Meet Our Team
– Howard Jang, Prof of Professional Practice School for the Contemporary Arts/Director SFU Woodward’s Cultural Unit, Simon Fraser University
Vanessa LeBourdais: Executive Producer, Co-Founder, Creative Director
Ian Gschwind: Co-Founder, Technical & Tour Producer, Writer, Performer, Director, Production Stage Manager
Sara Holt: Founding Member, Performer, Director, Costume Designer, Choreographer
Jenn Hogg: Client Relations Manager
Sion Lanini: Director of Partnerships & Operations
Melanie Thompson: Grant Writer
Cinthia Nemoto: Marketing & Partnerships Manager
Executive Producer, Co-Founder, Creative Director
Also: Big Thinker, Big Do-er, and Musical Wunderkind
Vanessa is the Executive Producer of DreamRider Productions, a pioneering social entrepreneur (recently recognized as an Ashoka Fellow) and an award-winning playwright and composer. She writes, designs, and composes for every DreamRider project, and she was a performer in the company before becoming the full-time executive producer. With partner Ian, Vanessa writes musicals for kids and for adults, including Keep Cool!, Gremlin (Carousel, Geordie Theatre), The Dreamer’s Quest (Western Canada Theatre), and Quantum Physics: The Musical. She also wrote the music for the hit show Larger Than Life: The Musical with SG Lee (Western Canada Theatre/Firehall Theatre/Gateway Theatre). Vanessa has a BFA from Simon Fraser University. Her best creation is her daughter, Tia.
Interesting Story About Vanessa: In 1992, when Vanessa lived in Tofino, B.C., the beautiful rainforest that was her backyard was clear cut and, as the song says, turned into a parking lot. Vanessa became a leader in the Clayoquot Sound environmental campaign, and committed her art and her career to protecting her West Coast paradise. Her songs became the songs of the Clayoquot movement, and, as the campaign reached its peak, Vanessa performed as the opening act for Midnight Oil’s famous early morning logging-road concert.
Read the Vancouver Sun Business Section Feature article about how Vanessa built DreamRider into what it is today.
Listen as Simon Goland interviews Vanessa about how her journey to find a career that matched her values created the beginnings of DreamRider Productions.
Co-Founder, Technical & Tour Producer, Writer, Performer, Director, Production Stage Manager
Also: Top Executive in Charge of Hilarity
Ian is a cult hero with the under-12 set. Elementary school gymnasiums across the Lower Mainland erupt with cheers when Ian arrives on the scene. He manages the technical and touring side of DreamRider Productions, is part of the writing, choreography, and set design teams, directs our plays, and performs in all of our live and video shows. Other shows he’s written with Vanessa include Gremlin (Carousel, Geordie Theatre), The Dreamer’s Quest (Western Canada Theatre), and Quantum Physics: The Musical.
Interesting Story About Ian: Ian has an encyclopedic knowledge of a surprising mix of specialties, including ancient history, world religions, and martial arts (he teaches Kempo, a balanced and holistic martial art that incorporates Zen training, to young kids). Zany things he has done include skydiving and marrying Vanessa.
Founding member, Performer, Director, Costume Designer, Choreographer
Also: Tireless Keener and Fixer of Everything That Needs Fixing
Sara is a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity and has worked professionally as an actor since graduating from Studio 58 in 2000. She is a founding member of DreamRider Productions and performs in all of our shows. As a director, Sara brings her broad acting and choreography experience to every production, and her skills as a visual artist and seamstress are as valued as her experience as a historical researcher. Sara was also artistic director of the Summer History MainStage and Living History programs at Fort Steele, and is a regular performer with the Nora Pickett School of Irish Dance.
Interesting Story About Sara: Sara slept in a haunted house in England for a year and a half. She was on a cruise ship that almost sank in the Mediterranean. She gave birth in an hour and forty-six minutes and then a month later went to live in a tent at Fort Steele. Her costumed baby performed with her.
