Faculty


Wendy Leard

Wendy Leard
Director

Wendy’s dance career started when she joined the Roland and Romaine School of Dance in Toronto. As a member of their dance company she performed on stage and television for many years as well as becoming the General Manager of their 5 locations. Her first studio in Niagara Falls started in 1980 in a church basement. Along with developing a studio, she pursued her love of the stage and musical theatre. After performing for many years with the Firehall Theatre and Garden City Productions, she moved into the world of directing and choreographing. This took her from Niagara Falls to Orillia, Toronto, Edmonton, working with professional and community theatres alike.

Continually trying to keep up with the pace of the dance world is challenging and to this end, Wendy and her staff attend dance workshops and seminars in Toronto and New York City studying with the best choreographers and teachers so they can inspire and stimulate our students to really understand “The Joy of Dance”!

Laura Speck
Assistant Director

Laura Speck has been dancing at the Wendy Leard School of Dance since 1984. As a teen, she attended District of Niagara School for the Arts where she majored in dance, winning the OAC Dance Award. She was the first recipient of the Dorothy Phoebe Leard Teachers Scholarship.

Laura regularly attends classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, and The Pulse On Tour in Toronto and New York with a focus on Tap and Musical Theatre. She has taken classes with Aaron Tolson, April Cook, Michelle Dorrance, Avi Miller & Ofer Ben, Toni Noblett, Savion Glover, Barbara Duffy, Germaine Salsberg, Doug Shankman, Mike Wittmers, Cris Judd, and Shea Sullivan.

Laura has performed with the Danny Grossman Dance Company, Niagara Symphony, and Shaw Festival. Her most recent role was playing “June” in Garden City Productions’ Chicago. She continues to perform in many charity and volunteer functions.

Laura works as a web developer in St. Catharines. Her son Jack is a future tap superstar… she hopes!

Erin Amadio
Modern

Erin Amadio was born and raised in Niagara Falls, ON. She began dancing at the Wendy Leard School of Dance at the tender age of 4 where she studied various styles of dance. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Theatre Studies from York University and a Bachelor of Education from Brock University. Erin has taught many styles of dance to students of various ages over the years and currently teaches the modern dance program at the studio.

In 2006, she commenced dancing and choreographing for the Niagara Dance Company. Since that time, she has been mentored by Mary Jo Mullins, Kathleen Hughes, Patricia Beatty, Graham McKelvie and Suzette Sherman. In 2010, she accepted a position as an Arts Itinerant Teacher with Niagara Catholic District School Board. She has taught the Ontario Dance Curriculum to thousands of students from grades K through 12 and developed and delivered professional development workshops focusing on the creative process for hundreds of elementary school teachers across the Niagara region. Erin has recently begun to facilitate workshops for youth that provide opportunities to explore their creative potential through various artistic forms.

Sabrina Bennett
Costumes

Sabrina has been dancing with the Wendy Leard School of Dance since 1996. She has studied many genres of dance and continues to participate in weekly classes at the studio. Sabrina is also a recipient of the Modern Scholarship. She has participated in events such as the Winter Festival of Lights opening ceremony, as well as with the Niagara Dance Company. Sabrina has also participated in a workshop at Brock University with Christopher House, a Canadian Modern Choreographer, as well as taken classes in Toronto with incredible choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Chris Judd, Gil Duldulao, Brian Friedman, Laurieann Gibson, Tyce Diorio, Tessandra Chavez, Dave Scott and Desmond Richardson. Sabrina’s passion for dance doesn’t end in the classroom, she continues to contribute her input and artistic creativity in choosing and/or creating costumes for our amazing dance numbers for showcase every year!

Nicole Emm
Acro Jazz

Nicole has danced with Wendy Leard School of Dance for 20 years. She has been a part of the Dance Company and has performed in shows such as Garden City Productions and Shaw Festival.Nicole is also a member of Gymnastics Ontario and has her level two coaching certification in artistic gymnastics and trampoline. She continues to coach both recreational and competitive gymnastics at Quantum Gymnastics in Niagara Falls.

Nicole has completed training to further her skills and knowledge in dance and gymnastics. She had taken classes and workshops in Toronto, Vancouver, San Diego and New York City.Nicole teaches Acro Jazz which combined two of her passions, both dance and gymnastics.

Nicole graduated from Brock university in 2007 with an honours degree in Political Science. She graduated from the University of Windsor in 2012 with a Masters Degree in Social Work. She works full time as a social worker in the Niagara Region.

