Our Faculty


Taylor De Geer Mackenzie
Owner/Artistic Director/Instructor/Choreographer/Adjudicator | DMA, BATD, RAD, CDMA, PAEC, ZIN

Taylor is an accomplished Teacher, Choreographer, Professional Dancer and Adjudicator well known in the dance community. Her life long love affair with dance continues to flourish in all aspects of the dance industry. Taylor has taught professionally for many prestigious dance companies over the past 20 years. She brings with her over 20 years of experience teaching dance specializing in Jazz, Acrobatics, Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Modern, Gymnastics/Tumbling, Stretch/Technique, Open and Musical Theatre. Entering tge dance world at the yung age of 3, her many years of training have won her countless awards, scholarships, and titles at competitions throughout Canada and the United States. Taylor went onto further her dance training and completed a 5 year Regional Arts Program with a major in dance, graduating with honors in Dance Technique, Theory and Injury Prevention, after that she attended York University’s dance program.

Taylor is a member of the Canadian Dance Masters of America Ch.#38 certified in Acrobatics and Ballet. The British Association of Teachers in Dance certified in Jazz and Tap, The Royal Academy of Dance, Advanced Ballet and Performing Arts Educators of Canada certified in Acrobatics and Jazz. Throughout her training Taylor was fortunate enough to receive instruction in Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, with some of North America’s most renowned Choreographers, Tina Landon, Richard Kim, Mia Michaels, Napolian & Tabitha D’umo, Fatima, Peggy Baker and Stelio Calagias just to name a few. Every summer Taylor aims to Rejuvenate her teacher’s training while attending various Conferences, classes and Seminars to learn new styles and techniques from some of the most well known teachers in the dance industry.


Paula Callon
Studio Manager / Instructor

Paula was introduced to the world of performing arts at three years old and has never looked back. She has written, directed, stage managed, and acted in plays and improv competitions. Paula’s dance training includes a variety of disciplines with a focus on tap, jazz and ballet and she continues to attend a variety of workshops throughout the GTA. She has participated in competitions in both Canada and the United States. As an instructor with 20 years experience, Paula has had the delight of teaching all ages and has found each age group to bring something exciting and different to the classroom.

Paula has obtained diplomas in Human Resources, Office Administration and as well as a certificate in Medical Administration. She uses her education and 15 years of executive experience in her role as Studio Manager.

She looks forward to passing her enthusiasm and passion, for dance and drama, on to her students at The Dance Element.



Minou Hendrikx
Dance Instructor | BFA (Hons.), RAD RTS, MBATD, AISTD, DMA

Minou Hendrikx has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ryerson University where she trained with instructors such as Nadia Potts, Flora Lojekova, Karen DuPlessis, Vicky St. Denys, Stelio Calagias, Maureen Consolati, Audrey Looker and Malcolm Gayle. Minou is a registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) where she also received her Teaching Diploma. Also, Minou received her teaching certificates for Ballet and Stage from the British Association Teachers of Dance (BATD). Minou has passed the Advanced Ballet exams from the Imperial Society Teachers of Dance and BATD, and the Advanced I Ballet Exam from the RAD. Minou is also a member of Dance Masters of America Chapter 43.

Minou is a well traveled dancer having competed and performed throughout Canada, United States, Great Britain, and Scotland. She was also a guest artist for the Windsor City Ballet Company and Miss Dance of Canada 1990. After a successful professional and competitive career Minou turned her attention to training future dancers and has been teaching Ballet, Jazz & Tap for over fifteen years. Minou’s students have been very successful in all of their Ballet exams ranging from Primary to Grade 8 and Vocational students from Intermediate Foundation to Advanced 2. Apart from exam work and year end shows her students have competed locally and nationally receiving top awards. Minou dedicates herself to the next generation of dancers by passing on her experiences and knowledge.


Brittany Castiglione
Dance Instructor | BFA, BATD, ZIN

Brittany started dancing at the age of two, and has trained extensively in Acrobatics, Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, HipHop and Tap. Through out her many years of training she has received numerous titles, awards and scholarships within Canada and the United States.Her love and passion for dance is what brought her to teaching, specializing in Acrobatics, Contemporary and Jazz. She has been able to teach many summer workshops for local dance studios in the greater Toronto area over the past few years. Brittany has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ryerson University where she graduated from the Performance Dance program.

