Ballet is a classical dance which teaches students grace, precision and fluidity with an emphasis on athleticism. This structure of the class comes with discipline, strength and flexibility. Ballet dance is not an easy form of dance to master, but requires much perseverance and repetition. This class will consist of barre work, centre exercises, across the floor and working towards a routine performed at the end of the semester.
COMBO (BALLET/CREATIVE DANCE)
Children in this class will be introduced to the dance classroom environment. Concepts taught will include stretching, balancing, weight transfer, locomotor and non-locomotor movement patterns. This class will focus on quality and creative imagination. Students will also begin the concepts of counting, opposites and musicality. Beginning ballet concepts will be introduced into this combo class. 15 minutes will focus on ballet fundamentals and 15 minutes will focus on creative dance.
Children in this class will be introduced to the dance classroom environment. Concepts taught will include stretching, balancing, weight transfer, locomotor and non-locomotor movement patterns. Students will begin the concepts of counting, opposites and musicality. Beginning ballet concepts will be introduced into this combo class. Tap skills will focus on basic movement patterns. 20 minutes will focus on ballet fundamentals and 20 minutes will focus on tap. Ballet and tap shoes are required.
Contemporary dance is a form of dance that is focused on self expression and a free form of movement. Choreographers use emotions and moods to design their steps and focus on contrast of gravity and suspension. Contemporary classes consist of barre work, centre and seated exercises, traveling through space, jumps, turns and combinations.
Creative dance is a form of dance that provides for personal expression. Concepts taught will include stretching, balancing, weight transfer, locomotor and non-locomotor movement patterns. This class will focus on quality and creative imagination. Students will also focus on the concepts of counting, opposites and musicality.
Hip Hop is an international cultural movement compromised of four elements : MCing, DJing, Graffiti, and Breaking. As Hip Hop continues to evolve there are multiple styles of dance within the culture; yet it started with breaking, popping, and locking. This class will consist of learning and exploring the foundational movement of grooves, hip hop styles, and new school styles. Students will drill and explore movement across the floor, while also having the opportunity to learn combos that will develop into a choreographed routine.
Jazz can be fast paced, smooth, energetic or graceful. Jazz technique influences other dance techniques including modern and ballet. Jazz dancers greatly benefit from a foundation built on ballet and core strengthening. A jazz class will consist of centre warm up and stretching, across the floor and a center combination building up to a full routine.
Tap classes will develop rhythm, style and sound. Tap skills will consist of a center warm up, across the floor skills and center combinations. Tap shoes are required.
Tumbling class focuses on proper technique and safety starting with the basics. Students will learn at their own pace to build confidence and strengthen their skills before moving on with more difficulty. And of course, we have fun!
Dance Director, Ballet, Creative Dance, Jazz
Melissa grew up in Tempe and is a proud native of Arizona. She started dancing when she was five years old in various genres such as tap, jazz, ballet, modern, and gymnastics. She grew up dancing in studios and competed at the state and national level. She then continued at the McClintock High School Dance Company for all four years. She studied at Arizona State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Education. While at ASU, she danced for the ASU Dance Team for Football and Basketball games. The Dance Team had the privilege to compete nationally.
Melissa was the coach for the McClintock Dance Team and took her dance team to perform at the Disneyland Mainstreet Parade. After graduating from ASU, Melissa went on to be a dance teacher at Higley High School. She then was the dance director at Estrella Foothills High school and the Varsity Dance Team Coach. Her dance team competed at state and national competitions. She graduated from the University of Phoenix with her Master of Arts in Education in Curriculum and Instruction.
Melissa has been married to her husband, James for 15 wonderful years. She has four children; Norah (age 12), Connor (age 10), Declan (age 5), and Scarlett (age 2). Their family enjoys camping, scouting, and traveling. She’s looking forward to this new experience and hopes to make a great difference to the dancers of Laveen.