Kristen Fabiano
Ballet

Mario Fabiano
Stage Manager

Camryn Farquharson
Hip Hop, Tap

Holly Farquharson
Hip Hop

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Lauren Fisher
Musical Theatre

Kayla Iannone
Jazz, Hip Hop

Kiernan Lane
Modern

Kiernan has been dancing at the Wendy Leard School Of Dance since he was 4 years old. Kiernan joined Dance Company when he was 10 years old and started assisting classes in 2011. He has always been fascinated with the elements of movement and unity which has led to his love for Modern Dance. Kiernan has been trained in the Graham technique, a form of Modern Dance created by Martha Graham. Kiernan has been teaching at the Wendy Leard School Of Dance since 2015. He has taught grade 1, 2, and 3 Jazz along with the mixed Modern class. Kiernan was the recipient of the Wendy Leard Dance Company Scholarship 2014-2015 as well as the Modern Scholarship and the Lyrical Scholarship. Kiernan has participated in several performances with the Winter Festival of Lights opening ceremonies, Choralis Camerata, The Niagara Symphony Orchestra, Niagara Falls Santa Claus parade and Garden City Productions White Christmas. Kiernan has also performed liturgical dance and was a former team leader of the Saint Michael Dance team. Kiernan has taken classes with the Niagara Dance Company and attended workshops with choreographer Christopher House at Brock University. He has also attended the Pulse world tour in Toronto where he took classes with choreographers such as Brian Friedman, Tyce Diorio, Laurieann Gibson and Chris Judd. Kiernan is currently a student of graphic design from Niagara College.

Alexis Leo
Joy of Dance

Amanda Leo
Hip Hop

Jen Mallett
Tap

Jen has been dancing at the studio since 1987. She began assisting classes at the early age of 10 which led to her teaching at the age of 14. Although tap and lyrical are Jen’s specialties, she has taught all genres of dance throughout her career at the studio. Some of the roles and performances that Jen has appeared in include lead dancer for Garden City Productions “Vaudeville”, Shaw Festival, Niagara Symphony Orchestra, and many local community performances as well. She has also competed with production, group, and solo performances in numerous competitions in the Niagara Region, Western New York, and Toronto.

While studying psychology and interior design in Toronto, Jen had the opportunity to take various master classes with choreographers Shawn Byfield, Jeff Wong, and Clarence Ford, and attended classes at Roland and Romaine School of Dance. She has also participated in The Pulse workshops in Toronto learning choreography from dance industry leaders such as Brian Friedman, Mia Michaels, Cris Judd, and Tyce Diorio to name a few, and The Pulse Teachers Workshop in New York City with Aaron Tolson, Germaine Salsberg, April Cook, and Mark Albrecht.

Now residing back in the Niagara Region, Jen runs her own interior design company while raising her family of boys (who also share her love of dance and take lessons at the studio) and continues to be an integral member of the staff at the studio.

Lisa Mangiacasale
Jazz

Lisa has been dancing with the Wendy Leard School of Dance since 1990. She currently specializes in teaching jazz and won the Dorothy Phoebe Leard Scholarship for her teaching abilities. Lisa has danced at the Shaw Festival and with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra and Garden City Productions. She has taken classes at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York City and The Pulse in Toronto. She has been taught by choreographers such as: Brian Freedman, Wade Robson, Tyce Diorio and Chris Judd.

Lisa graduated with her Master’s in Education in 2008 and currently teaches with the Niagara Catholic District School Board. Lisa teaches Primary and Junior grades and continues to teach the Ontario Dance Curriculum within her classroom.

Krista Mannella
Studio Manager
Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, Jazz

Krista Mannella has been “dancing like no one’s watching” since 2000. She started her career in dance with the Wendy Leard School of Dance and could not imagine dancing some place else. Krista currently specializes and enjoys teaching Hip Hop to a variety of age levels and was awarded the Dorothy Phoebe Leard Scholarship in 2015 for her outstanding skills in teaching.

Krista has been a member of the Dance Company and has taken part in many community events known as the Winter Festival of Lights, many Santa Clause Parades and she had the joy of dancing in the Greg Frewin Theatre. She continues to broaden her dancing knowledge through taking weekly classes and annually attends The Pulse in Toronto to take workshops from famous choreographers known as Chris Judd, Mia Michaels and Dave Scott. This past summer Krista attended, alongside many other staff members, the Teacher Workshop put on by The Pulse in New York City and cannot wait to go back next year. She took classes at Broadway Dance Centre as well as learning new and creative teaching styles to bring to this years classes.

