At the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet it's our mission to:
- Provide dance instruction at an internationally recognized level, drawing from our 40 years of collective experience as dancers.
- Expand our students' range through a variety of dance forms and techniques used around the world.
- Provide individualized instruction to each student, tailored to meet their goals in dance (whether that is to pursue a professional career or otherwise).
- Assist in the development of the mental strength and discipline required of our students to succeed in dance and to perform effectively.
- Support students as they face challenges, assist them in overcoming those challenges and motivate them to achieve excellence.
The Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet was founded by Galien Johnston Hattori, Yukichi Hattori and Tara Williamson following their respective successful careers as professional dancers. Recognizing the changing landscape of the dance profession, they identified a need to provide a different, more evolved and more comprehensive type of dance instruction to aspiring dancers. More broadly, each of them share a desire to expand the reach of ballet to a wider audience and to adapt the discipline to the 21st century, while truly maintaining a respect for the art form.
The school is unlike any other, opening its doors in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to share the expertise of its founders with students of all ages. For those looking to pursue a professional career in dance, where expectations are extremely high, the Professional Program extends far beyond mastering the specific dance steps. The instructors provide valuable insights into how to stand out in auditions, how to impress directors and choreographers, how to survive the first year in a dance company and how to be a versatile and valuable member of your dance community. There is also an emphasis on the development of the performing abilities of students, with several performances scheduled throughout each season, occasionally with the instructors dancing alongside the students.
Aside from the professional focus, the school is also dedicated to bringing the grace and physical beauty of ballet to all people. Specialized programs are offered to students of all ages and abilities, from children as young as 2 years of age in the Junior Program, to adults looking to try ballet for the first time and to have some fun in a group setting in the Adult Ballet Program. In all programs, the teachers provide a safe and supportive environment for each person to learn and grow through ballet; to achieve their highest level of expression while experiencing the liberation of truly dancing freely.
“For us, ballet is our home. It has given us meaning and purpose, has presented numerous challenges, rewarded us for our hard work, dedication, and tenacity, and has given us experiences beyond our wildest dreams.”
For us, ballet is our “home”. It has given us meaning and purpose, presented us with numerous challenges, rewarded us for our hard work, dedication, and tenacity, and offered us experiences beyond our wildest dreams. Ballet, an art form with over 500 years of history and legacy, is the foundation for the people we are today: dancers, mentors, teachers and citizens of a dance community that spans the globe.
With the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet, we are starting a new chapter of sharing our knowledge, experience and passion for dance in order to help others grow as dancers and as people. We believe the students of tomorrow deserve guidance from industry professionals that know what is needed to succeed in dance, and the insight and support needed to navigate life as a professional dancer. We also believe that all students have their own journey, one that will require support and an unwavering belief that transcends their own doubts. We were lucky to have mentors and supporters in our careers with those qualities, and have chosen to work together to bring that same experience to young dancers here in Calgary through the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet.
As former students of Canada’s National Ballet School, the School of the Hamburg Ballet and the Richmond Academy of Dance, the recently retired trio guiding the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet have worked under the guidance of some of the greatest teachers in the world. Each with over 10 years of learning experience as a student of ballet, and at least another 10 years' experience as a professional dancer, this leadership team brings a wealth of knowledge that goes beyond a standard curriculum or ballet syllabus. Our teachers know first-hand what it’s like to live the life of an aspiring ballet dancer, including all of the realities, milestones, highs and lows that come with the journey. Those experiences have allowed our teachers to curate a technically superior, supportive and artistically challenging program, through which they are able to help navigate our students along similar paths to achieve the greatness within them.
Hayna GutierrezProfessional Division Ballet Instructor
Hayna Gutierrez was born in Havana, Cuba where she received her training with the National Ballet of Cuba. Upon graduation she danced as a principal dancer with the Ballet National de Cuba and has guested with various companies around the world. Hayna moved to Calgary to join the Alberta Ballet Company as a principal dancer where she danced and created many beautiful roles. Hayna is a passionate teacher and has guested with many different schools. We are so pleased to have her as a full time teacher for our senior professional program as she brings with her a wealth of knowledge in both the technical and artistic aspects of classical ballet.
Ana Carolina LeimannProfessional Division Ballet Instructor
Born in Joinville, Brazil, Ana started her training at the Municipal Ballet School of Casa da Cultura at the age of 7. She later joined the Bolshoi Ballet School in Brazil, where she trained and danced for 5 years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Scenics Arts from the University of the State of Santa Catarina in 2010. During her studies at university, Ana was a professional dancer in the Youth Ballet of Santa Catarina and in the Zest Dance Company in São Paulo.
