Instructional Faculty



Dave Pierce

Artistic Director



Mark Eriksen

Manager – The Young Canadians School of Performing Arts

Mark Eriksen is a well-experienced performer, dance educator, adjudicator, choreographer, and director. He is originally and currently based out of Calgary, Canada. Mr. Eriksen has trained intensely with the American Tap Dance Institute to become a certified graduate of the National Tap Ensembles’ Diploma program. Mr. Eriksen has trained and instructed in New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, Wisconsin, and Vancouver. Mr. Eriksen is highly skilled in Tap, Jazz, Lyric, Ballet, Musical Theater, and Partnering. He continued his professional teachers training to include the ADAPT syllabus. By age 22 he had entertained professionally aboard Princess Cruise Lines for over five years performing in 14 full productions shows. He was able to travel to over 80 countries before beginning his teaching career in Calgary over 15 years ago. As past Co-Artistic Director of the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts, Mr. Eriksen has worked with the internationally known Grandstand Show of the Calgary Stampede. Mr. Eriksen is currently the owner/creative director of McDonald Wilson Dance Academy and Artistic Director of Alberta Dance Theatre.

Apart from his extensive performance training he is a graduate of Business Administration, with a major in Marketing. Mr. Eriksen is a member of the International Tap Association, and currently President of the Bree Eriksen Memorial Dance Award Society, which annually presents dance awards with Education Matters. Recently Mr. Eriksen has become involved as a member with the International Dance Council an affiliate of the United Nations Educational scientific and cultural organization.

Mr. Eriksen has worked professionally with youth groups in Calgary for over 15 years creating, developing, and implementing performance and training opportunities.




Angela Benson

Artistic Development Lead

Angela Benson is one of the most innovative Choreographer/Artistic Director’s working in the performing arts industry today. She is accomplished in providing professional and expert instruction in dance technique, choreography, performance skills, casting, staging and creative development. Angela is recognized for her versatility, sassy style, and the ability to feature performers in their best limelight. She has the finesse to work with all categories of talent including dancers, singers, youth, actors, models, and athletes with her specialty being large groups of performers. There is no challenge this girl cannot face head on.

After her own professional performing career on cruise ships to live stage productions and music videos, Angela began a new journey on the other side of the stage educating youth in Performing Arts from her home town. Angela’s experience in the industry has enabled her to produce talent that have been awarded contracts with Disney, Cirque Du Soleil, Music Videos, Cruise Lines and film! Angela has since realized another dream and is now the Lead Choreographer for the world renowned Calgary Stampede’s Grandstand Show under Emmy Award Winning Creative Producer Mr. Dave Pierce.
Angela is so excited to return to The Young Canadians School this year to inspire her students to push past their boundaries and reach to new heights.




John Morgan

Associate Vocal Director

John Morgan is a Calgary musician, conductor, composer, arranger and clinician, who is well versed in the classical, musical theatre, jazz and pop genres. He studied pipe organ, piano and conducting at the University of Calgary under Dr. Terrence Fullerton, Dr. Neil Cockburn, Marilyn Engle and Dr. Glenn Price.

John is the Artistic Director of Kantorei, Associate Vocal Director of the Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede, Music Director and Organist at St. Anthony's Church, and accompanies and/or directs various high school and community choirs across the City including the ConocoPhillips Choir, Bishop Carroll, Lord Beaverbrook and Centennial High Schools.

In addition, John provided musical direction for various events including the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Club, One Rock Music Festival, and in his capacity as Artistic Director, for the We Day: Free The Children Benefit concert.

John is a published composer and arranger whose work has been performed by groups across North America including our very own Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.




Yukichi Hattori

Dance Instructor

Yukichi started dancing in Tokyo, Japan.

At a young age of 13, he moved to Hamburg, Germany to attend the Hamburg ballet school. He joined the Hamburg ballet in 1999, where he was praised as the "audience's favourite dancer". He was promoted to soloist in 2004. He then moved to the Alberta Ballet in 2006, where he danced until 2016. He not only danced throughout his career, he choreographs all over the world as well. He has made pieces in Japan, Germany and here in Calgary.

