Dance Studios of Thunder Bay

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The Dance Studios of Thunder Bay have been run by pioneering dance teachers from both Port Arthur and Fort William, teaching International dances such as ballet, jazz, and tap, as well as several national dances, including Ukrainian, Highland, and Finnish folk dances.

The first serious teacher in the Lakehead was Grace Ensworth. She taught Sylvia Horn, and Fay Gleeson, both of whom went on to teach many others in the current generation of teachers in Thunder Bay.

Other teachers who had studios for over 50 years include Anna Pozihun and Amelia Jackson.

List of Elite Studios

Dance studios are defined for the purposes of this section as "elite" if they generally use the following business model:

  • Teach ballet, jazz, tap, and other international dance forms
  • Primarily teach children, with intake typically at age 2-5 years old, finishing at about age 18
  • Teachers accredited with Canadian or international teaching bodies
  • At the end of the semester students take examinations
  • Each dance season begins in September and ends in about May or June
  • There are one or two or more shows (or "revues") per year organized by the studio as a showcase for their dancers
  • The best students have a pathway to international professional dance careers in ballet companies, broadway shows, etc.

This list does not include studios offering primarily:

  • National cultural dances
  • Classes for adult students
  • Non-serious children's dance classes
Name Start End Founder(s) Address Link(s) Notes
? Sometime in World War I 1950s? Grace Ensworth (1894 - ?) ? "training in ballet was not available... until World War I [when] classical ballet classes were offered by Grace Ensworth, a ballet teacher who moved from England to the Lakehead." She taught Sylvia Horn.
? 1954 1959 Maxine Lecky (nee McKinnon) Port Arthur Maxine McKinnon (after 1947, Lecky) from 1950s, and from 1954 to 1959 had her own studio at the Finnish Hall, teaching classes on Saturdays. She moved to Edmonton in 1959 and her Edmonton studio, "Lecky's", is still running as of 2020.
? 1941 1952 Gladys M. Hartley (1920 - 2009) Fort William [1] Passed her studio to Rhodella Achtenberg. Gladys Crow, born in Winnipeg, married Vic Hartley, moved to Fort William in 1941 and then moved to Vancouver in 1952. Ice skating at the Fort William Skating Club in the 1940's. From 1953 into the 1980's, her dance classes in North Vancouver prepared hundreds more children in ballet, tap and acrobatics. In Vancouver teaching skating she was nicknamed "Mrs. Flicka".
Dance Centre of Northwestern Ontario ~1935 ~2001 Amelia Jackson (1904 - 1989) Run by Leslie and/or Gina Almgren in the 1990s after Amelia died in 1989
Sylvia Horn School of Dancing Before 1958 Before 2005 Sylvia Horn (1914 - 2005) Fort William and Port Arthur [2] (taught Laura Pascolo-McRury and Lisa Fedoruk and others)
Betty Goodings Ballet ? On or before 1975 Betty Goodings ? Betty moved to BC in about 1975 [2] or 1980
? Before 1957 After 1958 Sandra Purdy 4 articles in Port-Arthur News-Chronicle from 1957-58
? Before 1958 After 1958 Lillian McGuire (1919 - 2008) Article in Port Arthur News-Chronicle, 24 June 1958 page 3. [3] "My parents rented her house approx 1966 for a year and a half and in the basement was a full ballet bar and mirrors. Students would still take lessons from her and I did as well. I believe we had to move out as they wanted to move back in. 461 Leslie Ave if I remember correctly." - Jane Einarson, 2020 [4]
? 1954 1954 Walter Marks Article in Port Arthur News-Chronicle, 15 February 1954, page 3 Walter Marks "manager of dance studio"
Markall's School of Dance ? 2000 Ethel Markall Later owned by her son Bob and granddaughter Wendy Homquist, until 2000 when Wendy started Dance Dynamics
? 1952 1959 Rhodella Achtenberg (1936 - 2018) [5] Rhodella was a student at Sylvia Horn's dance school, entertaining locally in the 1950s as a dancer and acrobat, and in 1952 inheriting a school from Gladys M. Hartley, running her own dance school. Many women still share fond memories of dancing with Rhodella or being a pupil. When she married and moved to Toronto, she left the school in the hands of her talented sister-in-law Fay Gleeson (Steadwell). Epoynm of a memorial scholarship at Lakehead Festival of Music and the Arts.
Fay Gleeson Dance Centre 1941 (or as the website says, 1959) present Gladys M. Hartley (1941 - 1952), Rhodella Achtenberg (1952 - 1959), Fay Gleeson (circa 1943 - ) [6] [7] Founded by acrobat and skater Gladys M. Hartley who lived in Thunder Bay from 1941 to 1952, then run from 1952 by Sylvia Horn student Rhodella Achtenberg. Since 1959 run by Rhodella's sister-in-law Fay Gleeson and later, by Rhodella's daughter Cindy Kennedy.
Anna Pozihun School of Dance circa 1950s circa 1990s Anna Pozihun (1929 - 2006) 70 Dorothy Street [8] [] Miss Anna ran a school in Port Arthur for over 50 years, teaching ballet as well as Ukranian dancing. Her niece, Susan Dromisky, became a dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
? Bev Hartley School of Dance active circa late 1970s Margo Hartley (daughter) and Beverley Hartley (mother, or perhaps the other way around?) North End Recreation Centre [9], 954 Huron Avenue [10], [11] "When I was a kid, I danced with [Margo] Hartleys dance school. She taught jazz, tap and ballet and held her classes at the North End Rec centre... I would have taken lessons in the late 7o’s..... I’ll never forget “step shuffle ball change step!!!”" - Kimberley Nielsen Douglas

