DJD’s Youth Training Program (YTP) has been designed to provide weekly instruction to students in a supportive, professional, and creative environment.



We’re looking for dancers who are:

  • 7-18 years old
  • Experienced in dance
  • Excited to learn
  • Dedicated to dance

What is the YTP?

With almost 4 decades of experience in professional performance and instruction, DJD is known for providing audiences and students alike, with dance experiences that speak to the integrity that the company was founded upon.

Dancers within our Youth Training Program possess a strong desire to learn, grow and put dedicated effort into the art of dance. Our YTP provides high quality and consistent training across several dance genres with an emphasis on skill mastery, physical awareness, mindful intention and soulful artistry. DJD’s YTP showcases the talents of dedicated instructors who share a passion for dance and believe in educating well-rounded, happy and healthy dance artists.

See classes

YTP KEY DATES — 2023/2024

July 25

YTP registration opens

August 21-25

YTP summer camp (learn more on our summer camps page)

September 11-June 14

YTP session dates

October 9

No classes for Thanksgiving

November 24

YTP workshop #1

December 15-January 7

No classes for winter break


Parent observation night

February 9

YTP workshop #2

February 15 & 19

No classes for Family Day

March 9 & 10

Ballet exams

March 22-April 7

No classes for spring break

April 12

YTP workshop #3

May 15 & 16

YTP open house

May 20

No classes for Victoria Day

June 13 & 14

Year-end performance

June 17

Wrap up celebration


Company Touch Points



DJD’s Youth Training Program welcomes dancers who are either working towards or have an established level of dance experience. Leveling within our jazz and modern classes is not set by a specific gauge, primarily due to DJD holding unique philosophies and aesthetics in these dance forms. Within our ballet faculty, we have Royal Academy of Dance certified teachers and portions of the R.A.D. syllabus are incorporated into our ballet program, however, previous R.A.D. training is not mandatory. Other forms of ballet training are recognized and leveling will be assessed on an individual basis.

YTP Level Age Ballet Level
JUNIOR 1 & 2 7-10 1-3 years dance experience/grades 1-2
INTERMEDIATE 10-12 3+ years dance experience/grades 3-4
SENIOR 12-15 5+ years dance experience/grades 5-Intermediate
ADVANCED 15-18 6+ years dance experience/Intermediate - Advanced


Your YTP tuition includes a year-end showing and a ballet exam. To explore financial aid opportunities, click here.

CORE CLASSES: Jazz, Modern, Ballet, Inter/Sr/Adv West African, Hip Hop

2 classes/week $1400
3 classes/week $2100
4 classes/week $2800
5 classes/week $3500

SUPPLEMENTAL CLASSES: Jr. West African, Conditioning & Pointe


For details on payment plans, please email Kirstin Anderson, Dance Centre Manager


Our Youth Training Program provides instruction in jazz, ballet, West African and modern as well supplemental conditioning and pointe classes. We value training that sits outside of the confines of a set syllabus and believe that such training allows for increased exploration, artistry and inquiry within the traditional dance class setting.

We encourage our students to enroll in at least two classes a week (jazz & ballet). Individual class selections can be discussed further with YTP Director, Leanne Kidd.

  • Keeping a connection to the history of jazz dance, the DJD YTP jazz program places strong emphasis on fundamental jazz concepts/skills (rhythm, grounded execution, musical connection, full body movement, community, improvisation) and social vernacular aesthetics while also guiding students through an understanding of more codified jazz techniques.

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.

  • Within our Youth Training Program, ballet will provide a solid classical technique foundation that inspires whole dancers, not just future ballerinas. Students’ knowledge, skill level and movement vocabulary will progress each year within a classical ballet framework. Portions of the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus will be incorporated as well as unique additions within the freedom of individual teachers’ input and creativity. An emphasis will be placed on increasing self-discipline, self-confidence, co-ordination, musicality and grace.

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.

  • YTP modern dance will explore elements from Limon, Horton, and Graham techniques, as well as current contemporary and release forms. This class will challenge the dancer’s range of dynamics and self-expression, and students will learn improvisation, floor work, inversions, and age appropriate partnering skills. We will explore concepts such as weight, energy, breath, and space, all while developing solid, grounded technique.

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.

  • One of the primary core aesthetics of DJD’s work is rooted within West African dance, music, rhythms and history. Our YTP students are fortunate to add this grounding art form to their regular training and will provide important connections to the full understanding of the history of jazz dance.

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.

  • We believe that the understanding of foundational styles and proper execution go hand in hand with the development of personal style and hip hop swagger. Our instructors will bring their passion for hip hop culture to their students through the exploration of foundation hip hop styles.

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.

