Bios

Sara Adams often jokes that she started dancing as a fetus, when her mother took a jazz dance class while pregnant. She started taking formal classes, however, at the age of 4 and hasn’t stopped dancing since. She did most of her early training at Joseph Wallin School of Dance and danced competitively with Footnotes Dance Troupe, mostly dancing jazz, lyrical and musical theatre, along with some ballet training. As she got older, over the years, Sara has dabbled in hip-hop, contemporary, modern, tap, highland, Indian, ballroom, African, among others; Sara loves expanding her movement vocabulary! Sara is currently a high school French immersion Sciences teacher, but also has a love of expanding dance in public education. As such, she serves as President of the Board of Dance Nova Scotia and works to bring dance to more children and teachers every year. When she’s not teaching or dancing or advocating for dance, she’s spending time with her two preschool-aged daughters and husband. Sara is excited to strut her stuff with the folks at thirtySomething and hopes you all enjoy the show! 

Laurie Barker Jackman started dancing at age 13 with Joseph Wallin School of Dance focusing mainly in jazz. Her love for dance and performing led her to join a performing group and dance in the Nova Scotia International Tattoo for a few years.  One of her most memorable moments? Being choreographed by Paula Abdul at Bust a Move in Halifax – what an experience! She has enjoyed some Latin classes over the years, takes advantage of any dance floor she comes across, and now is very excited to be joining the team at TSDC. 

Cassandra Belanger is excited to be joining the TSDC family this season after many years of being a super fan, having attended nearly every show since the group’s inception in 2004. She remembers attending the first show the group presented at the Halifax Fringe Festival, “Dancers with Day Jobs,” and instantly became a fan of what the group was all about – dance, friendship and performing for the love of it! Cassandra started dancing at two-and-a-half with Maritime Dance Academy and grew up there through to University, completing all levels and exams of the Intensive Training Program in ballet, jazz, tap and modern. She began teaching dance at age 15, teaching ages three to adult in all styles. She also spent 10 years as a Program Director and two years as General Manager at Maritime Dance, after graduating from Saint Mary’s University. During her dancing life, Cassandra spent many years performing with the Maritime Dance Performance Group, The Young Company of Halifax Dance, and The Nutcracker presented by Symphony Nova Scotia and Halifax Dance. Cassandra made the difficult decision to leave the dancing world (or so she thought) to go back to school in 2018, and has completed her Advanced Diploma in Human Resource Management at NSCC. It didn’t take long before she knew that she wasn’t really done with dance, and jumped on board the thirtySomething train. Cassandra is thankful to have the opportunity to dance again with the TSDC crew and is excited to hit the stage!

Emily Cainen is excited to be joining the ladies of thirtySomething again this season! Emily began dancing at the age of three at Halifax Dance and is an alumnus of its Intensive Training Program, YOung COmpany, and Symphony Nova Scotia’s, The Nutcracker. While completing her Bachelor of Music Degree, Emily was a member of the Varsity Dance Team at Mount Allison University. As a member of the team, Emily got to experience the competitive side of dance with the highlight team moment being competing at Dance Worlds in Walt Disney World Florida with the Hip Hop Team. Now happily home in Nova Scotia, Emily is an elementary school music teacher, who squeezes in some Zumba, yoga, and surfing on the side. Emily would like to thank the TSDC ladies for being amazing, her mom, sister and friends for always supporting her dance dreams, and her boyfriend for putting up with her singing show tunes at top volume all the time. Big love, enjoy the show!

Abby Clarke Caseley began dancing when she was four, and is an alumni of Halifax Dance’s Intensive Training Program, YOung COmpany, and Symphony Nova Scotia’s the Nutcracker. In her teens she participated in Dance Nova Scotia’s Taking Steps to Fly choreographic showcase, where she was the co-recipient of the Special Adjudicators Award in 2009, and was awarded the Pat Richards Choreographic Award for her piece in 2010. While studying for her BA, Abby joined the Saint Mary’s University Dance Team, where for 2 consecutive years, the team was invited to compete at Dance World’s in Walt Disney World. Abby is thrilled to be joining TSDC this year to pursue her love of dance again. She wants to thank the TSDC ladies, her boyfriend James, and her family for their never-ending acceptance, love, and support. Enjoy the show!

Stephanie Craig started dancing at the age of nine when she began training at Maritime Dance Academy in a Teen Jazz class. She quickly found herself enrolled in other styles including tap, ballet and modern for 13 years. She was a founding member of the the Maritime Dance Performance Group where she performed in school tours, the Atlantic Fringe Festival and the annual Company Showcase for five seasons before “retiring.” Coming out of retirement in 2011, Stephanie began dancing with thirtySomething. She was drawn to their energy,  camaraderie and of course, dancing. Dancing with these incredible women over the years has provided new friendships and opportunities she is incredibly grateful for. Much love to everyone dancing with us this year, especially  our new members. Further, love to hubby, John and our tiny being, Ethan – thank you for your continued support. 

