Our Faculty

Warmland Dance has brought together an impressive group of respected performing artists, highly experienced educators, and award-winning choreographers from around the world. All Faculty members contribute choreography to our Youth and Adult Performance Company and give courses in our Arts Academy Day Programs.

Each faculty member makes a personal commitment to share their unique gifts as part of the deeply inspired Warmland Dance Adult Performance Company. This creates the opportunity for us to regularly connect, build meaningful relationships, feed our shared passion for movement, grow as artists, and support one-another in our collaborative work and lives.

This translates to our students and greater community as a warm, enriched learning experience and ever-evolving place to be-come.

Leah Burley, M.Ed

Owner, Artistic Director

RAD Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Preschool Programs

Warmland Academy - Performing Arts Day Program Leader

After more than a decade of formal training focused on Classical RAD Ballet, Classical Jazz, Contemporary and Tap, Leah began teaching the performing arts as a teenager. Later, she expanded her formal training to include Hip Hop, Drama and Musical Theater, and she is constantly engaging in new forms of movement and training opportunities. Leah's experience as a professional dancer/musical theater performer and award-winning choreographer has taken her to many cities including Vancouver, Toronto and New York. Leah has a background in human physiology and microbiology, holds a Masters degree in Educational Leadership, and has trained as a Waldorf Teacher. Leah began Warmland Dance in 2013 with her family and community partners and is constantly feeling challenged, inspired and fulfilled.

Adriana Digiovanni

Rhythm Tap, Jazz 

Graduated from the Faculty of Dance - Pontifical Catholic University of Parana - in 1994; Adriana is an internationally recognized teacher and choreographer in classical ballet, jazz and tap dance, owner of the Centro de Artes Adriana Digiovanni [Adriana Digiovanni Arts Center] in Brazil.

Elena Margarolo

Graham Technique, Musical Theater

Born in Florence, Italy, she studies at the Ballet Centre. Elena is Advance-1 Member of R.A.D of London. After winning in 1991, a scholarship for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, she moves to New York, and in 1994 she dances for the Martha Graham Dance Ensemble. The same year she moves back to Europe to dance in Germany in Gelsenkirchen in the Ballett Schindowsky. Here she starts working as a singer for various Musicals: West Side Story, Evita, The Black Rider. In 2001 she sings and dances in Berlin in the Disney Musical " The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and 2002 in CATS.

Dancer and Singer at AIDA Cruise Ships, choreographer and dance coach at Tui Cruises "Mein Schiff" in Germany. Elena us a Graham technique lecturer at the "Laban Centre" in London, UK, and at the Balance-1 Academy in Berlin, Germany. Guest Teacher worldwide:

Ballet Centre, Florence, Italy

The Art Lab Lajares, Fuerteventura, Spain

The Maritme Conservatory of Dance, Halifax, Canada

Warmland Dance, Vancouver Island, Canada.

Elena will offer Graham Technique classes Saturdays in June.​

Sohee Hong

Warmland Academy - Visual Arts Day Program Leader

Commercial Street, Urban Contemporary, Visual Arts Day Program

Sohee has been active with various sports and dance throughout her childhood: swimming, basketball, netball, cheerleading, gymnastic, track and field, tennis, etcs. As a dancer, she was fortunate to be part of various Hip Hop/urban/street dance teams in Korea learning about K-pop and commercial performances, Harbour Dance Center in Vancouver, and Urban Danceteam at McGill University during her academic studies. While performing and training withthese Urban Hip Hop teams, Sohee has always been admiring lyrical, classical movements and depth of storytelling. The gentleness, pure, and emotional side of these classical and contemporary movements have further motivated her to study and train jazz, modern dance, ballet, and contemporary in her late 20s. Therefore, she brings combination of both worlds of dance to her practice and classes. She has also opened her eyes to dance choreography in films. She has recently worked her own choreography to her latest short film called “Touched” and it is currently in post-production. As an aspiring filmmaker, she loves to incorporate dance and emotion into her visual-story telling. She rigorously studied film and performing arts across Canada, and has recently graduated from InFocus Film School Directing Program.

