DANCE DREAMS SCHOOL OF DANCE TEACHERS
B.F.A, B.Ed, M.Ed, R.A.D., B.A.T.D., ACTRA Member (Film & Television)
Dance Teacher/Choreographer/Principal Director
Ms. Gillian Brooks knew at the tender age of six that she had a passion for dance. She trained and strived for versatility in many dance forms such as tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theatre, song and dance, pointe, character, modern and ballet at both a competitive and professional level. Ms. Brooks trained in Classical ballet forms of Cecchetti, Russian and Royal Academy of Dancing methods. She is an Associate of the B.A.T.D. (British Association of Teachers of Dancing) as well as a Member of the R.A.D. (Royal Academy of Dancing). She studied dance at Ryerson University and York University where she attained her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (Specialized Honours) in dance. She trained with many teachers and choreographers such as Nadia Potts, Karen Duplisea, Vicki St. Denys, Stelio Calagias, Darcey Callison, Donna Krasnow, Holly Small, Claire Wootten and Danny Grossman. She attained her Masters of Education (York University). Her thesis linked Special Education and Dance as she delved into the life of a professional modern wheelchair dancer and the boundaries and limitations she faced while in the dance studio.
Ms. Brooks has danced in music videos with Glass Tiger ("Don't Forget Me When I Am Gone"), and performed in thirteen commercials and movies which have aired throughout Canada and the United States. She is a Member of A.C.T.R.A. for film and television, having worked on various works with actors such as Eric Idle (Monty Python), Al Waxman (King of Kensington), John Byner (Bizarre), Kathleen Robinson (90210/Scary Movie 2) Jerry O'Connell (Stand By Me/My Secret Identity) and Alyson Court (The Big Comfy Couch) and the band Candy.
In 2006, Ms. Brooks was invited by the Ministry of Education to be a member of an Arts Curriculum Review Panel to provide input for the revised 2009 Elementary and 2010 Secondary Arts Curriculum document used by all Ontario teachers. She has taught dance workshops to more than 400 teachers within the Toronto Catholic School Board and has been invited to teach dance workshops at York University to Teacher Candidates (Consecutive Programme) for many years. She was also the Dance Publicity Coordinator for the York University Dance Department and was a dance instructor to both dancers and gymnasts at Seneca College (Newham Campus) and Dance Supervisor for Seneca dance camps. Ms. Brooks also provided Health and Wellness Services to older adults at the Sherwood Court Long Term Centre, teaching them dance therapy classes and taught dance to children of Canadian Military families living at the former Downsview Military base. She was invited to be a Dance Judge at a Professional Dance Competition based on the merit of both creative choreography and proper ballet technique in training dancers at Dance Dreams School of Dance. She is currently a Special Education teacher with the Toronto Catholic School Board, providing support to Grades 1-8 students in her school in both Mathematics and Language Arts. Ms. Brooks strives at all times to provide a positive, healthy dance education for all of her students.
B.A., M.Sc., R.A.D.
Dance Teacher/Choreographer/Artistic Manager
Ms. Mariana Gurgis is a classically trained choreographer, dancer, and writer who has excelled in performance and choreography in ballet, contemporary, modern, lyrical, jazz, tap, hip hop, musical theatre, pointe, and character. She is a member of the Royal Academy of Dance and successfully completed her ballet examinations with “Distinction." Ms. Gurgis won many scholarships, overall awards, and special awards while she competed as a dancer for years. Her stage credits include choreographing and performing in the musical, City of Angels (Choreographer/Dance Chorus/Ensemble Cast, VCDS) at the Isabel Bader Theatre, Hair (Choreographer/Dance Chorus/The Tribe, VCDS) at the Isabel Bader Theatre; Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (“Snow White,” Children’s Theatre); and An Explosive Pie in the Belleby Kitchen (Playwright, Newborn Theatre’s “Odds and Ends Drama Festival”) at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.
