Lori Lamanes

loriLori is the proud mother of three grown children, Amber being the middle child, and four grandchildren. Throughout Amber’s dance training Lori spent countless hours sewing costumes, creating stage props and supporting the students, families and the teachers in local festivals and performances.

Lori and her daughter Amber partnered together in September 2013 to bring to life Leap Forward Dance School. With her natural talents and hard work as well as her positive outlook on everything, Lori has created an environment that is aesthetically beautiful as well as warm and welcoming. Lori thinks “out-side the box” always coming up with ideas on how to make things run more smoothly or how to better support the students and parents who are part of Leap Forward Dance School. Lori is who we can thank for all the beautiful photographs taken throughout the year and the gorgeous costumes provided to the students for local festivals performances and the annual recital. As a mother, friend and business partner to Amber, Lori has been the main driving force behind the opening of this exciting business. Leap Forward Dance School would not be what it is today without Lori.

Amber Lamanes

amberAmber Lamanes has a passion for dance, music and children. This passion is what has motivated her to partner with her mother, Lori Lamanes, and bring to life Leap Forward Dance School.

As a mother of three children, Miranda born in 2007, Nadia born in 2011 and Ozwin born in 2019, Amber is able to easily identify with parents. She is flexible and accommodating and works with the parents toward a common goal, doing what is best for their child/children.

Amber’s early years were spent for the most part in the dance studio. She studied RAD Ballet and also obtained a thorough grounding in Jazz, Modern, Musical Theatre and Tap. She earned several dance scholarships including one for six weeks of intensive study at the Walnut Hill Ballet School in Boston, Mass. After graduating high school in 1997, she continued her ballet training in Cecchetti at H.Z Ballet Classique, before moving on to the Alberta Ballet School in Calgary where she completed her Elementary and Intermediate Cecchetti ballet exams. Formal training as a teacher took place initially at the Edmonton School of Ballet’s Teacher Training Program. She also received training and experience through the Ballet B.C. Mentorship Program. Acceptance into The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program gave her intensive instruction in Ballet, Character, Modern, Jazz, Anatomy, Dance History, Music History and Pilates. After completing those studies, she organized and taught dance programs in recreation centres and gymnastic schools. Amber taught for two years at The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and after moving to Victoria BC, at Westcoast Academy of Performing Arts, Boston Dance Collective and Karen Clark Dance Studio.

Amber currently holds her RAD Teaching Certification which allows her to enter students ages 5 and over into Royal Academy of Dance exams. In December 2015 Amber completed her Associate Teaching certification in the Cecchetti method. As a committed lifelong learner, Amber is now preparing for the course of study that will culminate in a Royal Academy of Dance Teaching Degree.

In addition to her dance and teacher training, she has been active in company work, performing in Nutcracker, rehearsing young dancers and choreographing. She is also an accomplished musician, having achieved her Royal Conservatory of Music ARCT in classical Piano. Amber is a true dancer at heart and still enjoys weekly ballet lessons, as the student not the teacher in the classroom.

Leap Forward has an exciting future ahead and Amber welcomes you to be part of it.

Benjamin Alto-Bond

updated Ben 1Ben has been moving his feet across the stage for some time. Preforming Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Contemporary and Modern. Ben is a recent graduate of Canadian College of Performing Arts, and the Company C program. Ben has enjoyed lead roles in musicals and enjoys singing, acting and dancing on stage. He has been helping behind the stage for shows starring adults who cannot wait to show off their new talents, and young dancers who are just thrilled to put on a costume and show off their stuff.

No matter the class or dance form he is teaching he has always found joy in making everyone ecstatic to dance.

Ben has been dancing himself for a long time, tracing back to his earliest memories of dancing across a soccer pitch to score a goal, after which his parents decided perhaps ballet was a better fit. Moving forward through time his high school consisted of absent mindedly tap dancing under his desk to the chagrin of everyone around. But most recently has had the honour of performing professionally in solos across Victoria theatres.

Teaching is always the backbone of creating a great dancer but beyond that it also creates the structure for a person to stretch both literally and figuratively to new heights. Ben is beyond excited to be with such an amazing group of teachers and is looks forward to each class he teaches at Leap Forward Dance School.

Iryna Graifer

irynaIryna Graifer was born in Ukraine, where she received her Master's Degree in music as a pianist, accompanist and teacher. She worked for thirteen years at Alma Mater Music College. In 1996 she moved to Canada with her husband and two children, spending ten years in Winnipeg teaching piano and working as an accompanist with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and Manitoba School of Music.

In 2006 she moved to Victoria. Iryna is an accompanist with various ballet schools including Centrepointe Ballet School, Victoria Academy of Ballet and Leap Forward Dance School. She also holds a position as pianist for Edelweisse German Choir, and works with opera singers and instrumentalists.

Rachel Schilberg

Picture1At the tender age of 3, Rachel was immersed into a world of dance where she was eager to find her step. Starting at Colette Schilberg’s Coquitlam School of Ballet, Rachel began her training in ballet and tap. At 6, Rachel moved to beautiful Vancouver Island where she started her training at Parksville Ballet School. Here, she completed her Cecchetti ballet exams from grade one to advanced one, as well as ISTD tap exams. Over the years, Rachel ventured beyond ballet and tap into the world of jazz, contemporary, modern, acting, vocals and stage. Her focus continued to broaden during her time with Helix Dance Theatre and Eclat Youth Dance Company on Vancouver Island. These youth companies allowed her to work with many guest artists and choreographers such as Monica Proenca and Davi Rodrigues. During this time, Rachel also had the opportunity to participate in multiple Goh Ballet summer intensive programs in Vancouver.

At 16, Rachel moved to Toronto to attend the two year Dance Performance Studies Program at George Brown College. Here, she trained under dance artists such as Bengt Jorgen, Hanna Kiel, Cindy Macedo and Jane Wooding. During her time at George Brown, Rachel performed “Land,” a work by Bengt Jorgen, as well as works by Louie Laberge - Cote and Susie Burpee. She graduated with honors, and proceeded into Canada’s Ballet Jorgen’s Mentorship program. This unique opportunity allowed her to work in the company for a year, touring in Ontario with Nutcracker and performing in Coppelia. During her time as a Mentorship student she had the opportunity to have one on one coaching with Svea Eklof, former principal dancer of Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Rachel also worked with Alyssa Pires, who choreographed a piece on her and the other mentor students.

Prior to completing her Mentorship, Rachel took part in the Chimera Project, which is directed by Malgorzata Nowacka- May. They explored combining classical ballet with Native Hoop dance and partnering. Then to finish off the season she worked with Ballet Jorgen on their Ballet 101 program. This was such a wonderful experience, as she got to perform for children from all over Ontario, and share the love of dance.

In November of 2019 Rachel moved to Montreal for a contract in Ballet Ouest’s production of the Nutcracker. During her time touring in Quebec, she danced the roles of Snow, Chinese and Waltz of the Flowers in 21 shows.

After performing professionally, Rachel shifted her focus and started working at St Clair Dance Collective, which is based in Toronto. Here, she had the opportunity to share her knowledge with her students. Rachel is passionate about making sure her students are always learning and growing in technical, personal and creative aspects. She has also completed her Barre Intensity teacher training, and hopes to pursue pilates in the near future. Rachel is extremely excited to be returning to the beautiful Westcoast and to share her love of dance with the next generation of dancers!

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