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Alumni

CDM Alumni

Many of our alumni have gone on to enjoy fantastic success in various forms of media, all while showcasing their love of dance and music as a whole.

These high achievers worked hard to establish themselves as respected members of the dance and music communities, moving onto both academia and big budget productions around the world.

We are proud to have played an instrumental role in the training and nurturing of so many wonderfully talented artists, while watching them continue to reach new personal and professional heights.

As we move forward, CDM Dance & Music is committed to adding so many more wonderful artists to our list of prestigious alumni. Who knows? It could be you!
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Toronto-based choreographer and performer; Avery Dupuis has over 20 years of dance training and 10 years of professional experience. She has a diploma from the Randolph College for the Performing Arts, where she won the prestigious Triple Threat Award and a Master’s in Musical Theatre Performance from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Avery is a passionate educator for youth and young professionals, her love for teaching has brought her to Scotland, Jordan, the United States and every Canadian province. Her choreography and performance credits include: Her|Self (Inshadow Festival and RioWebfest Nominee for Best Dance Video 2020), Gros Morne Summer Music Festival, 9 to 5 the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and music videos for Fine Men with Foul Tongues, Zinnia, Yvette Coleman, and Hana Malhas. Avery is currently working towards becoming a dance movement therapist, where she will be able to blend her passions for dance and social work to provide anti-oppressive creative therapy to marginalized communities.

Cheryl Quiacos Upper

Cheryl Quiacos Upper has a diverse history in the performing arts, sports and the film industry. Her training started as a national level gymnast where she travelled to Bulgaria and former Yugoslavia to represent Ontario, Canada at the young age of 12. Following her early 14-year gymnastics career, she studied ballet with CDM founder Cynthia Fisher who had been her dance teacher while she was a gymnast. Cheryl’s passion for dance developed quickly. She achieved her RAD Advanced 2 level examination and participated in the distinguished RAD Solo Seal Award. After highschool, Ms. Cheryl headed to study Contemporary Dance at The Ailey SchoolTM in New York City. She trained intensively in Horton, Graham and Dunham (Afro Caribbean) Contemporary Techniques, as well as jazz and ballet. She had the opportunity to work with world-renowned choreographers such as Talley Beatty, Elisa Monte and Judith Marcuse and had the honour of performing at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theatre. Cheryl danced professionally touring throughout the Netherlands and Belgium with the Koninklijk Theatre Carré show Marco Tempest Magic for the Next Millennium. Mrs. Upper has been recognized and awarded at competitions for her innovative choreography by nationally recognized adjudication affiliations and she is a proud member of the PAA (Professional Adjudication Association). She also enjoys adjudicating within the Competitive Dance Industry.

Upon Returning to Toronto, Cheryl expanded her focus to the dramatic arts. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto Bachelor’s Degree Program with a B.A in Drama and a minor in French. Her acquired skill set and past experiences soon let Cheryl to a career in the film industry. She has been an established stunt performer within Toronto’s film and television industry since 1999. Cheryl was the lead stunt double for actors Tia Carrere in the action tv series Relic Hunter for 3 seasons and Vivica A. Fox in the tv series Missing. Other Stunt credits in Television and film credits include: Star Trek – Discovery, Star Trek – Strange New World, The Boys, Clarise, as well as The Day After Tomorrow, Pacific Rim, Resident Evil Apocalypse, and Total Recall with Colin Farrell.

Cheryl is an innovative choreographer, passionate dance teacher and the owner of CDM Dance & Music. She was a stunt double as well as assistant choreographer on feature film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World starring Michael Cera and was the movement coordinator on Vincenzo Natale’s Splice starring Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley.

Cheryl takes pride in sharing her life experience with her students. At CDM creating a family-friendly community of people who passionate about the performing arts and who strive to be at their best is our goal. Welcome to CDM, our home!

Christina Digiuseppe

Christina is a passionate dance artist and choreographer who is inspired by the exploration of the creative process. With her extensive training across North America as well as over 12 years of choreographing, and teaching experience, her philosophy and ultimate goal is to assist dancers in finding their true authentic selves as artists as well as individuals. Christina has self-produced numerous dance productions in Toronto, Canada such as “The Love Project”, “The Infinite Continuum”, as well as her most recently produced show “The House of Heartbreak”.

Christina was recently chosen as a 2015 Capezio Ace awards finalist. She has also been awarded with the Choreographer’s Connection Grant by Regional Dance America where she had the honor of working alongside Miss Nelly Van Bommel as an emerging artist. Christina has had the privilege of sharing her passion and artistry with Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, The Ohio Canton Ballet, Sears Canada, Benson & Hedges, Toronto’s Bazaar, Fever After Dark, and Toronto Choreographer’s Ball, just to name a few. Christina is dedicated to sharing her love for Dance Arts education with youth.