Laurianne Desrosiers’ first attempt at dancing wasn’t conclusive; walking around the stage being a garbage bag while others were being the homeless people wasn’t fun at all. Her mom registered her at another studio the next year and she fell in love! She danced jazz and tap until the age of 18 at École de danse Maureen MacDonald in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and participated in many competitions in Ontario and Quebec. She then had to take a break due to CEGEP and University. A few years later, she started teaching jazz to an adult group, where she had a blast! But she had to stop when her boyfriend, who is in the military, was posted to Halifax. It took a year after moving before she heard that TSDC existed – thanks Stacey! When asked to join the group for the summer class, she was so happy! She is so grateful and wants to thank all the TSDC ladies for keeping her spot while she took a short break to welcome baby Nolan into this world!

Melanie Dumaresq isn’t dancing this year but has somehow still found a way to make her imprint on stage. Having been accepted into the Dalhousie School of Nursing program, Melanie has found her herself choreographing and doing homework at the same time. The piece With Dignity was such a project; it’s an exploration of Dementia/Alzheimer’s and those who are affected, both patient and those who support them. Melanie has tried to keep a balance of serious and fun, so in a continuation of the epic medley from three years ago, a full version of Sex is in the Heel, was born. 
Many thanks to Hanqing for taking the leap, or strut, to bring this vision to life. Thanks to William and Finn who waited for Mama while she figured out how to hang an IV or finished “making a dance for Stephanie.” Love always to Rob. 

Veronika Fitzgerald is new to the thirtySomething this year and is very excited to be on stage with such a vivacious bunch! Originally from Halifax, Veronika started her dance career at the age of four, eventually enrolling in the ITP program at Maritime Dance, and spent three years as a member of Maritime Dance Performance Group. Veronika didn’t slow down when she attended Mount Allison University either, spending five years as a member of the Varsity Dance team where she performed, coached, and competed in Hip Hop, Jazz, and Contemporary, including two trips to Dance Worlds at Disney World in Orlando. Upon returning to Halifax she haphazardly took adult classes at Halifax Dance before promptly falling off the dance wagon entirely. After a few-years hiatus she is excited to be back in action and is thankful for the TSDC team for putting up with her antics. A huge thank you as well to family, friends, and everyone in the audience for the support! 

Melissa Geddes is thrilled to join the ladies of TSDC and to be dancing again. Melissa started dancing at the age of five and her passion for dance only continued to grow. Melissa danced in the Intensive Training Program and performed with the Maritime Dance Performance Group. As the former Assistant Director at Maritime Dance Academy, Melissa taught in both the Children’s Program and the Intensive Training Programs. She continued to dance, as well as teach, while achieving her Bachelor of Commerce and HR Certificate from Saint Mary’s University. She left the dance world to join the family real estate business where she is the Managing Associate Broker at Keller Williams Select Realty. Melissa would like to thank all of the TSDC ladies, her family, friends and most of all her husband, Mark, for all of their support!

Kitchen-dancing with her dad, an unhealthy obsession with the movie ‘Stayin’ Alive,’ and performing in high-school musicals were formative experiences for Kate Hayter, a self-confessed dance junkie. Now her kitchen dancing involves her husband and salsa partner for life, Christopher, and their twins, Ruby and Nate who have epic “dance parties” on the trampoline out back of their Beechville “estate”. Dance took a back seat to real life while she got her M.A. at Dalhousie University and then graduated top of her class from the photography/digital imaging program at NSCC. Kate is a full-time professional wedding photographer and mother. Kate would like to thank all the TSDC members for their continued fabtacularness, and for making the creation process as much fun as the performances.

Sue Healy began dancing at the old age of 14. Shortly after starting with one teen jazz class, she became fully immersed in ballet and tap. She has also trained in modern, hip-hop, African, Irish step dance, belly dance and salsa. Starting salsa classes resulted in Sue finding her husband, Jeff. When she is not concocting chaotic creations in the kitchen, Sue spends her time dancing and choreographing with TSDC, of which she is a founding member. Her choreographic strength is modern interpretive, where nobody really notices her lack of rhythm. Outside of dance, she enjoys the great outdoors, eating and making a fool of herself. She is a stay-at-home mom and homeschools her two oldest children. Her stage babies are Liam, Olivia, Nestor and Charlotte.