Ballet, Creative Dance, Jazz
Dance has always been a part of my life in one way or another. My Mother was a ballroom dancer at BYU. She taught me the love of movement, and that a little confidence in yourself can really go a long way. Creative Dance is where my heart lives. Seeing dancers understand and create movement with there bodies is a beautiful sight to behold. And my absolute favorite thing is to be a part of it.
I danced at Central High School, with their performance team, all through high school. After graduation I was given a scholarship to MCC for a summer of dance classes. After getting married, and in between having my 3 babies, I took dance classes at the Phoenix Center of the Arts, down town. I later decided to turn my front room into a dance studio, and opened “Dancing Around The House”. For 2 years I taught all dance types, mixed with creative dance and in the last few months, danced pregnant with my 4th child.
We moved to Laveen 4 years ago, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It has fit our family perfectly. I’m looking forward to teaching and getting to know the beautiful dancers of the Laveen area.
Emma Arnold’s passion for dance began when, at the age of 2, she would mimic the modern dance sequence from the film White Christmas. Emma began her formal dance training at the age of 6 at Wendy’s School of Dance here in Arizona. After moving to Colorado, Emma danced at Derby Dance, The Dance Center, and the Fountain Arts Center, where she joined her first dance company. Upon coming back to Arizona, Emma continued her dance and performance training at Campbell’s Dance Studio, Power Elite Dance Academy, and Heritage Academy-Laveen.
Emma has a strong background in ballet and has primarily trained in the Vaganova, Cecchetti, and Balanchine methods. She enjoyed doing pointe and had roles in various productions, including the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and excerpts of Swan Lake. She has also trained in many other styles of dance, such as jazz, modern, contemporary, tap, and hip-hop. Emma is a self-proclaimed “dance geek” and is very passionate about the history and culture surrounding dance. She loves to share that passion with others to help them gain a better appreciation and understanding of the many facets of dance.
Emma is a current dance major at Mesa Community College and has enjoyed dancing with the MCC Dance Company for the past four semesters. After graduating from MCC with her AAFA-Fine Arts, Dance degree, Emma will be serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Brianna Strawn, otherwise known as Ms. Bri, has been living in Arizona for over 10 years. She is originally from Pennsylvania where she was a gymnast for 8 years, reaching Level 8 competitive status. Ms. Bri also taught gymnastics for a number of years afterward throughout the remainder of high school. She demonstrates the proper forms and techniques to ensure the safety of students. It is a top priority!
Ms. Bri is now married with two kiddos, 3 fur babies, has a Photography/Design business, along with being a Perfectly Post pampering and skincare rep. But even after all of that, once a gymnast, always a gymnast!
In 1983, a young Kara White fell in love with the stage. It all began at a performance of the Broadway musical Cats. From the moment she walked right into one of the performers backstage, her heart was captured. Training began at age 3 at Mayfair Dance Academy and continued extensively at Sammy Dyer School of the Theater on Chicago’s southside. Kara was then introduced and is now skilled in several dance disciplines including: classical ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, and contemporary.
After dancing her way through high school, she attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her scholastic journey, she was captain of her collegiate level competition team and a key member of her student senate subcommittee. The Windy City native continued her training internationally while understudying with dance royalty such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Homer Bryant Ballet, The Chicago Rhythm Project, and under legendary Tap hoofers as Ted Levy, Savion Glover, Bril Barrett, and the late Gregory Hines.
Relocated to Phoenix in 2002, the dancer grew right along with the up and coming valley. First joining as a principle dancer with Desert Dance Theater, then on to teach her own classes at local studios. Kara has served as a state pageant queen, holding title as Mrs. Arizona International 2015. During her reign, she founded and represented Live, Love, Dance, Incorporated, a non-profit organization that promotes and provides wellness and empowerment to underprivileged youth.