She is an instructor, choreographer and adjudicator for performing Arts schools and dance studios across Canada. She considers herself a life-long student continuously seeking out new ways to expand as an artist and develop a new found appreciation for her craft.

Claude Labuschagne

Claude Labuschagne has been training extensively for the past 7 years in styles such as Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Modern, Ballet, and more. He recently competed with the national dance team at the Dance World Cup held in Braga, Portugal this last July, where he returned home with two gold medals, one silver medal, and three bronze medals and was then invited to perform at the Miss Universe Canada pageant. Claude aspires to become a professional dancer/choreographer and forever pay it forward.

Devyn Rappaport

Devyn Rappaport is an emerging dance artist and choreographer who draws particular emphasis to the interconnected relationship between the science of the human body and artistic expression. Originally for Pickering, Ontario, Devyn began her dance training at the age of two at Jacqueline’s School of Dance, beginning the competitive program at the age of five winning numerous titles, scholarships, and overalls. Currently, Devyn is completing her third year of the BFA degree in Dance at York University
while simultaneously receiving her BSc in Kinesiology and Health Science. During her time at York University, Devyn has been fortunate enough to work with notable artists such as Syreeta Hector, Patrick Parson, and Tracey Norman. Devyn is also a member of York University’s competitive dance team, York Lions Dance Energy. Devyn is Jazz and Tap certified through the
British Association of Teachers of Dancing and earned her Acrobatics Certification through Acrobatic Arts. Devyn emphasizes the importance of self-confidence, perseverance, and teamwork while also enforcing a sense of community and a safe space for risk-taking.

Jessica Sayde

Jessica was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia and began dancing at 13, and teaching at 16. She competed in several east coast dance competitions and performed with her local dance team all year round at charity events, concerts, schools and for musical artists. At 23, she was the choreographer of the dance troupe for a professional basketball team in Halifax and also the choreographer for a few Canadian artists.

Starting at the age of 20 she began to travel to Los Angeles every year to train with the top choreographers and dancers in the industry.

In 2008, Jessica moved to California to pursue dance as a career and continued to travel home to Canada to judge and teach at dance conventions/competitions. In 2009, Jessica moved to Toronto and continues to teach, inspire, and mentor young dancers. This is Jessica’s 3rd year with CDM Dance teaching both recreational and competitive groups.

Kelly Gammie

Kelly Gammie is a seasoned performer, passionate instructor and lover of the choreographic process. She currently performs with and co-choreographs for the all-female, hip hop crew DEUCEnDIP (most notably featured on five episodes of Much Music’s NML Dance Battlez) and with Toronto based dance group ABS Crew. She is also the founder of the Invictus Dance Project, a collective that brings together dancers of various backgrounds to create unique contemporary performances.

Kelly holds a B.F.A. from York University, where she studied ballet and contemporary. Prior to her post-secondary education, she received fourteen years of formal training in ballet, pointe, jazz and tap. While living in the Niagara Region, her interest in hip hop led to her seek out training through local street dancers and online videos. She continues to train in Toronto, where she now resides.

Dance has been central to her personal development and evolving self. Such lessons greatly inform her creative process and are embodied in her teaching philosophies. She aims to inspire her students to perform and create with confidence in one’s artistic voice. She currently teaches in Toronto (Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, Bayview School of Ballet) and has had the honour of guest teaching and choreographing for dancers in various parts of the country. Additionally, she has worked with social outreach, arts-based programs such as Just Bgraphic and Outside Looking In.

Leslie Cheng-Ainsworth

Leslie has been heavily inspired by her many mentors and dance educators. She is in her final year for her BFA in Dance at York University completing her five-year joint program with the National Ballet School of Canada’s (NBS) Teacher Training Program. Leslie has trained primarily within the ballet paradigm, in conjunction with modern, jazz, and contemporary dance forms. At the Conservatory of Dance and Music, she was a competitive dancer while completing all of the Royal Academy of Dance’s vocational streams including all levels from Intermediate Foundation to Advanced 2.
Leslie attended the Claude Watson Arts Program at Earl Haig Secondary School. Enduring the four years of vigorous training, Leslie’s dance staples consisted of Cecchetti (Ballet), RAD (Ballet), Graham, and Limon-based Modern. Through her continuous journey in the dance realm, Parallel to her post-secondary education, her extensive travels within Southeast Asia and Central America have propelled her into the journey of becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance.
Her ultimate goal is to inspire children, youth, and all movers to embrace dance and the physical body beyond the art form. She believes dance allows one to harvest tools applicable to all parts of life beyond the stage.

