Nayo Sasaki-Picou (Owner & Artistic Director)
Nayo Sasaki-Picou is an interdisciplinary artist, with background training in acting, dance and music. She went to York University and did her B.A in Anthropology and Dance Studies and then to New York University and received her M.A in Africana and Performance Studies. Through her school training and real world experience of teaching youth programming for the last 10 years, she has extensive experience in cultivating supportive and vibrant art spaces. Her vision for Gotta Dance is to strengthen the community environment, encourage continued training among teaching staff and broaden arts programming to produce the most exciting and enjoyable environment possible. Having worked as a youth arts coordinator with organizations throughout New York and Toronto, she is excited to apply this experience to her new role as Owner and Artistic Director. She hopes to bring this passion and her experience as a seasoned artist and teacher to inspire her vision of Gotta Dance evolving into the robust space it has all the potential to be.
Albetel Abera (Owner)
Albetel Abera is a BComm and registered massage therapist. When working in business, she held an Accountant Manager position and worked in the scope of business development and client relations. Her academic and real world experiences propelled her towards entrepreneurship, informing her role as overseer of marketing and the rental streams at Gotta Dance. She plans to bring a Wellness perspective to Gotta Dance and liaise with the teaching staff to ensure that the dancers are feeling good in their bodies and maintaining optimal body mechanics. She currently freelances at a Massage and Rehab clinic and works with her clients to ensure injury prevention through improving strength. As her first year as co-owner at Gotta Dance, she looks forward to integrating this experience into the studio and give dancers access to on-site support to understanding body mechanics and injury prevention more deeply.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Kimberley moved to Vancouver in 2010 to follow her dreams and pursue a career in dance. While in Vancouver she trained with Harbour Dance Centre’s ITP and completed two seasons performing and touring with the prestigious Source Dance Company under the direction of Joanne Pesusich.
Kimberley performed at many live events in Vancouver including Vancouver’s Gay Pride Festival with artist Sarah K, Improv Vancouver, Urban Alchemy, Vancouver International Salsa Festival and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler, BC.
After 5 years of training, teaching and working professionally in Vancouver, and a summer training in Quebec with RubberbanDance Group, Kimberley relocated to Toronto where she continues to teach, choreograph, perform and train to push herself in her craft. She has worked on projects with Creativiva including Ricarda’s Grand Opening, SickKids Gala and their live production of Illuminite at Yonge-Dundas Square. She also travelled with the company to Bahrain in the Middle East with their production of Cinderella.
Most recently, Kimberley performed for the 6th HUM Awards with BNF Entertainment Dubai. She will be returning for a second season of Wondersee Entertainment’s “The Great Big Boo” tour in Canada in Fall 2018. She is also a member of Knowledge Dance Company, a new contemporary dance company based out of Toronto, where she is rehearsing for shows to be performed later in 2018. Having extensive teaching experience and choreographing for all ages all around the GTA, Kimberley is continually inspired by new people and experiences. She is excited to return to Gotta Dance this season and cannot wait to share her love and passion for dance with all the kids!
Jaylen Hoo Sang
As a professional dancer for the past 9 years, Jaylen Hoo Sang has been involved in the dance community since the young age of 15. Jaylen is currently the director of 2 teams — The Compound and Limitless Compound, who are the 2018 & 2019 BYOB High School Champions under the choreography and guidance of Jaylen. He has been consistently performing all across the GTA which was highlighted this summer by a performance at the MMVA’s. He is constantly dedicating himself to creating a positive and passionate environment for people to learn and push each other. In his own words: “In everything we do, we believe there is a ceiling. Let’s push past that together, we are humans and our potential is limitless”.
Maxine Adjeleian is a Canadian based Dancer/Teacher who now resides in Toronto, Ontario.
Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Maxine found her love for dance at a very young age. Growing up, she trained in all styles from Ballet to Hip-Hop, to Tap and Jazz. She has successfully completed her Advanced Jazz and Tap exams with ADAPT, as well as her Advanced II Ballet exam through RAD. She also was fortunate to have student-teacher/choreographer opportunities back home in Ottawa, Ontario, allowing her knowledge and understanding of the craft to expand.
