“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: fear of failure.” -Paulo Coelho
Dreaming, believing, and achieving are the steps that line the path to fulfilling our goals & dreams, a path Monica has traveled many times. Her job as Artistic Director & Choreographer at her studio, Monica’s Danz Gym, has realized some of her earliest aspirations in life. Monica has always known she wanted to be a choreographer–as a young girl, she could often be found pirouetting her way around the wooden floors of her family’s living room for hours at a time. Her formal training at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet was second only to her passion for artistic gymnastics, the path she chose to pursue at age twelve. Though she continues to dance as a compliment to her training, Monica’s seven years as a member of the Canadian National Gymnastics Team gave her the opportunity to compete all over the world, from Japan to Russia. Her signature grace & artistic flair was widely known; she truly shone on Floor Exercise, where her most influential teacher & choreographer, Peggy Cook, captured Monica’s finesse in her many floor routines over the years. Peggy opened Monica up to a world of endless possibilities, helping lay the foundation she continues to thrive off of to this day.
Family has always played a significant role in Monica’s success. It was her parents who coached her to the top, pushing her to fulfill her full potential as a five-time medalist at the Pan American Games, and a member of the 1980 Olympic Team. Building something from nothing is a passion passed down through the generations–Elfriede & Wolfgang Goermann built the Winnipeg Gymnastics Center up from the ground. Their humble beginnings were found within the walls of the YMCA, where gym time most often meant family time. The first time Monica did her Tsukahara on Vault was a family affair, with her mom spotting in the front, her dad flipping her in the back, and her brother bringing up the rear. It was her father who first suggested Monica establish her own dance studio, after her years of teaching dance to her fellow gymnasts, and her many experiences coaching & learning abroad.
Twenty successful years later, Monica’s Danz Gym is thriving under the careful guidance of Monica, with Liz Cooper’s aerial expertise adding the unique element of flight to their repertoire of classes. Monica plays a very active role in her studio’s success–she teaches a variety of classes, from acro danz to aerial, to students of all ages. Her most recent endeavor took her on an adventure to Sarasota, FL, where she became an instructor in Flying Aerial Yoga. Striving to pass along the knowledge she has gained on her journey, Monica has given many girls the opportunity to travel overseas to study & perform, throughout much of Europe & North America. In 2003, she and Liz established Winnipeg’s premier youth circus troupe, Momentum Aerial & Acrobatic Troupe, which enables youth to pursue the aerial arts at a high level. Monica strives to open up a world of possibilities to her students, just as she was taught when she was young.
The one thing that has remained throughout the years is the strong presence of family in Monica’s endeavors. MDG never would have become the place it is today without the unwavering support of her husband, Michael Thomlinson, also known as Engineer Extraordinaire. And now, just as her mother coached her on her gymnastics journey, Monica has become her own daughter’s coach–it’s a passion that runs through their blood. The dynamic mother-daughter duo will no doubt go far in achieving their dreams. Through teaching her students to embrace the world of endless possibilities, Monica continues to change lives through the art of dance.
“I love the challenge of creating new skills and choreography and seeing the excitement and joy people experience when they learn something new.”
As a graduate of the Senior Professional Program of Contemporary Dancers, Liz has been training and performing aerial circus arts since 2001. She has trained with renowned instructors from Toronto, Minneapolis, Boston and the Aerial Dance Festival in Boulder, Colorado.
“It’s so rewarding to see students grow over the years as they explore their art and creativity.”
Liz will continue to keep exploring new directions with choreography to help her to continue to grow as both a teacher and performer.
Loc Lu has been a performer, instructor, and director for the last 10 years. Formally trained in physical theatre technique, mask, clown, forum theatre, and film work, he began teaching children’s theatre in 2001 at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. He’s worked with a students of all ages (from 3 to adult) and has facilitated workshops and camps for several of Winnipeg’s leading arts organizations including MTYP, Artist in Schools, Aboriginal Arts Training Program, Green Kids and most recently, Monica’s Danz Gym.
“The best part of teaching aerial is the dancer’s enthusiasm. All the students are so happy to be dancing and always ready to learn. It’s infectious!”
