Naomi Gilman - Owner/Director
Naomi Gilman trained at some of the top dance schools in Vancouver, Montreal, and Ottawa in ballet, jazz, and modern, completing all the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Examinations. At 11 years, old she started assistant teaching younger students, and was given her own class to teach two years later. By 15 years old Naomi was highly sought after within the Christian community, teaching, choreographing, and performing across Canada and internationally. After graduation Naomi spent 4 years training with the world’s premier Christian Ballet Company, Ballet Magnificat, after which she was hired as Road Manager for their touring company. She returned to Ottawa in 2010 and started working for Arise School of Dance as an administrator and teacher. For the next five years, Naomi’s passion for teaching grew as she saw the impact it had in the lives of her students. Not only did she see the success of her students as they received high marks on their ballet exams, but she also saw how sharing her love for the Lord and His word impacted their lives. In 2015, Naomi, along with her fellow Arise teacher Jennifer Turco, took over ownership of Arise School of Dance with the desire to see it reach its full potential in the Lord.
Jennifer Turco - Owner/Director
Jennifer Turco has spent most of her life in the studio, either dancing or teaching. As a child, she received top marks in her Royal Academy of Dance grade exams and her Intermediate and Advanced 1 vocational exams with the Cecchetti Society of Canada. She also spent a year with La Jeunesse Classique youth ballet company in Calgary. Upon returning home to Ottawa, Jennifer spent three years in the teacher’s training programme at The School of Dance and was awarded her Associates Diploma with the Cecchetti Society. Jennifer’s teaching repertoire includes a vast array of styles ranging from creative movement for preschoolers, classical ballet for all ages and abilities, jazz, hip hop and contemporary. She also choreographs for the Arise Youth Ballet. Dance has always been a driving force for Jennifer, but it wasn’t until finding the Lord as a young adult that she really understood the greatness and the impact that dance can have when it is used to glorify Him. With three children of her own, she understands the importance of an environment that nurtures and uplifts truth, while also teaching excellence and perseverance.
Helen Gagné- Teacher
Helen Gagné, Dip. RBS (TTC), ARAB, RAD RTS, has been a member of the Royal Academy of Dance since 1984 and is a registered RAD teacher. She began full-time vocational Ballet training at the age of eight when she attended The Arts Educational School in Tring Park, England. She went on to graduate from London’s prestigious Royal Ballet School with a Teaching Diploma in classical Ballet. In 1992, Helen moved to Canada and has had the joy and privilege of training numerous dancers, teaching in several studios across the Ottawa Valley, and sharing her love and passion for classical Ballet. Helen’s teaching career now spans over three decades, but she continues to hone her expertise through seminars and classes. During the Covid lockdown, Helen further expanded her knowledge and qualifications by successfully attaining two Psychological First Aid Certifications and pursuing other mental education geared towards working with adolescents. Additionally, she has completed the Royal Academy of Dance’s Teacher Mentoring training, participated in the Royal Ballet School’s Teachers’ Training Webinars and Online Summer Intensive Lectures, and taken part in numerous zoom based presentations and discussions with other dance professionals across the globe.
Cara Racicot - Teacher
Cara Racicot started dancing at Ottawa’s own Canadian School of Dance at the age of 5. As a student, she not only earned top marks in her Advanced Jazz and Tap Examinations with the Associated Dance Arts for Professional teachers (ADAPT), but also in all of the Classical Ballet examinations with the Royal Academy of Dance. Cara won the title of National Teen Dancer of the Year with Candance Competition in 2007, and was a title soloist with American Dance Awards from 2007-2011, competing across Canada and in the U.S. Upon graduation, Cara moved to Jackson, MS for 2 years to train with Ballet Magnifiat, the world’s premiere Christian Ballet company, where she was able to use dance to share God’s love, through touring with their Event’s Company. Cara graduated with her MSc in Physical Therapy from McGill University in the Fall of 2019, having previously received her BSc, in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. Cara has been teaching at Arise since 2015 and is currently a full-time physiotherapist at Holistic Wellness Physiotherapy. Arise students of many levels and dance styles benefit from Cara’s vast knowledge of the human body, which she loves to incorporate into her teaching to help achieve excellence, while preventing and managing injuries.
