Our Instructors

Anne-Aleacia Dorn (Acting I)

Anne started theatre classes and performing on stage in Edmonton, Alberta when she was six years old and performed with Alectra Children’s Theatre Company for 10 years. In her last three years with the company, Anne taught classes for the younger students helping them learn theatre while she learned how to direct and manage small children in a theatre setting, which spawned her interest in child development.


Anne took a break from theatre until moving to British Columbia in 2013 when she choreographed a production titled “Dances with Fish” by Jim Rick and Scott Smith. Since then Anne has facilitated one-on-one classes with children in theatre which has included puppet theatre and audition preparations.


Anne loves seeing children's creativity flourish, watching them learn, and gain confidence. Theatre shaped Anne into the person she is today and she looks forward to having that impact on other children through Amber Academy.

Drew Kemp (Acting II)

Drew Kemp is well known throughout Victoria and Vancouver Island for his theatrical and artistic endeavours. A graduate from the Banff School of Arts and Langara College of Performing Arts, Drew graduated from the University of British Columbia with an Education Degree majoring in Theatre Arts. Drew started his acting career in his late teens as an assistant to renowned hypnotist 'Reveen'. After traveling throughout Canada in the theatre world, he settled in Vancouver where he was involved as an actor in the Beachcombers series.


Prior to teaching high school, Drew also worked extensively with troubled youth at the Maples Adolescent Centre in Burnaby teaching theatre arts as well as painting and fabric arts. He also worked for the BC Ministry of Family and Children running a group home for youth in crisis.


Drew began teaching high school dance, drama, history and English in Victoria at Spectrum Community School in 1986. He then went on to teach at Oak Bay Senior Secondary where he helped develop a community theatre program, all the while continuing to work at his craft of performing and directing. Drew directed and acted in productions for Victoria Operatic Society, Langham Court Theatre, Duncan Musical Theatre, Shawnigan Lake Players and was head of the musical theatre component of Comox Valley Youth Music Centre in Comox/Courtenay for 17 years.


Amber Academy is thrilled to welcome Drew to our team of instructors.

Maria Martins (Concert Choir & Show Choir)

Maria Eduarda Mendes Martins is a music director, teacher, and composer resident in Victoria, BC. Having worked with community ensembles, choirs, and orchestras, Maria has proven to be a versatile conductor, performing orchestral, choral, popular and avant-garde repertoires.
 

Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in Porto Alegre (Brazil), Maria started her work as a music teacher at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) – where she completed a bachelor’s degree in music composition (2008-2012), teaching adults from the community to read music. This work led Maria to teach privately at a local music school, and subsequently at University of Victoria, where she completed a master’s degree in music composition (2013-2015). At this time, Martins also worked as a teacher/project co-ordinator for the renowned Victoria Children’s Choir, in Canada. During her master’s degree, Maria also started her work as a conductor, directing graduation recitals, UVic’s orchestra during rehearsals, as well as the school’s resident Contemporary Music ensemble, Sonic Lab.
 

Since her graduation, Maria’s involvement with the local community and music production in Canada led her to stay in the country and to start a career as a Canadian composer and conductor, directing various local groups, such as the Crystal Singers, Victoria Composers Collective, and St. Barnabas Church Choir (which commissioned her to write the Mass to St. Barnabas, in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the parish). 


We are very excited to have Maria join our staff at Amber Academy.

Nicole Rae (Costumes & Fashion Design)

Nicole was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia. Over the past 30 years she has mastered many artistic mediums such as stained and fused glass, bead work, collage, encaustic and silk screen printing. More recently she has designed and created her own line of women’s fashions.  


Nicole has been creating costumes for the Sooke Dance Studio for the last 10 years and was costume designer for Sooke Harbour Players’ last two productions.


Since 2009, Nicole has been involved in many youth art projects such as teaching art workshops, volunteering in the schools, co-facilitating youth art camps, and co-facilitating three whole school mural projects in Sooke, B.C. Nicole was a Girl Guide and Pathfinder Leader from 2013 - 2018 and has been teaching at Amber Academy since September, 2017.

Deborah van Hattem-Koff (Art I)

Deborah van Hattem-Koff is an illustrator and artist from Sooke, born in the Netherlands. She is also a member of the Sooke Arts Council. Deborah has been drawing, painting and illustrating from a very young age and has been taking art history, drawing and painting classes since the age of 12.


Deborah is also a workshop teacher. She organizes "Sip and Paint” art classes at the Artisan's Garden in Sooke, and also hosts painting classes for children. Additionally, Deborah is a henna artist, creating temporary body art using henna leaf paste.


Deborah's artwork has been displayed and sold in several shows in Victoria, Sooke, the Netherlands and Fort Langley. She recently worked on designing 100 hand illustrated cards for the cast and film crew of the popular Hallmark Channel TV series, "When Calls the Heart"


Deborah looks forward to passing on her artistic skills and sharing her creativity to the younger generation at Amber Academy. She loves to inspire and enable others to have fun creating and discovering the artist within. 

Gary O'Connor (Art II)

Gary O’Connor is a Victoria born Illustrator/Artist and Indie Author, and a member of the Sooke Arts Council. He has been drawing, painting and making finely detailed models from a very young age. Gary also began script writing when he was 12 years old.


Currently, Gary is working on scripts for graphic novels, children’s books, and has co-written and illustrated a historical fiction series for adults.


With his extensive knowledge of movie making and his film studio experience, Gary hopes to soon have a film studio of his own where he can blend all his ambitions and talents to create movies of his own. 


Gary looks forward to passing on his artistic skills to younger generations at Amber Academy.

Taylor Caspersen (Stage Sound & Sonics)

Taylor Caspersen is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and audio engineer from Sooke, BC. He has been performing on stage since the age of 4 and has been a full-time musician and producer since 2014. Since the young age of 10, Taylor fully committed to music as his life’s passion, and at the age of 14, he started tinkering with audio engineering and sonics. Fascinated with recording and engineering, Taylor continued by combining his love for music and tech by using his computer to record and layer multiple instruments on free music programs. He now plays more than 10 instruments and has worked alongside many local musicians and artists. 


Taylor has appeared in three musical theatre productions in Sooke: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: as Levi; “The Pirates of Penzance” as Samuel; and Thom Southwood’s “Afterlife” as Balthazar the Clown King. Caspersen has self-produced, recorded and released two full studio albums, with another on the horizon shortly. 


Taylor has worked the role of live sound engineer nearly his whole career. Born out of a combination of frustration with lack of personnel and inadequate equipment, Taylor always had a DIY attitude towards live sound. He learned to work with the limited resources available to him, and to always make the best of what has been given. Taylor plans to put that motto into action in his class, “Stage Sound and Sonics”, which will not only focus on seamlessly running sound and lights for Amber Academy’s performances, but also will work heavily on problem solving and team building. 


Taylor was born and raised in the heart of Sooke, and has lived in Shirley for 3 years, just 20km past Sooke. Caspersound Recording Studios, Taylor’s home and workplace is where all of Taylor’s albums and songs are produced, as well as music for other artists, voiceovers, graphic design, photography, and videography.