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Instructors

Instructors

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion”
– Martha Graham

Directors

Sandra Bald Jones

Sandra Bald Jones

Inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction in 2018.

Sandra comes from Kirkcaldy, Scotland, and now resides in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. Before emigrating to Canada, she was a competitive Highland Dancer, winning many awards and Championships including two World titles, Junior and Adult. As a dancer, she has been featured on Scottish TV programmes and touring shows, and was presented to the Queen following a Royal performance at Holyrood Palace in Scotland.

Over the years, Sandra has choreographed for many groups, both amateur and professional. Her own “Schiehallion Dancers” have carried the banner of Highland Dancing with performances across Canada, United States, Great Britain, Macau and Europe in such venues as the Edinburgh Tattoo, Berlin Tattoo, and Brittany’s L’Orient Celtic Festival. Sandra is a Founder and one of the Directors of the professional dance ensemble, “The Scottish Dance Company of Canada”. Their production of “Immrama” (Adventurous Journey) received rave reviews wherever they performed. She also did the choreography for the Mirvish production of “Needfire” where she worked with Director Kelly Robinson. This choreography was chosen for the 1998 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, and was also nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award. In 2002 she was the Director of a Canadian Highland Dance Team who performed with other Dancers representing Commonwealth Countries at the Queen’s Jubilee Celebration 2002 Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Sandra Bald Jones is a Fellow and Examiner of the Scottish Dance Teachers Alliance, Fellow of the British Association of Teachers of Dancing, Member of the United Kingdom Alliance and an adjudicator with the Scottish Official Board’s panel of Judges. Judging, teaching, and choreographing have taken Sandra all over Canada, the United States, Scotland, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

In 2011 Sandra was presented with a prestigious award from the SOBHD called The Atholl Clasp. Nominated by members of the Board, the recipient is chosen for their dedication and contribution to the sport of Highland Dancing. She has also been accepted as an Honorary Member of the SOBHD.

Dana Gamache

Dana Gamache

MSDTA, MUKA, SOBHD Judges Panel

Dana has been dancing with the Sandra Bald Jones Dance Studio since the age of 5 and has been a solid fixture on the international highland dance scene. She is a 9-time qualifier for the World Highland Dance Championships, including an overall 6th place finish in 1999. She represented Ontario 5 times at the Canadian Championships and won the South African Highland Dance Championships. A member of both the Schiehallion Dancers and The Scottish Dance Company of Canada, Dana has performed throughout North America, Scotland and Bermuda. She was a cast member of the Mirvish production of “Needfire: Passion of the Heart”, performed at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto in 1998, was in the Nutcracker with the Moscow State Ballet, and danced for the Queen when she won the Best Overseas Dancer at the Braemar Highland Games. She was a member of the Canadian Highland Dance team that danced in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Celebration 2002 Edinburgh Military Tattoo and performed on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the 2005 Canada Day Celebrations. One of the highlights of her performance career was dancing in the Scotland the Brave show at the Lincoln Center in New York City in 2009.

Dana has been teaching at the studio since 1998. She is a Member of the Scottish Dance Teachers Alliance, a Member of the United Kingdom Alliance and is an adjudicator with the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing’s panel of judges.

Dana has often described the Sandra Bald Jones Dance Studio as her home away from home. What started as a childhood hobby grew into a lifelong passion that she is excited to pass onto future generations. Dana is a strong believer that Highland Dance, and Mrs. Jones, taught her many valuable life lessons including goal setting, hard work, perseverance, and handling success and disappointment. Dana has a Bachelor of Engineering & Biosciences and a Master of Business Administration from McMaster University. In her non-dancing life, Dana is a Product Sales Specialist in the Medical Device industry.

Teachers

Chelsea Verbeek

Chelsea Verbeek

Fellow SDTA

Chelsea has been dancing with the studio for over 20 years both competitively and as a performer. She has travelled with the Schiehallion Dancers to numerous tattoos across North America and Europe over the years and participated in the 2008 Edinburgh Military Tattoo with Canadiana Celtic and 2012 Basel Tattoo with Ailsa Craig Highland Dancers. Chelsea is the co-director of the Schiehallion Dancers alongside Mrs Jones. She has choreographed numerous numbers for the Schiehallion Dancers, with highlights including: “Remember to Smile” performed at the 2014 Fergus Tattoo and placed 2nd overall at the 2015 Scotdance Canada Championship Series; and “Dancing through the Chaos”, featured at the 2021 Wee Digital Ceilidh for Fergus Highland Games. Under the direction of both Mrs. Jones and Dana Gamache, Chelsea has trained and successfully competed across Canada, United States and Scotland, with highlights including the Scotdance Canada Championship Series and the World Highland Dance Championships in Dunoon, Scotland. Joining the Scottish Dance Company of Canada in 2009, allowed Chelsea to expand her dancing accomplishments to include dancing and performing alongside some of the best dancers in Canada.