Natasha Rowsell - Teacher
Natasha Rowsell began her career in movement as a competitive gymnast for seven years before she moved into the dance world. As she quickly discovered, gymnastics and dance have very similar traits, which made her switch impeccably smooth. Because of her gymnastics background, she moved right into competitive dance, studying many styles, including Acro, Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary and Hip Hop. During her competitive years, her performances won many scholarships and awards, including ‘first overall’ in numerous competitions. After she completed high school, Natasha went to the Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney Australia to complete a dance intensive, learning how to worship God through dance and choreography. After coming home from this program, she attended Master’s College and Seminary to earn a bachelor’s degree in theology. With over a decade in teaching experience Natasha has taught at Durham Dance Studios, worked on church dance teams, trained competitive gymnasts in dance, and choreographed their floor routines. In addition to teaching dance, Natasha is the Arise School of Dance resident Bible teacher leading and challenging our youth in their walk with the Lord.
Merry Macuzzi - Teacher
Merry Macuzzi is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, where she received her ballet training from Gen Horiuchi, Paul Gartland, Margilyn Valle, and Irina Zykova. She trained in Jazz and Modern dance under Cecil Slaughter, and was the St. Louis delegate to the National Society of Arts and Letters Competition in Dance during her last year of high school. Merry began teaching at Academy of Dance, and then later taught at Ballet Midwest. She has always had a love of choreography, and has directed four original children’s ballets. Wanting to use ballet to share the love of Jesus, Merry entered the Ballet Magnificat! Trainee Program in 2006 and was promoted to Company Artist and Soloist in 2009. Merry’s many performances with the company took her on tour throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, and Africa. During this time, Merry saw firsthand how dance can communicate beyond spoken language, and can impact people from all walks of life. While on the road with Ballet Magnificat!, Merry taught master classes and workshops to students of all levels and ages worldwide. It was on a Canadian tour that Merry met her future husband. She married him and moved to Ottawa in 2013 where she has been a part of the Arise School of Dance faculty ever since.
Maggie Shew - Teacher/Support Staff
Maggie Shew began dancing at Arise School of Dance at the age of 10, training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, and Hip Hop. Joining the Arise Youth Ballet in 2015, Maggie quickly established herself as a force to be reckoned with. Her passion to use dance for the Lord and her training in multiple styles has opened up doors for her to teach and choreograph, not only at Arise, but also at other dance schools in the National Capital Region. Maggie loves using her gifts wherever they are needed, and has worked with dancers and non-dancers alike in church settings to put together choreography for productions and plays. Maggie attended Ad Deum Dance Company’s Summer Dance Intensive in Houston, Texas, with a focus on Modern Dance, and in 2017 received Distinction in her Royal Academy of Dance Intermediate Ballet Examination. In June 2020, despite the Covid lockdown, Maggie graduated from Ottawa’s The School of Dance, in their Contemporary Dance Diploma Program, a 3-year Post-Secondary program for Advanced Contemporary dancers. Maggie has been teaching at Arise since 2014, helps out with administration, runs the Arise social media accounts, and has recently taken on much of Arise's filming and video editing for the virtual online shows.
Gabby Sandor - Teacher
Gabby Sandor started dancing at the age of 4 and joined Arise School of Dance at the age of 11 to pursue her training more seriously. After successfully completing all of her Royal Academy of Dance Ballet Examinations, Gabby continued to train in classical ballet at a Pre-Professional level, studying, rehearsing and performing professional variations. In addition to Ballet, Gabby studied and trained in Jazz and Contemporary at an Advanced level. During the summers of 2015 and 2017, Gabby traveled to the United States to train at Ballet Magnificat!, the world's premiere Christain Ballet Company, in their Summer Dance Intensive. Because of her love for the Lord and her work ethic, she took on the position of Company Captain with the Arise Youth Ballet for two years. Upon graduating from Arise in 2019, Gabby travelled to Brazil to train professionally with Ballet Magnificat Brazil’s Trainee Program. Gabby has been teaching at Arise since 2016 and she loves to share her passion for dance and for the Lord with her students. Gabby is currently furthering her study at Algonquin College in their Fitness and Health Promotions Program.
