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Lori DeLuca (Artistic Director)

After several years of teaching dance to adults and children in the Niagara area, Lori DeLuca decided to pursue her dream of opening her own dance studio. In 1979, she opened the doors to Dance Place and is now celebrating 37 years of success in the city of Welland. ​Lori has owned and operated Dance Place since its inception in 1979. She is a member of Dance Educators of America and has completed the teacher training program at the National Ballet School of Canada. Her outstanding reputation, dedication and high standards is well regarded in the dance community. Lori is a qualified teacher, choreographer and adjudicator, achieving much recognition and acclaim in the world of dance. She has been recognized for her achievements and has received numerous choreography awards at competitions and festivals. Her goal as a teacher, is to pass on her knowledge and instill in her students a love of dance.Lori specializes in tap, but has a love and passion for all forms of dance which is evident in the dedication she shows in pursuing her dream of continuing to build this elite studio of 450+ students. Her vision of offering a healthy and fun atmosphere for all dancers to enjoy while maintaining the highest calibre of training for all that wish to share in her love for dance is evident the minute you walk through the doors of Dance Place.

Leanna DeLuca-Ironside (Artistic Director)

Leanna DeLuca-Ironside ​​Leanna began her dance training at the age of 3.  As a young child she was accepted by audition and received extensive training with both the Quinte Ballet School and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Leanna`s passion and talent was clearly evident early ​on and as the studio grew, she began helping her mother run the studio at the age of 14.​​​​​ ​​​​ She is experienced and trained to teach various forms of dance however her specialization is in Ballet. Leanna is a registered teacher with the Cecchetti Society of Canada. After extensive training and preparation under the mentorship of an award winning instructor, she was awarded her Associate teaching qualification by the Cecchetti Society in 1999. She is qualified to enter students in Ballet examinations through the National Ballet School of Canada and her qualifications in Cecchetti Syllabus make Dance Place the only studio in Welland qualified to train students under the Cecchetti Society of Canada.​​​ ​ Leanna, a graduate of the National Ballet School's Teacher Training, has earned several awards in the dance community. In​​ addition to teaching, she is also an accomplished adjudicator and has performed various dance roles with The Greater Niagara Ballet Company. Leanna plays a major role in the success of Dance Place and is enthusiastic about sharing her love of dance and expertise with her students.​​.

Vanessa DeLuca-Iuliano (Assistant Artistic Director)

Born into a family of dancers, Vanessa grew up in the studio and was trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Pointe. As a young aspiring dancer she travelled the United States as a Caravan Kid with Hoctor's “Dance Caravan.” She has completed Cecchetti Ballet examinations in Grades 1 through 6 and has performed in the Greater Niagara Ballet Companys production of the Nutcracker. Vanessa was an off ice seminar leader for Skate Canada's Western Ontario Chapter and was an active member of the Dance Place Performance Group.​Following her training at Dance Place, she went on to complete her Bachelor of Arts at Brock University and studied abroad in Italy taking dance lessons and training at the Dance Gallery of Perugia. Vanessa is actively involved in the studio, currently teaching our Nursery program as well as competitive Tap and Jazz. Her competitive choreography has earned the studio various special awards and high score achievements. Vanessa continues to further her dance education annually by attending national dance conventions, workshops and seminars. Her great initiative and love of dance has made her an asset to the studio. She looks for forward to each new season and loves being a part of the Dance Place team.

Kim Wylde (Assistant Artistic Director)

Kim has been a part of Dance Place since 1982, first as a student and then, starting in 1987, as a member of the teaching staff. She is currently teaching Jazz, Musical Theatre, and competitive classes at the studio. As well as teaching at Dance Place, Kim has been a certified secondary school teacher for the District School Board of Niagara for the past 12 years. She teaches dance classes at a local high school as part of the Specialist High Skills Major in Arts and Culture program (SHSM). She holds a specialist in dance education from York University and is a member of the Council of Drama and Dance in Education as well as Dance Ontario. Kim was proud to be the first recipient of the City of Welland Arts and Culture Award for dance in 2010. She has been a choreographer for such events as the Welland Professional Firefighter’s calendar launch in 2008 and 2010, the Welland Rose Festival Coronation Ball, Marilee’s Bridal Fashion shows, and many school musicals. She also taught dance and performed on Regal Cruise Lines for 2 years after completing her university degree. Kim is glad to be a part of the Dance Place team and continues to take workshops and classes in order to provide current dance techniques and proper teaching practices for her students and the studio.

Deanna Smith

Deanna brings more than 25 years of dance experience to the Niagara Area. She has studied dance in both Los Angeles and New York under the Dance Masters Association and in Ohio under the direction of professional dancer Tammy McCully. Deanna is a certified adjudicator under the International Dance Organization and has studied in modern dance with the Niagara Dance Company. She has been a part of the DP family since 2010 and works with many competitive students throughout the studio.

Brooke Smith

Dance has been a part of Brooke’s life since the age of 2 and she has committed endless hours to training vigorously in all areas. Brooke has danced competitively all her life and has won numerous awards and scholarships across Canada & the United States. She was nominated for the U.S. World Show Dance Team, performed in the Half-Time show for the Harlem Globetrotters & the pre-game show for the Detroit Pistons.  Brooke became a part of our DP family in 2010 after moving back to the Niagara Area from Ohio.  She blended into our Senior Class and Performance Group flawlessly & quickly became a teaching assistant at the studio.  We are thrilled to add Brooke to our Artistic Staff this season as she will expose our students to her love and passion for the art of dance.  She will teach Part-Time while completing her undergraduate degree at Brock University.