Madila Caushi

Madila is a classical singer, vocal coach, piano teacher, and voice-over. When she was a little girl she was involved in different dance courses like modern, traditional dance, classic ballet, and dancesport in which she has won two First prices in Latin dances. She has finished Artistic High School, Bachelor and Master Degree in the faculty of Music in the University of Arts as a classical singer. During her career, she has been part of different music events, competitions, and music projects like, The Voice, Conductor of a Guinness World Record ‘’Cup Song 2017’’, Winner Project of the Ministry of Culture of Albania called ‘’Socialization through Art’’ and other music events. Madila says that music is fundamental to her being and she believes that it is integral to the education of any person.

Madila has 5 years of experience teaching, her students have won first prizes in different competitions and she is ready to give her best in singing lessons and piano lessons.

Megan Yim

Megan has been teaching piano to younger children as well as adults for several years. She has received the A.R.C.T diploma in Piano Performance as well as the Licentiate Diploma in Piano Performance (L.R.C.M.) at the Royal Conservatory of Music and has achieved First Class Honours with Distinction in her piano examinations. As well, she has placed in many piano competitions such as the Kiwanis Music Festival, Arts Richmond Hill Music Festival, and the Markham Music Festival. She has accompanied multiple choirs, and ensembles, and continues to play for leisure. Parents of Megan’s students have commended her skill and ability to relate to young children. She believes that music is an integral part of every child’s development. Megan’s goal for every one of her students is to build a solid ladder of musical knowledge as well as finding the joy in playing the piano.

Michiko Nishimura

Michiko started her dance training in Japan studying the Vaganova method. Since then, she has danced various roles as a soloist dancer in traditional classical ballets, character dances. She has also danced more contemporary ballet dances as well. In 2006, to advance her skills, she continued her education at École Supérieure de Danse de Cannes Rosella Hightower.
Michiko went on to teach ballet classes for dancers from 3-years-old to adults.
Her enthusiasm for more professional training in dance pedagogy lead her to decide to study in the Teacher Training Program at Canada’s National Ballet School, where she was honoured with the 2019 Carole Chadwick Award, which pays tribute to the student who has demonstrated significant potential over her teacher training. She also had the opportunity to be mentored by Miss Cynthia Fisher, ARAD and dual examiner of the Royal Academy of Dance. In June of 2020, Michiko graduated from NBS with the 3-year Teacher Training Program Diploma and also joined NBS as artistic staff from 2018. She holds her Registered Teacher Status with the Royal Academy of Dance and ISTD National Dance Associate.
Michiko is very pleased to be part of CDM’s dance faculty. She creates a positive environment in her classroom, drawing on her professional skills to inspire and meet the needs of all her students.

Rachel Giles

Rachel’s passion for dance started in the studios of CDM. Starting at the age of five, she trained in numerous styles including ballet, jazz, lyrical, acrobatics, hip hop, and contemporary, where she took part in CDM’s first competitive team. After training for two years as a national-level rhythmic gymnast, Rachel nurtured her love for the arts at Claude Watson School for the arts, and later at Earl Haig Secondary School’s Claude Watson Arts Program. Through her experiences in the Claude Watson Programs, Rachel has had the pleasure of working with artists including Benoit-Swan Pouffert, Gino Berti, William Yong, Jerome Bob, Melanie Mah, participating in numerous extra-curricular arts events, while also developing her managerial, and performance experience.

While pursuing her degree at McGill University, Rachel was a proud member of Mosaica Dance Company, an egalitarian contemporary dance company and the oldest arts society at the esteemed university. During her university years, she was able to hone her teaching and choreographing skills at Montreal Studio Danse Nanci Moretti, and as a collective member of Mosaica Dance Company. Her creative, organizational, and event managerial experiences culminated in her position as Mosaica Dance Company’s coordinator where she had the opportunity to organize a team of 21 dancers and partake in countless fundraisers and performances throughout the city of Montreal.

Rachel continues to keep dance as a part of her professional life and seeks to inspire creativity and confidence in her students. As a product of arts-based education, Rachel believes that the arts play a crucial role in developing of well rounded, creative, and intelligent individuals regardless of the role that it may play later in their career. Rachel is thrilled to return to her second home as a teacher at CDM!

Shawn Bracke

Shawn’s diverse experience as a performer, choreographer, instructor and adjudicator have taken him all over North America and Europe. Originally from Edmonton, Alberta – he trained extensively in ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, tap, street styles and vernacular styles under Variations Academy of Performing Arts.

