PS: What inspires you as a dance teacher?
SC: For me, the biggest inspiration always comes when I see my students genuinely
working hard to achieve their goals, both big and small— you can see it in their
faces, as well as in their dancing. You can tell their drive to succeed originates from a
place of pure passion, a love for ballet that slowly burns brighter and stronger with
each and every class or opportunity to improve, and it ignites an internal flame of
motivation and perseverance that infuses a student’s every movement. When I see
this in my students, it inspires me to push myself as a teacher, so that I can better
assist them in achieving their goals and push them to realize their full potential.
PS: Tell us about your introduction to dance?
SC: As a toddler, I was constantly moving and dancing around the house, and at every
family function I would instruct everyone to formulate an audience and watch me
perform. My mother decided dance class would be the perfect place for me to
pursue my visceral desires, so, at the age of three, I found myself in my first ballet
class— I haven’t looked back ever since.
PS: Tell us about a moment in your dance career that you are really proud of or
learned something really important from?
SC: My proudest moment, and probably my most amazing life experience, was when I
danced the lead role of Fritz with Alberta Ballet. I was 13 at the time, and being able
to dance alongside professional company members was beyond a dream. I can still
vividly remember the nerves backstage on opening night, the brief inhalation of awe
experienced as I looked out at the massive expanse of blackness that was my
audience, and the melancholic moment of exiting the stage as Fritz for the very last
time. I had the rare opportunity of learning at a young age what it’s like to be a
professional ballerina, along with the high expectations that are tied to every show. I
kept the pair of blue ballet shoes I wore for the role as a memento of this
PS: As a dance teacher, what is something you strive to pass on to your students?
SC: From the moment I first began teaching, I have always strived to pass on to my students
a genuine love for ballet. Ballet often comes with the stereotypical image of being a
mercilessly strict form of dance that requires cookie cutter dancers; I take it upon
myself to show each and every one of my students that ballet doesn’t have to be
confined to that image. I strive to show my students, both as a teacher and a
choreographer, just how thrilling and rewarding ballet can be, and how you can come to
fall in love with it just as much (or moreso!) as you can with jazz or contemporary or
lyrical. Ballet is no doubt a challenging form of dance, and this can be intimidating to
some dancers. I strive to help students build the confidence they need to tackle the
challenges ballet poses head-on, and to show them that these challenges are
invigorating and fulfilling rather than daunting and unattainable—ultimately, I show
them that they can enjoy the beauty and intricacies of ballet, and for those who already
love it, I strive to compound this love and keep the passion burning. As a teacher, it’s my
duty to provide my students with the tools to succeed, and fostering a love of and
appreciation for ballet, I believe, is the most crucial and beneficial tool I can offer.
PS: For new students, how would you describe your classes or your teaching style?
SC: My classes are built around providing you with the tools to succeed as a dancer. I
provide both verbal corrections and hands-on feedback, and often incorporate
stretch or strengthening exercises into my classes. I design my classes to go beyond
teaching you “the syllabus exercises” by exploring musicality, artistry/self-
expression, and dissecting the nitty-gritty bits of technique in a way that’s not
boring or confusing, but makes the technical demands of ballet seem approachable
and easily understood. Be prepared to work hard in my classes, both physically and
mentally; if you have a goal you want to achieve, I will definitely help you make it a
PS: Tell us about your dance background, training, education, performance
SC: I began dancing when I was three years old, and for about seven years trained and
competed in a wide variety of dance styles. Early on I discovered a strong love for
ballet, and so I shifted my focus to studying intensively under world-class ballet
instructors. This led me to train in the Professional Division at the School of Alberta
Ballet, the Miami City Ballet School, and the International School of Ballet, where I
trained in both the Royal Academy of Dance and Cecchetti methods. I had initially
planned on becoming a professional ballerina, but, after discovering a natural
passion and talent for teaching, I quickly learned that this was a better career path
for me, and so I shifted gears and began training to be a ballet instructor at the age
I was also a member of various performing troupes at a young age, one notable one
being the Calgary Dance Express. With CDE, I traveled and performed in all styles of
dance at a wide variety of events and venues, such as cruise ships, festivals, and
theme parks, and in places such as Australia, Greece, and Turkey. I also have
experience dancing for film, my biggest gig being the lead dancer in a video series
filmed in Sendai, Japan. Once my focus shifted to ballet, I was performing lead roles
with Alberta Ballet and Jeunesse Classique Ballet in productions such as The
Nutcracker and Coppelia.
Academically, I am currently finishing up a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University
of Toronto Scarborough, where I major in Linguistics.
PS: Do you have a favourite piece of choreography, film, quote, dancer, company?
SC: Since I grew up in Calgary, I am a big fan and supporter of Alberta Ballet, and also
consider the artistic director, Jean Grand-Maître, to be one of my all-time favorite
choreographers. One of my favorite ballets of his is “Fumbling Towards
Ecstasy”—the first and only ballet to ever bring me to tears. Some of my other
favorite companies include Ballet Zurich, American Ballet Theatre, and the National
Ballet of Canada.
I am also, of course, very fond of all the ballet classics, such as Swan Lake, Coppelia,
and The Nutcracker, and enjoy seeing different companies and dancers performing
Fun Facts about Shannon:
I can speak, read, and write Japanese—not quite fluently, but it is my life goal to
become fully fluent.
I am a professional voice actor, and have been the voice for characters in
internationally-aired cartoons as well as popular Japanese video games. I can even
voice boy characters!
I have an immense passion for writing, and am currently in the midst of writing my
10/25/2015 01:20:47 pm
I am so happy to know Ms. Shannon a bit more. What a great addition to Pegasus Studio!
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