Lucia Sheets

Lucia Sheets grew up at Dance Place and she began her first year of dance in 1997. She trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz & Musical Theatre.  At a very young age she became a part of our Performance Group and has competed in various forms of Dance, with her favourite being Musical Theatre. As a teenager, she was a teaching assistant at the studio helping children in many forms of dance.  Lucia began teaching Musical Theatre at the studio in 2012. This is her fourth season as a member of our Artistic Staff and we are thrilled to have her involvement and enthusiasm at the studio. Lucia teaches at Dance Place part-time while she completes her fifth & final year of the Concurrent Education Program at Brock University. 

Jena Slingerland

Jena Slingerland was born and raised in Niagara on the Lake and has trained intensely in  Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary & Modern. She studied at Ryerson University & completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance Dance. Jena was a Magician’s Assistant & Dancer at The Greg Frewin Theatre in Niagara Falls. She has been a part of our Artistic Staff since 2014, offering our students her expertise in Ballet & Lyrical.In addition to teaching for Dance Place, Jena is also an apprentice at the Niagara Dance Company and is a Certified Personal Trainer.

Melanie Ulch

Melanie Ulch grew up as a competitive dancer at Dance Place in Welland, Ontario since the age of 5. She attended Western University where she studied Kinesiology and dance performance. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in 2014, she returned to Dance Place and joined our Artistic Staff while continuing to further her education at Niagara College, which led her to become a Certified Exercise Physiologist registered with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology in 2015. Melanie then went on to study the STOTT PILATES method of exercise in the training center in Toronto, Ontario. She continues to broaden her knowledge through courses and workshops throughout the year. Melanie is also a Licensed Zumba instructor and a Licensed Zumba Kids + Zumba Kids Jr. instructor.

Janessa Pudwell

Janessa started dancing at the age of four, joining a competitive dance team soon after.   From the start she trained vigorously in many styles including ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, tap and modern. As a young dancer she spent her summers in various programs across North America fine tuning her skills as both a dancer and musician.  After graduating from The Medicine Hat College Conservatory of Music and Dance, she spent some time in New York city with a performing arts school before moving to Vancouver BC where she immersed herself in the commercial industry. She soon joined KTLco, a hip hop company where she performed as well as choreographed pieces for shows throughout the Vancouver area.  In addition to her stage work she also had the opportunity to work in film as a lead dancer in various music videos.   After her experiences in Vancouver, Janessa found that her true passion is in the creative process. She continues to look for opportunities to choreograph pieces that will push boundaries and evoke thought in audience members.

Laura Mannell

Laura Mannell has been a dedicated member of our teaching staff since 2008. She has trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop & has recently added the Acrobatique AcroDance Program to her list of credentials. Growing up, Laura was an active member of our performance group and has competed in Canada and the United States, which has helped her to gain a wealth of knowledge as a dance educator. She has an abundance of experience with children, she teaches Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Nursery & Acro at the studio and is also an ECE with the District School Board of Niagara.

Krysta Jung

We are excited to have Krysta Jung as a part of our DP team this season. Krysta will be instructing all of our adult & youth Yoga classes at the studio.  She brings her expertise & knowledge of yoga to the Welland area on Tuesday evenings offering both a Hatha class & a Restorative class for Adults. On Saturday afternoons, she offers a Youth Yoga class, teaching children how to cultivate a connection between the mind and body.

Andrea Caruso

Andrea began training at Dance Place at the age of 3 and prior to joining our teaching faculty in 2013 she was a classroom assistant for many years. She has trained extensively in Ballet, Tap, Jazz & Lyrical for the past 16 years and she was an active member of our Performance Group. Andrea’s love and passion for dance lives on as she continues to teach part time at Dance Place while completing her undergraduate degree in Modern Languages & Political Science at Brock University.

Lisa Casasanta

Lisa is proud to declare herself a member of the DP family since 1986. Those first years were spent training and competing in Ballet, Tap & Jazz under the direction of Lori DeLuca and Leanna DeLuca-Ironside. Lisa has been a dedicated member of our teaching faculty for the past nineteen years. She is an Ontario certified teacher and has her specialist from Queens University in Primary Education which makes her a favourite in our nursery classes.

Jennifer Demers

Jennifer Demers has been a member of the Dance Place family for 29 years now. She thoroughly enjoyed dancing for 17 of those years and has had the pleasure of teaching part time for the past 15 years. Jennifer was a member of our performance group and enjoyed competing in Ballet, Tap and Jazz, winning numerous awards and accolades. In addition to teaching dance, she is an Ontario certified teacher and has a wonderful rapport with all of the students she teaches.

Leslee Crowe

Leslee began her dance training at Dance Place at the age of 3, studying in all types of dance. As an early teen she joined our performance group and competed across Canada and the United States. In addition, she was a teaching assistant and her great rapport with children led her to a teaching position at Dance Place in 1999. Her strong love and passion for dance still continues as she teaches part-time at the studio in addition to a full time teaching position with the DSBN.

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