Born in Toronto, Charissa Willson started her dance training at the age of four with mentor Anna McCowan Johnson. Her love for ballet led her to The National Ballet School of Canada’s professional ballet & academic program, where she studied from Gr. 6 – 12, dancing numerous roles each year in the schools annual productions, including The National Ballet of Canada’s ‘The Nutcracker’. After graduating from The National Ballet School with honours, she was awarded the Floyd S. Chalmers Grant by the Canada Arts Council, and began her post-graduate dance training and work throughout Europe. In 2001, she danced as a soloist with the Jeune Ballet de Cannes in ‘Paquita’ at Le Festival de Danse de Cannes along with principal guest artists of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Charissa has been teaching ballet (Royal Academy of Dance syllabus), Music and Movement, and Creative Movement for children in Toronto since 2004, and is a trained Early Childhood Educator from Durham College. For the past two years, Charissa has also been taking vocal training classes year round. As music, movement, and singing are integral at Harmony, Charissa, incorporates piano with vocal harmonies in every class. Her love of teaching young children has lead her to develop unique dance and music programs for 10 months – 10 years at Orange Dot Inc., Toronto private schools including Branksome Hall and The Bishop Strachan School – as well as several other locations across Toronto.
Charissa’s classes always involve singing along with movement, incorporating creative imagery, children’s nursery rhymes and stories to encourage the use of imagination and expression through dance and music. Her passion for the arts and for working with children inspired Charissa to found Harmony School of Dance in 2011. All creative movement and ballet programs offered reflect Charissa’s expertise and experience as both a dance professional and beloved children’s instructor. Her unique and engaging approach to children’s dance education harmonizes movement and ballet with musicality, creativity, imagination, and more!