We are a team of dedicated professionals working to improve young learners experience and access to the world of dance.

Kelsey McMahon

Co-Chair of the Board

Kelsey McMahon grew up studying Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Modern Dance at Ballet North School and Performing Company and West Edmonton Ballet Academy in Edmonton Alberta. Upon graduation she had the opportunity to dance with “Orchesis”, and “Opera Nuova”. Notable roles include; member of the corps in “Les Sylphides”, “Pas de Quatre”, “Appalachian Spring”, “Enfant”, and “Hansel and Gertel”. She holds a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Alberta and has been teaching Dance for the Calgary Board of Education for the past fifteen years. She has also completed her primary and recreational syllabus ballet teacher certification through the Edmonton School of Ballet. She has built one of the largest dance programs in the CBE, and is currently the Learning Leader of Student Engagement, as well head of the dance department at Forest Lawn High School. She is also the proud coach of the Forest Lawn High School Dance Team. She has been invited to speak at the Canadian National Academy for Dance Education’s first Alberta conference as well as the Alberta Teacher’s Association Beginner’s Teacher’s Conference. She has also been an adjudicator for the Wild Rose Dance Arts Association. She is one of the founding members of the East Side Dance Festival Society (the current Chair for the CBE) and was recently awarded “The Most Outstanding Choreography” Awards at both Dance Evolutions and Shy Ann Dance Festival. She was also the recipient of the “Hemstreet Coach of the Year Award” for the 2017-2018 season. Kelsey is passionate about the arts and their power to create community and empower young people. She believes that high quality fine arts programming should be accessible to all students in all schools. She is deeply grateful that she gets to work with the amazing women on the East Side Dance Festival Society board of directors who do amazing work every day to inspire and engage our students.

BEd | Primary & Rec Ballet Certification

Kelly Brownlee

Co-Chair of the Board

With over 15 years of international teaching experience within a leadership position, Kelly Brownlee is a highly committed dance professional with a tenacious appetite for excellence. Currently the Fine Arts Coordinating teacher, Technical Theatre Director and Dance Instructor, at Father Lacombe High School, Kelly strives to introduce students to the transformative nature of dance performance so they may gain confidence, build community and achieve technical and interpretative mastery. Students leave the dance program at Father Lacombe changed for the better, armed with a battery of transferable skills which will empower and inform their work in whatever field they choose to pursue. Kelly is an active member of Calgary’s thriving dance community and is an avid patron of dance performances around the city. She has performed and choreographed for the University of Calgary’s Montage performance, Fluid Festival and has taken part in Alberta Dance Theater’s Intensive choreography workshops and performances.  She has been on the East Side Dance Festival team for 5 years now.

BEd |Studied Dance at U of C, RADA, Danceworks & Pineapple Dance Studios

Janelle Ferrara

Social Media & Marketing Manager

Janelle is a native Calgarian, who started her passion for dance at the age of three. She continued to pursue her love of dance at the University of Calgary, specializing in contemporary dance. Janelle was able to fully grow and develop as a dancer, training with dance professionals and performing in shows such as Mainstage, Dance Montage and Dance at Night.  Janelle also spent many years training in Jazz techniques with co-founder of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Michele Moss, and credits Tara Wilson as her guiding mentor in the technique and styles of Hip-Hop. She continued her studies in dance, traveling to New York and trained with the Jose Limon dance company. She returned home to Calgary to train under the artistic guidance of Wojtek Mochniej and Melissa Monteros in their WandM Professional Division. Janelle went on to pursue an Education degree from the University of Alberta in 2013, earning numerous scholarships and awards, including the University of Alberta Student Excellence Award, recognizing Janelle for her academic achievement, leadership and professionalism. She is now proud to say that all her hard work has paid off, as she has now been a part of the CBE since 2013 and has had the privilege of teaching dance to many students throughout the years. She currently runs the dance program at Crossing Park School and is artistic director and choreographer for the Crossing Park Dance team. Her passion for sharing knowledge and continuous growth in dance is the driving force behind her continued efforts in making dance accessible to all individuals. Fun fact: Janelle was actually an adjudicator for East Side Dance Festival when it was hosted at Lester B. Pearson school and only had about four schools involved! 

