Who we are
DDP opened its doors in the fall of 1999 and was established by directors Lori Karges & Sue MacDonald who share over 50 years of experience in providing quality dance training. With 19 years under their belt, DDP continues to be a prominent dance studio locally as well as across Canada, USA & Europe. Lori & Sue have assembled an inspirational, supportive faculty of the finest teachers in this area, who are dedicated to sharing the art of dance through teaching. They are the heart and soul of our DDP family …
Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director
Sue started dancing when she was 4 years old and spent the first few years of her training studying several forms of dance. As she grew older, she discovered an affinity for tap, and decided to study in Niagara Falls NY under Beverly Fletcher. During her studies, she realized a passion for sharing her love of dance, and started teaching as a teenager. When she turned 18, she left home to pursue an education and career in fashion design, but quickly found herself back in the studio. After being part of the faculty for a couple of studios in Southwestern Ontario, winning several awards for choreography and excellence in dance, Sue and Lori decided to open their own studio – and Davenport Dance Project was born.
Since founding the studio, Sue has had the opportunity to work with so many incredible and talented students. Her choreography has won her and the studio several awards, and has taken her all over Canada, the US, the UK and Europe. Through it all, she remains ever grateful to all of the students and their family and friends, for their dedication to dance, and for the opportunity to influence the next generation of dancers. She’s constantly amazed by the hard work, passion, and focus she sees every day in the studio and in the students that walk through the doors. Sue hopes that the next 20 years will bring success and joy to each member of the DDP family – here’s to the next 20!
Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director
Lori is the co-founder and one of the artistic directors of the Davenport Dance Project and has over 30 years of teaching experience. Lori is a very dedicated teacher and has a significant passion for dance. Her goal is to train each dancer to their highest potential. Lori strives to giver herself fully to her students while helping them develop into knowledgeable and experienced dancers, no matter what level they are reaching for.
Many of her former students are now working in highly established studios internationally and across Canada, as well as in stage productions, professional touring companies, and on cruise ships. Many are also working as choreographers, something she’s very proud of. She has also been a highly sought-after judge and workshop instructor and has completed exams in ballet, tap and jazz.
Though her years of teaching dance, Lori has become more and more passionate about tap and the challenges it provides her dancers. She’s built a strong tap program at DDP and wants to encourage each student to give tap a try.
Lori is thrilled that she’s able to celebrate 20 years with DDP and is looking forward to many years ahead.
Jazz & Lyrical teacher/choreographer
Stacey Schnarr is no stranger to the world of competitive dance. She completed the majority of her dance training at Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Toronto and competed in several dance forms for over 12 years winning numerous overalls, scholarships and titles. Stacey also completed all of her R.A.D Ballet Exams up to the Advanced level, achieving commended, and has earned her teaching certification in both jazz and tap from the B.A.T.D. For the past 22 years, Stacey has been sharing her love of dance with students at studios across Ontario, the last 19 of which have been spent as a competitive instructor here at DDP. Stacey is also a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and is employed as a secondary school business and dance teacher. Stacey loves to judge and has done so for several dance competitions throughout Canada. Stacey is proud to be DDP’s longest-standing employee and enjoys sharing her passion for dance with all the students she teaches on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Jill began dancing at the age 3 and has had the opportunity to study and compete in a variety of dance genres. During her early years of training, Jill discovered a tremendous passion for Jazz – leading her to eventually compete in the World Jazz Dance Championships three years in a row. Jill transitioned towards a teaching career at the age of 20 and has been teaching at Davenport Dance Project for the past 15 years. During her time as a dance instructor she has won numerous choreography awards across Canada and the United States. Jill teaches with great passion and enthusiasm to dancers of all levels and is very excited to continue to share her knowledge and experience with the DDP family.
Street Style, Lyrical & Jazz teacher/choreographer
Natalie has trained vigorously in all genres of dance including ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical, contemporary and musical theatre. Dancing and performing from a very young age, Natalie continues to broaden her dance education and has been fortunate enough to share her love and passion for dance with her students for over 11 years. Throughout her extensive training, Natalie has had the opportunity to work with many renowned choreographers including assisting Robert Shultz and performing in pieces by Ray Leeper, Tyce Diorio, Dee Caspary and Tabitha and Napoleon at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Natalie has performed in numerous industrial shows including Mary Kay and MAC Cosmetics as well as a featured performer in the Miss Universe Canada Pageant. Natalie’s unique style of hip-hop gave her the opportunity to be featured in Dance Spirit Magazine after performing at West Coast Dance Explosion in Las Vegas. As a member of ACTRA, Natalie can be seen as not only a dancer but as a stunt performer and stunt double in numerous television shows including Breakout Kings, Alphas and The Awakening.
Natalie’s love and passion for dance continue to grow. Being able to share her knowledge with her students, while watching them grow and succeed is extremely rewarding. Natalie has won numerous awards for her choreography at regional and national competitions for both her solo and group work. Striving to provide a strong technical background for her students along with creative choreography, Natalie has her amazing students to thank for her success. Their extremely hard work, dedication and passion for dance continues to be an inspiration year after year. Natalie is extremely proud and privileged to be able to teach the art of dance.