Ms. Gurgis began teaching dance through the York Catholic District School Board for Cardinal Carter C.H.S.'s dance program (Grades 10-12). She was Co-Director and Co-Choreographer of their production, A Symphony of Dance Works, as an alumna of the integrated arts program where she received the highest overall score in Dance every year of her dance training. Ms. Gurgis has been teaching at Dance Dreams School of Dance since 2009. She was awarded a Choreographer/Teacher Award and scholarship by the Performing Arts Educators of Canada (P.A.E.C) for her choreography. She is proud to see her students grow through dance, and has watched some of them go on to perform for the Ballet Jörgen. Ms. Gurgis is also a professional Dance Judge for various dance competitions. With Ms. Brooks, Ms. Gurgis also runs a cross-curricular arts program, "Dance the Change," that uses dance and writing to educate students on global issues; this program is an official Partner of the Toronto District School Board, is board approved by the York Catholic District School Board, and in York Region District School Board schools.
In addition, Ms. Gurgis co-choreographed the first ever dance production for We Charity, which was performed at We Charity's Headquarters, the Global Learning Centre, in 2019. Each dance revolved around local, national, and global issues including child labour, poverty, hunger, contaminated water, education, women's rights, etc. Along with Ms. Brooks, she was invited back to feature one of their dance pieces on the global water crisis at We Charity's World Water Day in 2020.
Ms. Gurgis has a Master's Degree in Creative Writing (M.Sc.) from the University of Edinburgh and an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) from the University of Toronto's Victoria College in English and Philosophy. She also pursued a Certificate of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies.
B.A (Honours), B.Ed
Ms. Ciana Henderson is both a Theatre Artist and Educator who has recently graduated from the Concurrent Education program at Queen's University having attained a Bachelor of Education with a focus in Arts Education. She has been dancing since the age of three and has trained in the Royal Academy of Dance ballet syllabus as well as the dance styles of Jazz, Contemporary and Lyrical. She has also majored in Drama and Psychology. Ciana continues to train with dancers and Artists in the Toronto Area. She is thrilled to be part of the Dance Dreams School of Dance team and looks forward to the year ahead!
B.A., J.D. Candidate
Ms. Enza Gurgis is a teacher and dancer of dance styles ballet, pointe, contemporary, modern, jazz, tap, character, and musical theatre since the young age of three. She was trained through the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus by R.A.D. ballerina Carol Appel MacAskill and by Gillian Brooks, and through the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet syllabus by ballerina Jarvi Raudsepp of the Ontario Ballet Theatre, as well as in modern dance by Sarah McQueston of the Toronto Dance Theatre. Ms. Enza has been a member of the Dance Dreams community for ten years, performing in both the recreational and competitive divisions, as well as in assistant, supply, and head instructing. She competed in dance with Dance Dreams in musical theatre groups and modern solos, placing among top “The Next Step” dancers at the Fever International Dance Championships. She continues to participate in dance, aerobics, and yoga classes provided by Hart House of the University of Toronto to upkeep her creativity and technique.
Ms. Enza is also a visual artist, seen in her contribution towards the creation of two murals at Cardinal Carter Catholic High School and in her display of two surrealist and metaphysical art pieces at the York Catholic District School Board Art Show. She has taught visual art techniques to children at the McMichael Art Gallery, and provided painting sessions at the Oak Ridges Retirement Centre. In addition, she has organized music, improv, dance, and art nights on her campus for Cards4Humanity charity. Ms. Enza channels this visual creativity into her dance choreography.
Aside from her love of dance and art, Ms. Enza has received an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and History at Trinity College of the University of Toronto. Ms. Enza wishes to bring a passionate, creative, and technical foundation to her students, sharing in the beauty and fun of dance.
