Paula Callihoo

Paula is the owner/operator and one of the instructors of Dance Through Life. Paula’s dance career started at the age of 5 when she started Highland Dancing under the direction of Dawn Tronnes. Paula Highland danced for a total of 15 years and spent many of those years as a competitive dancer winning many titles including an Alberta Championship.

In 1996, Paula moved to Edmonton where she started dancing with the Strathcona School of Dance with a Canadian Step-Dancing Group. She was hooked instantly and continued her studies in Step-Dancing.

In 2000 Paula decided to start teaching Step-Dancing to adults and her passion for dance has lead her to a dream come true. Paula has been teaching Canadian Step Dancing every since and offers classes for brand new beginners to Advanced.  Paula was certified in May 2009 as a Zumba Instructor and is certified in Zumba Gold and Zumba Toning.  Paula’s love for dance and performing has brought her to continue her studies in Ukrainian Dancing, Bellydance, Burlesque and Country Line Dancing.  In October 2015 Paula was certified as one of the only Hot Hula Fitness instructors in Calgary.  Paula currently teaches at many facilities around Calgary including Seniors Residences, Community Centers and local Schools.

Paula is part of Mynt Dance Productions (with Vanessa D. and Karen I.) where they perform at many difference venues in many different styles.  The have been honoured to be part of a production at the Lougheed House and have worked during Stampede with many companies including The Roadhouse, Gerlitz Ranch and Cowboys and for many large corporate clients.

Paula feels it is never too late to start dancing! She warmly welcomes everyone to the studio!

Vanessa Padillo

Vanessa Padillo is known for her energy, positive vibes and most importantly her passion for dance. She hopes she can give an insight to aspiring dancers to allow them to find their own connection with themselves through dance. Dance to her is more than just moves. It is a communication stream with music, space, and rhythmic pulse of each cell in the body.

Vanessa started out in Ballet at the age of 7. She later found herself grooving to Hip Hop at 12. Taking a plunge in this world of dance, she trained formally at eko Dance Projects (formally Youth Dance Unlimited). Here she studied Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, West African, Modern, as well as Body Conditioning. She further continued her discipline absorbing as many different styles of dance as she could as a student at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. She learned many different styles such as Belly Dancing, Latin Jazz, and different styles of Hip Hop (Breakin’, Lockin’, Poppin’, Weavin’, Funk, New School, House, Voughin, and Waackin’). Currently, she is pursing a minor in Dance at the University of Calgary studying with many affluent leaders in the dance community. Her dedication and passion has taken her on many different adventures. For instance, she competed in the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Los Angeles with her dance crew, C.Stylz, She also received second place in Calgary Dance Idol in 2006. She has annually performs for many local events in Calgary such as Calgary Cares, Dance Montage, Dance Mainstage, and Holla Productions. Being a diverse and versatile dancer herself, her classes will leave students inspired and energized. The foundations that realms her classes are based on having fun, exercise, and to grow a deeper understanding of dance. She is excited to contribute her energy and experience at Dance Through Life.

Karen Iwanski

Karen Iwanski comes to Dance Through Life with over 25 years teaching/dance and fitness experience. Karen has committed her life to the love of dance and fitness.  She started her dance career in Toronto and later moved to Calgary.  She has performed extensively in both dance and theatre productions.

Karen is formally trained in Ballet, Tap and Jazz and spent many years studying the art of Flamenco dancing including time studying in Spain.  She not only teaches many forms of dance but is a personal trainer and is certified in many types of fitness classes.  Karen has taught for the City of Calgary for over 25 years teaching adult, 55 Plus and children’s dance classes, Aqua Classes, Step Classes and many kinds of strength classes.  Karen is also a certified instructor in Pilates.

She has spent over 15 years as a choreographer for many local theatre companies including Pumphouse Theatre and Morpheus Theatre and has choreographed large productions such as “Dancing In The Rain”.

Karen is also part of Mynt Dance Productions (with Paula C. and Vanessa D) where they perform many different styles at different venues around Calgary.  They have been honoured to be part of a production at the Lougheed House and have worked at The Roadhouse, Cowboys and Gerlitz Ranch during Stampede and for many large corporate clients.

Karen is a fun and energetic person with a huge passion for the arts. Karen is so excited to bring Jazz, Tap and Ballet to the studio!

Vanessa De Freitas (Miss Vee)

Miss Vee is ecstatic to be making her solo teaching debut, in Alberta, with Dance Through Life Studios.

She is originally from Ontario where she started studying dance at the age of three with Lois Laxton Dance Studios. She has studied many disciplines intensively over the course of her dancing life including: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary and Musical Theatre. In her dance career, she has been on two tours of Europe with the Ontario Youth Concert band as the dancing accompaniment, she has performed at Hamilton Place and had her first TV appearance on Tiny Talent Time at the tender age of six. She had an invitation to audition for the National Ballet of Canada, at the age of 10, where she received training from some of ballet’s greats. She was also a competitive dancer for many years in all disciplines winning many awards and accolades.

After her ‘classical’ dance training, she was eager to learn more. She started training in Ballroom dancing, in her early 20’s, with Fred Astaire Dance studios in Ontario. She went through their intensive teacher training course, and then taught American Style Ballroom dancing. When Miss Vee moved to Alberta in 2005, she dusted off her dancing shoes, traded them in for cowboy boots and started training in Country Ballroom Dancing. At her first World Country Ballroom Competition, with only a few months training under her belt, she won 3rd place for her Country – Cha Cha Cha.

She has since found her dance home again at Dance Though Life Studios, where she was able to re-connect with her ballet soul and her zest for dance as an art form.