Our Staff are our Reputation!
The professional dance faculty at Premiere Dance Academy ensure a fun, safe, creative and technically strong environment for the students. For the parents we offer a pleasant and professional studio experience.
Lisa Svecla, Artistic Director and Owner, along side of her qualified dance faculty promise a caring, focused and challenging experience for all students.
PDA office staff are friendly and helpful and are there to assist a great experience and answer any questions you may have
Dance Teachers at Calgary's Premiere Dance Academy
- Lisa Svecla
- Debbie Black
- Angela Benson
- Arlene Bernie-Brown
- Jennalee Colpitts
- Carmyne Fynn
- Kira Greasley
- Jamie Harding
- Alexandra Joneson
- Ali Kaschuk
- Shersht Lamba
- Olive Lindberg
- Jamie MacNeill
- Gillian Mayhewr
- Madison McArdie
- Emily Mckay
- Jennifer Regan
- Lysia Smandych
- Irene Weatherilt
- Sam Wong
- Tara Magill
- Alexis Harmer
- Laura Knauff
- Lisa Svecla
- Todd Svecla
- Laurie Baines
Lisa Svecla - Artistic Director & Owner
As a dancer her entire life from the age of 4, Lisa began her teaching career in September of 1983. She began teaching at Premiere Dance Academy in September of 1984 and in September of 1999 she became the Owner and Artistic Director of the studio.
The 2008 - 2009 dance season marked a huge Anniversary for Lisa - her 25th season with the studio - and she is thrilled to be able to still be here doing what she loves best: working with the dancers, creating new pieces, watching the dancers grow into amazing people and using their talents and their passion for her first love too ... dance!
Lisa keeps very busy with teaching, adjudicating, choreographing and her two daughters who are competitive dancers and adjudicating from coast to coast in Canada.
Premiere Dance Academy students have won many awards and recognition for their routines. Lisa is proud of each and every student, teacher and choreographer for all of the outstanding work and efforts made every year at the recitals and competitions.
Many of the dancers from Premiere Dance Academy are now performing in Las Vegas, on cruise ships, in MTV videos, ballet companies and in many other facets of the performing arts.
Lisa also choreographed the opening ceremonies of the World Police and Fire Games (1997), and holds the position of co-director for the Hats Off Management Group. Hats Off has produced many dance and singing shows such as the Calgary Junior Singing Idol, and other performances.
To help create well-trained assistant and student teachers, Lisa wrote the Calgary Board of Education Accredited Student Dance Teacher Training Program. This student teaching program gives dancers a better base of knowledge to become well-rounded and prepared dance instructors. In 2010 she added the Student Apprentice Program to Premiere Dance Academy's teaching program.Collapse
Arlene will be teaching at our Royal Oak location. Arlene grew up in Calgary where she trained in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, musical theatre and gymnastics. As a young dancer, she participated in dance exams and festivals. Her passion for dance excelled when she became a member of the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts.
With the Young Canadians, Arlene performed in the Evening Grandstand Show at the Calgary Stampede. She was invited to perform in Las Vegas, numerous corporate events and a Grey Cup Half Time Show. Throughout this time, she worked with guest artists and choreographers from around the world, gaining valuable professional & theatrical experience.
Arlene has studied dance at the U of C, Edge Performing Arts Centre in Los Angeles and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Recent training programs include Dance Teacher Web Conference in Las Vegas, Yoga Kids Foundations Training, Alberta Dance Educators Workshop and numerous Acrobatic Arts training events. Arlene is a certified Acrobatic Arts instructor as well as being certified in the Intellidance Method (an early childhood development based dance program).
Over the years, Arlene has instructed children & adults throughout Alberta and internationally in Bangkok, Thailand and Stavanger, Norway. She also spent time living in Dubai. For inspiration, she has travelled to New York & London to experience the magic of Broadway Theatre. Arlene has a passion for working with children and always looks forward to inspiring the next generation of dancers!Collapse
Gillian grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, training at Sandra Gray School of Dancing. She accomplished training in Grade 8 Al Gilbert Tap Technique and has her master’s in Vaganova Ballet. With dance she has had opportunities to train outside of the country, in places such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Spain.
She has trained at studios and conventions such as the Edge Performing Arts Center and Millennium Dance Complex in LA as well as Steps on Broadway, Alvin Ailey and New York City Dance Alliance in New York City.
She has learnt from top Choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio, Benji Schwimmer, Bobby Newberry, Sonyah Tayeh, Shannon Mather, Blake McGrath, just to name a few. Upon graduation Gillian began teaching at Sandra Gray and has choreographed numbers that have won countless overall titles and choreography awards.Collapse
Debbie is a registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D.) and a member of the W.R.D.A.A. She began teaching at Premiere Dance Academy in the 1999 - 2000 dance season.