Another source: Student Lisa Perry's (1982 - 2016) Obituary [12]

International Dance Academy 1982 present Laura Pascolo-McRury [13] [14] Laura was taught by Betty Goodings and Sylvia Horn.
Spirit of Dance 1999 present Lori Ann Nelson and her sister [15]; her sister since left the business 179 South Algoma Street, 2nd Floor [16] [17] The studio hosts 4 spacious studios, a private party room for birthdays, a waiting room for parents and students, a kitchen and tuck shop. As of 2016, 13 staff members.
Dance Dynamics 2000 present Wendy Holmquist 936 Tungsten Street [18] [19] In its 12th season as of July 2011, Dance Dynamics Studio is full of local talent that spans back through generations. Owner/Director Wendy Holmquist trained under the direction of her grandmother Ethel Markall before co-owning Markall’s School of Dance with her uncle. Upon the closure of Markall’s, Wendy opened Dance Dynamics hoping to become as respected and successful as her grandmother was. Wendy's daughter Melissa Holmquist is also a teacher.
Legacy Dance Co April 2012 present Alex Scerba [20] 263 Park Avenue [21]
Dream Dance Company Sep 2016 Jun 2019 Heather Appell 117 Cumberland Street North, The former Cumberland Cineplex [22] Heather died of cancer in 2016; the studio was carried on by Heather's daughter Harmony (born ~1997) from 2016 to 2019
Art in Motion ? present Rachel Elgie 115 Johnson Avenue [23] [24] [25]
Studio One Dance 2001 present Lisa MacMillan Fedoruk 38 Court Street South [26] Lisa MacMillan Fedoruk was a student at Sylvia Horn. Laura Pascolo also taught her there. She studied also with Debbie Delvecchio.
Centre Stage 1988 2001 Valerie Greer Picard Cumberland Street, then the old Odd Fellows Hall on Park Valerie Greer Picard private conversation, Dec 2002; Laura Pascolo-McRury private conversation, 2020 [Valerie Greer Picard]: "I danced with Sylvia Horne, Debbie Delvecchio and Kathy Griff Castonguay". "We operated from 1988 to 2001

We were located first on Cumberland St and then we moved to the old Odd Fellows hall on Park... We taught tap, jazz and ballet. Our students were mostly under 18 years old. We had a number of teachers over the years: Grace Mirabelli, Lisa Fedoruk, Heather Appelle, Donna-Marie Baratta, were the most notable who are still teaching dance". "Valerie Greer Picard also a teacher from Sylvia Horn started a studio and called it Centre Stage. When some teachers left her to open a studio of their own it ruined her and she shut down."