Jayme grew up dancing at MDG. After taking a break for a few years she started taking classes again and her passion was re-sparked. Having taken classes for a few years, it was a natural progression for her to teach her passion. In addition to doing and teaching aerial, Jayme is enrolled in Professional Baking at Red River College.
“I love aerial because it forces you to focus. You can’t be wrapping up for a drop and thinking about personal issues at the same time. It won’t go well.”
Jayme is a very goal-orientated person. Her current aerial goals are to be able to climb to the ceiling with no feet and to gain the confidence to do ‘the arrow’.
Amanda has been dancing since she was two years old. Throughout the years she has studied many styles of dance including tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, character, modern and French-Canadian folk. Amanda studied with the Junior Professional Programme of the School of Contemporary Dancers and with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division (Teacher Training Programme). A licensed Zumba Fitness instructor, Amanda enjoys inspiring participants through her love of dance and music. Amanda was also a dancer, teacher and choreographer with l’Ensemble folklorique de la Rivière- rouge for seventeen years, where she studied gigue and honed her skills as a traditional French-Canadian dancer. As a founding member of Ça Claque! (Franco-Manitoban artists who share their love of French Canadian folklore, traditional as well as contemporary, through music and dance), Amanda has traveled and performed in South America, the USA and throughout Canada. She is also a dancer and choreographer with the modern dance performance group ‘Prairie Dancers’.
Samantha Halas will be joing us to teach contortion, handbalancing and hula hoop.
Samantha Halas is the only contortionist in Winnipeg practicing at a professional level. She first fell in love with the physical arts in Bolivia practicing Capoeira (a brazilian fusion of martial arts and dance) with a group of locals. She fell in love with their devotion to their art and their command over their bodies. Discovering her own disposition to developing flexibility she travelled to China to train with the Beijing acrobatic troupe for a year in 2007/08. She went on to perform with Vancouver’s Underground Circus at the 2010 Winter Games and the Vancouver Art Gallery , as well as independently in variety shows, cabarets and night clubs. In 2010 she moved to San Francisco to train with world renowned Mongolian contortionist Serchmaa Byamba at the San Francisco Circus Center where she will return in January.
Joanne is a Toronto based aerial arts instructor and personal trainer. She specializes in Static and Dance Trapeze. She has her Foundation Level Trapeze Teacher Training from the New England Centre for Circus Arts under Elsie Smith (formerly of Cirque du Soleil), and is a Canfitpro Certified Personal Trainer.
Joanne has been studying circus arts for ten years, and has been training others for the last six years. She coaches at the Toronto School of Circus Arts, Hercinia Arts Collective and Pursuit OCR. Although her heart belongs to trapeze, she continues to study all forms of circus arts including silks, chinese poles, spanish web, rope, aerial cube and swinging trapeze.
Travelling throughout Canada and the USA, she has had the pleasure of training under a number of world renowned circus artists, including Decker LaDouceur (Toronto School of Circus Arts), Elsie & Serenity Smith (New England Centre for Circus Arts, USA ), Aimee Hancock (NECCA, USA) & Fred Deb (Cié Drapes Aerien, France). Her goal as a teacher is to never stop learning!
Joanne loves to share her passion with others and enjoys working with all levels of students. She is a firm believer that ANYONE can do circus!
Jennifer has been training at Monica’s Danz Gym for the past seven years. As a young child her first love was artistic gymnastics and represented Manitoba in numerous competitions. At the tender age of thirteen she decided to quit gymnastics and started to experiment with aerial dance. After her first class she was hooked, and then decided to explore the many different apparatuses that Monica’s Danz Gym has to offer. She has also had numerous opportunities to broaden her skills by attending workshops in Minneapolis (Circus Junentas) and Boulder, Colorado (Frequent Flyers).
As part of Momentum’s Aerial & Acrobatic Troupe, she was pleased to have the opportunity to represent Manitoba in Ottawa at the Canadian Gymnaestrada Championship in 2006. The team was then very fortunate to travel to Dornbirn, Austria in July 2007 to represent Canada. She has also performed around the city as part of Momentum at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the National Post Grey Cup Party, and Peter Nygard’s Pink and White Charity Ball.
Teaching has always been a passion of Jennifer’s whether in the air or on the ground. Her wish is that she can impact her students as her teachers have influenced her.