BA/BEd Specialization-Dance

Jessica Nottell

Position: Web Development & Marketing Manager

At the age of three, Jessica started training as a dancer, gymnastics, vocalist and later found a passion for stage combat and Yoga. She competed and performed as both a vocalist and dancer at venues such as the Youth Talent Show Down at the Calgary Stampede, Dance Montage at the U of C, Youth Singers of Calgary at the Jubilee Auditorium and Calaway Live. She attended the Mount Royal Conservatory Performing Arts Program and once complete, moved to Vancouver BC and worked with the Living Statue performers for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. She continued her studies by attending Harbour Dance Centre, Fight Directors Canada Nationals and the International Paddy Crane Banff Series workshops. Throughout her career she has had the opportunity to choreograph, teach and perform on projects such as Oliver!NewsiesMatilda the Musical, Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, Forbidden Phoenix, The Marriage of Figaro,  Evil Dead the Musical, Fringe, Hell Cats, This Means War, SmallVille and more. Jessica has had the pleasure of working with, Gate Way Theatre, Port Moody School of Dance, Ground Zero Theatre, Hit & Myth Productions, Premiere Dance Academy, East Side Dance Festival , Theatre Alberta’s Artstrek and multiple arts programs around Calgary and Vancouver. Jessica’s first introduction to East Side Dance Festival was as a choreographer for Bishop McNally in its first few years of inception. She is currently the full time dance educator at Lester B. Pearson High School and adores her students and program.

BFA/BEd | IDTS | RYT200 |Completed her Advanced Certification for FDC

Jaclyn Kennedy

Stage Manager

Jaclyn Kennedy has been teaching dance with the Calgary Board of Education for the past 12 years.  She attended the University of Calgary where she earned a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology and Masters of Teaching.  Her passion for dance was heightened through travel and experiencing the Latin Social Dance Community.  She has performed at various events in Calgary including studio showcases, Calgary International Salsa Congress and Expo Latino.  She has been on the East Side Dance Festival Board of Directors since 2014 and currently teaches at James Fowler High School. 

BSKin |M. Ed

Laurel Lupine


Laurel Lepine began training in Jazz and Tap at the Al Gilbert School of Dance in Calgary when she was 5 years old.  By high school, she continued her training in Jazz and Modern dance with Denis Clarke at the original DJD Studio in Kensington.   After obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and English from the University of Alberta, Lepine continued to perform in musical theatre productions and choreograph for college theatrical productions including Red Noses for Mount Royal College Conservatory of Drama and As It Is In Heaven, for Playhouse North.  She has taught in dance programs at Crescent Heights High School, Ernest Morrow Jr. High and currently teaches Dance and Yoga at Nelson Mandela High School.

BEd Theatre | RYT 200

Elise Janz

Volunteer Coordinator & Special Guest Liaison

Elise Janz was born in Calgary, Alberta and began dancing at Foothills Academy of Dance.  After a short hiatus from the dance world she started training at Crossings Dance under the direction of Karen Sudds.  At Crossings Ms. Janz trained in ballet, modern (Horton and Graham), contemporary, and jazz. Working with Sheahan Kimmins Keinick she completed examinations in ISTD modern and ballet.  In 1997 Ms. Janz joined a youth performance group out of Crossings and continued to hone her technical and performative skills.  In 2000 Ms. Janz auditioned and was accepted into Corps Bara Dance Theatre and worked under the artistic direction of Amy Meyers and later Daniela Sodero.  During her time with the company she worked with choreographers Stephen Wynn (At Marah Dance Theatre), Randall Flinn (Ad Deum Dance Company) Mona Enna (Störling Dance Theatre), Lisa Calverly (Danceway 21), and Connie Moker Wernikowski (Youth Ballet Company of Saskatchewan).  She has also had the privilege of training and performing in Vancouver (The Canadian Dance Fellowship), Kansas City (Störling Dance Theatre), New York City (Project Dance) and Regina (Youth Ballet of Saskatchewan). After an injury, Ms. Janz stepped back from performance and transitioned her personal love of dance to include teaching and choreography. She completed “Dance Teacher & Health Professional Intensive Workshop-Level One” training under Lisa Howell (Sydney) and “Creative Movement for Young Dancers” under Barbara Moore (Calgary). From 2005-2008 she served as a rehearsal director for Corps Bara Youth Dance Theatre (Junior Division). She has taught for Crossings, Alberta Dance Academy and continues to guest teaches at a variety of studios in the city of Calgary. Currently, Ms. Janz works at Forest Lawn High School and helps run the extracurricular dance programming.

Karyn Leavitt

Student Care Committee

Anita Miotti

Dance Community Liaison

Lisa O’Brien

Technical Director

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