Gaining experience personally as a student at the studio throughout her life, Chelsea is honoured to pass on the love of highland dance to our dancers, and feels she helps our dancers grow both as dancers and as individuals. Teaching at the studio allows Chelsea to stay involved in the highland dancing community and she loves being a part of the SBJ Dance Studio Instructional Team. Chelsea has a Honours Bachelors of Science degree from McMaster University and is a Product Manager in the medical device industry.

Mackenzie Jones

Mackenzie has been dancing since the age of two, and has been a member of the Schiehallion dancers for the past seven years. She has performed with the Schiehallion dancers in many places such as The Virginia International Tattoo in 2015, The Bermuda Highland Games in 2013, The Bermuda Tattoo in 2015, The Fergus Tattoo in 2014 and 2015, and The Canadian International Military Tattoo for four years. Mackenzie has also traveled across Canada, The United States, Scotland, and South Africa for competitions and performances with highlights including dancing at the World Championships in 2015, Performing in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2016 and 2018, winning the Tribute to J.L McKenzie Scholarship Award in 2016 and the South African National Premiership in 2017.

Following four years of Assistant teaching Mackenzie obtained her Scottish Dance Teachers Alliance Associate Membership in 2017. Mackenzie loves to teach dancers the love of Highland Dancing that she has experienced her whole life, and hopes her students have as much fun as she does every time the music comes on!

Carina Cino

Carina Cino

Carina has been a highland dancer for 21 years now, starting with the Sandra Bald Jones Dance Studio at four and a half years old. Her mom says she put Carina in dance to try it out and she just hasn’t left! Carina has been a teacher with the studio for the last 10 years, and is also a member of the Schiehallion Dancers. With Schiehallion, Carina has had the privilege of dancing across Canada, the United States, and Europe, including a tour in Alaska, the Berlin International Tattoo, and the Basel International Tattoo. She always felt most proud to perform in her hometown, though, at the Hamilton International Tattoo.

Teaching at the studio has brought Carina much joy and pride in herself and her students. She consistently pushes her students to do their best, whatever that may be on any given day, and to have fun doing it. If it’s not fun, it’s work – and dance shouldn’t feel like work! She is passionate about Nationals and choreography, successfully choreographing duets and solos for first and second place winnings in Ottawa several times. She hopes to instil in her students a love of dance and choreography, allowing them to get lost in the music.

Outside of the dancing world, Carina has a Bachelors of History, a Bachelors of Education, and a Masters in History with focus on Ontario Freemasons. She can often be found shuffling her feet to the tune of a fiddle, because what’s life outside the studio without dance?

Heather Shenton

Heather Shenton

Heather has been dancing since the age of 7. Throughout her childhood, she moved across Canada having the privilege of experiencing many great teachers during her career. Dancing has always been a passion of Heather’s and during her youth, it became her constant as she moved around. She has competed across Canada, the US and Scotland. Her teaching career began in Calgary Alberta and when she moved back to Hamilton, she was thrilled to be able to continue teaching and have her two young daughters (Kenzie & Sydney) at SBJ studio. Heather has completed her SDTA Members.

Zoë Lawrence

Zoë Lawrence

Zoë has loved to dance since she knew how to walk. She discovered highland dancing at the age of 6 while attending a renaissance festival. It peaked her interest and she’s never looked back. Zoë joined the studio and Schiehallion dancers in 2015 as both a competitive dancer and performer. She has performed with Schiehallion at both national and international events. A few highlights in her dancing career have been performing in the Belfast International Tattoo 2019, performing with the American Rouges and Nagata Shachu in 2019, dancing in the Special Olympics Peel 2017 Opening Ceremonies and competing in four Scot Dance Canada Championship Series.

She successfully completed her Scottish Dance Teachers Alliance Associate Membership in 2017 and has been teaching classes at the studio since. She also brought highland dancing to university and taught a class through the University of Waterloo athletics department.

Coming to the studio opened up a new path for her in highland dancing. Never in a million years did she think she would be planning on continuing dancing into her adult years, and she credits that to the atmosphere of the studio and the Schiehallion dance group.

Claire Wolanski

Claire is excited to be joining SBJ Dance Studio! She has taught ballet for the last twenty five years in both professional and competitive schools in the U.S. and Ontario. Claire began her training in ballet and modern dance at the Dayton Ballet School, where she began performing with the Dayton Ballet II at the age of thirteen. She continued her studies at New York University and the Joffrey Ballet School before beginning her professional career with the Granite State Ballet and the Ontario Ballet Theatre. While living in New Hampshire, Claire began Scottish Country Dancing, where she met Robert McOwen who encouraged her to try Highland Dance. She joined his performing company Highland Dance Boston and competed as an adult beginner. Claire believes that ballet is a great complement to Highland training, allowing her to win a Most Promising New Dancer award at the Round Hill Scottish Games, and that the Sword Dance is one of the most difficult dances ever!

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