About Us

Grace Academy of Dance & Performing Arts follows the syllabus of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing for ballet, modern jazz, and tap.

Our highly skilled instructors ensure students receive a solid foundation in dance and theatrical technique in a friendly, non-competitive environment. In fact, Grace Academy is one of the few schools that does not concentrate on competitive work within our program. All our students are given opportunities to participate in examinations, to perform within the community, and to take part in a specially written family musical at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts each year.

Our focus is on building the individual – allowing students to grow at their own pace and in their own unique ways. When taught correctly, dance is a wonderful way to develop grace, strength and flexibility and to nurture growth in personal expression and confidence!

At Grace Academy, we strive to promote a sense of community both within our school and in the Oakville/Burlington and Milton area. We encourage our dancers to use their talents to help others. As such, our students have raised funds for the CIBC Run for the Cure, the Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hope Totes, and the Wellspring Cancer Support Centre. In studio special events are held such as “loonie for love week” and “toonies for toys”.

Our Instructors

Heidi Knapp, FISTD, B.A. Drama
Owner and Academy Director

Heidi Knapp is a Fellow and past examiner with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. She holds qualifications that specialize in Classical Ballet, Modern Theatre Dance and Tap, as well as intermediate training in National Dance. In addition, to this, she holds a B.A. in Drama with a specialization in Stage Management and has completed the Foundations Course with DiscoverDance for Early Childhood Dance Educators.

Heidi is a firm believer that dance should be experienced by everyone. Her teaching experience of more than 30 years covers work in dance, drama and musical theatre with dancers aged 3 to 85! Heidi is the Director of the Spirit Moves Christian Dance Company, for which she was nominated for the Oakville Community Spirit Awards in 2005. She also teaches dance to seniors and is the choreographer for The Oakville Happy Tappers.

In November of 2017, Heidi received the Canada 150 Sesquicentennial Citizenship Award for engaging and inspiring youth in the community. Grace Academy was also recently nominated as small business of the year in the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence.

Heidi takes pride in offering dance to all ages and fostering creativity, a strong work ethic, integrity and a sense of community in all of her students.

Sarah Vanduyvenvoorde
Dance Instructor

Grace Academy is very fortunate to have Sarah VanDuyvenvoorde on staff. She has been teaching modern, jazz, hip hop, tap and ballet for 28 years and is an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Sarah also holds advanced certificates in ballet, modern, tap and national dance. For those of you new to the school – our dancers call Sarah “Mrs. Van Dunk” – a combination of her maiden and married name- and much easier to pronounce!

Sarah brings creativity, energy and a genuine love of children to all of her classes! She is dedicated to excellence, and has been an important member of our faculty since we opened!

Ali Daly
Dance Instructor

A graduate of Grace Academy, Ali Daly returned to join our faculty in 2017. Ali is a Ryerson University graduate with a B.A in Creative Industries. She specializes in hip hop dance and has trained with various projects in Toronto including: O.I.P Dance Company, Professional division at BOSS Dance Company and is co-director of The Clique Dance Crew. Ali also co-produces a dance workshop and event series called The Industry Toronto. Ali has performed in Toronto showcases including: Fever After Dark, The Industry Season 2, Choreoball, The Dance Teacher Expo, Bazaar, The Beatdown, G.O.A.T Dance Competition and many more.

In 2018, Ali worked at da Costa talent management to continue to expand her knowledge of the performing arts industry. In 2019 she joined the team of the popular “Mini Pop Kids" as a content producer and tour assistant. She currently works at the creative studio “ Somewherelse" as a digital content creator while continuing to be an advocate for the Toronto dance community.

Paige Sayles
Dance Instructor

Paige Sayles is a Toronto based dance artist originally from Calgary, AB. Since graduating from York University’s BFA Dance program in 2017, she has danced across the country, being credited as “some of the inspiring talent flourishing in the Canadian dance community,” ( David Silverberg, Now Magazine). Paige has also used her creativity to collaborate with top choreographers in creating original works and independent dance projects, most recently choreographing a piece for a music video for the 2022 Canada Games. She is currently pursuing a career as a dance artist, scholar, teacher and choreographer.

Natasha Wandel
Vocals - Musical Theatre/Supply Teacher for all dance styles

Natasha is a familiar face at Grace Academy, having danced at the studio since its opening in 2003, reaching advanced levels in all styles of dance, and graduating in 2018. Natasha recently graduated from McMaster University, where she studied classical voice and music cognition. Upon graduation, she received the Dean’s Medal for Excellence in the Humanities, awarded to the top 3 academic students in Humanities programs. She began private vocal lessons with Natalie Spurrell at the age of 10 and currently holds her grade 9 certificate with the Royal Conservatory of Music. She was also a part of the award winning Spurrell Studio Choir until 2018. Natasha is experienced in teaching RCM theory, piano and voice. She is has been a Teaching Assistant for various courses at McMaster University, as well as being responsible for leading sectionals within the McMaster University Choir. This fall, she begins her Masters in Applied Music and Health at the University of Toronto.

Natalie Spurrell
Resident Guest Teacher, Vocals – Musical Theatre

Natalie Spurrell is a frequent guest teacher and advisor for musical theatre class. She holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Music Education, majoring in voice, and also recently completed her Masters in Music Education with Boston University. She is the owner and director of Spurrell Singing Studio in Oakville. She has directed many musicals and award winning choirs – most recently, the Spurrell Studio Choir was chosen to attend International Choral Kathaumixw in Powell River, British Columbia and received The Elmer Iseler Award for the best performance of an original Canadian choral composition. They have also achieved 1st place at Nationals with the FCMF (Federation of Canadian Music Festivals) and a gold standing at MusicFest Canada.