  • This class is a perfect supplement to all YTP classes. Thoughtful, age-appropriate stretch and conditioning techniques will be used to target specific areas of tightness/ weakness, strength development, landing mechanics and postural alignment. Students will learn that to perform at their highest level and reduce injuries, an integrated conditioning program is needed to develop functional strength, neuromuscular efficiency and is an integral part of the physical preparation for the performing arts. Students will be exposed to a variety of conditioning exercises from various techniques such as Pilates and Progressive Ballet Technique (PBT)

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.

  • An exciting highlight to any students’ classical ballet training, this class will prepare students to take their ballet skills to higher heights! This class will focus on kinesthetic awareness, structural alignment, safety precautions, musicality, grace and increasing physical strength and rotation.

    Students will be assessed and invited to this class on an individual basis. Students can purchase pointe shoes only when their teacher recommends to do so or have come into the YTP already working on pointe.

    Specific class attire requirements, for each class, will be emailed to families upon registration.


Leanne Kidd (nee McIndoe)

YTP Director & Ballet, Pointe Jazz, Conditioning & West African Instructor

Leanne Kidd (nee McIndoe) is a Calgary dance artist, teacher & choreographer. She trained at Calgary’s International School of Ballet, performing many leading roles with their Jeunesse Classique Ballet Company. Some of Leanne’s extensive dance studies have included: The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The Banff School of Fine Arts & The American Academy of Ballet. In 1997, Leanne was accepted into London England’s Royal Ballet School. She graduated with distinction, in 2000, earning multiple teaching certifications such as: ARAD, AISTD Cecchetti, AISTD National Folk Dance & Benesh Notation Certification. Since returning to Canada, Leanne has taught in numerous studios & schools across B.C. & Alberta. She choreographed & staged a full-length production entitled GLORIA for Jeunesse Classique Ballet Co., performed in Dance Montage, Calgary Cares, Three Left Feet Movement Creations & Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ school show, Live and In Sync. Leanne also immersed herself in training at DJD, first as a Scholarship Student & later in the Pre-Professional Program. In 2005, she received two grants to study dance in West Africa, a life-changing experience. Leanne has had a long-standing history with Calgary Arts Academy since its opening in 2002 to 2020, both as a Resident Artist & Performance Coordinator. She has enjoyed teaching at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks as well over the past two decades and is thrilled to focus on her new role as Director of DJD’s Youth Training Program. Leanne is married with two daughters and is passionate about family and sharing her love of dance with students of all ages

Cassandra Bowerman

Modern Instructor

Cassandra is a dance artist and educator originally from Stoney Creek, Ontario. After earning her BFA in Dance with Honours from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson university), she attended DJD's Professional Training Program in 2015/16. In the Greater Toronto area, Cassandra has choreographed a number of plays and dance pieces for the Hamilton Fringe, Toronto Fringe and Dusk Dances Hamilton Festivals. In Alberta, she has performed in Alberta Dance Festival, CrossCurrents, and with Project InTandem. Cassandra has a passion for rhythm, musicality and theatre and she is eager to deepen her study of jazz and its roots in her fifth season with the DJD company.

Ingrid Díaz Céspedes

Jazz & West African Instructor

Born and raised in Cuba, Ingrid is a graduate of the Cuban National School of Art (BFA Modern, Contemporary and Afro-Cuban Dance, 2002) and the National Institute of Art (MA Afro-Cuban Dance, 2005). Ingrid is also a graduate of the School of Ballet Creole (Toronto, 2007) and Decidedly Jazz Professional Training Program (Calgary, 2011) Her professional career includes companies such as Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba (2002 - 2005 Company member), Ballet Creole (Toronto 2005 - 2009 Company member) and Three Left Feet Movement Creations (Calgary 2011 - To date. Company member / Artistic Producer) Ingrid also had the pleasure to perform as a guest artist with Nafro Dance (Winnipeg 2007), the South African Musical Umoja in its 2008 Canadian Tour Production, Newton Moraes Dance Theatre (Toronto 2008), COBA (Toronto 2009), Bach Tots Performing Arts (Calgary 2018) and TEADE (Matanzas, Cuba 2019) among other companies and independent choreographers. Since the early age of seventeen Ingrid has been choreographing and leading classes and workshops in prestigious dance schools and companies such as the Cuban National School of Art (Dance and Musical Theatre Schools), the National Afro - Cuban Dance Company, Havana Rakatan and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks; most recently becoming Assistant Director of the Professional Training Program. Since 2019 Ingrid has also been leading various courses in the specialties of Jazz and Ballet as a sessional instructor for The School of Creative and Performing Arts of the University of Calgary.