Brittany has had the opportunity to be a part of Helix Dance project performance of “Unearth” choreographed by Linda Garneau. As well as dancing for Typecast Dance Company, Collective Elite, Mia Martina and ProArteDanza. Brittany strives to bring out the best in her students teaching confidence, determination, style, poise, grace and teamwork. She aims to demonstrate that dedication to training and technique results in a successful and versatile dancer.She is exceed to share her enthusiasm and passion for dance with all her students.


Natalie Knauer
Dance Instructor

Natalie has been involved in the dance community for over 30 years as a competitive dancer, teacher and choreographer. She has trained at various well known studios in Brampton and Mississauga as well as attended Cawthra Park Secondary School for the Arts as a Dance Major. Although her primary teaching focus is Acro, she has had extensive training in Jazz and Lyrical, as well as in Tap, Ballet, and Modern. During her time as a student, Natalie had the opportunity to travel to many local and national dance competitions, competing in all dance forms.

Natalie’s love for teaching began during her final years at Cawthra where she had the opportunity to choreograph a routine for the dance program’s final year end showcase. This first piece she created was honoured with an Outstanding Choreography Award presented to her by the school’s Arts Program. It was then where her desire to teach and create was discovered.

Over the years, Natalie has taught at many studios across the GTA both competitively and recreationally. Her students have competed at various competitions across Canada and the United States winning numerous awards. Some of these include: First Overall Junior, Teen, Senior, and Novice Soloist, First Overall Duet/Trio, Overall Small and Large Group, Choreography Award, Highest Acro Mark, as well as one student receiving a perfect score at Nationals for her Acro solo. Most recently, one her students was offered a scholarship to attend the Joffery Ballet Summer Program in New York City.

During the day, Natalie continues her teaching passion as a school teacher teaching Special Education in Brampton. Her goal is to inspire every student she teaches and is very excited to be teaching at The Dance Element.


Samantha Walker
Dance Instructor

Moving to Mississauga from Toronto at the age of 9, Sam began her dancing career at the Theatre of Dance Arts. There she trained and competed in acro, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, open and musical theatre for 10 years winning overall awards as an open and acro soloist and group member. Following a very successful career at TDA, Sam moved on to teach at Meyerhofer Academy of Dance in Cambridge for two years while attending Wilfrid Laurier University where she majored in English and minored in Political Science and History.

Sam became very involved in dance and charity while studying at WLU where she choreographed and danced for ‘Fashion N’ Motion’ – a dance based production put on annually with all proceeds going to a charity chosen by the production team. Sam also broadened her dance experience by becoming a dance instructor at WLU’s athletic complex where she taught students ranging from the ages of 18-25 contemporary, acro, jazz and lyrical. Upon the creation of Wilfrid Laurier’s first competitive dance team in her third year of studies, Sam grasped at the opportunity to become a part of this exciting endeavor. She became a contemporary choreographer and key dancer for the team competing across the province against other universities. She was awarded with an overall for highest group mark for her choreography on her large contemporary group.

Once completing her undergrad at WLU, Sam moved abroad to Scotland to complete her secondary teacher training with specialties in English and History at the University of Glasgow. Immediately after graduation, Sam moved to London, England to begin her teaching career in secondary History where she stayed for three years. It was here that Sam developed and honed her teaching skills in regards to special education, children with disabilities, and challenge of the gifted and talented.

Since moving back home to Canada in 2013, Sam has been thrilled to share her passion for teaching in both the academic and dance world and is currently a high school teacher in the Peel District School Board.


Ana Pacanins
Dance Instructor

Ana Pacanins is originally from Montreal, Quebec, and grew up in the competitive world of dance as part of Ethel Bruneau Hoofers and Hip-hop troupe. Ana is a tap and hip hop instructor in several studios (Montreal, Calgary and Toronto), and is an award winning choreographer.  Her television appearances include “Edible Incredible” (Montreal), “On the Road Again” (Montreal) and Ana was a featured tap dancer on an episode of “The Next Step” season 2 (Toronto). She has worked with Canadian top 40 pop artists Bellwoods and Dan Talesvki. In addition, she has worked with Tap Masters such as Jason Janas and Nicholas Young at the Triple Threat Dance Convention (Calgary – Toronto), and Dianne “Lady-Di” Walker in Tasha Lawson’s Tri-Tone Production “Rhythm, Body and Soul”. Her Festival performances include the “Feats Festival” with Lisa La Touche and Danny Nielsen (Edmonton), Lane Alexander’s “Chicago Human Rhythm Project” (Chicago), “The All Star Show” at the LA Tap festival (Los Angeles), the “Soul to Sole Festival” (Texas), “The Eastern Canadian Tap Conference” (Toronto), the “Montreal Tap Festival” in the Rialto Theater (Montreal). You can also find her performing in Street Festivals in Toronto (Water Front Festival, Canada Day festivities and the International Street Festival). Ana has been part of 3 professional Tap Companies: “Dynamix Soles” directed by Travis Knights, “Danny and the Tap Messengers” directed by Danny Nielsen and “Bringing Tap Back” directed by So You Think You Can Dance Canada Finalist Everett Smith. Ana’s theater performances include “Anything Goes” directed by Randy Davis (Montreal) and “A Modern Version of the Nut Cracker” directed by PM Productions (Montreal Ana has also been on faculty at the “Montreal Tap Dance Festival” and “Kitchener Tap Festival”. On top of being a performer and instructor, Ana is a member of the “Professional Adjudicators Alliance” and has adjudicated Dance Competitions across Canada.


