Instructional Staff



Donna Sharpe

Manager, Young Canadians School of Performing Arts

Donna brings to the Young Canadians a wealth of experience in production and stage management as well as education and program delivery. She has stage managed everything from one-person Fringe Festival shows to international touring productions, from technically complex opera and theatre to outdoor festivals and event management.

She has been a faculty member, instructor and mentor at Banff Centre, Opera on the Avalon, Red Deer College, and the University of Calgary. She was a stage and event manager for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, and has worked with Calgary Opera, Beakerhead, Rainbow Stage, and Green Mountain Opera Festival to name just a few of her accomplishments.

In addition, Donna was the lead for the Well Woman program in the Medical Skills Centre at the Cummings School of Medicine, and continues this work with the Alberta International Medical Graduate program. As a result, she brings to the YCs and the Foundation her outstanding experience in program delivery, recruitment, and facilitation among faculty and institutional partners.

Donna has been a leader nationally in the area of safety and wellness in the arts, with stage manager specific initiatives aimed at promoting and educating on safe and respectful workplace environments.




Susan Mensinger

Director

Susan Mensinger is very proud to say that she has operated and taught under Artistique Dance Academy in Calgary for 40 years! Students of Miss Mensinger have gone on to perform in “Love”, “Wicked”, “Storm”, “Notre Dame”, “Moulin Rouge”, “Tap Dogs”, “Tokyo Disney”, “Aida”, “ Zumanity” as well as Princess, Royal and Celebrity cruise lines. It has been exciting to watch dancers of hers on “SYTYCD”, “Dancing With The Stars” as well as numerous music videos. Most recently students of Miss Mensinger can be seen as the lead in the new “Dirty Dancing” tour, head choreographer and dancer for “Groove Academy”, solo tap dancer in the Opening Ceremonies of Olympics and featured soloist tapper in The Grandstand show at the Calgary Stampede. She is very proud of those that have taken on teaching roles as well, in studios and workshops as well as artistic director of the contemporary company “O2 the dance company”. Miss Mensinger’s love of dancing and dancers has been a lifelong affair.

Susan Mensinger was a dancer in the Young Canadians back in 1970-73. Margot Gooder McDermott, teacher for the Young Canadians, fueled Susan’s passion for dance and performing. Miss Mensinger is honored and excited to complete the circle by now being one of the teachers that inspire our future entertainers.




John Morgan

Vocal Director

John Morgan has a passion for music education and performance and believes in bringing out the best in musicians, vocal groups and individual artists he works with by creating a working environment that fosters learning, creativity, musical development, collaboration, and fun. John focuses on directing multi-genre vocal groups, as well as delivering full-service music direction for local artists, corporations and events through his studio Morgan Music in Calgary. He is a conductor, organist, pianist, recording engineer and published composer and arranger whose work has been performed by groups across North America including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

John is the Artistic Director of Mount Royal Kantorei, an auditioned 60-voice mixed chorus attached to Mount Royal University's Conservatory; Vocal Director of the Young Canadians, a 110-member auditioned vocal and dance group made up of youth and young adults between the ages of 8-19 and is the Music Director and Organist at St. Anthony’s Church. He also works with variety of other musical groups and ensembles in the City.

John has provided musical direction for special events including the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Club, One Rock Music Festival, The Tenor's "Home For the Holidays", Dave Kelly Live "Home", The We Day Benefit Concert, and over 27 Young Canadians Shows.

Through his work with the Young Canadians and the Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show, John has had the opportunity to work closely with Tamara Beatty (The Voice), Scott Henderson (Earthtones and Souls in Rhythm), Dave Pierce (Producer - Michael Buble, Vancouver Olympics), Paul Brandt, Jocelyn Alice and play keys for Jann Arden.

When not performing or teaching, John can be found travelling, especially on long motorcycle trips always looking for the next adventure.




Stephanie Hradsky

Vocal Instructor

Stephanie Hradsky holds a Masters degree in Voice and Opera from McGill University and a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the University of Michigan. This past summer Stephanie was in the premier cast of a new opera put on through the Banff Centre and Against the Grain Opera theatre. In April Stephanie performed the role of Erste Knabe in Calgary Opera’s production of Die Zauberflöte. Stephanie has studied and performed in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Equally at home in opera and musical theatre, past productions include Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Rinaldo (Almirena), Le Nozze di Figaro (Barbarina), The Magic Flute (Papagena), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom), The Full Monty, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, and Merton of the Movies (Flips Montague, Canadian Premiere).




Gavin Caldwell

Vocal Instructor

Gavin Lee Caldwell is first a loving husband to the beautiful Sarah and tender guardian of Tigra. He is also a gifted pianist, vocal coach, choral director, singer/songwriter, arranger, composer, improvisor, educator and accompanist who has been collaborating with singers and instrumentalists of all ages and skill-levels in the Calgary area for 20 years.

