About Us

H/W Advantage

At the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet it's our mission to:

  • Provide dance instruction at an internationally recognized level, drawing from our 40 years of collective experience as dancers.
  • Expand our students' range through a variety of dance forms and techniques used around the world.
  • Provide individualized instruction to each student, tailored to meet their goals in dance (whether that is to pursue a professional career or otherwise).
  • Assist in the development of the mental strength and discipline required of our students to succeed in dance and to perform effectively.
  • Support students as they face challenges, assist them in overcoming those challenges and motivate them to achieve excellence.

Our Story

The Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet was founded by Galien Johnston Hattori, Yukichi Hattori and Tara Williamson following their respective successful careers as professional dancers. Recognizing the changing landscape of the dance profession, they identified a need to provide a different, more evolved and more comprehensive type of dance instruction to aspiring dancers. More broadly, each of them share a desire to expand the reach of ballet to a wider audience and to adapt the discipline to the 21st century, while truly maintaining a respect for the art form.

The school is unlike any other, opening its doors in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to share the expertise of its founders with students of all ages. For those looking to pursue a professional career in dance, where expectations are extremely high, the Professional Program extends far beyond mastering the specific dance steps. The instructors provide valuable insights into how to stand out in auditions, how to impress directors and choreographers, how to survive the first year in a dance company and how to be a versatile and valuable member of your dance community. There is also an emphasis on the development of the performing abilities of students, with several performances scheduled throughout each season, occasionally with the instructors dancing alongside the students.

Aside from the professional focus, the school is also dedicated to bringing the grace and physical beauty of ballet to all people. Specialized programs are offered to students of all ages and abilities, from children as young as 2 years of age in the Junior Program, to adults looking to try ballet for the first time and to have some fun in a group setting in the Adult Ballet Program. In all programs, the teachers provide a safe and supportive environment for each person to learn and grow through ballet; to achieve their highest level of expression while experiencing the liberation of truly dancing freely.

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“For us, ballet is our home. It has given us meaning and purpose, has presented numerous challenges, rewarded us for our hard work, dedication, and tenacity, and has given us experiences beyond our wildest dreams.”

Our Beliefs

For us, ballet is our “home”. It has given us meaning and purpose, presented us with numerous challenges, rewarded us for our hard work, dedication, and tenacity, and offered us experiences beyond our wildest dreams. Ballet, an art form with over 500 years of history and legacy, is the foundation for the people we are today: dancers, mentors, teachers and citizens of a dance community that spans the globe.

With the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet, we are starting a new chapter of sharing our knowledge, experience and passion for dance in order to help others grow as dancers and as people. We believe the students of tomorrow deserve guidance from industry professionals that know what is needed to succeed in dance, and the insight and support needed to navigate life as a professional dancer. We also believe that all students have their own journey, one that will require support and an unwavering belief that transcends their own doubts. We were lucky to have mentors and supporters in our careers with those qualities, and have chosen to work together to bring that same experience to young dancers here in Calgary through the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet.

Principals

As former students of Canada’s National Ballet School, the School of the Hamburg Ballet and the Richmond Academy of Dance, the recently retired trio guiding the Hattori/Williamson School of Ballet have worked under the guidance of some of the greatest teachers in the world. Each with over 10 years of learning experience as a student of ballet, and at least another 10 years' experience as a professional dancer, this leadership team brings a wealth of knowledge that goes beyond a standard curriculum or ballet syllabus. Our teachers know first-hand what it’s like to live the life of an aspiring ballet dancer, including all of the realities, milestones, highs and lows that come with the journey. Those experiences have allowed our teachers to curate a technically superior, supportive and artistically challenging program, through which they are able to help navigate our students along similar paths to achieve the greatness within them.

Teachers

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    Hayna GutierrezSenior Professional Ballet Educator

    Hayna Gutierrez was born in Havana, Cuba where she received her training with the National Ballet of Cuba. Upon graduation she danced as a principal dancer with the Ballet National de Cuba and has guested with various companies around the world. Hayna moved to Calgary to join the Alberta Ballet Company as a principal dancer where she danced and created many beautiful roles. Hayna is a passionate teacher and has guested with many different schools. We are so pleased to have her as a full time teacher for our senior professional program as she brings with her a wealth of knowledge in both the technical and artistic aspects of classical ballet.

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    MacKenzie LehnerJunior School Ballet Educator

    MAcKenzie Lehner received her training from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Boston Ballet, and is a graduate of the Harid Conservatory in Florida. She is currently in the Royal Academy of Dance teaching diploma program out of London, England. MacKenzie has toured with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet , and has worked extensively with numerous theatre companies. Along with teaching, MacKenzie is an active performer, most recently performing the role of Yvette in "Clue". We are so pleased to have her sharing her knowledge and passion with our students.

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    Beth DurnieContemporary Dance Educator

    Beth is originally from Calgary, Alberta and is a graduate of the H/W Post Graduate program. Upon completing that, she attended and graduated from the Arts Umbrella Dance Diploma Program in Vancouver, BC. While an active part of the Vancouver dance scene, Beth had the opportunity to work with various renowned artists and choreographers such as Crystal Pite, Emily Molnar, and Michael Schumacher, amongst others. Beth has also performed with Ballet BC (Romeo + Juliet, Medhi Walerski) and Inverso Productions (Spooky Action, Lesley Telford). This past season Beth danced with Corps Bara Dance Theatre where she had the opportunity to choreograph and collaborate on a series of dance films and is currently a member of the Ballet Bodies collective and student of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary. 

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    Daniela ErewaOpen Division Dance Educator

    Daniela Erewa was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. She participate in various national and international classical competitions, such as “Youth American Grand Prix”, obtaining prestigious awards and scholarships to international schools, such as Orlando Ballet School, Kirov School of Dance, and Rock School of Dance.
    She has training in a variety of dance styles such as Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Musical Theater. Daniela moved to Vancouver in the spring of 2019 and was able to train with Coastal City Ballet and take classes at Harbour Dance Centre with renown choreographers and instructors. She has danced and done background in projects for Netflix, NBC, and Disney, working with producers Kenny Ortega, Mandy Moore, and choreographers like Paul Becker, Jill Meyers, and Louis Hardsky.
    She continues her training, learning and creating as a dancer, teacher and choreographer, in diverse studios around the city.
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    Valentina CalderonJunior School Ballet Educator

    Valentina Calderon was born in Columbia, where she began her ballet training, until moving to Lethbridge, Alberta. She continued her training in Lethbridge and upon graduation from high school she joined H/W School of Ballet's Post Graduate Program. In her time with H/W, Valentina has had the opportunity to perform, most notably in the school's production with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in Peer Gynt, and with Calgary Opera in the Merry Widow. Valentina is an accomplished young dancer and is working with our Primary, Grade 1, and Grade 2 students.