Bree Wasylenko was born and raised in Calgary, AB and started dancing at the tender age of 5. After moving to Toronto to pursue a professional dance career, Bree made the top 20 of “So You Think You Can Dance Canada” Season 3. She then went on to perform in hit television shows such as “Nikita”, “Bomb Girls”, “Baxter”, “Over The Rainbow”, “Canada’s Got Talent”, and as Ashley Tisdale’s body double in “Hellcats”. Her movie credits include “Make Your Move”, ABC’s “Desperately Seeking Santa”, and CTV’s “Turn The Beat Around”. Bree has also worked behind the scenes as a choreographer on TV shows “Stay With Me” and “American Royalty”, as well as for the Pepperidge Farms “Feel the Crunch” Commercial. She has choreographed music videos for Sam Smith for MuchMusic’s “That Much Closer”, Shad’s “Remember 2 Remember”, as well as Carly Rae Jepsen’s performance at the 2012 MMVA’s. Bree has also choreographed events for various high profile companies, including Calvin Klein, CIBC, TIFF, and the City of Toronto’s “Cavalcade of Lights”. Along with Caroline Torti, she is Co-Director of Collective Elite Entertainment. On top of dance and choreography, Bree has begun to explore the world of acting. Her breakout role is that of “Kate” in the hit Family Channel TV show “The Next Step”. She has also appeared in CW’s “Reign”, CBC’s “Murdoch Mysteries” and MuchMusic’s film “Alive”.
Dance Dreams School of Dance educators collaborate with other health consultants as a way to promote injury prevention, career longevity, effective and efficient training, while enhancing their emotional well-being. Workshops on dancer performance anxiety and stretch and strength training will be held throughout the year with our various consultants. The goal is to provide a wide array of information about the dancers’ individual instrument, that being their body, and emotional well-being, a valuable tool to the dancer and to the instructors and professionals consultants with whom the dancer may interact. This in turn provides valuable quantifiable information about the dancer that can not be derived by simple observations in the dance technique class nor in the rehearsal studio.
DR. MONIQUE COSTA EL-HAGE
Clinical Psychologist Consultant
Dr. Costa El-Hage is a Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, in good standing. She received her Doctorate in Psychology from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto in 2007. She currently works in private practice, where she conducts assessments and individual therapy with children, adolescents and adults. In her capacity as consulting psychologist to Dance Dreams, she provides group and individual consultation on issues related to anxiety (generalized, social and performance), mood, self-esteem, self-confidence and problematic eating issues. Intervention can be tailored and involves a child/youth component as well as a parent component for parents interested in learning how to parent anxious children. Assessment and treatment services in her private practice are provided in the area of anxiety, mood, somatic, learning and behavioural issues. She conducts comprehensive psychoeducational assessments for school-aged and college students. She has also worked as a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In this capacity, she conducted individual and group therapy for adolescents and young adults who were experiencing difficulties with substance use as well as concurrent mental health issues. She is a member of the Ontario Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association.
P.T.S., B.PHE., M.Sc., Ph.D. Candidate
Coaching and Personal Training Consultant
Joseph Gurgis is an academic researcher of sports psychology and ethics, a certified personal trainer, a sports coach, and an elite athlete. He has a Bachelor of Physical Health and Education, a Master of Science degree, and is working on a Ph.D., all from the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Health and Education at the University of Toronto. His research centres on determining healthy and ethical coaching strategies to train young athletes, while arguing against the methods of ‘exercise as punishment’ or ‘yelling’; thus, his work aims to protect the psychological and physical well-being of each child/teen athlete. Joseph presents his sports research at international conferences, promoting health and wellness in sport with the attempts to create solid coaching protocols for coaches and teachers to apply within schools as well as recreational and elite sports teams/physical activities for children. In addition to his research, Joseph is a Teaching Assistant at the University of Toronto, has been a consultant for various University of Toronto Varsity Sports teams as well as the Coaches Association of Ontario. He has an extensive history of coaching children and teens in rep sports teams, has personally trained athletes, and has worked as a coach and assistant physical education teacher for the prestigious Upper Canada College. Joseph was also a varsity athlete for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues Baseball team where he had the opportunity to play baseball at the Rogers Centre as he and his team won the Ontario University Athletics Championships. Joseph looks forward to consulting for Dance Dreams, a studio that he finds already accords with and implements the ethical coaching techniques that he advocates for in his research. He will be leading workshops that assist competitive dancers with strengthening, cardio, flexibility, injury prevention, and more.