About Our Team
At First Dance Vancouver, we are more than lucky to have a very special team of artists that helps us support our work. We wish acknowledge their incredible talent and share their stories with you.
Jess Ames was born and raised in Terrace, BC. She trained as an artistic gymnast for seven years before her studio dance training at Sophia’s Dance Studio. She started her professional dance training with the Arts Umbrella Professional Program in Vancouver, BC under the artistic direction of Artemis Gordon. Jess holds a diploma in dance from Vancouver Community College. She has had the privilege of working with world renowned choreographers such as Roberto Campanella, Andrea Miller, Steven Shropshire, Gioconda Barbuto, Wen Wei Wang, Aszure Barton and Lesley Telford. She has danced as an apprentice for Noord Nederlandse Dans, in The Netherlands, The Response with Amber Funk Barton and Body Narrative Collective with Meghan Goodman and Julia Carr in Vancouver, BC. She is thrilled to be a part of First Dance Vancouver.
Kirsten Wicklund is a dancer and choreographer from Vancouver, BC, completed her classical training at the prestigious GOH Ballet Academy. Kirsten performed as a soloist in YAGP’s Gala “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” at New York City Centre, the International Ballet Gala in Florida, Space Coast Ballet Gala, and shortly after joined The Washington Ballet Company in Washington, DC. Kirsten was then invited by Alonzo King of LINES Ballet to join his professional choreographic workshop followed by an internship at Complexions Contemporary Ballet Company in New York City. She is currently a member of Billy Bells’ LUNGE DANCE COLLECTIVE, and has toured with New York City Dance Alliance since winning their National Title. She has performed across Europe and beyond to Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, India, and the US. She teaches master classes and workshops all over Canada and the US. Kirsten is the Artistic Director of project based workshop and choreographic series PROVOKE Movement (www.provokemovement.com), as well as a 200HR RYT Yoga Instructor. She is now a member of Ballet British-Columbia.
Ashley Young was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. She graduated from John Casablancas Institute for Makeup Artistry in June 2010, and the Hair Art Program in April 2011. She is currently working actively in both mainstream and independent film as a makeup artist and hairstylist, acting as Key Makeup Artist and Key Hair on several of her recent projects. In the fashion world, she continues to add her talents to still shoots and runway shows, with her creative flair, skill, and attention to detail bringing beauty and style to any occasion. Ashley loves her work, whether it be in her home-based salon, in the studio or on set. She has a special place in her heart for period work and loves finding the perfect hair and makeup styling to bring a bygone era or a fantastical setting to life. You can visit her website at cherrymakeupandhair.com
Kyle Toy’s dance career began at Canada’s prestigious National Ballet School, and soon spread to several other styles and mediums. His dance company credits include Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ballet Victoria and the Canadian Opera Company. In addition to his strengths as a classical and contemporary dancer, Toy headlines a Michael Jackson tribute show as the King of Pop himself, touring nationally with high-profile corporations such as Rogers Telecom and performing private events for celebrities like Sarah MacLachlan and Hollywood Foreign Press Association Chairman, Ruben Nepales. Toy’s choreographic work has been produced throughout Vancouver, and he has acted as a co-choreographer in the Sony Pictures feature film “Center Stage: Turn it Up” (Ethan Stiefel, Kenny Wormald). Toy has also appeared in Hollywood films, on hit TV shows, in commercials, and danced as a Featured Professional Performer in the XXI Vancouver Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremony dancing with Alberta Ballet alongside recording artist Sarah McLachlan.
Brent Cooper is the principle creative at Bad Buoy Films, and an artist with a diverse background. He studied International Relations at the University of British Columbia (BA, 2010) and Political Sociology from the London School of Economics (MSc, 2011). Since 2009, he has also pursued acting, improv, theatre, and creative writing. He has produced, wrote, and directed several short films combining to over an hours worth of screen time. Brent is a dance lover and in his spare time enjoys ballet, hip hop, and blues fusion dancing. You can view some of his work and contact him through his website: http://www.badbuoyfilms.com. We are very proud to have him as a member of our team. Brent is First Dance Vancouver’s official wedding videographer.
photo: Moonrider Productions
Toronto native, Caitlin Griffin began her training with the Oakville Ballet Company, performing in lead roles at a young age under the mentorship of Etienne Lavigne of The National Ballet of Canada. In 2004 she traveled to Vancouver to join The Goh Ballet Academy’s Youth Company with whom she performed across Canada and China in a broad spectrum of classical and contemporary repertoire.
In 2009 Caitlin joined Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal for Ferdnand Nault’s Casse Noisette. Her ongoing affiliation with the company has included dancing corps de ballet roles in the annual production for six consecutive seasons. Caitlin has also developed standing affiliations with companies including Ontario Ballet Theatre (2007-2008) MOVE: the company (2009-2011) Henry Daniel’s Full Performing Bodies (2011-2012) with whom she has performed nationally and internationally.
Additional career highlights include being involved in production for Sony Pictures Feature Film “Center Stage: Turn it Up”, performing at Bangkok’s 13th International Festival of Music and Dance as well as in the 2010 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies for a television audience of over 30 million viewers. Choreographed by Jean Grand-Maitre and directed by David Atkins, “Sacred Grove” also featured Sarah Machlachlan, Donald Sutherland, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and played to over 59 thousand live viewers in BC Place.
In 2012 Caitlin spent a semester on scholarship with EDAM’s Peter Bingham to study contact improvisation. Later that year the BC Arts Council awarded Caitlin a significant professional development grant, enabling her to live in Israel’s Galilee Dance Village where she was immersed in daily practice with pioneers in dance creation including Rami Be’er and Rina Sheinfeld. Caitlin worked closely with artists from the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company as well as other visiting artists from around the world. Her experience in Israel culminated with a choreographic showcase and several performances in partnership with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company.
As an emerging choreographer, Caitlin’s works have been presented by programs and festivals including 12 Minutes Max, Dances for a Small Stage, The ROMP! Festival, The Dance 2 Dance Festival (Audience Choice Award Winner), MOVE: the company, The City of Vancouver’s Biennial Open Air Museum, The Firehall Arts Centre BC Buds and most recently The Dance Centre Open House via Project CPR 5. In 2013 Caitlin became affiliated with Team Canada Dance as she choreographed a bronze medal winning solo for a young dancer in competition at the World Dance Championships in Poland. A year later, Caitlin has taken over the role of head ballet choreographer for the 2014 Team, preparing the team’s group, solo and duo choreography. Caitlin continues to perform on a freelance basis.