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Haylie James

Acro, Jazz, Pre-Dance

Haylie started her dance career at the age of 3 with tap and ballet. Jazz, hip hop, tap were her favourite styles of dance when she was younger- anything with sassy moves and a fast, upbeat tempo.

Between ages 5 and 16, she participated in dance competitions yearly throughout Canada and the US. She knew she wanted to teach/own a studio, and she completed dance education and exams in CDTA Jazz and Tap. In addition to dancing in studios, she danced with a Hip Hop company in Toronto, giving her the opportunity to perform and take classes from different teachers/choreographers every week. The experience gave her insight into the professional world of commercial dance and the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people. In addition to dance, Haylie participated in gymnastics programs. This was the start of her love for the art of putting tricks and dance together.

Haylie is grateful to many men and women for providing her with inspiration and guidance. From them, she has learned such things as perseverance and resilience, confidence and self-love, as well as technical aspects of dance and creative expression. Each of them gave her a safe space where she could use dance as a release.

Haylie has won many dance awards, but she says the true highlights of her dance career are the people with whom she has interacted. Her favourite memories include times spent on and off stage with her fellow dance team members.

Haylie began teaching by assisting with the younger kids’ classes at the studio and gym. She had her first paid position was teaching dance for the Town of Ajax Parks and Recreation and at Extreme Kids inside Extreme Fitness in Pickering. During that time, she took any opportunity to supply teach at the studio and gym and volunteered at different charities or local events. She was a volunteer coach for an elementary school gymnastics team. She captained her high school dance team and was the head choreographer for the school’s musical theatre program. She used every opportunity to develop her teaching identity and gain experience. At 16, she earned the Artistic Gymnastics Level 1 coaching certificate, the level 1 trampoline coaching certificate and she completed the National Coaching Certificate Program. After graduating high school, she worked at a large studio in Sudbury, teaching 6-7 days a week and choreographing over 100 recreational and competitive routines in a year. She won her first choreography award. She later trained and examined for Dance Masters of America teachers’ certificates in Jazz and Tap and completed Acrobatic Arts certification levels 1 and 2.

After spending a couple more years teaching and coaching at various studios, she opened her own studio in Ajax ON - Twinkletoes Studio of Dance and Performing Arts. A second location was added in Cobourg ON (now Just Dance Northumberland). Haylie was a studio owner for 17 years. Since the sale of Twinkletoes in July 2019, she has been teaching with Just Dance. Haylie has been teaching dance for 20+ years!

Haylie loves teaching contemporary, jazz, and musical theatre. She feels in all of these styles she can really build a story with students and push them to use their emotions to perform their routines. Although she has taught all styles of dance, her two main focuses at this point in her career are jazz and Acro. Jazz has many "styles" within the genre as well as the upbeat tempo. Acro challenges the dancer to face and overcome fears in a safe controlled way.

As a child, Haylie felt dance was a true gift in her life. It helped her cope with challenges in her personal life and gave her a place to belong, with support from people who cared about her. She wants to give that back to others. Most of Haylie’s favourite memories as an educator are based on times when students have shown strength, persevered and overcome a struggle. She loves celebrating their wins, big and small.

As a dance educator, Haylie conveys clear expectations and boundaries, so each student’s learning experience is supported and respected. She expects her dancers to come to class prepared and willing to listen and learn. She puts great effort into establishing a relationship with students that is built on mutual respect and trust.

Haylie loves the challenges of each age group she teaches. Early teens are coping with emotions and hormones, trying to figure out who they are. 2-5 year old's are full of wonder and enthusiasm and eager to learn. Older teens are preparing for ‘adult’ life by applying the life skills they have learned through their dance journey.

Her biggest challenge as a teacher is confidence in her own choreography. She wants to give students something they love to do while challenging them and building their confidence. In individual classes, she works to provide the most well-rounded dance experience.

Haylie encourages dance families to look for a group of professionals who take pride in providing a safe, clean, supportive environment that is going to both challenge children - physically, socially, emotionally – and assist them to develop their best qualities. She is a person and a professional who does just that.

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