Debbie Tomaino – Director
Silvana Issighos – Director, Jazz, Acro, Tap
Zoe Barton – Ballet
Zoe grew up dancing at Dance Express, and always loved helping out with younger classes as a student volunteer. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her passion for dance with children, and is excited to be teaching ballet this year. Zoe recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with her Bachelor of Kinesiology degree. She is now working at Dance Express’ physiotherapy clinic, Physiostop, as an office administrator and kinesiologist. Zoe hopes to combine her passions for dance and injury prevention to help young dancers stay healthy and active.
Paola Brienza – Jazz
Paola Brienza’s journey with Dance Express started when she was 5 years old. Not only did she take dance lessons, but as the years went on Dance Express became her second home. In her teen years when she wasn’t in class she could be found assisting Miss Debbie or babysitting her 3 children. Fast forward 20 years, she moved to Mexico and had 3 children of her own. She’s now back in Canada and is super excited to be part of the Dance Express family once again!
Rina Busse – Musical Theatre
Miss Rina is classically trained as a mezzo-soprano and has studied voice and elocution with Dadye Rutherford, Nona Mari, Joseph Shore, and Spencer Welch for over 30 years and appeared in numerous Vancouver stage productions. On a whim she tried out for the role of “Eponine” in Les Miserables among 120 candidates, and became one of only 6 who had the honor of auditioning for the original production team in Toronto. She competed in a tremendous number of Kiwanis festivals, in the categories of drama and musical theatre, while teaching preschool “on the side” ( is what it felt like! ). Miss Rina has starred in various productions such as, “Ella” in Bells Are Ringing, ”Starting Here, Starting Now” a musical review at Arts Club Theatre; Anything Goes; ”Tzietel” in Fiddler on the Roof; ”Francesca” in West Side Story; ”Julie Jordan” in Carousel ; ”Lady Jaqueline” in Me and My Girl; ”Eliza” in My Fair Lady and just recently starred in an Agatha Christie (who done it) playing the part of “Laura Warwick” in The Unexpected Guest. Rina passionately wants to be a part of her students journey, by instilling in each them an excitement for …a confidence for….a love for…humanity itself coming alive …on the stage ! Now “move your blooming ars” and join the show!
Julianna Carbone – Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet
Julianna has had the privilege of growing up at Dance Express since the age of 2. Over the years, the studio became her second home; helping her grow not only as a dancer, but as a person. She continues to pursue her dancing career as a Dance Instructor teaching a variety of styles including Jazz, Hip Hop, and Ballet. Julianna also recently completed her Interior Design Diploma from The British Columbia Institute of Technology. Throughout her life, her creativity has stimulated her artistic passions. Sharing her passion for dance with students, and watching them grow, fills her heart with joy. Julianna strives to launch a positive and enthusiastic energy in every class and inspire others through her creative mind.
Daniela Erewa – Ballet
Miss Daniela began her training in Mexico under the “Imperial Teacher Society of Dancing” system, at the age of 9. She participated in competitions, festivals and performances, like Youth American Grand Prix- obtaining scholarships to prestigious schools such as Orlando Ballet School, The Rock School of Dance and Kirov Ballet. Daniela trained briefly at Coastal City Ballet, under the direction of Katrina Bois. She is an instructor with an energetic, vibrant and positive personality that will make the best in you shine.
Rae Fyhn – Hip Hop
Rae was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. At nineteen she studied at the University of Calgary in their Contemporary Dance Program. After years of training in Ballet and Contemporary, she switched gears when she discovered Hip Hop. Training wherever she could in the discipline including New York, LA, Vancouver and Toronto, she joined a Hip Hop Performance group in Toronto. Since then, she has taught all over the world with Hip Hop at the forefront. A teacher and choreographer for more than twenty years, she tries to incorporate all styles of Hip Hop in her classes to keep them fresh and fast-paced.
Shawn Hart – Ballroom, Silks
Shawn Hart’s dancing has always been influenced by his love of music. He began his ballroom dance training at the Picard School of dance in Maple Ridge. Since then, he went on to train with many local, and international ballroom instructors in social, standard and Latin dances such as jive, salsa, samba, west coast swing, lindy hop, rumba, cha cha cha, rueda, fox trot, night club two step, country two step and waltz. Shawn has taught hundreds of people throughout the lower mainland how to dance. He has taught people of all age groups through the VSB Continuing Education program, guest teaching for P.E. and Dance programs in high schools, Dance Express, and many specialty workshops in Ballroom lifts and tricks. He is constantly updating and expanding his skills. His newfound interest in circus arts has led him to train in silks, partner acro and main à main. He is a certified Acrobatic Arts teacher and a certified La Blast instructor.
Kimalyn Hikida – Tap
Kimalyn started dancing at community centres when she was 3 years old. She started at Dance Express at the age of 9, dancing both recreationally and competitively until graduation. Kimalyn realized her love of teaching when she started as a helper at age 11. Dance has always been a significant part of Kimalyn’s life, and she is excited to share her love for it with all of her students. Outside of Dance Express, Kimalyn is an elementary school teacher in the New Westminster School District, where she is able to combine her passions for education and fine arts.
