About The Dark Side Studio

Modern Belly Dance for Modern Women

Established in 2004, The Dark Side Studio is Canada’s first school dedicated to tribal fusion and modern belly dance. The Dark Side established its current home since 2011, an extensive yet charming studio in the heart of Kensington Market.


The studio is located at 244 Augusta Ave (second floor) and offers weekly classes and workshops, ranging from beginner through to advanced and professional.

The studio is also the centre for the Dark Side Dance Program. Launched in 2012, The Dark Side Dance Program is a series of intensive workshops designed to provide a comprehensive, multi-stage dance foundation for belly dancers of any style.

Founded in 2007, Lavish is the resident dance company of The Dark Side Studio.


Audra SimmonsAudra Simmons is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Dark Side Studio.

In 2007, she formed Lavish, which performs modern and tribal fusion belly dance with a twist. Among its diverse collection of work, Lavish’s repertoire includes two full length productions, STEP (2010) and Affogato (2011), which toured Ontario and Quebec. Lavish has also appeared at Tribal Fest, the New York Theatrical Bellydance Conference, and is the host of artist-in-residence program The Lavish Project.

Audra began studying belly dance intensively with Yasmina Ramzy at Arabesque Academy in 2000, and taught there from 2001-2004. She began her non-traditional training with Rachel Brice, in 2004, hosting her in Toronto for multiple workshops, as well as traveling to San Francisco to work privately with her. She holds her General Skills and Teacher Training Certification from FatChanceBellydance, Level 2 Certification from the Suhaila Salimpour School of Bellydance, and Initiation and Cultivation Certifications in Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements. (Teaching CV available here.)

In addition to her dance training, she has a Grade 9 designation, with honours, in piano, from the Royal Conservatory of Music.

In 2012, Audra launched the Dark Side Dance Program, which is a five level certification program in belly dance. The Dark Side Dance Program is a series of intensive workshops designed to provide a comprehensive, multi-stage dance foundation for belly dancers of any style.

For many years, Audra produced events which showcased local belly dancers, as well as hosting widely known instructors such as Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, Carolena Nericcio, Heather Stants, Suhaila Salimpour, Samantha Emanuel, Mira Betz, and Ariellah, among others, to teach and perform in Toronto.

In September of 2012, she hosted the first Dark Harvest Festival, a 6 day event dedicated to non-traditional belly dance.

Find Audra online:

Heather LabontéHeather Labonté has studied and performed belly dance, jazz, ballet, and modern in her eighteen year dance adventure. Her comprehensive performing arts background also includes music and theatre.

As a soloist, Heather performs regularly in Toronto, with special appearances across North America. In Fall 2013, she made her European debut at Infusion Emporium in the United Kingdom.

Since 2010, Heather has performed with Lavish, including the 2011 Affogato tour, Tribal Fest 13, and The Lavish Project. In recent years, she has also had the pleasure of performing with some of her teachers and inspirations, including Mira Betz, Samantha Emanuel, and Heather Stants.

Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Heather relocated to Toronto to continue her studies with mentor Audra Simmons at the Dark Side Studio in 2009. The Dark Side serves as Heather’s home base, where she teaches weekly classes and directs The Dark Side Student Troupe. She continues studies in hip hop, tribal fusion, ballet, ATS® and classical belly dance. Heather is a Cultivate in Rachel Brice’s 8 Elements™ and is Dark Side Dance Program Lavender certified. (Full CV is available here.)

Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland in History and Political Science and is also a social media consultant.

Find Heather online:

2 thoughts on “About The Dark Side Studio

  1. Hi there…
    I am a 60-year old woman, not in the best physical shape but high energy, and interested in learning how to belly dance…a desire that had been within me for a long while.
    Your method sounds intriguing and I would appreciate any info you can send…particularly on beginners classes and whether you cater to us old hippies or not 🙂

    • Hi there! We’d love to have you join us at the studio! Our beginner classes are Tuesday 6-7 pm with Heather, and Thursday 5:30-6:30 pm with me. They both start this coming week, the week of Jan 7. You can come out to our free Basic Black (beginner) class on Thursday Jan 10 to try things out to see how we fit! I’d be happy to talk with you afterwards if you have any questions at all. Audra

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