Client Relations Manager
Also: Jedi-Powered Multitasker and World Explorer
Jenn is usually found behind the scenes, managing hundreds of relationships with schools, partners, and teachers. But she also has a hand in almost everything we do! She also loves her freelance work as a stage manager, and she has been known to throw together a lighting design when absolutely necessary. Recently, Jenn was the stage manager for WhaT? (Mascall Dance on tour to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Victoria, B.C.), White Spider (Mascall Dance, Made in BC tour), Waiting for Ghostbusters and The 4H Club (Genus Theatre), as well as the The A to Z of H20 (DreamRider Theatre). Today, Jenn focuses on arts administration and she is also on the board of directors for Proximity Arts and Upintheair Theatre Society. Jenn has a BFA from the Simon Fraser University Theatre Production and Design program.
Interesting Story About Jenn: Jenn is a huge nerd! She loves Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who, but mostly Star Wars. (She has a Rebel Alliance tattoo on her arm—for real!) In the summer of 2000, Jenn and a friend won a trip to Toronto to meet Green Day and were on a MuchMusic TV show called Gonna Meet a Rock Star. She loves to travel and her favourite place to visit is England.
Opportunities and Operations Alchemist
Also: Learning about the mix of hats he needs to wear!
Sion has the exciting job of unleashing the DreamRider magic far and wide to bring the Planet Protector Academy to classrooms across Canada and beyond! He has a variety of experiences making magic potions for social and environmental change, from youth engagement, group facilitation and leading expeditions to fundraising, corporate partnerships and non-profit management . Sion loves an excuse to learn something new and has more productivity tips than you can shake a wand at.
Interesting Story About Sion: Sion has a particular attachment to the musical Grease, performing as one of the boys in a Welsh language production at high school, before dancing along to the Grease Megamix every night one summer while working at an outdoor education centre. His theatre career, sadly, never progressed!
Melanie is a freelance writer and editor, stage manager and arts administrator. In addition to her work for DreamRider, Melanie manages communications for the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, and writes grant applications for the VICO and other clients in the performing arts. As a stage manager, selected credits include Sonic Elder (The Chop), FAME: The Musical (Bring On Tomorrow Co.), The Out Vigil (Twenty-Something Theatre), Silenced (Urban Ink Productions), The Storyteller (Pangaea Arts), Underneath the Lintel (Pacific Theatre), Kutz & Dawgs (MISCELLANEOUS Productions) and Shrek: The Musical (Theatre Under the Stars). Melanie has also worked as a publicist and/or media relations coordinator for the Songwriters Association of Canada (Bluebird North), Blackbird Theatre, Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, and the Vancouver International Film Festival. She sits on the Board of Directors of Theatre Under the Stars. http://melaniejthompson.com
Interesting story about Melanie: Melanie loves to read, write, walk, and sing (not all at the same time). She also loves to travel, and has spent time in France, Germany, Switzerland, England, Scotland and South Korea…so far. She has a BA from McGill and an MA from UBC; her scholarly specialty was cultural nationalism in late-19th-century Britain and Europe, with a focus on music and theatre. Ask her about the Welsh choral tradition, or the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan…
Customer Success Superhero
Also: Strategist always balancing pros and cons of each decision
Cinthia is a marketing and communications lover, the type of person who believes that attractive, clear and honest communication can solve pretty much all problems in the world. She values relationships a lot and has a special interest in how non-profits can benefit from best practices in the corporate world. Cinthia has previous experiences in the technology and pharma industry leading integrated marketing and communication activities. At DreamRider, she is learning the power of the educational services industry and mastering her skills to bring the magic of the DreamRider programs to the world.
Interesting Story About Cinthia: Cinthia is a Rescue Diver and has been exploring the oceans since the age of 12. She has taken several courses and read many books about marine animals and has a deep passion about sharks. She can easily spend hours telling you about how amazing these creatures are until you are convinced that sharks are not as bad as the media and the movie “Jaws” painted them.