Debbie trained in Calgary at the Allan Cozzubbo Academy of Dance where she taught ballet, tap and jazz for 22 years.
Over the past few years Debbie has taught at several studios in Calgary.Collapse
Jenifer will be teaching at our Royal Oak location. Jenifer was born and raised in Iowa, USA. She has had a love for dance and the arts since the early age of 3, when she began taking dance classes. Jenifer was the youngest member of the top dance group in the studio at the age of 11, when she also began competing. She won numerous top awards at regional and national competitions, including numerous stand out dancer awards. Jenifer started out as a student teacher at the age of 11, and then moved on to become a full time instructor at the age of 16.
Jenifer went on to major in Dance Performance, and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the highly-regarded and nationally-recognized dance program at Oklahoma City University after spending years of studying dance and performing in competitions. There she was an elite member of the American Spirit Dance Company, as well as a member of the Pep Dancers, who performed at basketball games for the Oklahoma City Stars, and local events.
Jenifer has performed professionally for over 5 years. While in college, she performed in the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular, and spent her summers performing in Dallas, TX at the national convention for the Mary Kay cosmetic line. After graduation she spent 2 years with Fancy Pants Productions performing at Kings Dominion Theme Park in Doswell, VA where she was a featured soloist, in such shows as All Access, Country Tonite, and Spin to name a few. Jenifer’s ultimate dream job came true when she got the call she was hired with Stiletto Entertainment, based out of L.A., to cruise and perform with Holland America Cruise Line. Jenifer performed and travelled around the Mediterranean , Panama Canal, Bahamas, and Alaska to name a few.
Jenifer has the qualifications, talent, and enthusiasm to challenge the abilities of the most advanced dancers in the studio, but she believes that there's a place for every level of student who enjoys dance and wants to learn. She looks forward to her first season with Premiere Dance Academy and can’t wait to meet all of you! Collapse
AJ started developing her love and passion for dance at Premiere Dance Academy when she was only 3 years old. She has trained in various styles including ballet, tap, jazz, musical theatre, street jazz and lyrical. At the age of 7 she joined the competitive team and has won numerous overall awards and scholarships. AJ is excited to begin teaching at Premiere, the very place where she was molded into the dancer she is today and cannot wait to share her love for dance with her studentsCollapse
Tara began studying dance at 6 years old. She has trained in a variety of dance disciplines, including lyrical, tap, jazz, hip hop, comtemporary, musical theatre and ballet. She has successfully completed the Royal Academy of Dance graded ballet examinations as well as the Intermediate and Advanced 1 major ballet exams, achieving grades of distinction on all.
Over the course of her training, Tara has participated in the various dance workshops, conventions and competitions in Canada and the IS, receiving successful results and accolades for her preformances. She has throughly enjoyed training at Premiere Dance Academy and participating in the competitive dance program. A recent gradute of Centennial High School, Tara is currently studying Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary with hopes of studying medicine in the future.
Tara is also continuing her dance studies and training while attending university. She is thrilled to be part of the Premiere Dance faculty and is eager to share her love of dance with the students.Collapse
Miss Kira unofficially began her dance career at the age of 3.
The majority of Miss Kira's training was at the Allan Cozzubbo Academy of Dance where she also completed her student teaching under the direction of Carol Nielson. Miss Kira has completed all Al Gilbert Tap, Jazz and Jazz tap syllabus as well as her Advanced 2 Tap and Jazz Brian Foley Syllabus. Miss Kira has completed all levels of the British Association of Teaching exams as well as the Royal Academy of Dance Educators Syllabus levels 1-3. In 2009 she trained for her RAD Advance 1 ballet exam passing with a Merit standing.
Miss Kira has competed at numerous competitions throughout Alberta with many successes including scholarships from the Alberta Dance Educators Association and Wild Rose Dance Arts.
Over the years, Miss Kira has performed many shows around Alberta as well as traveling to Anaheim, California to perform at Disneyland. However, Miss Kira believes that her greatest achievement in performing was when she was chosen to be part of the ballet company for the Opening Ceremonies of the Calgary '88 Winter Olympics.
Miss Kira has expanded her training over the years and spent two weeks at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York where she was honoured to take a tap class with renowned tapper Savion Glover. As well, Miss Kira has traveled many times to Las Vegas to train with renowned choreographers such as Joe Tremaine, Doug Caldwell, Keri Legrand and Benji Schwimmer, to name just a few. Miss Kira has also participated in classes taught by Mia Michaels, Tyce Diorio and Luther Brown where, yes, she tried to get her hip hop on!
