Our Team

Carole Anne Piccinin, Founder + Artistic Producer

Carole Anne Piccinin founded the ORI and the ORI Ensemble out of a life-long passion to explore and celebrate the art of tap dance as a percussive form in a musically authentic and community-focused way. She has studied dance since age six, having lived the lives of an artist, performer, educator, studio owner, choreographer, producer and adjudicator along the way. Carole Anne credits Mr. Arthur Duncan, and Canadians William Orlowski (National Tap Dance Company of Canada) and Heather Cornell (Manhattan Tap) for making the connection for her many years ago that tap dance is music. Carole Anne has created and taught tap dance and music programs for Ontario dance schools and school boards, musical theatre companies, and developed the Canadian Children’s Museum long-running Musicworks! program. She has been a guest instructor at the Carleton University Music program (2023, 2024), has participated on dance and arts juries municipally and provincially. Recent productions include Ottawa Summer Swing a jazz culture event with Kimberly Cooper/Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and the Ottawa Swing Dance Society (2023), an educational “tap talk” and workshop with the National Arts Centre – Dance with Michelle Dorrance (2016), and co-presented artists (Taps + Traps: Jesse Stewart + Heather Cornell – Ottawa International Winter Jazz Festival – 2018), and produced, contributed choreography, and performed in full-length ORI Ensemble tap dance and live music shows, including at the Ottawa International Summer Jazz Festivals – 2018), respectively. She has mentored many tap dancers and has helped tap communities and their leaders to flourish. Passionate about tap dance to her core, she is an ORI educator, and leads and performs in the ORI Ensemble. She dances, studies and collaborates with tap dance artists and musicians wherever and whenever she can. A mom of two boys and married for over 25 years, she runs ArtsSavvy, an arts management and creative consultancy, and teaches arts and culture marketing at the Carleton University Sprott School of Business. A graduate of the University of Ottawa, she served for five years on the Canada Dance Festival board of directors (2010-2015) and for eight years (2014-2022) as the Executive Director of the Ottawa Festival Network.

Carmelle Cachero – Associate Artistic Producer (bio to come)

Lisa Kilner – Administrative Manager (bio to come)

Jordan Samonas – Marketing (bio to come)


Shawna Halikas (on maternity leave)

Born and raised in Ottawa, Shawna has studied various disciplines in dance for over 25 years. She found great success as a competitive dancer, winning regional titles and scholarships and continually expanding her skillset through workshops and conventions in Canada and the US and attending Canada’s National Ballet School. While living in Toronto, her performances and experience continued including Dance Ontario, the 2015 Pan Am Games, working with Dancing with the Stars (2017) and preparing her students to perform in Disney World (2018). A passionate dance educator and choreographer of over 10 years, Shawna loves the creative process shared with students and continues to receive awards recognizing her choreography at competitions. She was a proud member of the all-female tap dance company “What’s on? TAP!” for four years under the artistic direction of Kim Chalovich. Here she was introduced to and had the joy of taking class from influential tap dancers including Sam Weber, Lisa LaTouche, Travis Knights, David Cox, Dianne Montgomery, and Johnathan Morin. She has performed in several productions including the Eastern Canadian Tap Conference’s “TAP!” from 2017-2019, and featured in the 2018 Tapperfest Gala. She had the honour of being one of seven tap dancers chosen to represent Dianne Montgomery’s choreography at Toffan Rhythm Projects’ “Toronto Rhythm Initiative Explores the Music of Miles Davis” (2019), followed by the opportunity to perform again in Dianne Montgomery’s Fall For Dance North’s segment, Night Shift (2019). Most recently, Shawna moved back to Ottawa and joined the Ottawa Rhythm Initiative Ensemble in 2022. She is thrilled to be a part of Ottawa’s tap dance community, and continue sharing the artform of tap dance this season.

Carolyn Hébert, PhD (on maternity leave)

Carolyn has over 25 years’ experience studying, choreographing, and teaching tap dance and has been teaching in recreational and competitive dance studios in the Ottawa region for over 15 years. In 2020, she was voted Ottawa’s Favourite Dance Instructor (Faces Magazine Awards). Through her SSHRC funded PhD research at UOttawa, she interviewed and studied under living tap dance legends Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino and Heather Cornell, as well as key contemporary innovators Travis Knights and Sarah Reich. The outcomes of this research continue to impact her approach as both a teacher and dancer. In 2019, she completed Part 1 of the American Tap Dance Foundation Teacher Training Program, and is honoured to share this approach, including the Copasetic Canon, with her students. Carolyn is an active member of the Ottawa tap dance community and has been a member of the ORI Ensemble since 2015. Recent performances with the ensemble include TRI Presents the Music of Oscar Peterson (2019) and Ella Fitzgerald (2018), the Ottawa International Jazz Fest on the OLG Stage (2018), and SwingFest at the Canadian War Museum (2018). She is also a co-recipient of a City of Ottawa grant as a member of YOWCity Tap, which allows her to regularly work with local Jazz/Classical Pianist John Kofi Dapaah. Carolyn completed a Masters of Arts in Dance Studies from York University in 2015 and has presented her research at conferences in Norway, Los Angeles, and Greece. She is a published author, including articles in both of Canada’s dance magazines – Dance International and The Dance Current. Carolyn is passionate about sharing her love for the history of tap dance, and is extremely committed to the growth and development of her students. She is always excited to be in the studio with the ORI community!

David Lafleur

David is a tap dancer based in the National Capital Region. He is the co-artistic director of (insight), a cross-Canada multi-disciplinary tap dance rooted collective, alongside Ella Steele, which debuted a new work at the Toronto International Tap Dance Festival in August 2023 produced by Toffan Rhythm Projects. David participated in Dianne Montgomery’s Fall for Dance North 2022 commission and world premier, Softly Losing, Softly Gaining. He has also been a main cast member for Rhythm and Sound, directed by Johnathan Morin and Cori Giannotta, since their 2017 iteration “Illumination”, and most recently as part of “Revamped” in July 2022. He performed in various productions across North America, including the School of Jacob’s Pillow (directed by Michelle Dorrance, Derick Grant and Dormeshia), the Just for Laughs Festival (opening for Aba and Preach with Montréal Swing Riot), Toffan Rhythm Projects (Allison Toffan and Juliana Kelly), and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival (with the Ottawa Rhythm Initiative Ensemble). David is a sought-after tap dance educator working in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region and is devoted to sharing his love of tap dance with his community.

Carole Anne Piccinin (bio above)




Teaching Assistants

Teagan Bendig

Beatrice Brittnef