Maxine moved to Toronto in 2018, to continue her journey as a dancer. She has been training with Millennium Company & Crew for the past year, allowing her to stay versatile while excelling in all styles. Through this program, Maxine has had the opportunity to work with teachers/choreographers such as Hayley Paone, Amanda Donato, Cora Kozaris, Chris Clarke, Peter D’Souza and more. Maxine recently had the opportunity to work with choreographer Derick Robinson on his previous production titled “The Off-Beats”.
Maxine hopes to expand her training while continuing to share her knowledge with the students here at Gotta Dance.
Briana has been teaching at Gotta Dance for 3 years, and is looking forward to working her 4th year and meeting all the wonderful new students! Gotta Dance has become a second home to Briana as a teacher, but mostly as a place where she grew up and learned almost everything she knows about dance. From the years 2005-2011, Briana was a dancer in the competitive program. A few years later she was asked to come back and teach alongside a wonderful group of talented teachers! Now she’s currently teaching acro and jazz while attending school at the University of Toronto.
Shannel’s passion for dance began at the age of three. She studied various genres, including tap, jazz, ballet, acro, lyrical & contemporary. For 14 years, Shannel danced competitively, attended workshops and auditions within Canada and the United States. She has won countless awards as a dancer and was featured on national television at one of the most prestigious dance competitions. Shannel has over a decade of experience teaching at the competitive and recreational levels. Her students have won numerous overalls, special awards & scholarships. She has also been recognized by well-known and respected adjudicators for her choreography and creative concepts.
Shannel is excited to share her passion and knowledge for dance with her students and hopes to inspire them to achieve their best!
Michael Rulentlez, known as Rulentlez aka BoyAstro, born & raised in Toronto. With over 18 years of industry experience, 7 years of teaching (TDSB), music videos, acrobatics, martial arts, Latin dance & many others. Has traveled for dance around North America, Nicaragua, and South Korea. With a background in Early Childhood Education, extensive experience volunteering for youth functions & instructing youth adolescents for the past 7 years; He is well equipped and continues to share his knowledge of dance with the people he has the opportunity to teach. Performing across Ontario and internationally doing shows to inspire youth; He teaches workshops for all ages on hip hop culture, break dance, turntablism & musicality.
Daniel Keith Morrison
Daniel is a professional dancer and an aspiring actor. Born and raised in Scarborough, he is best known for his musicality, unique methods of expression, events, and his wild/outspoken personality. A member of the dance crew The Moon Runners, Daniel is a b-boy who also competes in a Party Rocking Style, also known as Hip-Hop freestyle.
He has been involved in professional and competitive dancing since 2008. Within that time he has competed and won various competitions in: choreography, solo, and team battles across North America, Europe, Asia, and the UAE. When he is not training or competing, he’s either running his own dance events, or teaching people how to dance in the two styles he specializes in. His theory in dance is that dancers need to learn more than moves; they need to learn the significance and meaning behind them. His dance goals are to educate people on hip-hop dance and what it is, as well as pushing Canada to become a mecca for dance.
Montreal-native Aaron Aquino-Annobil has worked and choreographed for dance crews in the GTA including YYZ Dance Company (World of Dance Toronto reigning champs) and C2 Genesys. He is the co-founder of a dance program geared to adults called RUN THE FLEX. His Performance credits include: Lupe Fiasco, Kardinall Offishall, Jully Black, Sean Paul and Terry Crews (from the Old Spice commercials, Brooklyn nine-nine & White chicks). He also had the opportunity to work with Toronto’s best choreographers including Shavar Blackwood, Esie Mensah, Leon Blackwood, Ofilio Sinbadinho, Mariano Abarca, Pyro Chung, Tabby Rockstar and many more. Aaron is also an assistant choreographer for The Male Initiative and is a faculty member at the Underground Dance Centre and Millenium Dance Complex Toronto where he teaches all levels of hip hop. Most recently, his choreography has been showcased at, Toronto’s Choreographer’s Ball, Fever After Dark, and has helped choreographed on a full-length dance and theatre production in east coast Nova Scotia called “Chiaroscuro”.
