HCA is so thrilled to welcome our newest instructors! This year, we welcome Cipran Campianu, Rachel Romanoski, Annie Webber and Sihaam Veldman to our dance, visual arts and music departments. Get to know more about their creative practices and teaching philosophies below.
When did you discover music/dance/visual arts, and what drew you to it?
Annie: Hi! I’m Annie, the new visual arts instructor for Saturday morning classes here at the conservatory. I’m so excited for the year ahead, all the projects we’ll be working on together, and the ways we will inspire each other – but first let me tell you a little bit about myself. I discovered the visual arts at the tender age of two, making adventurous compositions and even making art on my imaginary friend Coco’s behalf! My mom would tape my work to the wall in our kitchen, and I would admire the shapes and marks, my heart and mind filling with so many feelings and new ideas. I loved to make art with my younger sisters and friends, too. My favourite thing about making art has always been the colours – I love to play with colours, mix up new ones, and just explore all the feelings that colours hold – it’s like magic! I began teaching art because I love to share ideas, and I think kids have the best ones.
Rachel: I first discovered dance at the age of four when my mom took me to see a live production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Ballet. The way the stage was set, the costumes, lights, etc. I already felt at home and connected to theatre. However, it was the way the dancers carried themselves onto the stage and moved their bodies with such passion and expression as if they were free to be themselves. That was the moment that I fell in love and knew that I needed to be in the performing arts.
Ciprian: I discovered dance at a very young age when I was only 9. I was immediately drawn by the magic of the stage when I watched my first ballet. I found it to be a noble form of expression and immediately felt people’s admiration towards the artists on the stage. This is when I realized I just want to be and feel like them.
Sihaam: I studied classical piano through the Royal Conservatory of Music from the age of 8 onwards, but I didn’t personally connect with music until my teenage years. During my adolescence, I was able to participate in children and youth choirs as well as play in a band with fellow teenagers at our local church. I found these communal performances to be fun, challenging, and fulfilling. Around the same time, my exploration of the genre of cinematic soundtracks sparked my imagination, with some of my favorite composers being James Newton Howard, Vangelis, Thomas Newman, and Howard Shore. As I matured, I continued to pursue my classical training while also participating in contemporary performance opportunities.
What led you to teaching? What is your teaching philosophy?
Rachel: I have always had a passion to encourage others to discover and act on their goals and aspirations. I have worked with children at a very young age and have volunteered my time teaching after school programs and organized events. I then became an assistant teacher at high schools, elementary schools, and studios, as well as and instructed various workshops which enabled my enthusiasm to teach adults as well. Teaching requires communication, adaptability, patience, and dedication to your students. My philosophy is to empower my students in finding their confidence to transform their technique and express themselves in a judgement free environment. I want to use my performance skills and knowledge of foundations to enable my students to be challenged and to grow; to inspire and motivate them to be the best versions of themselves.
Annie: I’m all about experimentation, exploration and collaboration – as well as dedication to personal development. I love a mix of independent work, group discussion and collaborating when it feels right. Skill development is important to me, since visual art skills are such incredible building blocks for a whole universe of ideas, and the only way to develop those skills is through guidance and practice – but the most important thing in my studio is self-expression. I’m here to help kids create from their expansive inner worlds, to foster respectful, art-focused dialogue, and to let everyone’s inner light shine.
Ciprian: Teaching and sharing my knowledge and experience it’s just my way of giving back and inspiring young artists in making.
Sihaam: I believe music inherently holds holistic value for humanity; it challenges us mentally and physically while enabling us to express our emotions in a creative manner. As a result, I pursued a career of supporting others on their musical journey. My approach to teaching is very flexible as a reflection of my belief that studying music is about personal growth and holistic wellness. Over the last ten years, I have taught music lessons involving theory, ear training, performance, and general music exploration in home and studio. I also believe that musicians are eternal students; whether we are performing, teaching, or composing… there is always more to learn. As a teacher, I love that my interactions with students constantly shape and challenge my teaching style and skills.
What’s been your favourite experience as a performer/creator/instructor?
Sihaam: During my time at Mohawk College, I studied improvisation, jazz theory, composition, arranging, scoring, and music production through Mohawk’s contemporary piano stream. Since then, I have discovered the joy of arranging songs or medleys for specific ensembles or vocal groups. This has been a very demanding, yet satisfying, experience. One of my most impactful memories as a musician was being able to share my musical journey and growth through arrangements I created for my final recital performance. My favorite arrangement for this particular performance was a medley of themes from various Donkey Kong games, adapted for a variety of instruments including piano, vibraphone, saxophone, upright bass, and drum kit, to name a few. Sadly, COVID’s arrival threw my performance plans out the window but, by sharing this arrangement with friends and family, I felt like I was truly able to express myself .In addition, watching my students mature and retain their passion for music has proved exceedingly rewarding; I look forward to many more years of music instruction.
Ciprian: My first debut in a principal role interpreting ‘ The afternoon of a Faun’ was definitely one of my most memorable moments as a performer.
As a creator- choreographer seeing the performers identifying themselves with the character or the story portrayed in that particular piece, tells me that I achieved my goal.. that always gives me immense satisfaction!
Annie: My own practice is a blend of simple, analogue animation, drawing, painting, self-reflection and community development, having received training at a mix of schools including OCADU in Toronto and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in France. I am passionate about supporting children in their creative journeys and am thrilled to lend that support to the children of the Conservatory!
Rachel: This is a tough question! I do not think I can pick a favourite! Overall, as a performer, making a connection with a live audience feeling that energy/presence in the room. As a creator, being able to use my creativity to make an emotional impact on the world. As an instructor, witnessing the overall joy from my students when they have realized how much they have accomplished.
How do you keep yourself excited and inspired about your craft?
Rachel: I keep myself excited and inspired about my craft by continuously learning and training. From taking a variety of classes and collaborating with many different artists and choreographers, it allows me to absorb innovative movements and physicality, as well as keeping my mind and body challenged. Personally, I feel that in order to grow, you must consistently be willing to improve yourself, take risks, and commit to putting in the work.
Ciprian: To stay inspired and motivated takes lots of work and always looking into new different ways to approach each class differently. Exchanging thoughts, opinions and ideas with other great mentors it’s always like a breath of fresh air. But ultimately, my students are my greatest inspiration!
Sihaam: As a music instructor, I meet and work alongside many other talented music professionals. These individuals inspire and encourage me. In addition, I’ve learned new skills and knowledge through observation and discussion of our respective teaching methods. This community is integral to my musical wellness!
How would you describe your artistic process in 3 words?
Rachel: Preparation, creativity, performance/growth
Ciprian: Passion, patience, perseverance
Sihaam: Dream, experiment, define
Ciprian teaches Level IV, Level VI, and Level VIII Ballet
Rachel teaches Novice, Junior, Intermediate, Senior, and Adult Hip Hop
Annie teaches Arts Exploration I & II, and Art Fundamentals
Sihaam teaches Music Wonderland, and Yamaha Junior Music Course 1A
To find out more about our faculty and the classes they teach, visit hcarts.ca/hca-instructors