Ovation! ~ proudly serving students from York Region, Toronto and surrounding areas including: Aurora, Markham, Newmarket, Oshawa, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Thornhill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.
~ Bachelor of Fine Arts (Theatre & Dance); Arts Management Certificate Program (Banff Centre for the Arts)
Here's the 'informal' bio!
Hi! I’m Bonnie. I’m a mom, a professional singer, a professional arts consultant, and a high-end non-professional dancer. (You’ll notice that I didn’t use the word ‘amateur’ ~ it’s not a positive word. Just because I don’t get paid for my dancing, doesn’t mean I’m not ‘professional’ in my approach, attitude or aptitude!)
In my 20+ years working and performing in the arts industry, I’ve been an artist representative, a producer, a presenter, a marketing and communications director, a sales director, a development/fundraising manager, a tour director, and an education outreach director. Next to my amazing family, the most important thing to me is developing a world of talented and creative people. I honestly believe the world would be a better place if everybody found a way to express themselves in some artistic/creative way. Seriously, if we all just did musicals, we’d be much happier and less violent. Ok, so it’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek sentimentality, but the basic premise is serious. Arts and culture define, mirror, and express humanity. Without creative expression, where would we be? To me, it’s about survival. It’s that important. I have a feeling it is to you too. So welcome to Ovation! Glad you’re here with us!
Here's the 'formal' bio:
Bonnie has worked professionally in the performing arts field for over 25 years. An Honours Grad of York University's Theatre and Dance programs, as well as the Banff Centre for the Arts Management Program, she has always been an advocate for arts and education programs, and the development of young artists. Her career highlights include: producing and performing in musicals while still a student; handling educational outreach from the world stages of the Stratford Festival; managing Waterwood Productions (one of Canada's most successful touring theatre companies for young audiences); setting box office sales records at the time for the Canadian Stage Company in TO; and managing York Region’s Markham Theatre for several years.
In 1997, Bonnie took some time off and started a family, ultimately including 4 spectacular children (Paige, Brady, Brooke and Kristin). In 1998, her vocal trio SKYLARK was launched and Bonnie returned to the stage after a 12-year hiatus. And as if that wasn’t enough, she and her husband Chris also started their own successful arts consulting business, working with arts organizations across Ontario in a variety of settings with a multitude of goals and accomplishments. Her client roster includes: the Hummingbird/Sony Centre, CCI (Ontario’s Arts Presenting Association) and the Values & Benefits Study, Ontario CONTACT, MOTUS O dance theatre, The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, and the Brampton Theatre office. Her group, SKYLARK has performed for our Canadian Armed Forces up in the Arctic Circle, for the NHL All-Stars, and with legendary comedian Bob Newhart, to name a few highlights.
CHRIS MADSEN Ovation! Business ManagerOk, so Chris didn’t want to write his bio because he’s a high-tech guy, not an arts guy. So I told him I’d write it for him! Here goes: Chris is the best husband and father I know! He’s also the best business-man I know (and I’ve worked with many). He had never seen a live show in a real theatre until he met me, and he became a convert within a short time. All the years we’ve been together, he has volunteered for every arts organization I've ever worked for. (I’ve worked for a lot of non-profits who need volunteers all the time for everything!). And now we’re partners in business as well as life! What could be better?We’re thrilled to be running Ovation! We had been thinking about this idea for several years and we're proud to have created a new entity in York Region to service our area’s abundant talent. Living in the 905 Region shouldn’t necessitate driving all the way to downtown TO to get some top-quality high-end professional arts training and experience. We have some spectacular theatres and concert halls in our region and we have an enormous wealth of talented people of all ages who work, live, train, and attend school ‘up here’. So it’s time to stop our Toronto-centric thinking and save on gas, time, and money while we pursue our goals in our own backyard! The arts impact all of our lives. We hope Ovation! can be part of that impact for you.
JEFF YOUNG Acting FacultyJeff spent over 25 years as Head of Drama at the acclaimed ARTS YORK program at Unionville H.S. in York Region. He's simply a brilliant acting coach and award-winning director who knows how to excite and challenge drama students of all ages from kids to adults. His program and curriculum has been honed and proven many times over and he has brought his penultimate program to Ovation! Through UHS and his association with the Markham Theatre, and now Ovation!, Jeff has created and directed over 300 productions: "Hair", "Into the Woods”, “1984”, “Waiting for Godot”, “Les Mis”, “Marat/Sade”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Murder in the Cathedral”, “A Chorus Line”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Chairs”, etc etc etc etc (you didn’t really think we’d list all 300 shows did you?!)