Jena Heise

Performance Opportunity and Competition Director

Tap, Hip Hop, Ballet Fitness, Zumba

Jena was born and raised in Bawaating where her love of dance, movement, and rhythm has been present from a very young age. She started dance lessons at the age of two and with 25 years of experience that passion still runs deep. She has been fortunate to train and preform with a variety of very talented and inspirational dancers and teachers over the years. Locally and throughout Canada and the United States. As a student, Jena participated in many performances, workshops and competitions. She since has been continuing her education, started a family of her own and continues to foster her love of dance!

With 10+ years of teaching experience Jena teaches and choreographs in a wide variety of styles. She acquired her teaching qualifications while training at Sherry Walsh Academy of Dance. Her training includes tap, hiphop, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, modern, and contemporary. She has also trained and graduated from the Toronto School of Burlesque. In addition, Jena is a certified Zumba instructor! She has a post secondary education and diploma in professional makeup aristry for film and television from CMU College of Makeup and Design. When she isn’t dancing she is working as a makeup artist. As well as recently pursuing a BA in psychology. 

A mother of two and happily married. Jena is very excited to join the team and looks forward to sharing her unique style, experience and passion with the Warmland family! 

Stephanie Ruddell

RAD Ballet, Preschool Movement, Parent and Child, Infant Massage (Maternity Leave)

Stephanie Ruddell has an extensive background teaching and performing classical dance across North America. She started dancing at the age of 4 with Suzanne Pomerantzeff at the Academy of Ballet Arts in St. Petersburg FL. She then continued her ballet training at Pacific Dance Centre in Victoria BC with Maureen Eastick and spent her summers dancing at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Stephanie holds a certificate in Dance Teaching, her ECEA, and is a certified Nurturing Pathways® creative dance teacher. She is also working towards her registered teaching status with the Royal Academy of Dance. Stephanie is very passionate about sharing the joy of dance and encouraging movement with children and their families. In every class she teaches, she strives to nurture creativity, movement, bonding, and growth for every child. Stephanie is delighted to be a part of the Warmland Dance community.

Lynn Weaver

Contemporary, West African Dance

Lynn has been dancing all her life and loves sharing her passion for dance. She is an educator, performer, director, and advocate of human potential.

Her training includes Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, University of Calgary, and studying with master dancers of Les Ballet Africains, Percussion de Guinea, and Ballet Saamato. She has studied extensively across a range of disciplines, specializing in Cultural Dance, specifically West African Dance and Drumming. Her recent choreography and performance work includes Tribe of One, Coco Jafro, and the Art House Collective. Lynn owns and operates MoonDance Dynamic Arts School, and is Chair of Matoto Multicultural Arts Society. She reaches broad audiences to share the Arts and cross-cultural understanding. She collaborates regularly with Power of Hope, Canada World Youth, Cowichan Intercultural Society, and other leadership groups on Vancouver Island and abroad.

Lynn is co-founder of Inspire! Shawnigan: Arts, Culture, and Heritage Society.

Lynn Weaver is a member of the Canadian Dance Assembly.

Marisa Jackson

Resident Choreographer, Faculty Mentor

Marisa Jackson is a classically trained dancer from a young age having toured, choreographed and taught in Europe for more than 10 yrs before moving to Canada. Marisa spent 8 years living and working in intentional communities in Ontario and BC. She is passionate about authentic movement, deeply inspired by the work of Claude Coldy (Sensitive Dance), enjoys capoeira and is finally exploring Argentinean tango! Marisa is looking forward to the coming years developing the Warmland Dance's professional performance company, and teaching the art of improvisational dance to dancers of all abilities.

Hilary Else

Capoeira, Substitute-Teacher

Hilary, a local to the Cowichan Valley, started dance training at an early age. With intense training in tap, ballet, jazz and modern she found her passion of expression through dance. Her more recent trainings have been with the Brazilian Martial Art – Capoeira. She teaches Capoeira classes for children as well as adults. She also loves to perform and often takes to the stage with dance partners Leah Burley and Marisa Jackson.