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Dancers

Meet our current company of professional jazz dancers who perform the original choreographic works of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks locally and tour nationally.

Our skilled dancers, many of whom have trained since they were younger than 5 years old, master a style that is distinct and eclectic mixing groove, African roots, rhythm, improvisation, interplay with musicians, and deeply human soul.

Our dancers are handpicked from as far away as Cuba and Africa – and as nearby as our own province – live in Calgary and work as a team five days a week, more than 30 weeks per year. Learn more about auditions.

ALISHA AHMADI, APPRENTICE DANCER

Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Alisha trained with the Professional Training Program at Pro Arte Centre and graduated as a member of the CatchingART Contemporary Ballet Theatre Company with Artistic Director, Astrid Sherman. In 2013, she moved to London, England and graduated with a BA (Hons) at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. While in England, she danced with Rambert Dance Company in their productions of Itzik Galili’s “A Linha Curva,” and “The Creation” by Mark Baldwin. She was also privileged to work with a wide variety of teachers and choreographers such as Darren Ellis, Antonia Francheschi, Kerry Nicholls, Arielle Smith, Jason Mabana and Chris Thomas. In December 2016, Alisha moved back to Vancouver as a freelance dancer and has worked and performed with various artists, some of which include Amber Funk Barton, Heather Laura Grey, Peter Bingham, Jennifer Mascall, and Judith Marcuse. Alongside working with fellow artists, Alisha has toured and performed her own solo and duo compositions as well as collaborations with Ben Cooper and Christian Lagasse on the Island and Lower Mainland. As well as performing, Alisha is an associate teacher with AFSA in Acrobatics as well as achieving her ISTD Associate Diploma in Ballet and Modern. Alisha is privileged to be with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks this year. She is very excited for this opportunity and to further her knowledge and career as a versatile dancer.

SCOTT AUGUSTINE, DANCER

Scott is a native of Vancouver B.C and this is his first season with DJD. He has danced extensively with the Vancouver based contemporary company Wen Wei Dance as well with other companies such as The Company 605, Radical System Arts and Move. He was Principle Dancer in Tokyo, Japan for the show Encore! as well as a Principle Tapper for the 2010 Opening Ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics. Scott has played major roles in musical theatre including Riff In West Side Story for the Vancouver Opera and Rainbow Stage, Tulsa in Gypsy and Neleus in Mary Poppins for the Arts Club Theatre Company.

CASSANDRA BOWERMAN, DANCER

Born in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Cassandra is a dance artist, educator and choreographer with a passion for quirkiness and physicality. After completing her BFA in Performance Dance at Ryerson University, Cassandra’s love of jazz and rhythm took her to Calgary for DJD’s Professional Training Program. Working in Hamilton, Calgary and Toronto, Cassandra has continued to develop a unique style through the exploration of different movement genres, thriving on anything groove based and filled with musicality. This is Cassandra’s first season with the DJD company and she is thrilled to be a part of it.

sabrina comanescu, DANCER

Sabrina “Naz” Comanescu is a dynamic emerging talent and an energetic supporter of the Calgary dance and Caribbean Community through her work as a dance instructor, performer, and choreographer.  Training in urban/funk and Afro-Caribbean dance styles since the age of six, Sabrina dove into her studies of jazz dance at the School of Decidedly Jazz in 2013, in DJD’s Professional Training Program. Sabrina is also the current major force behind The Diversity Performing Arts Club of Calgary and created Casa De Naz in 2012, a collective with a mission to “excite and educate art hubs across Canada about the thriving Caribbean community in Calgary and the arts of the Caribbean as a whole through film, fashion and dance”. Sabrina has performed in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, Trinidad and Tobago, Finland and New York City with such companies as House of Dangerkat, The Bad Girls Club YYC and ILLFX Entertainment. Sabrina is thrilled to be performing for a fourth season in the DJD company!.

JARED EBELL, APPRENTICE DANCER

Born and raised in Nanoose Bay BC, Jared began his dance training at Parksville Ballet School where he trained in many different dance styles from ages 6-17. He completed his training at Arts Umbrella and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, then danced professionally with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Alberta Ballet, and Dancer’s Studio West. He has also enjoyed experimenting with side projects and taking workshops such as Transformation Danse in Montreal. This is Jared’s first season with DJD and he is thrilled to be one step closer to his initial goal in dance, becoming Gene Kelly.

MARA KATHERINA LIAO ESNARD, UNDERSTUDY

Cuban native, Mara, began her artistic career with rhythmic gymnastics and modeling at the age of seven. She continued with professional ballet training and graduated from the National Ballet School in Havana, Cuba. In 2008, she started teaching at the Instructors Arts School in her hometown. At the same time she was performing with Sol Dance Company at various resorts in the tourist area of Varadero. In 2015 she started teaching in various studios in Calgary after moving to Canada a year earlier. In December 2018, she finished her second year with DJD’s Professional Training Program and she is thrilled and grateful for this amazing opportunity. Mara is passionate to participate in the Calgary dance community as a teacher, dancer and choreographer.

JASON OWIN F. GALEOS, DANCER

Born in Norway, Jason Owin F. Galeos is a dance artist based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His dance studies are based on Hip Hop, House, Funk Styles and Contemporary Dance. He has danced for Tara Wilson, Saxon Fraser, Melissa Monteros, Deanne Walsh, Wojciech Mochniej, Michèle Moss, Pamela Tzeng, Zahra Shahab and Sylvie Moquin. Since 2007, he’s been recognized in the community for his unique movement and cross genre approach. In 2012, He earned his BA at the University of Calgary, Majoring in Contemporary Dance. In 2015, Galeos started J-SIK Movements: the spontaneity and immersion in hip-hop culture and the choreographic maturity of contemporary dance, where he evolved as a professional dancer. In 2017Galeos co-produced his very first production in collaboration with Purposely SoulFul “Fall of the Leaf | Høsten Bladet”. In 2018, he collaborated with Ember Dance Company, presented “Die Münze (The Coin)” provided by Springboard Performance and Good Women Dance Collective and most recently “Les Journalier Extrait 2 (The Journeyman Excerpt 2)” as part of the University of Calgary’s 49th annual Dance Montage. Galeos continues to further his career internationally and currently resides in Calgary as an Apprentice Dancer for Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.