Miss Kira is honored and excited to be a part of the Premiere Dance Academy Faculty where she's able to pass along her love of dance.Collapse
Jaimie Harding was born to perform, whether it’s on the stage or just in class! She has been teaching for close to 20 years, the last ten which have proudly been at Premiere Dance Academy. She was born and raised in Saskatoon and started teaching at the age of 16 in an around the province of Saskatchewan. Jaimie has trained extensively in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, musical theatre and hip hop. She obtained her advanced II ADAPT certificates in tap and jazz and elementary RAD.
Her love of dance gained her the opportunity to perform for Carnival Cruise Lines in 1999-2000. Jaimie also spent two years in Greece where she worked for various artists and choreographers in videos, television and concerts. Jaimie also had the opportunity to adjudicate for Champions Dance Competition.
Jaimie holds a BA in Communications Studies from the University of Calgary and works full-time as a Senior Community Relations Advisor. She is passionate about helping her students reach their fullest potential both in and outside of the dance class.Collapse
Emma has been dancing at Premiere since the age of 6 and joined the Competitive Team in 2007. She has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Pointe and Tap. She has enjoyed working with many different choreographers throughout her years of training and experiencing everything that Dance has to offer and has given her. Emma is excited to share her enthusiasms, passion and love of Dance with all her students.Collapse
Shresht will be teaching at our Royal Oak location and has been learning Bollywood since the age of 3. A passion for dance and music has always been in his veins. Shresht took training from SDIPA in New Delhi and then continued his dancing in Calgary with Soul Feet Dance.
Shresht has been teaching at Premiere for 2 years now and loves to showcase the expression that Bollywood brings through his students. Shresht is currently in 4th year of his International Relations degree and wishes to pursue law in the future. Shresht wants to teach his students the true values of Bollywood: energy, expression and passion.Collapse
Emily has been dancing for 19 years, training in a variety of styles including: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Musical Theatre, and Acro-Dance. She started her training at the age of three. Over the years Emily has had many opportunities to perform in special events, these include; dancing in the Disneyland parade, on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, being a member of a pre-professional contemporary company, Acrylics, and dancing in the University of Calgary dance shows Montage 2014 and Mainstage 2016.
Throughout her training Emily has danced in many recitals and taken part in competitions throughout Alberta. She is now in her 4th year at the University of Calgary as a dance major studying choreography and performance. Emily is looking forward to sharing her passion for dance with the students of Premiere Dance Academy.Collapse
Jamie was born and raised in Calgary and spent 6 years of her dance training at Premiere Dance Academy. During these years she trained in numerous disciplines including jazz, ballet, tap, musical theater, lyrical, and contemporary. Throughout her schooling Jamie has spent countless hours involved in drama and musical theatre productions. She has a strong passion for dancing, singing, and performing.
Along with pursuing a B.Sc degree in biological sciences at the University of Calgary with the hopes to one day studying medicine, Jamie still remains very active in the preforming arts community. This past summer she toured with the Calgary Youth Chorus and represented Canada at the Golden Gate Festival in San Francisco. She is also a member of a Calgary based dance company.
Jamie is thrilled to be spending another season sharing her passion for dance and theatre as part of the Premiere Dance Academy Faculty!Collapse
Irene Weatherilt will be teaching at both our Silver Springs and Royal Oak locations: Former Artistic Director for Red Deer College Conservatory of Ballet has mentored many professional students who grew up and became professional dancers. As well as training excellent foundational ballet technique and conditioning, Irene has choreographed numerous ballet theatre performances filled with community performers. Irene currently lives and creates ballet classes and choreography in Calgary, ABCollapse
Mady began dancing at the age of 5 and immediately fell in love with everything dance had to offer. Over the past 14 years she has trained in jazz, tap, ballet, contemporary, lyrical and modern. She has participated in numerous competitions, conventions, and showcases receiving scholarships and awards including ‘Dancer of the Year’.
At the age of 15 she began assisting and found her true passion for inspiring young dancers to reach their potential both inside and outside the studio. She has worked with children ages 3-14 in multiple genres including musical theater, tap and acro. After beginning her training in High River she started assisting recreational and competitive acro classes. Upon graduating from high school she began her certification through the acrobatique program, and hopes to begin her ADAPT jazz and tap certifications this upcoming summer.