Experience Dance ? Open as of 2016 ? 179 Algoma Street South Walleye article (2016), (domain expired as of 2020) No website [27]. Actually in the same address as Spirit of Dance. Ballet, lyrical, jazz, tap, etc., 3 and up.

Adult, Cultural, or other styles of dance

This is a list of dance studios featuring:

  • National cultural dances
  • Classes for adult students
  • Non-serious children's dance classes
Name Start End Founder(s) Address Link(s) Notes
Dolores Niskanen School of Dance 1950s mid-2000s Dolores Niskanen 16 Court Street South Finnish dancer of the highest calibre; as of 1998, taught adult ballroom dancing classes
Arthur Murray Dance Studio ? Active in 1960s. Closed by 1990s at least. Franchise owner in Port Arthur unknown Downtown Port Arthur Seen in historical pictures of downtown Port Arthur
Morgan's School of Highland Dance 1979 Open as of 2016 Wendy Morgan; daughter Heather Morgan is head instructor as of 2020 135 Glendale Crescent, and from 2019: 117 Cumberland Street [28] [29] [30] Wendy (B.A.T.D. Member Highland & National) received her training in Winnipeg and Toronto through teacher Mary Pitcher... In 2019 the school moved to former Dream Dance facilities in the former Cumberland Cinema. “As soon as I walked in I just fell in love with it,” said Heather Morgan. “It’s beyond my dreams. I’ve always dreamed of having . . . a real studio. For the first 37 years we were in church basements and eventually my mom’s basement had quite a nice studio, but it was small and had low ceilings.”
Chaban Ukranian Dance circa 1980 present Cathy Paroschy Harris 211 Robertson Street [31] over a hundred dancers as of 2020
Le Stelle Alpine Dancers 1982 present Laura Pascolo-McRury Likely colocated with International Dance Academy [32] Established in 1982 by founder Laura Pascolo McRury (also founder of International Dance Academy) to represent and share Italian culture within Thunder Bay. Le Steele has a board of directors as of 2000.
? 1980s? ? Sheryl Kushnier [33] ? Thunder Bay Memories Facebook Group March 2020 Niece of Anna Pozihun and daughter of Eleanor Kushnier. Taught Ukranian dancing.
Zorya Ukranian Dance 1997 present 14 founders [34] The Zorya Ukrainian dance Ensemble was established in 1997, by the initiative of 14 passionate individuals who built the foundation for our organization. The name “Zorya” was chosen because, when translated, it means “Stars”
Karim Y Nady ? present Karim Coluccio Bay Street [35] "La vita e bella for Mr. Karim Coluccio, who has ventured to Northwestern Ontario right from Italy, bringing his smooth moves with him. Having danced for over 20 years on rich Italian soil, he plans to bring the heat to the dance floor with his expertise in Latin dancing. Karim made the move to Thunder Bay for his wife’s family, and currently he teaches Latin dancing Karim Y Nady on Bay Street. He thoroughly enjoys teaching but also in organizing various dance events in the community, specifically Viernes Cubano Latin Night." - 2020
Applauze Productions Circa 1995 present Denise Krawczuk Musical Theatre training including dance, but no ballet presumably
World Dance Centre Open in 2016 closed as of 2020 Andrea Novoa (Dahab) 178 Algoma Street South (or 96 High St N?) Walleye 2016 article, Belly dance, bollywood, mostly for adults
Slightly Off Broadway Performance Arts Studio ? 2018 Jacqueline McMahon and Connie [36]
Body Barre Open as of 2016 Before 2020 ? No online presence as of 2020
Stephanie's Performance Company Aug-14 present Stephanie DePiero [37]
Army of Sass Jun-15 present Stephanie DePiero 320 Bay Street [38] Aimed at adults; A franchise studio (dozens in Canada)
The Dance Room Jul-15 present Stephanie DePiero 320 Bay Street [39] A dance studio for rent and instruction space
Vibe Dance Centre ? ? ? ? [1] no evidence this exists except the article [1]
Satu's Belly Dancing ? ? ? 615 Memorial Ave, 2nd floor [40] Bellydance
Academy Afrah ? Active as of 2016 Edwin Martinez ? Walleye 2016 article Panama-based Latin Dance School
Hip Hop school ? Active as of 2016 ? ? Walleye 2016 article
Tango North 2014? active in 2016 ? ? Walleye 2016 article, Argentine tango, late teens and up
Lakehead Japanese Association Fuji Dancers ? active in 2016 ? West Thunder Bay Community Centre Walleye 2016 article Traditional Japanese dances, all ages
Thai Healing Centre ? active in 2016 ? 189 South Algoma Street Walleye 2016 article, Traditional Thai dance, all ages
Dance Image ? active in 2016 (Tuesday nights) ? 1315 Crawford Avenue Walleye 2016 article Ages 4 and up. Styles: Modern, creative movement, improv
Chinese Association Dancers ? active in 2016 (Tuesday nights) ? West Thunder Bay Community Centre Walleye 2016 article Traditional Chinese dance, all ages
Dance Basics ? ? ? ? [41] only teaches to age 7
Thunder & Thistle Highland Dance Company July 2018 present Victoria Richard Jumbo Gardens area [42] [43] founded by Victoria Richard in July 2018
All the Daze Productions ? present Marcia Alpin, director ? [1] Musical theatre


