meet Our CHIEF MAGIC MAKERS

julia cowie

EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC director & Chief MAGIC MAKER

Growing up, Julia was a super shy kid who found her voice on the stage.  From her first performance at 8 years old as “Mother Pig” in the Three Little Pigs, Julia fell in love with the magic of Theater. 

At the age of 12, Julia had the incredible opportunity to perform at the Elgin Theater in Toronto as part of the children’s choir in Livent’s Production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat at the transition of Donny Osmond’s iconic run as Joseph. This experience solidified her dream to use the beauty of performing to inspire others to become the best version of themselves and set Julia on the path that has lead her to this moment.

Julia graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film studies. At McMaster, Julia was honoured study under some of the industry’s leading professionals. She enjoyed performing in multiple Shakespeare productions and playing the role of Felicity Cunningham in the Directors Series production of Tom Stoppard’s, The Real Inspector Hound.

After graduating she worked in the Private School sector for 4 years teaching grades 4-8 and High School Musical Theatre classes. She took a break from teaching after her first (of three) little guys was born. Julia took this time to focus on family and take courses that helped to develop her skills and narrow her focus on the direction she wanted to take. 

Julia is now a Certified Life Coach through Robins Madanes Training (with a focus on marriage and families), a Haverhill Design graduate and is currently working toward recording her commercial voice acting demo and training to develop her career in the voice acting industry under the coaching of Melissa Altro; the voice of Muffy Crosswire in the long running cartoon series, Arthur.  

As a Performing Arts Coach, Julia has worked with a variety of students varying in age and experience level. With a strong focus on finding an actors authenticity, Julia's students have found their confidence and true presence on the stage. Julia has coached professional speakers, teachers and prepared many students/actors for auditions. 

Music in Motion Performing Arts Studio is a culmination of all of Julia’s dreams and experience wrapped into one incredible place to continue to learn, inspire, meet new people and develop her skills as a teacher, coach and now entrepreneur. 


lydia martin

EXECUTIVE PRODUCEr &Chief MAGIC MAKER

Lydia has been performing for as long as she can remember as a multi-award-winning singer, actor, pianist, and eventually a dancer. 

The desire to help better the lives of the people around her through teaching, combined with her passion and talent for the performing arts, led her to become one of the most driven and VERSATILE young teachers in the area. 

Lydia was the youngest person in Canada to complete 2 Associate Diplomas with Royal Conservatory of Music in Piano Pedagogy, Speech Arts and Drama - Winning the RCM Gold medal for having the highest mark in Ontario and Quebec, and is completing her third Diploma in Vocal Performance.

Lydia also completed her Advanced Examinations in dance; training with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in Tap & Modern, Canadian Dance Teachers Association in Jazz, and Royal Academy of Dancing in Ballet. 

Lydia has been in countless Musicals and Productions (Including Anne of Green Gables, West Side Story, Treasure Island) and  was the feature role in the Canadian Stage Drama Sarah's Daughter's along side Canadian cellist and recording artist Alyssa Wright.

As an award-winning Director (Access Broadway's Best Director 2017) and Performing Arts Coach, Lydia's students have won countless local, National and international awards and scholarships (Including RCM Gold Medals, OMFA Provincial Finalists, Access Broadway International awards including Best Singer, Best Actor and more). 

Many of Lydia's students have starred on TV & Film (including Paranormal Activity, Big Fun Crafty Show, Various Subway & Cruise Commercials) and have gone on to Post-Secondary education in Theatre and Film Acting, Music, Theatrical Production & Event Planning. Lydia has also coached professional speakers, bands and competitive figure skaters.

Outside of teaching, directing and co-running the studio, Lydia is also a professional Stage Manager in Toronto and Montreal, working on shows with Serena Ryder, Peter Mansbridge, Wayne Gretzky, Col. Chris Hadfield and more!

Dubbed "the voice of an angel" by many Lydia is also a professional singer, pianist and music arranger for weddings, funerals, church services, band groups and most recently, Lydia's music and voice were featured in a Christmas television episode for Salt and Light Productions.

more magic makers

DIanna geertsema

dance

Miss Dianna is thrilled to be teaching at Music in Motion Performing Arts again this year!  She has previously worked with the Triple Threat and Advanced Musical Theatre groups to help improve their dance skills.  She grew up in Bradford and received her dance training at Simcoe Dance Academy.  She later continued her dance education with classes at York University, where she earned a specialized Honors BA.  She was a RAD and CDTA Stage Division teacher.  Dianna began teaching in 1990 at Hill School of Dance in Newmarket and Keswick. Later, she went on to teach at Dance Unlimited.  During those years, Dianna successfully entered students into a variety of dance exams.  She has always had a passion for dance, but took a break to raise her family.  She is happy to be teaching once again.  She enjoys watching all that Toronto has to offer in the arts and enjoys bringing that energy and caliber to Music in Motion.


jAnelle laarakker

Piano & voice (Honours Bachelor of MUsic in vocal performance)

FULL BIO TO COME...

josie gammicchia

musical theatre

Josie Gammicchia is in her debut year as a teacher at MIMPA, but is a longtime student of 11 years.  She is assistant director for the Junior Theatre program and a teacher for the beginner/pre-musical theatre program.  Josie loves the unique challenges that each day of walking into a studio brings.  She especially loves bringing a youthful approach to the students, particularly to equip them with the skills they need to excel in their classes and performances, but to also have fun!  Josie is a part of the Triple Threat competitive team, competing in multipledisciplines and is a 16 year old student in grade 11 at Holy Trinity High School.


linda stampfl-o'connor

Piano, flute & theory- A.R.C.T

FULL BIO TO COME...