Aside from dance Mady studies Kinesiology at the University of Calgary majoring in Mind Sciences and hopes to pursue an Athletic Therapy Diploma and Masters Degree in Sport Psychology following the completion of her undergrad.Collapse
Sam began to teach himself to dance after being inspired by music artists and street dance pioneers. Sam is part of champion hip hop crew "The Tomorrows", mentored by Lenny Len from Toronto, Ontario. He has starred in multiple videos, and performs all over the city for various events, and charities. He continues to push himself and works to improve his technique daily. Sam is very excited to start teaching at Premiere and share his knowledge and passion with the dancers!"Collapse
Ashleigh Schoonderbeek has been dancing since the age of four. She has danced at both Divine Dance Academy in Olds, Alberta where she first got her start as a teacher, and also at Joy’s School of Dance in Innisfail, Alberta. Ashleigh has had many opportunities through dance including the chance to be part of a music video for a local artist.
She is currently studying at the University of Calgary as an English major. Ashleigh is the part of the Dino’s cheer team at the university where she gets the opportunity to dance and perform for the student body as well as stunting with the team.
Ashleigh is very excited to be a part of the Premiere Dance Academy family!Collapse
Amanda Sakundiak started dancing at the age of 3 and has loved it from the beginning. She started off her training with Ukrainian dancing for 2 years, and then moved on to Premiere Dance Academy at the age of 6.
Amanda has been trained in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, and street jazz. She joined Premiere’s competitive team in 2005 and has loved every second of it. Being part of the Premiere team has molded her into the dancer and person she is today.
Amanda has been an apprentice and then student teacher for the past couple of years. As well as a substitute instructor for many of our classes at time and as an instructor for summer dance camp 2013 . 2013-2014 marks Amanda's first year as a faculty Member.Collapse
Lysia will be teaching at both our Silver Springs andf Royal Oak locations and believes in dreams and knows that sometimes it takes a while to make them all come true.
Classically trained in ballet since age three, Lysia knows the importance of a strong foundation and was so excited to be a dancer who got to do "all three" (ballet, jazz & tap). Finding her niche in musical theatre, Lysia won several gold medals for her song and dance solos and at age 12 was cast as Tessie (You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile) in the Young Canadians Dinner Theatre production of Annie. She went on to perform as Sandy/Sparkle in The Other Side of the Pole at The Pumphouse Theatre, Laurie in Oklahoma! and Anita in West Side Story at St. Francis High School.
After her studio training, Lysia explored her culture through dance where she developed herself as an artist and a choreographer.
As dance evolves, so must the dancer, and Lysia leaves no discipline un-danced. As a principal dancer for the Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Theatre, Lysia has danced for audiences across North America including Queen Elizabeth II. In 2008 Lysia performed in Australia from Sydney to Perth in the folk-opera ballet, Kateryna.
Lysia encourages each one of her students to be themselves, work hard and understand that being a dancer, performer, or whatever your dream may be, can be achieved - if YOU believe.
Miss Lysia is very excited to be a part of Premiere Dance Academy and pass on her love of dance, working alongside teachers who passed it on to her.Collapse
Angela Benson is one of the most innovative Choreographer/Artistic Director’s working in the performing arts industry today. She is accomplished in providing professional and expert instruction in dance technique, choreography, performance skills, casting, staging and creative development. Angela is recognized for her versatility, sassy style, and the ability to feature performers in their best limelight. She has the finesse to work with all categories of talent including dancers, singers, youth, actors, models, and athletes with her specialty being large groups of performers. There is no challenge this girl cannot face head on.
Angela began her dance career in Calgary Alberta, Canada at the age of three. She studied and trained in all advanced levels of dance including Jazz, Tap and Ballet as well as expanding her repertoire to voice, acting and many different genres of dance around the world. Angela’s professional performing arts career has taken her to stages on London’s West End to cruise ships, film and commercial.
After her own performing career, Angela began a new journey on the other side of the stage educating youth in Performing Arts from her home town. Angela has had the honor of working with The Calgary Stampede as their Director of Dance and eventually becoming Artistic Director of The Young Canadians of The Calgary Stampede, educating hundreds of aspiring young artists in performing arts. Angela’s experience in the industry has enabled her to produce talent that have been awarded contracts with Disney, Cirque Du Soleil, Music Videos, Cruise Lines, Broadway and film! Angela has since realized another dream and is now the Lead Choreographer for the world renowned Calgary Stampede’s Grandstand Show under Emmy Award Winning Creative Producer Mr. Dave Pierce.