Paul Mula is a dancer/choreographer/instructor born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Paul joined the Clique Dance Crew in March 2013 (age 16) and began choreographing and teaching for the crew in the summer of 2016, which was also the time he started teaching hip-hop dance at ‘Gotta Dance Studio Inc’. Starting dance at the age of 11, most of his training and education is from self-practice and research. But Paul has learned a lot from working deeply with local dance artists including Esie Mensah, Shameka Blake, Leon Blackwood, and Shavar Blackwood, who he has trained under for almost 3 years (2015-2017). In the summer of 2017, Paul began teaching drop-in classes at ‘The Underground Dance Centre’. But earlier that year, Paul’s journey as an independent dance artist began, as he would produce video and stage projects that would grant him opportunities including teaching workshops in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, through the international dance camp, “The R2D Camp”. His work would also lead him to achievements such as winning “The GOAT Competition 2018” with The Clique Elite, and being selected to present a show-closing piece at “The Industry Night 2018”. Whether it is choreographing, dancing, training, or teaching, Paul’s innovative actions are strongly driven by his purpose that is: to raise the standard, in order to redefine how dance artists are respected.
Dance became a part of Emily’s life from a very young age. She began her training in ballet, tap, and jazz. When Emily began to dance competitively, at the age of ten, she expanded her repertoire with contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre, and acrobatics. Within her time in dance studios, she has co-produced many charity dance showcases, donating all of the proceeds to foundations such as the Sick Kid’s Foundation and Make A Wish. Teaching has always been her passion as she has been assisting dance classes since 2005, both in recreational and competitive. Emily attended both George Brown College and The School of Toronto Dance Theatre to further train in dance. She is currently a member of multiple dance companies in Toronto, which perform in a range of commercial, latin, and Bollywood styles. She has also performed for international companies, such as BNF stationed in Dubai. Emily continues to train in order to grow as both a performer and teacher.
Julia Walton was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta and trained at the Edmonton School of Ballet since the age of 6, as well as the full-time Vimy Ridge Academy dance program during high school. She has an extensive background training in Ballet, as well as other styles such as Jazz, Contemporary, and modern dance. In 2014 she moved to Toronto to attend George Brown’s Dance Performance studies program to further her training and graduated in 2016. Afterwards, she joined Canada’s Ballet Jörgen’s one-year Mentorship program where she danced with the company in Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and The Velveteen Rabbit. In this time frame, Julia has trained and has had the pleasure to work with high-end instructors and choreographers. Since finishing the program, Julia has continued freelance work with KulKat entertainment, Jestrevents, and Medusa Entertainment. She has also performed in the corp de ballet for Toronto International Ballet Theatre’s production of the Nutcracker and performed at the 6th Annual Hum Awards which took place in Toronto in 2018. She is looking forward to more wonderful opportunities in the future
Lily Costa (Administration)
Lily has been part of the Gotta Dance Community since the age of 3 and has had a passion for dance ever since. Born and raised in Toronto, Lily started dancing competitively here at Gotta Dance at age 12 and continues to do so now at 17. Alongside her passion for dance, her love for travelling has given her the opportunity to dance in various places such as Portugal, France and Cuba. This has allowed her to expand her knowledge of diverse cultures and dancing styles. Lily has training and certifications in working with children and has been working for different volunteer places and camps since 2016. Lily is certified in Standard First Aid (Level C), AED and CPR (Level C) and infection control. This has provided Gotta Dance with extra safety measures for our dancers and families if need be.
Now welcomed into administration, Lily is beyond Grateful to be part of the GDI team and meet such wonderful people.
Kayla Chacon (Administration)
While growing up, Kayla had the opportunity of being exposed to different aspects and styles of dance, music, visual arts, and the dramatic arts. During her early teen years, she was given the opportunity to volunteer at a non-profit arts camp. She completed a leadership program while working with kids of different ages and backgrounds. She attended St. Lawrence College, where she studied the fitness and health promotion program. One of the highlights of her post-secondary career was having the opportunity of being the student athletic therapist for the women’s rugby team, who won OCAA bronze that year. Before relocating back to Toronto, Kayla worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation during her final academic year. She is excited to start her second season here at Gotta Dance!
Grace Chacon (Studio Director)
Grace has had a passion for children and the arts for the past 17 years. She studied at Humber College in the Child and Youth Work program. She began her career working for a non for profit organization for 8 years, where she started as a counsellor-in-training, later working her way up to program coordinator/ camp administrator. She has worked in different institutions, including schools where she helped develop programs for children with learning disabilities, behavioural concerns, and different home environments. She recently completed her TEFL certification with the University of Toronto and hopes to be able to teach English abroad in the future! Her years of experience in the workforce have given her a strong foundation to take any situation head-on. Grace is excited to join the Gotta Dance team for her 4th season as she continues to cheer on the dancer’s every step of the way!