Upon graduating from Victoria School for the Performing Arts, Shawn moved to Vancouver to be a part of The Source Dance co. directed by Joanne Pesusich. He then worked with Royal Caribbean Productions for three consecutive contracts the final working as an aerialist in an all arial show directed by Jeremy Plummer (C5 Productions, Miami). He then made the bold move to London, UK where he worked commercially as a dancer/choreographer for 2 years.

While in the UK Shawn gained contracts in Italy, France and the Netherlands for contemporary and commercial works. He currently resides in Toronto, ON and works commercially as a dancer/choreographer and instructor. An ACTRA Apprentice member – Shawn’s major credits in both North America and Europe include: “The Next Step” – Family Channel, “Victoria Duffield” – chor. Luther Brown, “Dartmoor” – dir. Steven Spielberg, “Converse”, “HP/Intel”, “MTV” & “Samsung”.

Taryn Na

Taryn is a recent graduate from Ryerson University, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Performance Dance. Her studies have equipped her with teaching, improvisation, choreography, and performance experience, whilst training in Graham technique with Karen Duplisea, ballet with Tanya Evidente and John Ottman, contemporary with Ryan Lee and Robert Glumbek, and jazz with Linda Garneau.

Leading up to her degree, Taryn began her early training at the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT) in Toronto. With a foundation in classical ballet, she has completed eight of the RAD graded exams and passed her Intermediate, Advanced I and Advanced II examination with distinction. It was her love for Limon modern and contemporary dance that inspired her to become a part of CCDT’s contemporary company, where she performed for five years and toured throughout Canada.

Taryn is grateful to join the team at CDM and plans to share her knowledge and inspire, though movement and dance.

Tiffany Lue Tam

Tiffany is a graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), where she studied Media Production in the Radio and Television Arts program, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She then went on to complete a diploma at the Toronto Film School in the Writing for Film & Television program, and is currently part of the development and writing process of an up and coming indie video game. She is an aspiring screenwriter and hopes to share her scripts and stories through multiple platforms, productions, and art forms. Tiffany is a CDM alumni where she was a member of the competitive dance team for over ten years, taking classes in contemporary, modern, jazz, acro dance, musical theatre, tap, hip hop, and ballet. She has completed all her Royal Academy of Dance graded examinations up to Advanced II. Tiffany has considered CDM her second home throughout her dance journey and the studio will always hold a special place in her heart. She is excited to join the CDM team as an administrator to offer and apply her knowledge and amazing CDM experience to inspire and support future dancers.

Victoria Marshman

Victoria is a passionate, motivated choreographer, dance teacher and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the industry. She has extensive training in various genres specializing in the technique behind ballet (Vaganova and RAD style), jazz and contemporary. Victoria trained and competed at Elite Danceworx where she was a part of the teaching faculty for over 5 years. Winning countless dance and choreography awards, Victoria has continued to keep dance a part of her professional life.

Victoria has appeared in the television industry through companies such as Planet Lunch, President’s Choice, Golden Crisco Cookies, Canadian Tire and the Girl Guide Cookie Box. She has danced in Cardinal Carter’s “The Nutcracker” as several characters, notably in her final year as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Victoria appeared on Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada where she made the top 40 female dancers in Canada.

While completing her Honors Bachelor of Science Degree, Victoria was the co-captain of the University of Toronto Dance Team for 2 years where she led the team to a 1st overall championship. In 2011, she co-founded City MOGULS, an organization that celebrates Toronto’s entrepreneurs in an unforgettable runway show that features Canadian fashion brands and raises funds and awareness for Canadian charities. Through this initiative, Victoria has helped raise over $75,000 for Canadian Charities.

Wael Zaghrini

Passionate for leaning and education, I see my teaching style as a blessing to those who would love to grow their musical knowledge, or for those who would like to simply play a tune they’ve dreamed of learning. I am currently completing my Doctorate and music teaching is one of my most valued hobbies. I’ve studied classical repertoire for 10 years now and have been teaching piano and theory lessons since 2014. I love most of all to work with children and young adults. My background in teaching consisted mostly of children between the ages of 5 to 14 years old.
Hard work is put into every lesson to build a strong foundation of musical technique, theory and solo practice. Foundation to me is everything. My task is to always educate every one of my students with the goal that they may learn and grow individually without relying on their teacher. This ensures that the student is learning to work well on their own and grow their musical repertoire at an exponential rate. If you would like to know more about my teaching style, please feel free to ask any questions and contact me anytime.

Read what our alumni say about us

Our dance and music classes, as well as our students have been featured in a number of media publications. Check out what they have to say about CDM Dance & Music.