Mara Liao Esnard

Ballet, Jazz & Conditioning Instructor

Rooted in Cuba, Mara is an educator, dancer, and choreographer. She graduated from the National Ballet School in Havana, Cuba. Mara started her professional career teaching at the Instructors Arts School in her hometown (2008-2010) while simultaneously performing with Sol Dance Company (2008-2014). Mara has been an active member of the Arts community in Calgary since 2015. She has spread her love of dance teaching in various studios and schools across the city and with her personal coaching. Mara has been part of DJD’s YTP and Adult classes programing since 2020. Through her time in YYC she has participated in a diversity of festivals, performances, and collaborative works. A gentle and vibrant jazz seed was planted in Mara once she joined DJD’s Professional Training Program. Her passion and curiosity for jazz dance and music led her to immerse herself into the program for two seasons and still left her wanting more. This is Mara’s third season with the dance company, she is thrilled and very excited for the season ahead. Mara is spirited to dig deeper into her mixed-race identities (Asian, African and Hispanic) and discover how all these different backgrounds influence her artistry.

Yael Guterman

Ballet & Pointe Instructor

Yael brings with her over 3 decades of an extended knowledge in dance education which she looks forward to share right here at DJD. Raised in Israel, in her early days, Yael had the privilege to take classes with the well known Kirov dancer and choreographer Valery M. Panov before embarking on her extended studies at the Royal Academy of Dance, in London England. And later on moving to Calgary. Yael is a Mentor and dance-educator in the classical ballet and classical ballet progression for over 30 years. In 2004 she Founded and directed La Pointe Dance Studio Ltd, school of classical ballet and beyond. Since then, prioritized and focused her mentoring towards raising a future generation with an eye to the arts and a heart to the theatre. Staged, choreographed and directed full length productions like the Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid to name just a few. Yael holds the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet-Teaching Diploma and been an elected Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance (LRAD) since 1994. She is a registered teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance and a mentor for the CBTS RAD program, qualifying the next generations of teachers. Yael is skilled in classical ballet education for the developing body and for the mature audience a like. Holds the Silver Swan Licensees. registered teacher of the RAD, Associate level from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing - (AISTD) in National Folk dance, Modern and Latin American. Certified teacher in Progressive Ballet Technique syllabus in Ballet and contemporary studies (PBT CBT). As part of her continuing education Yael had the opportunity to study from well known mentors like Anushka Ross, Irene Dowd, Peggy Baker and so many more at the National Ballet school in Toronto. In the last 10 years Yael has been focusing on extending her knowledge on the body health as a whole and for the young dancer in particulate. Completing numerous training with the well known Physiotherapist, author and creator of the Ballet Blog, Lisa Howell. Currently, Yael is completing her Certification in the Classical Pilates method with Core Dynamics Pilates under the wonderful mentoring of Kevin Bowen who worked closely with the first generation of Joseph Pilates students, like Eve Gentry, Ron Fletcher, and Michele Larsson to name a few. Pilates is a way of life with incredible life benefits to us all and to the dancers body in particular.

Catherine Hayward

Jazz Instructor

Catherine graduated from the Toronto Metropolitan University dance program, earning a BFA with Honours, and continued her training for two years in DJD's Professional Training Program (PTP). Catherine has been a dancer with the DJD professional company since 2007. With DJD, she has performed in more than 30 original productions and created choreography for five of these productions. She was the Artistic Director of DJD's dancer-choreographed shows “Velocity” in 2017 and “Borderland” in 2015. In September, Catherine produced Generations, a mixed-bill contemporary dance production, where she premiered her choreography “The Suit”, featuring Davida Monk and Jon McCaslin. In 2023, Catherine completed her first contemporary dance short film, “Everybody's Heading for the Exit”. This film was created with Calgary filmmakers Eric Pauls and Michael Janke. In 2021, Catherine premiered “Don't Wake the Lions”, a new full-evening work featuring live music by Tom Richards with Votive Dance (Halifax). Catherine is the Co-Artistic Director of the Bodied Indivisible ensemble with Shayne Johnson; in 2020, they presented their debut production, including four works: “Polyhedron”, “Podia”, “Guarded”, and “Starbored”. Catherine was a founding Dancers' Studio West (DSW) Dance Action Group member. With DSW, Catherine pursued choreography using original musical compositions and live musical performances. She presented form, act, cease, ensue in collaboration with musician Jeremy Gignoux as part of the Dance Action Lab in July 2017 and Tethered, musical composition by Rubim de Toledo in 2016. Catherine completed five seasons as a choreographer with Alberta Dance Theatre for Young People (ADT) and has 25 years of teaching experience, working with students of all ages in various disciplines. This season, Catherine continues to mentor dancers training in DJD's recreational school, Professional Training Program and Youth Training Program.