Krista recently graduated from Niagara College as an Early Childhood Educator and is currently working full time as well as teaching at the studio. She continues to promote dancing at all ages from her experience of working with children.

Stephanie Martino
Contemporary

Donna McAnulty
Ballet

Donna has been a dedicated teacher of ballet for over thirty years, with a quiet demeanor she focuses on each child to inspire the joy movement and love of ballet in particular with respect for others.  This will be her 16th year teaching for Wendy.

Before attending and graduating from the teachers course at the National Ballet School of Canada, Donna studied ballet and modern at various studios in Toronto, participated in many workshops, attended the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s summer school and was a member of Dance Plus Four, a small modern dance company from Kitchener Ont.

Some of the teachers who inspired her were Jean Geddes, Rosalie Brake and Glen Gilmour from The National Ballet School, Angela Leigh, Maureen Consolati, and David Adams from George Brown College, Kathryn Brown, Robert Desrosiers, Claudia Moore, and Peggy Baker, were some of her modern teachers.

Madison Morgan
Hip Hop

Madison has been dancing at Wendy Leard School of Dance for as long as she can remember. Previously to Madison dancing at the studio her mother was a long time teacher and student at the studio. Madison has been in the protégé program and in dance company, she is a recipient of the Wendy Leard dance company scholarship. She has also been awarded the ballet scholarship and an achievement award. Madison enjoys numerous dance classes throughout the dance season. She like learning new styles and methods of dance as well as learning the theory behind it. More specifically she has a strong interest in modern and hip hop. She has participated in dance workshops including the pulse in Toronto as well as other events like the santa claus parade in Niagara and the winter festival of lights. Madison continues to develop her knowledge of dance and grow along with the other staff members and students.

Rebecca Owens
Jazz

Rebecca has been Dancing for 28 Years and Teaching Dance for 12 Years. She loves teaching Jazz feeling that the different interpretations of Jazz with Technique leave so much room for creativity. For the past 6 Years She has attended various Classes in Toronto & New York given by Dancing’s Elite Choreographers, Her favourite being Cris Judd.

She continues to take classes taught by the Teachers at our Studio when she can and believes we always have and will continue to learn from each other. She loves to incorporate physical fitness into her classes. She believes that Strength is Power, and Power builds Confidence-she wants her students to be confident.

Rebecca graduated from Niagara College in 2000 as a Certified Level II Dental Assistant. Since then has been working in various areas of the dental field and is currently working for South Pelham Dental. She continues to maintain her certification through Education and the upgrading of her skills. She has been married for two and a half years to her best friend and her biggest dance supporter, Jonne. Her first child, Che, will be turning 1 in October and is currently a Wee Wiggler at the studio. Her family, fellow teachers, dancers, friends & of course Wendy Leard have had a huge positive impact on her life inside and outside of the Studio. Her other hobbies include pretty much anything that involves physical fitness, being whipped into shape by her trainer and friend Tina Boccabella who owns Kettlebells Niagara and soccer in which she also hopes to coach one day.

“I can’t put into words what Dance means or has given to me, I can only hope to explain it in motion and movement and continue to pass the passion and love that I have for it to others”….Rebecca Owens-Grondin

Robin Stayzer
Irish, Tap

Robyn started dancing with Tap, Jazz and Ballet at the age of 3 and quickly fell in love. At the age of 10, Robyn started looking for different areas of dance to challenge her and was introduced to the world of Irish dance where she immediately fell in love with the intricate rhythm and technique. The thrill of competition pushed her to excel at being a champion dancer and during her career Robyn competed at Regional, National, and World competitions before retiring at the age of 19.

Robyn has continued to teach both recreational and championship classes and is now looking forward to joining the Wendy Leard family and sharing this amazing dance form.

Mary Stefanac
Tap

Cassidy Talarico
Studio Manager
Jazz, Lyrical

Cassidy is 19 years old, born and raised in Niagara Falls, and started dancing at the studio in 2000. She has studied many genres of dance and continues to participate in weekly classes at the studio. She has been part of the Dance company, and has performed in many events such as the Winter Festival of Lights opening ceremony, as well as at the Greg Frewin Theatre.

Cassidy is currently a student at Niagara College, enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program. Cassidy has been teaching at the studio since 2011 and has taught a variety of classes, to various age groups over the years.

Cassidy has participated in Teacher’s workshops in New York City , taken some classes at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, and has also been taught by incredible choreographers such as Mia Michaels and Brian Friedman.