Ana has been a ballet teacher since 2007, teaching dancers in professional and amateur fields of classical dance. She continued to develop and broaden her skillset and network through various teaching programs, such as the Bolshoi Teacher's Program in NYC, culminating with a Masters Degree in Dance Pedagogy from the prestigious Palucca University of Dance in Dresden, Germany in 2019. In Ana´s 10 years of professional dance and 14 year teaching career, Ana worked and studied in Brazil, the United States, Germany and Canada. In her travels, Ana has made a point to visit renowned Ballet companies in Germany, NYC, Netherlands and Moscow being her favorites. Ana is excited to continue her career as a ballet instructor in Calgary at H/W School of Ballet.
Melodie McKeeJunior Division Ballet Instructor
Originally from Lethbridge, Alberta, Melodie began dancing at the age of five under Kim Ully and RAD Examiner Jacqui Stuart. She spent numerous summers attending the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and the Banff School of Fine Arts on scholarship. Upon graduation, Melodie was invited to join The Banff Festival Ballet as an apprentice dancing George Balanchine’s Allegro Brilliante and works by Gioconda Barbuto and Joe Laughlin. She then went on to dance and tour with many professional companies spanning well over a decade including the Goh Ballet, Ballet North and Alberta Ballet.
Melodie has danced a wide range of Repertoire, some of her favourites being Petipa’s La Bayadere, Julie Adam’s Chameleon and Balanchine’s Tarantella and Rubies. Her career has also encompassed a 2 year Professional study with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and many Independent works throughout Calgary, finishing with Tokyo Disney Sea’s Broadway Review Encore. Upon returning from Tokyo, Japan, she was accepted into the Professional Dancer’s Teaching Diploma Program at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, England studying under Lynn Wallis and Hilary Clark.
After receiving her diploma in 2007, Melodie returned to Calgary to embark on her teaching career. She has students successfully awarded in the prestigious RAD Solo Seal Examination and competing at the Fonteyn International Ballet Competition (formerly the Genee) and Youth America Grand Prix. Her students achieve numerous placements in professional ballet schools and companies around the world, some of which include, Elmhurst Ballet Academy in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Alvin Ailey, National Ballet of Canada, Arts Umbrella, Vancouver Goh Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Houston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Melodie is excited to share in a richly diverse and inspirational faculty with H/W Ballet this season!
Sabina ZhetpissovaJunior Division Ballet Instructor
Sabina hails from Kazakhstan where she received the bulk of her early dance training. She performed there with the Kazakh-Russian National Junior Company. Upon moving to Calgary in 2013, Sabina became a certified teacher with the Vaganova method as well as her Yoga instructor certification and PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) certification. Aside from her training in dance, Sabina is also a classically trained cellist and holds her Bachelor's and Master's degree in English and Italian philology.
As well as her teaching career, Sabina is active in the Calgary dance community and will be a returning member of Ballet Bodies this season. She is inspired by the Calgary dance community who has come together in support of each other over the past few years and has a deep love and respect towards the profession of dance and art. We look forward to having her work with our Grade 3 students this season.
Daniela ErewaJunior Division Ballet and Contemporary InstructorDaniela Erewa was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. She participate in various national and international classical competitions, such as “Youth American Grand Prix”, obtaining prestigious awards and scholarships to international schools, such as Orlando Ballet School, Kirov School of Dance, and Rock School of Dance.She has training in a variety of dance styles such as Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Musical Theater. Daniela moved to Vancouver in the spring of 2019 and was able to train with Coastal City Ballet and take classes at Harbour Dance Centre with renown choreographers and instructors. She has danced and done background in projects for Netflix, NBC, and Disney, working with producers Kenny Ortega, Mandy Moore, and choreographers like Paul Becker, Jill Meyers, and Louis Hardsky.She continues her training, learning and creating as a dancer, teacher and choreographer, in diverse studios around the city.This year Daniela will be working with our Primary and Grade 1 students as well as doing contemporary work with PD2B.
Valentina CalderonJunior Division Ballet Instructor
Valentina Calderon was born in Columbia, where she began her ballet training, until moving to Lethbridge, Alberta. She continued her training in Lethbridge and upon graduation from high school she joined H/W School of Ballet's Post Graduate Program. In her time with H/W, Valentina has had the opportunity to perform, most notably in the school's production with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in Peer Gynt, and with Calgary Opera in the Merry Widow. Valentina is an accomplished young dancer and is working with our Grade 2 students.