Noelle Klassen - Teacher/Administrator
Noelle Klassen danced from a young age, but started her serious training when she moved to Ottawa at the age of 14 and joined Arise School of Dance. Noelle worked her way through the Royal Academy of Dance Vocational Ballet Examinations, while also studying Jazz and Contemporary. She passed her Advanced 1 Ballet Exam during the Covid lockdown in the summer of 2020. Noelle joined the Arise Youth Ballet in 2016 and was promoted to the peer mentorship position of Company Captain in 2019. Noelle has a huge heart for children and lots of experience having worked with CEF, an organization that teaches and ministers to children by providing day camps all over Ontario with a focus on at-risk communities. She spent years serving on the children’s ministry at her church and has organized plays and holiday performances. Noelle began teaching at Arise in the Fall of 2019, while at that same time began working as Arise Support Staff behind the desk. In the winter of 2020, Noelle was promoted to be Naomi’s Administrative Assistant and loves helping keep all the details straight and everyone on task, so that Arise can run smoothly from the inside out. Noelle is currently training for her final ballet examination.
Mia McIntyre - Teacher
Mia McIntyre started dance at the age of three and has never looked back. She has achieved marks of Distinction in all the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet examinations, including the Advanced 2 Ballet exam, which she took over video during the Covid lock-down. Mia has been a part of the Arise Youth Ballet Company since its conception in 2010, making her the longest standing member. As such, she has danced in over a hundred performances in and around the Ottawa Valley. In the summer of 2019, Mia traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to train with Ballet Magnificat! at their Summer Dance Intensive. In the Fall of 2019, she was selected for a role in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's production of The Wizard of Oz at the National Arts Centre. In addition to Ballet, Mia has trained extensively in Jazz and Contemporary. Mia worked on the Arise teaching team as an assistant and substitute teacher for the past few years and is thrilled to take on some of her own classes this year. Mia is continuing her own training in preparing for the Solo Seal Award, which is a performance examination hosted by the Royal Academy of Dance and is only open to a handful of top marking ballet students across Canada.
Daisy Fairweather - Teacher
Daisy Fairweather has been dancing since the age of three and was one of Arise School of Dance’s original students. Since that young age, she has been training in ballet and jazz, and has been a member of the Arise Youth Ballet Company. Daisy has completed all of the Royal Academy of Dance Vocational Ballet Examinations through the Advanced 1 level. She received marks of distinction on her latest exam and is currently working towards her final ballet exam, Advanced 2. Daisy’s love for teaching and children led her to getting her certification as a lifeguard, complete with first aid training, which ultimately allows her to work as a swim instructor. After several terms working with Arise as an assistant teacher, and becoming a favourite with the young dancers at Arise, Daisy began teaching her own classes mid-pandemic and continues to rise to every challenge thrown her way.
Silvia Klassen - Special Event Coordinator
As a mother of two beautiful dancers, Silvia Klassen has been involved in the dance world for over 10 years. When she started working at Arise in 2019, Silvia brought a unique perspective that came from having had previous administration experience, as well as from being a parent in the dance world. Prior to working at Arise, she was the Assistant Director at a local music school, where she handled most of the daily tasks, including registrations, payments, supply inventory and customer service. Silvia and her husband were also the Senior Leaders of a church in downtown Ottawa for several years. In this capacity, she had the privilege of sharing the love of God with many people, young and old, and walking with them through the highs and lows of life. She oversaw much of the church's organizational aspects and, at various times, worked in the role of teacher, preacher, special events coordinator, administrator, small group leader, and conference planner. With a long history of administrative experience in such a wide range of settings, Silvia has been a great addition to Arise in overseeing many of our fundraisers and various projects.
Robin Gilman - Support Staff
Back in the early nineties, Robin Gilman and her husband, Alan, were introduced to the power that dance has when it is used for the glory of God. Robin's encouragement of her ten children in this direction led several of her daughters to pursue professional careers in the performing arts. Twenty-five years ago, Robin started hosting a variety of dance classes in her home when friends and neighbours asked her daughters to teach their children in a family-friendly atmosphere. Robin was chatting with mothers, taking payments, and helping organize recitals long before Arise was ever named Arise School of Dance. Five years ago, Robin and Alan Gilman passed the ownership of Arise School of Dance to their daughter Naomi and fellow dance teacher, Jennifer, but Robin has continued to invest herself in Arise as a mother and grandmother. This is the second year that she has worked an official capacity as a part of the Arise Support Staff. Robin loves serving all who enter the doors of Arise.