Nicole Regis has transferred her passion into a business with the launch of Footnotes Dance Academy.
Located in Pickering Village, the academy offers dance instruction in ballet, lyrical, musical theatre, jazz, tap, hip-hop and Afro-Caribbean for young people between the ages of three and 15.
“We have been operating in a school gym, yoga studio and other facilities for the past three years,” said 26-year-old Regis, the younger daughter of regional senior justice Greg Regis and his wife Althea. “It’s finally nice to have a place of our own that we can call home that will allow our experienced staff to provide quality dance instruction.”
A graduate of Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School in Ajax and McMaster University where she majored in sociology, Regis embraced teaching dance after being asked to work with some young people at a studio several years ago.
“I loved it and it has always been my dream to own a dance academy,” said Regis, who has been managing an Ajax dance studio since graduating from university.
In addition to Regis, Footnotes staff includes 20-year-old York University dance major Rhea Bowman, who is the head instructor and Courtney Dyer who teaches hip-hop.
“I have been dancing since I was about two years old when my mom put me in a creative dance class,” said Bowman, who attended Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts. “I enjoy the teaching aspect of it, especially the Afro-Caribbean classes which are not offered by most studios that focus mainly on ballet and jazz.”
Bowman and Regis met nearly six years ago through Bowman’s father who’s employed at a downtown bank where Regis was a summer intern in 2004. They were on their way to work on the morning of August 25 that year when a gunman, who had a history of domestic violence, grabbed Regis at random outside Union Station.
The horrifying stand-off lasted 45 minutes before an Emergency Task Force (ETF) marksman fatally shot 45-year-old Anthony Brookes who earlier that morning had stalked and shot at, but missed, his estranged wife after following her to the food court under the Canadian Pacific tower.
Regis, who has dance certifications from the Canadian Dance Teachers Association and the Performing Arts Educators of Canada, said the ordeal has made her stronger.
“I have tried to put that behind me, but it’s something that you can’t really forget,” she said. “My friends and colleagues in the dance community were very supportive after the incident and I have used that dark moment to inspire young girls to be strong and positive. I am using dance to build confidence and self-esteem.”
Regis also paid tribute to her parents who she says are her biggest supporters.
“Without them telling me I could do this, I would not have been able to open my business and we would not be here today,” she said. “They, along with my older sister (Chantal) and extended family, are in my corner and I treasure that.”
Justice Regis, a former journalist, Jane-Finch Community Legal Services executive director and Caribana chair, said he’s proud of his daughter’s accomplishments.
“This is the coming to fruition of Nicole’s dream,” said Regis who was sworn in as a provincial judge in January 1999. “She has always been dancing and she indicated at a very young age that she wanted to be a dance teacher. She made the decision that she had reached a point where she wanted Footnotes to grow and take it to another level, hence the reason for getting a studio.”
Footnotes will enter a team in a dance competition for the first time in April and stage its year-end recital in June.
Individuals interested in becoming members can call (905) 903-5318 or visit the website at www.footnotesdanceacademy.com.