He now opened Hattori/Williamson school of Dance here in Calgary along with his partners, Galien Johnston Hattori and Tara Williamson.




Yoo Sang Hong

Dance Instructor

Native of Seoul, South Korea, Yoo Sang Hong received his training in the Professional Ballet and the Post Secondary Programs at Canada's National Ballet School. Additionally, he was an Aspirant with Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and spent a few summers dancing with Banff Professional Dance. Prior to joining Alberta Ballet, he danced with Canada's Ballet Jörgen for six years where he danced many soloist and principal roles, such as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and the pas de trois in Swan Lake. This is his third season at the Alberta Ballet, and he performed works by renowned choreographers such as Jean Grand-Maître, Jiří Kylián, Ben Stevenson, and Aszure Barton. Yoo Sang is also a enthusiastic ballet instructor; he has taught summer schools at the School of Alberta Ballet and the Okanagan Summer Dance Intensive.




Stephanie Hradsky

Vocal Instructor

Stephanie Hradsky holds a Masters degree in Voice and Opera from McGill University and a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the University of Michigan. This past summer Stephanie was in the premier cast of a new opera put on through the Banff Centre and Against the Grain Opera theatre. In April Stephanie performed the role of Erste Knabe in Calgary Opera’s production of Die Zauberflöte. Stephanie has studied and performed in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Equally at home in opera and musical theatre, past productions include Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Rinaldo (Almirena), Le Nozze di Figaro (Barbarina), The Magic Flute (Papagena), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom), The Full Monty, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and Merton of the Movies (Flips Montague, Canadian Premiere).




Melissa Klassen

Dance Instructor

"Miss Melissa brings with her over 20 years of experience as an expert in AcroDance, safe spotting practices, injury prevention, gymnastics, adjudication, and teacher certification. Melissa has extensive experience teaching students of all ages and abilities. She has taught thousands of acrobats from around the world, and has seen several of them go on to have exciting and fulfilling professional careers.

As creator and director of the International “Acrobatique AcroDance Syllabus", Melissa Klassen is the “go to” expert in the field of AcroDance in Canada and abroad. Her modern techniques and fresh approach to Acrobatics have become a game changer in the dance industry.

Melissa is the original creator of the AcroDance department here at The Young Canadians; she created the program, was the department head, and mentored up and coming teachers for 10 years. Now, Melissa is excited to re-join the TYC team, and take the program to the next level in modern AcroDance.
In addition to re-joining the TYC team, and facilitating the worldwide Acrobatique Syllabus, Melissa created, and is currently the Director for, the department of AcroDance at the renowned athletic sports school Tanbridge Academy, here in Calgary.

Melissa is certified with the Canadian A.D.A.P.T (Jazz/Tap) Syllabus, is Level 3 certified with the N.C.C.P – Gymnastics division, Level 2 N.C.C.P Judging/Adjudicating Certification, Tumbling and Trampoline Level 2, Canadian Child Safety Certification, and has a diploma in Sport Management/Administration with Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

With an eye for precision, sharp technical skills, and a passion for mentorship and inspiring others, Melissa Klassen leads the way in the AcroDance industry in Canada and abroad.”




Susan Mensinger

Dance Instructor

Susan Mensinger is very proud to say that she has operated and taught under Artistique Dance Academy in Calgary for 40 years! Students of Miss Mensinger have gone on to perform in “Love”, “Wicked”, “Storm”, “Notre Dame”, “Moulin Rouge”, “Tap Dogs”, “Tokyo Disney”, “Aida”, “ Zumanity” as well as Princess, Royal and Celebrity cruise lines. It has been exciting to watch dancers of hers on “SYTYCD”, “Dancing With The Stars” as well as numerous music videos. Most recently students of Miss Mensinger can be seen as the lead in the new “Dirty Dancing” tour, head choreographer and dancer for “Groove Academy”, solo tap dancer in the Opening Ceremonies of Olympics and featured soloist tapper in The Grandstand show at the Calgary Stampede. She is very proud of those that have taken on teaching roles as well, in studios and workshops as well as artistic director of the contemporary company “O2 the dance company”. Miss Mensinger’s love of dancing and dancers has been a life long affair.