In her non-dance life, Kara is a true business and personal professional. When not working on physical fitness, she is focused on financial goals and serving the community. As an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, she serves as a resource to uplift and enrich others. Her professional licenses and certifications include real estate, credit and lending, insurance, securities and investments, paralegal, and notary services. She currently works as a Community Manager with an HOA Management company. This year she has launched the expansion of her own Financial Wellness firm.
Mariah Aguilar is an Arizona native born and raised in Guadalupe, Arizona. She is a 2018 alum of The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts within Arizona State University, where she received her BFA in Dance. Mariah is currently a dance teaching artist for Rising Youth Theatre, where she utilizes creative movement and Hip Hop to influence her teaching within school residences, camps, intensives, performances, etc. Her primary influence comes from the Hip Hop culture, and the dance community that is within Arizona. As an active individual within the Arizona dance community Mariah has been teaching for 9 years and training for 11. She represents The Jukebox Family of Mesa, Arizona and Wonder Women Krump; an international women krump movement. Her consistent involvement and influence within Hip Hop, freestyle, battle culture and choreographing has led her to many opportunities to exchange and teach. Throughout her journey as a dancer Mariah has had the opportunity to train under Hip Hop/street style OGs like House Magana, Sweepy Morales, Mista Groove, Mijo, Tight Eyex, etc. Along with competing in international competitions like World of Dance, Hip Hop International, Prelude, etc. when repping The Jukebox Family.
Aside from dance, Mariah is a singer, songwriter, poet, crafter, and polymer clay jewelry creator. She is very passionate and mindful about embracing and expressing herself in each art practice she takes on as an overall artist and hopes to inspire others to do the same.
Certified Dunham Technique Instructor; Modern Dance, Ballet, and Tap
Susannah “Sukie” Keita has spent equal portions of her career as a public school educator, college professor, and performing artist. A student of the Joffrey tradition, she broadened her palette in New York City before traveling westward to dance and choreograph with regional companies including Orts Theatre of Dance and New Articulations. She earned an MFA at the University of Arizona and then became a certified instructor of the Dunham Technique, which guided her work as a dance educator in public schools. She later led the Dance Department at Grand Canyon University from 2010-2020, establishing two successful dance degree programs. She resides in Phoenix where she continues to write, teach, dance, choreograph, and consult through @SukieDance, as well as serve with the Institute for Dunham Technique Certification and the Arizona Dance Education Organization.
Elizabeth is an Arizona native who has had a passion for dance and performing since she was 5 years old. She was the youngest member to join the competitive/performance traveling Cheer Team for Young Champions of America at 12 years old, where she fell in love with performing. In college, at the University of Arizona, Elizabeth slowed down her dancing to focus on engineering and then took an internship at Disneyworld, FL where she focused on merchandising, product display, and customer service. Elizabeth knew she was meant to do something that helped people, but wasn’t sure if that was engineering, nursing, business…
And then she had an opportunity to take her social dancing skills and train under the only 12-time Undefeated Rhythm Champions in the country (and 3-time World Mambo Champions) to become a professional Ballroom Instructor. She fell in love with being able to introduce people from all walks of life to dance, and really discovered that anyone CAN learn to dance with a partner with the right instruction. After 6 years of teaching professionally, Elizabeth has expanded her horizons to teach around the valley with her own business and launch a Ballroom nonprofit organization - Dancing United Foundation. Elizabeth currently holds 4 professional certifications to teach beginning and advanced students.
Elizabeth and her partner Kara currently compete nationally, winning 1st place in Rhythm 3-Dance (ChaCha, Rumba, Swing) in their second competition together in LA at the iconic Westmor Dance Studio. Elizabeth and Kara switch off leading/following mid-dance, so Elizabeth is well versed in instructing both leaders and followers.
She is also known as Miss Davidson at Heritage Academy Gateway, where she teaches high school Ballroom classes. Sharing Ballroom with children and adults alike is Elizabeth’s passion and she can’t wait to show you how fun and easy it is!