Liza mcbride

piano & theory

Liza McBride is a piano and music theory teacher at MIMPA.  Her formal music education began at the Avila Music School in Thunder Bay many long years ago. After a hiatus of music study to pursue a BSc. in Kinesiology at the University  of Waterloo she returned to the piano to complete levels 9 and 10 of the Royal Conservatory Certificate program with First Class Honours. She also studied popular keyboarding skills with Doug Abbott of Toronto and is currently working towards completing the requirements for ARCT in piano performance. Liza has been teaching piano to young and old alike for more than 20 years, the last 8 years being with MIMPA! She has experience teaching beginners as well as students working towards higher levels of the RCM Certificate program. She has successfully prepared students for level 9 piano practical examinations including the history and harmony components as well as level 10 harmony, keyboard harmony and history.  As well as teaching, she has also been performing regularly those same years - weddings, funerals, studio recordings for a local musician, and also providing piano accompaniment for a choir, as well as vocal and violin soloists for various festivals and exams. It is a joy for Liza to be able to make music and collaborate with other musicians, a joy that she hopes to unlock for the students she teaches.


nicole fernandes

reach for the stars program

Nicole Fernandes is a mother of 3 that has worked teaching special needs children for the last 17 years in the
Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board.  She lived the majority of her life in Bradford.  Here, she began
dancing over 40 years ago.  She studied many different disciplines of dance including ballet, tap, jazz and
modern with RAD and BATD qualifications.  For several years, she choreographed award winning dances
for multiple dance schools in the Ottawa and Montreal areas.  She had other interests that kept her busy
as well, such as skating, gymnastics, swimming, acting and modeling.

Nicole attended Algoma University and obtained a BA degree in child psychology. She also attended
Sault College for Child and Youth Worker. Previously to working as a special needs teacher, she worked
as a Crisis worker at CHEO.

Nicole is qualified in First Aid and CPR, Non Violent Crisis Intervention, UMAB (understanding and managing aggressive behaviour), PMAB (prevention and management of aggressive behaviour) , NCCP (National Coaching Certificate Program) and The Safe Child Program Certification.

Nicole has had some unique achievements such as dancing for the grand opening of Sky Dome (currently Rogers Centre), Royal Winnipeg Ballet Summer program, multiple local theatre festivals, international dance competitions and music videos. She has had the luxury of not only working with extremely talented dancers, actors and musicians but the opportunity to share her passion for the arts with children and families facing their worst fears as part of therapeutic counselling.  Whether Nicole is teaching at school or at MIMPA her goal is to help each child achieve THEIR personal
best.


THE MAGIC Makers behind the scenes

claudie schlereth

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Claudie Schlereth hails from afar (South Africa) but calls Canada home. She lives in Barrie with her daughter, Allegra, and Journeyman Carpenter husband, Miguel. With more than a decade of administrative excellence under her belt, she is thrilled to join MIMPA as Office Manager. Her peaceful and gentle demeanour mean that she is a much happier being behind the scenes rather than on stage!  Claudie loves the positive and welcoming vibe at MIMPA and loves being part of something that helps kids to learn the skill of believing in themselves!

Jane chant

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Drawn to the arts from childhood and always having felt strongly that creating is "in her blood", Jane graduated with honours from George Brown College in 1989 with a diploma in Graphic Design.  In her third year, she was exposed to the first Mac SE, however during her first two years, her projects all involved paints, ink, ether-based markers, etc.  It was through the use of those mediums that Jane knew she had found her calling.  She worked full time in her field until 2003 after which time she worked occasional freelance jobs.  About 7 years ago, Jane joined the MIMPA team part time in the office but has since transitioned her focus completely to backgrounds, sets and props for MIMPA's many diverse shows!

jenn reitzel

production PARTNER

Jenn Reitzel (MusBac - U of T, RCM Piano Performer’s  A.R.C.T)  is honoured to be a part of the MIMPA family, helping out behind the scenes wherever needed.   She feels very blessed to have been encouraged (especially by her mom, Nancy Matys) to pursue music from a young age, enjoying various experiences in choirs, bands, competitive dance, musical theater and especially private piano instruction under the late Marina Geringas.  More recently, she studied voice with Irene Ilic, completing a grade 10 RCM examination.  She has spent over a decade as a worship leader of the youth band at Holy Martyrs of Japan parish and has orchestrated several conferences to further the training and education of fellow parish musicians across the archdiocese of Toronto.   She has taught piano locally for over 20 years.

Jenn is very passionate about helping young people become confident in their musical abilities in the hopes that they can use their God-given gifts and talents to bring beauty and joy into the world.  Other things that move Jenn’s heart include her husband Ray, their four kids, fishing and cheering on the Toronto Maple Leafs.