Angela's expertise for the arts makes her a sought after Choreographer and Artistic Director. Her passion for performing is contagious and she has the ability to inspire others to push past their boundaries.Collapse
Ali grew up in Calgary where she started dancing at Premiere Dance Academy at the age of 4. For the next 14 years she competed in the disciplines of ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and street jazz at Premiere. Putting priority on studying the Cecchetti method of classical ballet, she trained at Wendy Wright Studios and Alberta Ballet under Wendy Wright, Nancy Kilgour (Order of Canada) and Nicole Caron. During this time, she participated in many productions, the most memorable being Swan Lake. Ali has been involved in different advert campaigns, most recently for UC International College 2016 as well as a dancer for Canadian country singer Corb Lund, in his music video Dig Gravedigger Dig.
During this time Ali has and continues to donate her time to humanitarian aid, another passion of hers. Over the past few years she has spent time working in schools and churches, one of the most memorable being in Ladyville, Belize. Most recently spent the second half of 2014 in Montego Bay Jamaica working with NGO- Spiritual Fruit Ministries and education ministers in the Montego Bay area.
Ali has recently returned from Christchurch, New Zealand where she completed the first and second years of her undergraduate studies in the areas of Political Science, Philosophy and Sociology. She now continues her studies at the University of Calgary, while co-authoring an article with New Zealand Sociologist Andrew Sepie, on Collective Behaviour specifically researching, Moral Panics.
Ali has completed the Hmong Teacher Training Program (I & II) under Lisa Svecla and was a faculty member at Premiere during the 2013-2014 dance season. She is excited to join the faculty again and share her passion for dance. Collapse
Olivia Lindberg, from the age of 3, has grown up dancing at Premiere Dance Academy. Her luv and passion for dance guided her to join the PDA Competitive Team at the age of 8. She is well-versed in Jazz, Street Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet, Contemporary and Lyrical. Olivia has been an apprentice, student teacher and substitute instructor for the past few seasons. She loves preforming and is excited to share her love of dance with her students this season.Collapse
Jennalee started dancing at the age of 3 and never looked back. She has trained extensively in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, modern, musical theatre and hip hop. Jennalee has attended numerous ballet summer schools including the National Ballet of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Goh Ballet and the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts. She obtained her Advanced II RAD as well as her Intermediate ISTD.
Jennalee has attended many conventions and has progressed her dance studies at Harbour Dance Centre, The Edge in Los Angeles and in New York City.
Jennalee danced for three years with Carnival Cruise Lines, acted in a television commercial for VIBE 98.5 and in a television movie Flirting with Forty starring Heather Locklear. She has also danced as a company member with Encorps Dance Collective in Calgary and is currently a member of the new contemporary company 02 Dance.
Jennalee has been teaching and choreographing in and around Calgary since 2006 and has taught at Premiere Dance Academy since 2008. Jennalee received a Broadcasting Diploma from Mount Royal University and recently completed a Communications degree at the University of Calgary.Collapse
Lexi has grown up in Calgary, AB training at PDA since the age of three. She has trained in various styles including ballet, hip hop, jazz, musical theatre, street jazz, lyrical, and tap. She has accomplished her RAD ballet exams and has done numerous dance workshops to help with her training. She is also a proud member of the PDA competitive team which has taught her how to be a team player and mentor. Lexi has been apprenticing since she was 12 years old and then finished with student teaching.
hroughout the years she has learned what it takes to be responsible and has had lots of help from the other teachers to get her to where she is today. Lexi’s passion for tap has been acknowledged over the years with scholarships and special awards. She is very excited to be sharing her love and knowledge of tap with her students this year and is dedicated to getting her students to their full potential.Collapse
Todd Svecla - Office Manager
Todd Svecla has a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Calgary. He has always been involved in the performing arts, since his high school days in drama, working backstage, and now at the Premiere Dance Academy studio. So, when Lisa and Todd married it was a natural transition into working and managing the dance studio.
Todd is available to answer any financial questions you may have regarding your dancer's account, and he handles all of the marketing and general business details at the studio.Collapse
Laurie Baines - Attire and Wardrobe Coordinator, Administration
During the 2015-2016 Dance season, Laurie will continue(after many wonderful years!!) as Attire and Wardrobe Coordinator. As well, she will continue to work some days at the studios in an administrative role. Please feel free to contact, or ask Laurie questions at any time, irregardless if the question or concern is attire, costumes or general inquiries!Collapse
Renee Pedersen - Studio Receptionist
Renee is one of the friendly voices that you will hear on the other end of the phone when you call Premiere Dance Academy.
She is readily available to help with any questions or concerns you may have, or direct your question to the appropriate individual to answer them: the artistic director, business manager, assistant manager, and instructor or the studio liaison.Collapse