Kaja Irwin

Jazz & Conditioning Instructor

Kaja is a Winnipeg born dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. After deciding to pursue a career in dance after completing her B.A. in Political Science, Kaja studied in the Professional Training Program offered at DJD, developing her love of both jazz and the Calgary dance community. Kaja loves to explore movement and collaborations across art forms. This includes working with Calgary jazz drummer Nate Chiang developing improvised pieces for the stage, most recently presented in Fluid Fest’s Physical Therapy Cabaret 2023, as well as creating solo jazz/mask work in both short film and stage formats, collaborating with jewelry artist Corey Morani in a short art film, developing her love of costuming and styling, and a continued relationship choreographing music videos for Winnipeg band, Royal Canoe. She has choreographed for Alberta Dance Theatre for several seasons and continues to love teaching in the youth and adult programming at DJD, feeling very inspired and grateful to be a part of this Calgary arts community. Kaja is excited and dedicated to continue growing in the jazz art form and is honoured to be back for her ninth season performing with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.

Kayla MacKenzie

Hip Hop Instructor

Kayla MacKenzie is a Canadian performing artist and choreographer. She started as a vocalist in Musical Theatre leading to a nomination to perform in New York City with Broadway Dreams performing in pieces led by Victor Jackson, Tyler Hanes, Alex Newell and Spencer Liff. She was awarded two CAT awards for her performance(s) as Esmerelda in Hunchback of Notre Dame and Maureen in Rent, here in Calgary. Kayla has trained with celebrity vocal coach, Elaine Overholt and has been teaching vocal lessons of her own for the past 10 years. In 2015, she completed her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Calgary where she studied voice and dance and was introduced to some of the faculty of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. She moved on to complete two years of the Professional Training Program at Decidedly Jazz, where she studied Jazz, West African, Afro Cuban, Tap, Ballet, and Improvisation. She has been teaching the Adult Diva Styles and Theatre Dance for the last three years along with Youth Hip Hop classes. Her love for Hip Hop led her to multiple vocal collaborations with Rap artists, Producers and DJs across North America including Alberta bred artist MerKules. She has opened for many Hip Hop artists including Naughty by Nature, Hopsin, Raekwon (Wu-Tang) and Swollen Members. In 2018 she released her first neo-soul collaborative EP with DJ Rocswell called Human. Kayla has been teaching Hip Hop dance to all ages since 2014 and continues to dive deeper into its vernacular by leading students to celebrate social and individual nuance. She has taught and choreographed for competitive and recreational students as well as Public and Private School residencies. Besides teaching, Kayla has most recently stepped into multiple choreographer roles where she recently completed Tick Tick Boom! with Forte Musical Theatre Guild and Newsies with Storybook Theatre. Kayla’s passion for the arts is rooted in self-expression and confidence; accepting our authentic nuances and using them to serve the work while honoring the styles and forms.

Dinou Marlett

Jazz Instructor

After dancing in Calgary since she was 4, Dinou traveled to England to attend Performers Dance College where she completed a three-year degree program and then danced professionally for two years in many lead roles in original productions throughout England. Since returning to Calgary, she had been teaching, as well as producing, choreographing and performing in various projects such as Calgary Cares and Alberta Dance Explosions. She was a guest artist in the DJD school show Live & in Sync (2001) and Kimberley Cooper’s Popular (2001) for One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo. She understudied roles in Perched on the Edge of a Quarter Note and was a full-time company member from 2002-04. Dinou was blessed with a daughter in 2004 and since then, has had a chance to work with Kimberley Cooper as Rehearsal Director for the Bravo!FACT production of “Distemper” and DJD’s in Charcoal and Crimson. She returned to DJD in 2007-2015 and has also danced in a variety of shows including AIR at DSW and the Bravo!FACT video, “Swing Fling Thing” and Variety Pack Cabaret. After leaving DJD, Dinou attended the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and is now a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant. She is looking forward to combining her love of dance and natural foods in this next chapter.

Janelle Schiffner

Jazz Instructor

Janelle has been dancing for over 20 years, training at various schools around Calgary. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Contemporary Dance with a Concentration in Choreography and Performance from the University of Calgary. She has participated in dance travel studies around the world, including New York City, Cuba, and Amsterdam. Janelle studied jazz at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks with their Professional Training Program and continues to share her love of jazz dance with students at DJD and around the city. As an active member of the teaching faculty within the Education Outreach at DJD, Janelle has taught thousands of students at schools in Calgary and at Telus Spark. Janelle also loves to share her knowledge and passion in music by teaching piano.


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