Susan Mensinger was a dancer in the Young Canadians back in 1970-73. Margot Gooder McDermott, teacher for the Young Canadians, fueled Susan’s passion for dance and performing. Miss Mensinger is honored and excited to complete the circle by now being one of the teachers that inspire our future entertainers.




Lizzy Munson

Vocal Instructor

Lizzy Munson is a singer, cellist and dancer. She was a featured cast performer (vocal and dance) with the Calgary Stampede’s Young Canadians for five years, and attended Mount Royal University Conservatory’s Academy Program for nine years, studying advanced cello, chamber and orchestral music.
In 2016, Lizzy was named Grand Prize Winner for her vocal and cello performance in the Stampede Talent Search. She has played background cello for Michael Bublé on the Edmonton and Calgary stops on his 2014 tour and accompanied Shawn Mendes at the 2016 Juno Awards. She performs regularly with Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.
Currently, Lizzy teaches vocal and cello, works as a session musician for local artists, and performs at various events. She is working towards her music and songwriting certificate through Berklee College of Music.




Tanis Nicholls

Dance Instructor

Tanis was born and raised in Calgary and began dancing at a very young age. She has trained with renowned instructors and choreographers across Canada and the United States, as well as, training in the ADAPT jazz and tap syllabus and The Royal Academy of Dancing ballet syllabus. Tanis received numerous scholarships and awards throughout her years of training.

Tanis graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Dance/Theatre Performance. She is certified in Dance, Voice and Acting from The Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, British Columbia. Tanis has performed on stages in both Canada and the United States. Some of her theater credits include, The Shoji Tabuchi Show, The Wonders of Christmas, Magic N’ Miracles Canadian Tour, Break The Floor, New York City Dance Alliance Summer Showcase, The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede, and The Nutcracker Ballet. Other credits include the Bollywood movie, I’ve Found Someone” and multiple national commercials and television appearances.

Tanis’ choreography has been seen at numerous dance competitions across the southern United States and Western Canada, as well as the Heart and Hand Charity Banquet in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tanis has been an adjudicator for Alberta based dance competitions and is also the owner and Artistic Director of Extreme Dance Challenge.
Tanis was also a member of the Canadian National Tap Team, competing in Berlin, Germany at the World Tap Championship, taking home a silver medal. Tanis lived in the United States for ten years and during this time she performed professionally and taught & choreographed at studios in Missouri and Oklahoma. Tanis is excited to be back in Calgary sharing her passion, technical ability and love for dance.




Ryan Nolin

Accompanist

Ryan, a born and raised Calgarian, is excited for his second season with The Young Canadians! Having countless experiences to draw from, some of Ryan’s previous roles include: front man for New Zealand rock band, choir performer for the president of Hungry, orchestra member for Royal Caribbean cruise line, Pirate King, Canadian Mountie, Manatee, and much more. Ryan has his A.R.C.T. in piano performance as well as a degree in vocal performance from the University of Calgary. He his currently working alongside many Calgary high school choirs and dance companies. Including, Alberta Ballet and Decidedly Jazz Dance.




JP Thibodeau

Theatrical Development Lead

An award winning actor, designer and director JP has been both on and off the stage all over the world. He is currently the Artistic Director for StoryBook Theatre which under his leadership has grown to be Canada's largest volunteer driven Theatre for Young Audiences. Recent credits both on and off the stage include: Touch Me, Naughty But Nice (Forté), As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet (The Shakespeare Co.), High Life, The Money Shot, Reasons to Be Happy (Ground Zero), Annie Davidson, Sound of Music(Cowtown Opera), Uptown Country Girls (Stage West), Epiphany, Dads In Bondage, If I Weren't With You (LunchBox Theatre), The Secret Garden, The Last 5 Years, Avenue Q (StoryBook Theatre), Sweeney Todd, Filumena, Dead Man Walking (Calgary Opera). JP holds a bachelor degree in Theatre Arts and Drama in Education and although plenty of his life is spent living and breathing theatre he always makes time for his beautiful wifeTara and sons, Evan Xander and Isaac Tanner, they make the endless hours and demands of theatre worthwhile.