo, NY, where she specialized in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Special Education and Multicultural Studies. She acted in the capacity of TA in Multicultural Education, and graduated with a 4.0 average. After moving to the Eastern Ontario region, she taught at the junior high level for 4 years before transferring to the secondary level.
Sam founded Bread of Life Dance Theatre (BOLDT), acting as Artistic Director from 2006-2013. There, Sam partnered with a variety of local agencies to provide affordable and accessible dance training for young dancers, where she was actively involved in curriculum development and instruction, scheduling, community outreach and fund-raising for local agencies including Leeds Grenville Interval House and a variety of community housing organizations. Sam's students took part in yearly examinations and competitions.
Sam led York University’s ABQ Part 1, Part 2 and Specialist programs from 2010-2013, certifying teachers in the art of dance instruction in the schools (elementary and secondary). Sam ran a very successful dance program for secondary students at Thousand Islands Secondary School from 2009-2015. Many of Sam’s students have pursued professional dance careers, and have attended post-secondary dance programs both here in Canada and abroad. Sam has worked as a dance coach, choreographer and movement designer for many years. Her credits include Grease (BOS), Alice and Wonderland (BOS), The Boyfriend (TISS/BCI), Oklahome (TISS), Little Shop of Horrors (TISS/BCI) and Godspell (TISS/BCI). She has co-directed summer theatre experiences (with Todd Noel and Mary Wonnacott-Styles).
Sam is a treasured instructor at The Conservatory, and we look forward to our continued collaboration in dance.
LISA SCHWARTZENTRUBER, B.F.A. (Honours), B.Ed. (Visual Arts and Dance Specialist); Instructor, Egyptian Bellydance
At the age of 3, Lisa discovered her love of dance and began training in classical ballet at the Janice Brode School of Dance. Lisa also pursued Cecchetti Ballet under the instruction of Florence King-Proulx and completed her ballet examinations. During this time, she auditioned and was chosen twice to dance in the first act (party scene and snowflake) of The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet.
Throughout the years, Lisa became eager to explore new dance styles, and has trained in modern, belly dance and Latin. Lisa’s love of belly dance has only grown stronger since immersing herself in the form over the past 10 years. Since then, Lisa has continued to perform and learn from various instructors, including those trained by the well-known Arabesque Dance Company. Lisa had the opportunity to explore many aspects of the art form, including veil work and the folkloric style Saidi which often incorporates a stick or cane. She has a current CPIC.
Lisa always knew she had a passion for teaching and the Arts. She studied Visual Arts at the University of Windsor, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours), followed by a Bachelor of Education. Shortly after, Lisa was hired as a secondary teacher for the Waterloo and Thames Valley District School Boards. Lisa earned her Dance Specialist accreditation, and garnered experience teaching the grade 9-12 Ontario Secondary School Dance Curriculum. Lisa directed several dance shows within the high school setting and involved students in outreach opportunities. These productions included her own choreography, as well as student-led choreography and performances. Her goal as an educator is to ensure an inclusive atmosphere, where students feel comfortable collaborating and sharing in the creative process of dance.
After several years of teaching in southern Ontario, Lisa moved to start a family in Kingston and now works as a teacher for the Upper Canada and Hastings District School Boards. Lisa is excited to embark on new ventures with The Conservatory and share her love of dance with others.
DANIELLE McTAGGART; Guest Artist and Instructor, Bellydance
Danielle began studying bellydance in 2002, and it quickly took over her life, as she fell in love with the movements, music, costumes and community. Over the past 20 years, Danielle has studied both traditional and modern bellydance styles, and is well-known in the regional bellydance community as the leader of Shimmy Kingston, which specializes in Silk Road Style Group Improv, Fusion Bellydance and American Cabaret. Danielle is a certified Bellyfit© instructor and personal trainer, and holds certifications in numerous areas of women's health and fitness, including pelvic floor health, mental health first aid and menopausal health. Danielle loves sharing her passion for bellydance with others, and looks forward to bringing this beautiful art form to the Conservatory community!
KAREN PHILLIPS; Instructor, Bellydance
Karen is the founder and director of Nobody's Watching Middle Eastern Dance Studio. She has been teaching bellydance since 1998. Karen’s philosophy of dance is simple: bellydance should be fun!
After many years of jazz dance and classical ballet, Karen took her first bellydance lesson at the age of fourteen and has never looked back! Karen has studied most forms of bellydance, but is currently focused on modern fusions of traditional Moroccan and Middle Eastern styles. Her own choreographies incorporate traditional movements into unique, perky dance routines, often set to modern Arabic music or to “non-traditional” music by Canadian artists like Loreena McKennitt and Jesse Cook. Her dances frequently include veils, canes, zills, swords, candles, and baskets. Karen has taken workshops and master classes with many of the best dance instructors in North America, including Morocco, Delilah,Yasmina Ramzy, Hadia and Tamra-henna. She has performed, both solo and with her students, in Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto, Syracuse, Rochester, Atlanta and New York City.