Meet Your Teachers

At Charlottetown's Dedicated Social Dance Studio

Susan & Rejean Lessard

Susan and Rejean Lessard began ballroom dancing in Calgary some 20 years ago. They did American Style Smooth and Rhythm for around 2 years before switching to International Style Standard and Latin.

They completed several amateur medal exams, and competed up to Gold level. They trained in Open level before moving to PEI in 2006.

Upon arrival on the Island and the realization that there were not ballroom teachers available, they decided to open their own studio and have been teaching ever since, along with completing additional training in Moncton and Halifax and passing some professional exams.

Alicia Marie Denison

Born in Kamloops, BC, Alicia Denison has studied many styles of dance since childhood, but fell in love with belly dance in 1999. Over the past 18 years, she has travelled to numerous workshops to study with great teachers from throughout North America and Egypt such as Dr. Mo Geddawi, Dandash, Randa Kamel, and Dina. This wouldn’t have been possible without her mentor and troupe director, Bonnie McLean, who instills solid technique and performance skills in all her dancers. In 2014, Alicia also took master classes and teacher training from Ranya Renee of NYC. Taking belly dance classes with Alicia goes beyond the steps. Music appreciation, cultural contexts, and the history of belly dance stylings will also be introduced. Belly dance classes are fun, social and a great low impact form of exercise that improves coordination, posture and overall fitness.

Alicia is also the founder of Charlottetown Burlesque. Living in Vancouver, a city with a burlesque show every night of the week, was the perfect catalyst to make the leap into a burlesque. From there, she went on to be one of the original members of Kamloops Burlesque’s Monthly Showcase and now finds herself a part of a wonderfully multi-faceted troupe in Charlottetown. Burlesque has really proven to be the perfect creative outlet for Alicia. It allows for the freedom to design and sew costumes, build crazy props, and choreograph new dance numbers.

Anna & Robert

Anna and Robert come from opposite sides of the planet, but are united by many things, including their common love of dance. At DownStreet, they teach 1920s-40s Swing Dance, including Charleston, Lindy Hop, Blues, Authentic Jazz and more. These social dances emerged during the classic big-band swing era of jazz in America, primarily originating from the African-American community of Harlem, New York.

Anna’s dance career began at age 3 in Brisbane, Australia, and included ballet, jazz, acrobatics, song-and-dance, hip hop, breakdance and circus arts, until she eventually settling on swing dance as her style of choice in her late teens. She has been teaching swing dance since 2003, in Australia, the Netherlands, and now on PEI, including a number of performance projects.

Robert was born on PEI, and jazz music was played regularly in his household. So it was natural that he began dancing to that music style when he met Anna in the Netherlands in 2007. Robert started teaching when they returned together to PEI in 2015 to start a family, and realized that there were no other swing teachers here!

By profession, Anna is a political organizer, and Robert is a photographer. They live together in rural St Ann, near New Glasgow. Their son, Oscar, was born in December 2015 and is regularly spotted on the Downstreet dancefloor.

Catherine Garro & Angel Rodriguez Jenks

Catherine Garro is an expat Aussie who has been dancing Salsa for the last 19 years, and exploring some from of dance, including jazz, tap, ballet, & ballroom, on and off since she was 3 years old! She says “If I’m not dancing regularly it feels like a part of me is dying.” Dance gets her out of her head and into her body, clears her stresses, opens her heart and ignites pure joy within her. She is very excited to share her passion with you, and help you discover your latin side through Salsa. Her classes are fun, and it doesn’t matter what your dance level is, “just get your butt to class… a bit of hip action only makes your life better!!”

Angel Rodriguez Jenks was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1988. In 2000 he began to study dance at Casa De La Cultura De Boyeros, in Havana City. From 2005-2010 he studied the popular Salsa and Bachata with Fernando Alison, a professional dancer and choreographer in Cuba. March 2017 brought him to beautiful PEI, where he is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and dance skills with you.

Downtown dance studio

Frequently Asked Question

What do I wear to class?
If not specified in the class description, make sure you can move comfortably. You’ll need to be able to take large steps so short, tight skirts are not recommended! Suede soled shoes are the ideal, leather soles are second best, but a flat or low heeled dress shoe that stays on securely will work. You don’t want something that grips the floor like a sneaker because it can be hard on your knees and ankles when you turn, and you don’t want something so slick that you slip and fall.
Are these classes appropriate for someone who has never (ever) danced before?
Absolutely! Any of our beginner classes are designed for both absolute beginners and those new to a particular dance, as well as for those with more experience who wish to review and improve their basics.
Am I required to bring a partner?
No! Students will pair up, switch partners, and rotate through the class. This not only allows individual dancers to participate, it also speeds up everyone’s learning process, prevents you from picking up a single partner’s bad habits (or passing on your own!) and encourages people to get to know their fellow students. This is social dancing, after all!
Are there class etiquette rules?
Let common sense and courtesy prevail here. Please leave outside shoes outside the studio to keep the floor surface ready for dancing, and wipe up any spills promptly to protect peoples’ shoes. Dress presentably and respectfully. You’ll be dancing in close proximity to various partners so deodorant and breath mints are much appreciated. While social dancing involves being, well, social, talking with your partner in class makes it incredibly difficult for the teacher(s) to communicate the information that you’ve paid to learn. Arrive at the studio 5-10 minutes before class so everyone can start together and time isn’t wasted going over material that was already taught. Just common sense and courtesy!

For a deeper exploration of the etiquette of social dance parties, the University of Texas in Dallas wrote an excellent description in 1996 which still applies. http://utdallas.edu/~aria/dance/etiquette.html

Where are you?
Here’s a visual to help you find our building! We’re on the second floor:

The World is a Dance Floor

DownStreet Dance Charlottetown offers a wide range of instructional dance opportunities, including everything from West Coast Swing to Zumba. Drop in for a class when it works for you. Check out our schedule or learn more about different dance styles!

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