Ashley Jennings – Lyrical, Ballet, Contemporary Ballet, Jazz Technique
Ashley graduated from Langley Fine Arts School and she is trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern and Musical Theatre. Her love for dance led her to her dream job as a dancer and aerialist onboard Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line. Now she is a mom and a local Realtor. Ashley remains connected with her passion for dance and feels lucky to be teaching the next generation.
Missy Martin – Jazz, Ballet
Missy has been teaching dance for over 20 years. She began her career in Prince George where she studied ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, musical theatre. She received her R.A.D Advanced 2 certificate at the age of 16 while dancing the lead role of Clara in the Production of the Nutcracker alongside the Prince George Symphony Orchestra and Ballet BC Alumni Edmund Kilpatrick. As a Provincial Rep she has been awarded runner up in ballet in 1997 and runner-up the jazz and stage category in 1998. Since moving to Vancouver Missy has partnered with choreographer Paul Becker dancing in movies such as Josie and the Pussy Cats, and Life or Something Like it, starring Angelina Jolie. She has also worked with Chris Kattan as a dance stunt double in the film Totally Awesome and has done a National commercials for Macy’s. She has worked on the TV show American Dreams with Brittany Snow. She specializes in teaching jazz, contemporary stage and lyrical, but also teaches ballet, and pointe,youth tap and musical theatre.
Cynthia Miller – Ballroom, Silks
Cynthia Miller’s passion for dance led her to train at studios in Cuba, New York, London, Munich, Paris and Vancouver. She began teaching dance in public high schools in 1991 when she completed her Bachelor of Education Degree. She teaches a wide range of dance genre including salsa, jazz dance, hip hop, musical theatre, African, tap, ballet, partner acrobatics, contemporary, Bollywood, swing and Latin dance. Her love of dance led her to complete a Master’s Degree in Dance Education in 1996. With a strong interest in multicultural dances, Cynthia also completed her CDTA examination in Cuban salsa and Rueda. Her most recent training and interests include aerial silks and lyra.
Doriana Pandyra – Jazz, Tap, Ballet
Miss Dori began her dance journey at three years old, taking ballet lessons at the local community centre. At the age of 10 she found Dance Express and over the years has taken lessons in Musical Theatre, Stage, Hip Hop and Polynesian as well as CDTA exams in Jazz and Tap. In addition to being part of the competitive group at Dance Express Miss Dori was a student assistant at the studio. Over the years she has also travelled and performed with an Italian Cultural dance group as well as being a part of various musical productions throughout high school. During her time in post secondary Miss Dori organised and ran dance camps during the summer season. She has always loved working with children and Miss Dori holds a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on ‘childhood’ from Capilano University and, even after all these years, being at the studio is still the highlight of her week. This will be Miss Dori‘s 19th season teaching at Dance Express.
Molly Schmidt – Jazz, Acro, Tap, Stage
Dance Express has been a part of Molly’s life since she was 4 years old. She grew up with this wonderful studio being her second home, and it is where she found her passion for teaching. This year will be her tenth year teaching at Dance Express, teaching Tap, Jazz, Acrobatics and Stage. Molly graduated VCC with a diploma in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies, as well as graduating Capilano University with a bachelor’s degree of Early Childhood Education.
Stacey Tolmer – Assistant Director, Tap
Miss Stacey grew up at Dance Express and trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Acrobatics and Musical Theatre for 15 years. She began teaching in 2001 and throughout that time has found her true passion in teaching Tap. In 2007, she completed training at Columbia Academy in Audio Engineering and Sound Design, specializing in Post Production Audio. In 2009 she completed her CDTA teacher’s certification exam in Acrobatics. She hopes that her positive upbeat energy and love for Tap can inspire her students to find their true passion and have some fun along the way!
Courtney Vasquez – Jazz, Acro
Courtney started dancing at Dance Express at the age of 2. She has trained in many styles including Jazz, Acrobatics, Tap & Ballet. During her years of dance she completed her CDTA exams in both Jazz & Tap, with distinction. She started teaching at Dance Express in 2002 & completed her CDTA teachers exam in 2009. Throughout her years at the studio Courtney has taught multiple dance programs in the local elementary schools. Courtney is happily married with 2 wonderful daughters and is so happy to be apart of the Dance Express family!
Janessa Vasstein – Jazz
Janessa Vasstein has been teaching at Dance Express for the past twenty years. Her connection with Dance Express started when she was only eight years old and “Ms. Silvana” was teaching her first ever Jazz class. Her love for dance and music expanded into the fitness world where she became a member of the BCRPA, teaching a variety of group fitness classes in and around the community. Since then, she received her Human Kinetics degree at UBC in 2006, and shortly after, completed her Bachelor of Education degree in 2009. She believes a strong, healthy body paired with a positive attitude is key to the success of any dancer’s life. Most recently, she has become the dance teacher at Windermere Secondary, and looks forward to continuing the journey to share her love for the art of dance.
Diane Zurowski – Ballet, Pointe
Diane received her training at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in the Professional Division. After performing with the company in their staging of Giselle, she went on to dance professionally with The National Ballet of Canada as well as the Anna Wyman Dance Theatre and Manitoba Dance Theatre. She currently loves teaching the next generation of danc