In 1981, at the impressionable age of 5, Gavin experienced the music video for Private Eyes by Hall and Oates. Between the strobe lights and the synth drums, he fell deeply in love with music, and it is a passion that only grows. He is a product of his relationships, and would not be who he is today without the friendship and guidance of fellow artists Tomy Thisdale, Angela Cavar, Heidi Wood, Jeremy Fox, Cynthia Peyson-Wahl, Rich Nace, Judith Lebane and Aino Robinson, among countless others.

Today Gavin collaborates with/in a siege of schools, churches and community choirs - William Aberhart High School, St. Pius X Catholic Parish and the Savridi Singers, to name a few - all of whom benefit from his affable personality, razor-sharp wit, musical brilliance, flowing curls and terribly clever t-shirts.

Gavin loves that music is infinite, that there is always more to learn, for all of us. Gavin believes that it is every human’s birthright to sing, and brings this perspective to his work everyday. His current plans include an album of “church music improv”, and he will continue writing in his journal, singing songs with his friends, and spreading his special brand of love with this message to the world: “You only have to be yourself, but you have to be yourself.” We are each called to find our passion and pour ourselves wholeheartedly into it, and it is in this spirit that Gavin is so excited to be working with the young artists of The Young Canadians!




Andrea Timmons

Vocal Instructor

Andrea Timmons is a Calgary born Entertainer, Vocal Coach and Music Director. She is classically trained and studied Music and Vocal Performance at the University of Calgary and then moved out East and successfully completed Sheridan Institute's prestigious Musical Theatre Program. From there Andrea found herself performing all over the GTA in Celtic Rock Shows, singing back-up vocals for Heart, performing countless cabaret shows and finding a true love of vocal coaching. Since moving back to Calgary Andrea has been working closely with Community Theatres where she has Music and Orchestra Directed multiple successful productions. She can also be found collaborating and performing at many corporate events with musicians through Occasional Notes which produced Zoostreet, If the Shoe Fits as well as an exciting new Incognito Entertainment Troop. Select Musical Direction credits include Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Urinetown (FRC) as well as Goodnight Moon (Storybook Theatre). Select on Stage credits include Anything Goes (FRC), Oklahoma (FRC), The Piper (Downstage), High School Musical (Theatre Aquarius), Metamorphosis (Theatre Sheridan), and Beauty and the Beast (Storybook Theatre).




Mandy Morris

Vocal Instructor

Her musical education began in Medicine Hat where she studied classical voice under Ralph Browne. Mandy obtained her Vocal Diploma in Jazz and Contemporary Music from Grant MacEwan University in 2010. Immediately following graduation, Mandy began teaching early childhood music, musical theatre and vocal lessons at Visionary Centre for the Performing Arts. It was there that she found her passion for working with children and their families. She co-directed multiple casts of “Mulan Jr” (2012), “Cinderella Kids” (2013) and “Dinostars!” (2013) with Curtis Labelle.

In 2013, Mandy and her partner in life and music, pianist/composer Matt Morris, moved to Calgary where she quickly became a highly sought after music instructor and children’s entertainer. She has developed multiple children’s music classes and day camps at Chinook School of Music as well as family programming at the National Music Centre. Mandy has a diverse background performing as “Princess Vi” in the interactive children’s musical “Fergus the Frog” and engaging with kids in themed music birthday parties such as "The Royal Ball" and "Pirate Parties". She has played the Medicine Hat Jazz Fest, JazzYYC, the National Music Centre and the Canadian Rocky Mountain Music Festival in Banff as well as headlining the Edmonton Dragon Boat Festival with her former band “Gee Baby”.

Music with Mandy has been the focus of Mandy’s artistic endeavours since August 2017. Best described as Fred Penner meets Ella Fitzgerald, her high energy stage presence and unique interpretation of jazz standards have won the hearts of all who have come to her shows. After a string of self-produced, sold out shows in Calgary and a performance at JazzYYC's International Jazz Day, Music with Mandy will be releasing it’s first album “On the Sunny Side of the Street” in the Summer of 2018!




Sofi Munson

Vocal Instructor

Sofi Munson has been performing since before she could speak and began her formal training at the age of three. She previously studied with the Young Canadians for eight years as both a singer and dancer, as well as training in RAD ballet, aerial silks and Lyra hoop. Sofi has classical trained in Vocal and Piano, as well as achieving her grade 8 RCM Violin examination and music theory. Sofi was chosen to represent Calgary in the Alberta Excellence Provincial Class for musical theatre in 2019. Sofi also teaches private vocal lessons, and has coached dance and musical theatre as well.