MOTUS O dance theatre ~ Artists in Residence
MOTUS O dance theatre ~ James Croker, Cynthia Croker, and Jack Langenhuizen
MOTUS O dance theatre is one of Canada’s most successful dance companies. They perform for over 20,000 people annually, touring across Canada and around the world. They’re on the Faculty of the Banff Centre for the Arts, and are lead instructors with the Royal Conservatory of Music’s “Learning Through the Arts” program. In addition to creating and performing, they lead classes and workshops that focus on a variety of components of performance, with a special focus on drawing the most out of every performer.
Ovation! is honoured to have Jack, James and Cynthia on our Faculty. Their approach to the development of performing artists is an integral part of our focus and philosophy. The three Artistic Directors are amazing individuals who will teach with us, lead workshops for us, and help oversee the artistic integrity of our operation. Here is their story:
Motus O dance theatre is an innovative and entertaining company that engages audiences wherever they perform. They've been touring across Canada, the U.S. and around the world since 1990, offering high-calibre, accessible performances and workshops for children and adults. Specializing in a powerful physically-charged dance genre called 'contact improv', their style is best described as: part dance <> part theatre <> part triathlon!
How did a Canadian figure skater, an American gymnast, and an Australian sheep shearer join forces to create a new dance theatre company in Canada? It’s a long story! For now, it’s enough to know that MOTUS O’s founders, James Croker, Cynthia Croker and Jack Langenhuizen, worked together from 1985 - 1990 on several creative and educational projects in Canada and around the world. Their wide-reaching skills and talents brought them together as a creative team and they used their diversity to explore the dramatic, musical, and physical performance realms all with a touch of humour. During this period of time they developed a strong working relationship and artistic vision. In 1990 they officially developed a company, MOTUS O dance theatre, taking the positions of Co-Artistic Directors and Choreographers.
MOTUS O was created for the purpose of developing dance theatre works that portray the human experience through the use of humour and pathos. With the integration of movement, music, video projection, costuming, props and sets, the creators bring works to audiences that are visually stimulating and communicative. Because of their diverse backgrounds in ballet, jazz, contact improvisation, modern dance, mime, theatre and voice, the choreographers often work and create their pieces in collaboration. Through this collaboration they challenge each other's perceptions in order to achieve genuine expression.
Since 1990, MOTUS O has created 13 full-length productions for both family and adult audiences (Human Knots, Alice, The Shunning, Delusions, The Little Prince, Petrouchka, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Variations in Love, East of the Sun/West of the Moon, Carmina Burana, Perspectives, Circus Terrifico, and A Christmas Carol). These productions have been performed across Canada, parts of the U.S.A., throughout England and Australia. Plans are currently underway for future tours in South America, Switzerland and Tanzania.
Clara recently returned to Canada after 17 years in Paris, where she worked as a theatre/film artist around Europe. Clara is a founding member of The Improfessionals, an international theatrical improv troupe, which has performed in European festivals since 2001. As part of the Improfessionals, Clara co-founded the Impro Academy Paris, a training school for improvisational theatre where she created curriculum and led hundreds of classes. Clara has directed and co-produced several short films, including Last Stop for Miles, which was awarded a BravoFACT award in 2006 and was a festival favourite in Canada; Cleo et Celine, which screened at international festivals in 2008; and Death at Dawn, a Cannes Festival entry.
A major part of Clara's journey has been teaching her craft. She was one of Acting International’s most beloved instructors, teaching a wide range of classes in Meisner Technique, Improvisational Theatre. As a mask, improvisation and ensemble physical theatre teacher at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, Clara has been helping students to develop their dramatic skills for the Masters in Text and Performance and the Masters Theatre Lab since 2006.
In Toronto since 2014, she continues to perform (at the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre, and in Toronto Fringe) and direct (for the Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival). She teaches at Ryerson University and Second City in Toronto, and at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She teaches and directs both children and adults at the Ovation! Performing Arts Academy.
Stefani received her B.A. (Hon) in Theatre Performance at Queens University before moving to Berkeley, California, where she attended Berkeley Digital Film Institute. An accomplished actor, musician and director, Stefani has developed a diverse portfolio in direction and film work for companies like Disney (Air Buddies Series) as well as a number of independent, commercial and festival films. Stefani has been an arts educator for more than nine years and specializes in: acting for screen, music theatre performance, improvisation, youth theatre development, Shakespeare and classical theatre. Her own performance credits include The Producers (EMP), Oliver!(EMP), The Who’s Tommy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Shrek the Musical (Meadowvale Theatre). Stefani is thrilled to be joining the talented faculty at ""Ovation! "
Alyse has been an avid part of the performing arts community for over 15 years, both as artist and educator. She started training, performing and teaching at a young age, singing, dancing, acting and performing in a variety of schools, organizations, and on stage productions. Favourite roles include Sharpay Evans in High School Musical, as well as roles in Shrek the Musical, Legally Blonde, Guys and Dolls, Copacabana and many more! Alyse believes every student is unique and hopes to help those qualities shine through. Her goal is to help students achieve their goals Whether it be achieving a specific dance move or getting into a certain university, she will always put her “best foot forward” to make sure those goals aren’t left behind! Alyse is very excited to start her journey with Ovation!, a fantastic organization that understands and respects all aspects of the arts community and allows people the opportunity to find where their artist joy lies.