Walleye Magazine ranked the best studios in 2020: [44]

  1. Army of Sass
  2. Art in Motion
  3. Legacy Dance Co.


  • Thunder Bay Society of Ballet and Dance (members: Sylvia Horn, President in 2016, Sylvia's step-granddaughter Shannon Young; awards scholarships at the Lakehead Festival of Music and Arts) [45]
  • CDTA (Canadian Dance Teachers' Association)
  • Imperial Society
  • British Association of Teachers of Dancing (members: Sylvia Horn)
  • Lakehead Ballet Guild (active in 1967 with Betty Goodings)
  • Thunder Bay Highland Dance Association (president: Wendy Morgan as of 2020)
  • Scottish Dance Teacher Alliance


  • Lakehead Festival of Music and Arts (LFMA) [46]
  • Folklore Festival (run partly by Herman Hanschke) (each May)
  • Superior Theatre Festival [47]

Memorial Scholarships

Dance Clothing Stores

Economics of a Dance Studio

In Thunder Bay in 2016 there were 6,795 females from 5 to 19 years old, and 7,040 males. [4]

Assuming 10% of females and 1% of males become regular dance students, that's a total Thunder Bay market of 680 females and 70 males, or 750 students.

Assuming $1000 annual tuition, that's a market size of $750,000. With ten active studios, that's about 75 students and $75,000 in revenues per studio.

  • 75 students x $1000 annual tuition = $75,000 per year
  • studio space rental @ $1000 / month * 12 = $12,000 per year
  • 2 junior teachers @ $25 / hour x 4 hours / evening x 5 days / week x 12 months = $1000 per month x 12 months = $12,000 per year
  • parent volunteers to help out
  • PROFIT TO OWNER = $51,000 per year



[1] Shannon Young of TBSBD in an interview with Karen Christie of Bayview Magazine Sep 2016 [49]

[2] Laura Pascolo-McRury, private telephone conversation, 13 March 2020.

Deborah Delvecchio and Kathryn Griff both teachers from Sylvia Horn started their own studios in Thunder Bay in the 80’s. Debbie still lives in Thunder Bay. Kathy (Castonguay I believe that is her married name) married and moved to Calgary. Thunder Bay Dance Club was run by a couple of parents it was around for about 5 years in the 90’s. Contact Margaret Leblanc Ecuimates. She ran her own studio in Red Lake but was forced to close due to back problems.

— Laura Pascolo, March 2020

[3] The studio director. How much does it cost to run a dance studio? [50]

[4] Thunder Bay Census 2016 [51]