Robert Jensen has over 30 years of experience dancing, teaching, choreographing and adjudicating. Robert was a student of the Dot Blakeley Dance Studio in Simcoe Ontario. He has also danced professionally in many industrial shows nationally, including performances with Patti Labelle, Rita McNeil, the Bare Naked Ladies, Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon. He has appeared in several movies, commercials and T.V. specials. Robert’s many choreography credits include the Genentech/Roche Pharmaceuticals Annual General Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked with senior executives and directors to help produce their opening awards ceremonies.
Robert is also an accomplished and sought after adjudicator, judging competitions across Canada annually. As Co-founder and Director of the Professional Adjudicator’s Alliance, Robert and his partner Scott Kufske hope to unite and educate adjudicators across North America, as well as helping young and aspiring new adjudicators get a fantastic start to the world of judging!
Robert has been a free lance teacher for many years. Some of his students have gone on to The National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet School, Julliard, Point Park, The New York City Rockets and even Broadway! Other students have achieved many film and television credits. His favourite quote is from Mr Fred Astaire, “Some people seem to think that good dancers are born, but all the good dancers I have known are taught or trained.” And that’s why he continues to learn, learn, learn about dance and to impart that knowledge to his students! He is excited to join the DDP staff this year and teaches ballet on Monday nights.
Patrick Blain began training competitively from the age of eight at the Sean Boutilier Academy of Dance in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, he has received his BFA from the Juilliard School in New York City. He is versed in many styles of dance such as contemporary, ballet, jazz, lyrical and modern. In the past, he has attended several well-recognized training programs at The National Ballet of Canada, The Juilliard School, Ellison Ballet, Alonzo King LINES and Jacob’s Pillow. In 2016, acquired his certification to teach all levels of the American Ballet Theater Curriculum at their National Teacher Training Program. He teaches both contemporary and ballet master classes as well as workshops at Etobicoke School of the Arts, Claude Watson School of the Arts and several dance studios in the Greater Toronto Area. Throughout his time at school and in various summer programs, he has had the chance to work with many distinguished choreographers. Patrick has performed new works by artists including Aszure Barton, Austin McCormick, Bret Easterling, Jae Man Joo, Arturo Fernandez, Pam Tanowitz and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. In his time at Juilliard, he has delved into several choreographic endeavours and has had multiple works presented in Juilliard’s Choreographic Honors performances.
Tap, Jazz & Lyrical teacher/choreographer
Allie has been dancing since the age of 5 with Sue and Lori at Davenport Dance Project (DDP). She has had numerous successes at dance competitions in Canada and the United States with her team at DDP. During her dance career Allie stared as Clara in Ballet Jorgen’s The Nutcracker for four consecutive years. After graduating from DDP, Allie danced with the Wilfrid Laurier Competitive Dance Team while completing her undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University. One of Allie’s favourite dance memories was receiving the Spark award at Nationals in Boston. This award was memorable to Allie because regardless of her routines score, it recognized her love for dancing and sharing dance with others. Allie carries this forward in her teaching today by inspiring young dancers to share in the love of dance and shine in their own unique way. Currently, Allie is completing her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology at Western University and teaching the Pre-Jr, Pre-Inter and Teanie Beanie Companies at DDP.
Kids Programs & Musical Theatre teacher/choreographer
Sarrah started dancing when she was 6 with Miss Lori and Miss Sue. She’s passionate about creating fun learning environments for her students, and teaching them all she can about performance and creative expression. She’s competed across Canada and has won several awards for excellence in performing. She’s completed the RAD exams up to Advanced and has studied with soloists from Moscow Ballet. She started performing musical theatre at a young age, having been cast with her school choir in the professional production of Joseph with Donny Osmond in Toronto in 1992. She’s actively involved in theatre and the arts in Waterloo Region, and you can often find her on stage, directing a play, or choreographing a musical. Sarrah was also the original choreographer for KWGlee, the region’s premier pop show choir, and has won awards for her choreography with the group. She’s committed to sharing her love of the arts and training the best dancers she can. She’s excited to be a part of Season 20 with DDP!
Kids Program & Hip Hop teacher/choreographer
Sheena has been dancing since the age of 7, and trained extensively in all styles of dance. She started training with Miss Sue and Miss Lori at 15, and has been competed all ofer Canada and the United States, including a competition at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Sheena has been teaching at Davenport Dance Project since the very beginning, and she is so thrilled to be a part of the 20th season of DDP. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys watching her 3 daughters dance and preform for Team DDP!
Jazz, Lyrical & Street Style teacher/choreographer
Josie Watchorn began dancing at Davenport Dance Project at the age of four. Since then, she has been fortunate to build lifelong friendships, travel internationally for competitions and workshops, and participate in numerous other dance opportunities throughout her competitive dance career of over 13 years. Upon entering university her enthusiasm to share her passion for dance with others began. While pursuing her Psychology Degree at Queen’s University, Josie was hired to teach hip hop for Queen’s Dance Club for University students, while taking part in the University’s Competitive Dance Pack for one year and Competitive Hip Hop Battle Crew, Flow, for a year.