Nominated as “Best Actress” by the Capital Critics Circle for her performance as Susy in WAIT UNTIL DARK (Classic Theatre Festival, 2015), Alison Smyth is a Toronto-based actress, yogini and performing arts educator.
She won the Broadwayworld.com title "Best Featured Female" for her performance as Francine in JERSEY BOYS (Dancap, 2010). Other stage credits include: HAIRSPRAY! (Mirvish), EVIL DEAD: THE MUSICAL (Starvox), ANNE OF GREEN GABLES – THE MUSICAL (Charlottetown Festival), HEAD À TÊTE (Magnus Theatre), TEST DRIVE (Festival Players of Prince Edward County), and HILDA’S YARD (Port Stanley Festival Theatre).
Alison finds so much to be gained physically and mentally from incorporating yoga into one’s life. Certified in Ashtanga through the revered Downward Dog Yoga Centre in Toronto, Alison is also a certified Yoga Nidra teacher through Sananda Yoga Toronto.
YORK REGION CHAMBER MUSIC~ Ensemble in Residence
York Region Chamber Music is a music organization dedicated to producing professional chamber music events inside and outside the concert hall. We present innovative programs that focus on audience experience and support the development of performing careers of local emerging musicians. As a commitment to high caliber performance, the organization is made up of classically-trained professionals from York Region and the GTA. YRCM’s mission is to educate and inspire audiences in York Region through chamber music performances and events, featuring emerging professional musicians from our community.
Sarah is a professional writer, director, actor and production designer whose experience studying visual arts, music and drama (as well as performing in theatre) led her to a filmmaking career. A graduate of the Toronto Film School, she has been involved with over 25 professional short, commercial and feature film productions and won the 2013 award for Best Production Design in the Toronto Film School Festival of Films. Sarah previously studied Psychology and Creative Writing at Concordia University in Montreal and has years of experience teaching On-Camera Acting classes with kids, youth and adults.
Susan holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts With High Distinction (Drama Specialist/English Minor) degree from the University of Toronto. She also has extensive actor training in various disciplines from: the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and Equity Showcase-Master Class Series, Second City, and C.A.S.T. in Toronto.
Susan is a professional actor and long-time member of ACTRA. She is most recognized for her recurring role as Mary-Kate Sinclair (Holly J’s Mom) on “Degrassi: The Next Generation”(seasons 8-11). She also has much experience working behind the camera as an assistant director while a Directors Guild of Canada member. Her professional work experience in theatre includes the following roles: actor, dramaturg, co-producer, and director of several independent theatre productions.
Susan’s long-standing love of all things theatre began with her first drama class at a studio not unlike Ovation! Arts.
Susan is passionate about teaching! She brings all of her past training, work, and life experience into every class she teaches. In a trusting nonjudgmental environment, student actors are introduced to a variety of acting exercises, skills, and techniques. Susan’s approach is caring, creative, and responsive to the needs of the individual student actor and class dynamic.
Meredith is a professional musical theatre performer in Toronto, recently returned home after a year in the United Kingdom where she received her Masters in Music Theatre Performance at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A graduate of the Queen’s University Drama Program, Meredith also holds advanced standings in R.A.D and I.S.T.D for Ballet (Pointe), Tap, Modern and Jazz. An accredited dancer, singer and actor, Meredith has dedicated her life’s work to the pursuit of all three areas of performance. Favourite theatre credits include: 9 to 5; Assassins; Waiting for Godot; Blood Brothers; Anne of Green Gables; Mary’s Wedding; Candide; Our Town, and many more. Meredith can also be seen in the Roger’s Next Issue Commercials.
Her love of teaching began as a music theatre and dance instructor with the Mississauga Youth Theatre, where her passion for arts education was sparked. As a teacher, Meredith is dedicated to teaching music theatre, voice, acting and dance. Favourite teaching credits include: acting coach at the H’Art School of Smiles, choreographer for the Thousand Island’s Playhouse and company choreographer with Momentum Dance Toronto. Meredith also teaches with the Travelling Stage Company, providing drama and dance workshops to schools across the GTA. Meredith is thrilled to be teaching with Ovation! and is proud to be a member of such a wonderful and talented team of performers and educators!
Artists in Residence
YORK REGION CHAMBER MUSIC
Ensemble in Residence