Lindi Forand

Dance Instructor

Lindi Forand is an incredibly well-rounded and versatile dancer who puts everything on the floor. Throughout her career, she's proven herself to be a passionate, hardworking individual. It's impossible to keep your eyes off of her when she's dancing. Most recently, Lindi’s professional career has taken her to over 48 different countries while performing as a featured dancer and aerialist with Royal Caribbean International during three consecutive contracts.

Lindi grew up in Calgary, Alberta and started dancing at the age of two. Training in Calgary Studios, she studied the RAD syllabus for Ballet and ADAPT for Jazz and Tap. She also simultaneously trained as a member of The Young Canadians for 11 years. Immediately following her High School graduation Lindi joined the Source Dance Company in Vancouver, where she stayed for two seasons. With The Source, Lindi had the opportunity to work with international choreographers such as Stacey Tookey, Gus Bembery and Christina Woodard. Some of Lindi’s professional work while in Vancouver includes performing in Hannibal Buress’ Camisado Tour, working as one of Melissa Endean’s dancers, “U.Loveit Milk Tea” Commercial and dancing at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler. Lindi also trained at Harbour Dance Centre in Vancouver where she focused on Hip Hop and Contemporary. She has worked side by side and assisted some of the industry’s most well-known choreographers through Groove Street Productions and Rocky Mountain Dance Project.




Jennifer Helm

Dance Instructor

Miss Jenn was born and raised in Calgary Alberta. She started dancing at the age of 6 at Artistique Dance Academy, training under Miss Susan Mensinger. She developed her technique and skills in tap, jazz, ballet and musical theatre. As a young dancer, she travelled across Canada competing and was also as apart of the performing group APAC, Artistique Performing Arts Company. Her favorite venues to perform at as a young dancer with APAC was the Calgary Stampede on the Coca Cola stage and the Penticton Peach Festival on their outdoor Bandshell stage.

Miss Jenn has been sharing her passion, talent and dance skills training dancers since 1997. She has also been involved with competitive studios and choreographing for students for 20 years. Miss Jenn loved adjudicating and running workshops in public schools. Many of Miss Jenn’s students and competitive pieces have won special, overall and choreography awards including scholarships. Some of her students have moved on with their dance careers onto Cruise Ships and performing groups. She is super proud of all her students and their accomplishments inside the studio and out! Miss Jen loves mentoring all her “kids” and loves watching them bloom into amazing adults and has had the pleasure of helping a few become dance teachers themselves.




Garrett Rutten

Dance Instructor/Production Coordinator

Garrett was raised in Calgary and from an early age he started excelling in dance and gymnastics. He is a trained dancer in the ADAPT and Royal Academy of Dance syllabuses. Garrett has received his diverse training from professionals across North America. He was also a featured cast performer with The Young Canadians for five years. Garrett was a dancer in the 2008 Juno awards, hosted in Calgary, Alberta.

With over six years of teaching experience, Garrett specializes in adagio partnering and working with a male company to improve dance technique. Garrett volunteers with Immigration Canada, teaching newly landed children a variety of dance styles. Garrett holds an Alberta Gymnastics Federation coaching license, as well as an Acrobatique certification. He is currently working towards his Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Calgary.




Jackie Stewart

Dance Instructor

Jacqueline grew up in Montreal where she began her studies with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. She moved to Toronto at the age of 13 and graduated from the National Ballet School in 1984. Jacqueline began her professional career with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and also danced with Alberta Ballet and Calgary City Ballet. During her career she performed such ballets as The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Coppelia. Jacqueline also taught with the School of Alberta Ballet for over 10 years. As well as teaching at Young Canadians and McDonald-Wilson Dance Academy, she also teaches dance at Central Memorial High School and works part time at Fitness Table Calgary.




Tara Gerritsen

Head of Wardrobe

Tara has worked with The Young Canadians (TYC) Wardrobe Department for 4 seasons, including positions with TYC Wardrobe Crew, the Stampede Grandstand Wardrobe Crew and as Head of Wardrobe for the Grandstand 2017 show “Together”.

Tara’s interest in the arts took root early in her life, thanks to training in dance, music and fine arts. Her connection to the arts has spanned her whole life as she consistently seeks new opportunities to collaborate on dance, music and art projects in work and play. It was during her university years, where she discovered her true passion to work behind the scenes on stage productions.

A broadcast television production graduate of SAIT, Tara has worked as a producer in television and film across Saskatchewan and Alberta with CTV, CBC, Partners in Motion, and with White Iron Productions, where she collaborated on projects such as “World of Horses” and the commercial campaigns for “CJAY92fm”. Tara has also worked as an Organizing Expert, owning her own organizing business for the past 14 years.

In addition to supporting the TYC students, the school and their wardrobe needs, Tara likes to keep busy as a preschool teacher, repurposing artisan and reno enthusiast. She is a proud parent of three children, Julia (TYC alumna), Gabriel and Norah, and has been married to her best friend, Chris, since 1997.