Alexus Brown
Office Administrator / Instructor

Born into a family of five in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Alexus quickly accustomed herself into the dance world after following in her older brothers footsteps. After moving to Milton and joining our team in 2008, Alexus continued to grow with The Dance Element. Her drive and determination has rewarded her with roles of competitive dancer, assistant teacher and eventually the title of a dance instructor.

Alexus regularly performed in many competitions and performances. She has attended workshops with Luther Brown, David Cox, Devon Perry, Melanie Mah and Bree Wasylenko, just to name a few. With her knowledge received from these experiences Alexus plans to obtain her BATD dance teacher’s certification in the near future.

Alexus believes dance should be accessible to all. Whether dancing in the mirror alone at home to dancing on stage in front of a crowd, all should be able to express themselves through movement; a lesson in which she wishes to bestow upon her students in the upcoming years. 


Mariano Arbaca
Hip Hop / Breakdancing Instructor

Mariano Abarca is an extraordinary instructor, enthralling performer, and an accomplished choreographer. Mariano’s passion for dance was cultivated at an early age – he was raised in a home enveloped by music, thus, his body inevitably became his instrument. Initially, Mariano was exposed to, and continued to excel in, the Latin styles of dance: salsa, meringue, and the Columbian folk dance, Cumbia. His apparent natural ability, and intense appreciation of dance, ultimately, inspired him to study alternative styles of dance – hip hop, b-boying, popping and locking.

As a teacher and choreographer, Mariano has been working in Toronto in excess of ten years. His incredible musicality, his diverse skill base (hip-hop, b-boying, popping, locking), his remarkable experiences as a performer, his knowledge of the history and growth of hip-hop in Canada, and his willingness to share all that he knows with his students, make him a rarity in the world of hip-hop. His dancing abilities, combined with his passion for teaching and choreographing, render him one of the best instructors in North America.

Mariano is one of Toronto’s premier b-boys, and, unquestionably, an audience favourite. He is famous for his incredible footwork, and innovative style of intertwining popping, b-boying, and hip-hop.

As an established Toronto b-boy, Mariano led his crew, “Bag of Trix” to international acclaim at “The Battle of the Year 1999” in Leipzig, Germany. Mariano’s crews have, furthermore, earned championship titles in UK, Korea, and here in Canada.

Mariano’s extraordinary style has allowed him to dance in several music videos, commercials, and television programs. Thus, he has worked with artists such as Vivica Fox, Tom Green, Mya, K-OS, Wyclef, Arrested Development, Grand Master Flash, De La Soul, Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock – to name a few. Remarkably, he was provided the exceptional honour of performing for the Prince of Wales. Mariano Abarca is a role model, an innovator, and a true urban artist.

Carnel John Destacamento
Hip Hop / Breakdancing Instructor

Carnel John Destacamento, born in the Philippines and moved to Canada at the age of 3, is a choreographer from Hamilton that began dancing through old videos of Michael Jackson and Usher. His passion began at the age of 6 where he would mimic movements that he saw from artists and pop icons on television. At the age of 13 he joined a university based team in Waterloo where his passion for choreography and dancing grew. At the age of 18, he moved to Los Angeles to train with some top-level choreographers and studios such as Debbie Reynolds, Millennium Dance Complex, Movement Lifestyle and International dance Academy. Now he is back in Toronto teaching regularly at the Underground Dance centre and also travelled to Spain, India and Ukraine to teach internationally. He is also the co-founder for “theARTillery” dance company based in Hamilton, Ontario and is continuing to travel and pursue his career locally and internationally.