Mary-Ann Hudec started dancing at age eight and is now in her 60s; still young at heart, she feels her body at times is showing its age! In her first recital, at age eight, she was a snowflake in the holiday show. She fell in love with performing then and loved her white tutu and silver sparkly ballet slippers. She studied ballet until age 16 then education took over for many years and she became a psychiatrist. She returned to dance as an adult and has taken classes in many genres at Halifax Dance. She got the performance bug again with Jazz Bliss shows and then helped start up thirtySomething Dance Co-operative 16 years ago. It is an ongoing pleasure to dance with the ladies of thirtySomething Dance and entertain our loyal show goers. Special thanks go to Rob, Ian and Olivia, your support is invaluable especially when I make you live through my pre-show craziness! In addition, a shout out to the best personal trainer in Halifax, Adrian Veinot, who has kept me fit and strong for 14 years.  

Elaine Mailman started her first introduction to dance class when she was four and danced full throttle until she was eighteen. She was trained using the British Association of Teachers of Dancing syllabus at Joseph Wallin School of Dance, and enjoyed the competitive side of the dance world with Footnotes Dance Troupe for multiple years. In high school, Elaine took her dancing shoes to the other side of the harbour to a new school, Jackie Vacca’s Just Dancin’, and was a member of the group FreeZone. After a crisp 14 year hiatus from dancing in general, she returned to the competitive dance world as a member of the Strut Dance Collective last year. Elaine is excited to dance her first year with TSDC and has enjoyed learning choreography for performance versus competition. Elaine would like to thank her family the most for the undying support and constant encouragement. Enjoy the show!  

Having monopolized the family record player from the age of four, Jennifer McDonald’s parents suggested dance lessons in her preteen years. She focused primarily on jazz and was a member of a dance school performance group in Miramichi, N.B. for several years. After a seven-year hiatus from dance to pursue both a mathematics and mechanical engineering degree from Dalhousie University, Jennifer settled in Halifax full-time and began classes at Halifax Dance. She has performed with and choreographed for thirtySomething since its inception in 2004, and with the support of her husband, Glenn, has been able to find the time to continue dancing after the birth of her sons, Sean and Owen.

Kathryn (Appleton) O’Neill was inspired to dance at an early age, but when she joined the ladies of TSDC, the love of dance took on a whole new and wonderful meaning. Beginning with many years in ballet and modern, she was a founding member of Coastal Dance Theatre in Dartmouth. Later, she discovered the flirty styles and infectious rhythms of Salsa and Latin ballroom dance and competitions. Kathryn joined TSDC in 2009 and knew the group well for their unique style and energy, but she found so much more. It has been ten seasons with TSDC and Kathryn continues to be grateful for the beautiful friendships created and humbled by the grace and spirit of her fellow dancers, both on stage and off. Thank you for coming to our show and for supporting us in doing what we love. Most of all, thank you to the best hubby ever, Jeff, and our little fireballs, Miles and Harrison. You motivate and inspire me every day to live, laugh, love and dance to the fullest.

Stacey Robichaud’s dancing days began at the age of three with her mother’s desperate attempt for her to burn off some energy and help improve her coordination. At age 12 she discovered jazz and realized that she loved performing: costumes, make-up, an audience… what could be better? Today, she is still dancing and loving every minute of it. Stacey performed in Halifax Dance’s Jazz Bliss for several years before taking a break to become a Mom. Stacey officially joined TSDC on stage in 2005 (but was given honorary membership into the founding crew due to being nine months pregnant at TSDC’s inaugural show). Stacey is grateful for having all of the fabtacular TSDC ladies in her life (both past and present). Stacey is also very proud to be a crazy “dance mom” to her awesome kids Chloe and Ben. She couldn’t be happier that they are carrying on with her love of dance. Break a leg kiddos on the upcoming dance competition season!

Andrea Smillie started dancing at age eight, after her younger and braver sister had tried it out first. Her love of ballet was immediate and kept her busy and out of trouble… more or less. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from York University many moons ago. After a long break to raise three children, and go back to school, she rekindled her love affair with dance when she joined TSDC. She feels very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful group of passionate dancers and wants to thank all the ladies of TSDC for their bravery and dedication. She also thanks her family who have been her biggest supporters. Enjoy the show. I hope the joy is infectious.

Even though Hanqing Yang has never been a professional dancer in his life, dance has always been one of the artistic forms he expresses himself. Hanqing first saw a TSDC performance two years ago and has wanted to join the group since. When he was offered the opportunity to join the company, he committed without hesitation. As someone who is queer-identified, who also works to support people who identify as LGBTQ+, Hanqing hopes to inspire people to live their authentic life with his performance breaking the stereotype of gender binary.