While Josie spends her day’s as an HR and Executive Assistant at a local tech company, she is excited to be spending her Thursday evenings teaching at Davenport for the second year in a row. This year she will be teaching two pre-competitive jazz classes, one teanie beanie technique class, and another year with her pre-competitive street style students. Admittedly, Josie’s proudest dance accomplishment is being able to see her students taking part in the same hobby she has enjoyed for almost two decades, grow their confidence, and take pride in their achievements as they grow as individuals and as dancers.
Kids Program, Jazz & Hip Hop teacher/choreographer
Jaelyn started her love and passion for dance at the tender age of 2 and a half and hasn’t slowed down since. She is trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap, hip hop and contemporary and has been an active member of the DDP family for the pasts 12 years.
Jaelyn is no stranger to hard work and dedication. She’s been very successful in many styles and levels of competition and has many first-place accolades to her name. She’s danced in a wide range of venues including the opening ceremonies for the Special Olympics, charity functions and a number of music videos. She’s represented Canada in North America and Europe, including a tour of Greece as part of the Canadian Dance Team. Her love for the art is infectious and she spreads that love to all she meets. Jaelyn also holds the title of Miss Ontario for the year 2012\13. During her reign, she travelled the country to attend and speak at events like the CFL Grey Cup, and to lead an anti-bullying campaign. Jaelyn uses the skills and life lessons she’s learned to teach her students how to embrace life and lean into every possible moment. She tries to instil in them that anything is possible if you can imagine and believe.
Jaelyn is very excited to be part of the DDP family and can’t wait to share her love and passion for dance with her aspiring students.
Miss Amy began dancing at a young age, training primarily at Tiffany’s Dance Elite in Ancaster, Ontario. During her 13 years as a competitive dancer, she successfully completed her Advanced 1 Exam with the Royal Academy of Dance, and was the recipient of the JUMP Dance Convention VIP Scholarship which resulted in performing an off-broadway show in New York City. Specific performance highlights include the 2012 Summer Olympics in England, the Fringe Festival’s “The Rocky Horror Show”, and Fashion Cares. She danced on the Huron HEAT Dance Team at Western University for a total of five years, two of which she was head lyrical/jazz executive. Her favourite dance memory revolves around the Summer Olympics, where she danced alongside her students in a piece that she co-choreographed for performance in the Olympic Village. The experience taught her to embrace each new challenge in life with creativity and passion, and her goal is to inspire these values in every dancer she has the pleasure of teaching. When she’s not at the studio, Miss Amy is also a Registered Physiotherapist. She practices primarily in the field of orthopaedics and has specific post-graduate training in manual therapy and concussion management.
Miss Amy has also been a choreographer for over 14 years, and her pieces have been recognized at various regional and national competitions. She currently choreographs for the INmotion Dance Team, and is Acro Arts certified (Module 1 and 2). She is thrilled to be teaching contemporary this year at DDP.
Megan Wilkshire began her love of dance at the age of 3. At the age of 6, Megan joined the competitive dance team at Premiere Dance Inc. and competed for 11 years in various forms of dance. Megan has won various competitions and nationals throughout Canada and United States with her fellow dancers and supportive dance instructors. In her early years of dance, she was on the junior cheer team for the Toronto Argonauts. While Megan had the passion and love for the training and the competition of dance, her dance career was further enhanced with the opportunity to help students in their dance journey. Megan’s favourite memory in dance was the exciting opportunity to assist her studio teachers’ training of the younger generation of dancers. Megan uses her knowledge and experience of dance training to stress the importance of “team effort”, show respect toward others and give confidence in oneself. Megan has the patience needed with younger children to positively instruct our future dancers to the experiences and the joys of dance. She is thrilled to be apart of the Davenport Dance Project family and wants to share her passion and love for dance with her students. Megan teaches Junior recreational Acro, Inter recreational Lyrical, Inter recreational Jazz, and Inter recreational Acro on Thursdays.
Kelsie Schnarr has always loved dance. She grew up taking dance classes throughout her childhood. It wasn’t until Kelsie discovered the world of ballroom dance that she truly fell in love with the art. She has been training and teaching professional dance for the past 8 years. In 2016 Kelsie decided to go back to school for Early Childhood Education and is currently working at a local daycare. She works in the studio office and is ready to help any student or parent with questions or concerns. Kelsie loves being a part of our DDP family!
Kim and her family have been a part of the DDP family since its inception in 1998. She prides herself on having been a dance mom, a mom of a dance instructor and now a member of the front office staff that helps keep the studio ticking. Kim is available to both students and parents at the front desk and serves as a liaison between DDP Team Spirit and the studio.
Office Staff and substitute teacher
Rebecca Petrosino began dancing at Davenport Dance Project at the age of three. Since then she has performed in theatre productions such as Annie Jr., Celtics on Broadway, and Booby Trap. She has competed at the IDO Tap Dance Championship in Germany representing Team Canada in 2011 and 2013. Today Rebecca attends University of Waterloo in the Arts and Business Program as a Theatre and Performance Major. She is thrilled to be a part of the DDP family.