CATHERINE HAYWARD, DANCER

Originally from Winnipeg, Catherine’s studies led her to Toronto’s Ryerson University where she graduated from the dance program, earning her B.F.A. with Honours. In 2005, Catherine moved to Calgary to continue her dance training at DJD, where she fell in love with jazz. Since then Catherine has immersed herself in the Calgary community as a performer, choreographer and teacher. Catherine has been a dancer with the DJD company since the fall of 2007. She was Artistic Director of DJD’s most recent dancer-choreographed shows, Velocity in 2017, and Borderland in 2015. Catherine was a founding member of Dancers’ Studio West(DSW) Dance Action Group(DAG), a small ensemble of aesthetically diverse performer/choreographers who co-operated to fulfill opportunities for community animation, offer organizational support for DSW and invest in new opportunities for artistic development. With DSW, Catherine has pursued choreography using original musical compositions and the musicians performing live as part of the work. She presented a new piece, form, act, cease, ensue in collaboration with musician Jeremy Gignoux as part of DSW’s Dance Action Lab in July 2017 and Tethered, an original musical composition by Rubim de Toledo in 2016. Catherine and fellow DJD company member Shayne Johnson have been working in collaboration on developing new work. The finale of DJD’s Velocity, entitled end was their first ensemble collaboration, set on the full DJD company. Their most recent duet Polyhedron premiered at the Fluid Festival in 2015. They will debut their first full evening of work Bodied Indivisible next year. Catherine is also developing of a new solo for established artist Davida Monk, it will premiere in 2019. Catherine enjoys her role teaching students, including five seasons as a choreographer with Alberta Dance Theatre for young people (ADT). She continues to mentor teen dancers training in Jazz as part of DJD’s Teen Jazz Advanced program and has joined the faculty of DJD’s Youth Training Program this year. Catherine is thrilled to be dancing in her 12th season with the DJD company.

kaja irwin, DANCER

Kaja Irwin is a Winnipeg born dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. Ms Irwin has worked with respected Calgary choreographers Michèle Moss, Deanne Walsh, Alison (Bryan) Stone and Jennifer Mahood. While living in Toronto, Irwin had the exciting opportunity to work with choreographers, Sharon Harvey and Jenn Goodwin. For the past two years, Irwin has created new choreographic works for the Annual Alberta Dance Festival and worked with Alberta Dance Theatre. In Fall 2017, Irwin also created a solo piece for the Physical Therapy Cabaret for Fluid Festival, which she looks forward to developing further in the future. In 2015, she was a juried choreographer at the 60X60 FESTIVAL in Toronto, ON and in 2014, her solo performance ‘MAIM’ was exhibited in Ottawa, CA and Amsterdam, NL. Irwin has enjoyed collaborating with the Winnipeg based band Royal Canoe, choreographing music videos for them including, ‘Somersault’, ‘Walk Out on the Water’ and the recently released video ‘Living A Lie’. Irwin is thrilled to be in her fourth season with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks.

shayne Johnson, DANCER

Shayne began his dance training at age 5 and at the age of 12, launched his professional career as a guest tap dancer on the “Super Dave Osborne” TV show. Shayne went on to join the Canadian National Tap Team, became a member of the Grizzlies Extreme Dance Team for the NBA and was hired as a dancer and choreographer for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Since moving to Calgary in 2008, Shayne has been an active member of the Arts community.  Shayne was a member of Dancers’ Studio West’s (DSW) Dance Action Group (DAG), a small ensemble who co-operate to fulfill opportunities for community development and offer organizational support for DSW. Shayne presented a new work in DSW’s Dance Action Lab in July 2016 and a solo in their Alberta Dance Festival in September 2017. In addition to focusing on choreography, Shayne is an established tap teacher in the community. Shayne and fellow DJD member Catherine Hayward have been working in collaboration on developing new work. They will debut their first full evening of work Bodied Indivisible next year.

NATASHA KORNEY, DANCER

Natasha began pursuing dance at the age of 13, specifically in the styles of Hip-Hop, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary and African Dance. As part of her training she spent two years as a pre-professional student at the School of Decidedly Jazz, performing in their show Footprints. In 2010, she commenced a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Dance Program at the University of Calgary performing in Mainstage and other productions. This is Natasha’s 6th season with DJD and she looks forward to performing in many more productions with the company.

KALEB TEKESTE, DANCER

Kaleb is a Calgary based dancer, choreographer and teacher. In 2004 he joined DJD’s Professional Training Program and in 2006 he understudied Kimberley Cooper’s in Charcoal and Crimson. As fate would have it, he found himself jumping into a role a few days before opening night thus marking his debut with DJD. Kaleb has choreographed for Slammenberry Jam, Dance Montage, Alberta Dance Explosions, Calgary Cares and several of DJD’s bi-annual dancer-choreographed evenings. In addition to performing with crews the Original Rudes and ILLFX, in 2010 he danced in a short film/commercial in conjunction with the Vancouver Winter Olympics and has performed with artists such as the Black Eyes Peas, Snoop Dogg and Jully Black. Kaleb recently co-starred in the documentary film Made in Vietnam which premiered at the Calgary International film festival. This is Kaleb’s tenth season with the company.

 

 

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