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Ottawa Dance Academy propels young Talent

By Keneisha Walters

Amy Pappin

A dynamic tap, jazz and ballet performer, a sensational hip hop and lyrical dancer- 11 year old Amy Pappin is an extraordinary burst of talent, who packs a commanding performance package.

The Ottawa native, and dance sensation blew the competition away with her tap solo to win this year’s regional American Dance Award (ADA), held in May at the Neapean Sportsplex in the nation’s capital.

The ADA has been producing dance competitions in North America for the past 30 years. Created to encourage and support the aspirations of elite young dancers to reach their full potential, the ADA has propelled the careers of several stars and Pappin is on the rise to reaching the highest level.

A dancer of many forms, but a speaker of few words, the soft spoken Pappin says, “I feel good. I was very surprised.”

Pappin who performed her routine to the music of “Peanuts” was up against 110 performers in the age 10 to 12 years old, Junior Dancer of the Year category. Her incredible virtuosity allowed her to walk away with an embellished jacket, a trophy and qualifying her to perform in Boston, Massachusetts at the national championship.

The Academy

A discipline of the Classical Dance Academy (CDA) in Kanata, Ottawa, Pappin was trained under the leadership of founder and director, Kimberly Chiarelli.

Chiarelli who has been professionally trained in an array of dance, is a connoisseur, who has been involved in all facets of dance- from an indomitable performer to a choreographer. Being able to pass on her mastery of a varied repertoire to the younger generations is what makes her job most rewarding.

A professional educator with an extensive knowledge in dance and education, Chiarelli opened the doors to her dance studio in 2003 after graduating Carleton University with a Criminology degree. She later split her time between running her studio and earning herself a teaching degree.

Since its inception, the CDA has produced many outstanding talents. Pappin and her 10 year old sister Jenna who was also placed fourth in the competition are among the vast talents the school produces. From the age of five and four respectively, the sisters have been perfecting their plié and twirl and are making their next dance move – a chasse.

The Support

There was a gleam of pride in Paula Pappin’s voice, who was out to place her daughters Jenna and Amy in a creative program and saw dance as an alternative route at an early age.

To her daughter Amy’s achievement, she says, “I am very, very proud, extremely surprised and very grateful. She comes from a very supportive family and the studio family as well. Everyone helps her to reach whatever goal she sets.”

Paula is not only proud of her daughters but also speaks highly of the work that CDA is doing. Asked why she chose the academy, she responded, “In the beginning when we first looked into the studio, it was primarily because of cost and the fact that they were encouraging not only ballet to start but children could try at an early age, other forms of dance,” she says.

The grade 7 student who attends Sacred Heart High School is in the studio four days a week, and is the second discipline of the academy to have captured the title in this highly competitive and demanding arena. Amy conquered one of the biggest roles in the CDA repertoire and fulfilled her own dreams of becoming a champion dancer.

“I don’t think it is wise to push your children because they will get fed up and shut down,” says Paula, “but if they really enjoy what they are doing, then it is not work for them, it’s fun.”

Amy is extremely ambitious and aspires to take on dancing as a career. “I love dancing,” she says. “I would like to become a professional dancer and own my own studio.”

Inspired by Chiarelli, Pappin hopes to one day use her dance to utilize a platform through which she can have a positive impact on generations to come.

What the Academy has to Offer

CDA offers a range of classes including a fusion of step and break dancing, acrobatic techniques and even musical theatre and vocals. The programs offered allows creativity to blossom, and artistry to develop. CDA has grown from one to three studios and currently has 200 students enrolled. The studio currently offers classes ranging from age 3 to adult.

“The studio does not hold auditions for entry, neither do we turn anyone away,” says Chiarelli. “Once you have a passion for dance, then you are assessed and placed in the appropriate level.”

The academy boasts a highly qualified team of instructors, including Chiarelli’s own sister, Stephanie Chiarelli. There are two other competitive instructors, a ballet and yoga teacher, along with an adult fitness coach, who help students to advance to a higher stage in the arts.

The studio is open from 5-9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and on Saturday and Sunday.

Aspiring performers can contact the studio at 613-836-5725 or visit them on the web at

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