Butler Community School

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Directors

Stephen Mills, Artistic Director (Bios)
Cookie Ruiz, C.F.R.E.,
Executive Director (Bios)
Michelle Martin,
Associate Artistic Director (Bios)
William Piner,
Academy Director (Bios)
Vicki Parsons, Butler Community School Director (Bios)

Stephanie Locklear Albrecht, Project Coordinator & Customer Relations
Eve Anderson,
Academy Registrar & Customer Relations
Lucy Wilson, Schools Customer Relations
Rachel Beale, Schools Customer Relations
Tara Alperin, Schools Customer Relations

Vlada Sheber, Pilates Program Director (Bios)
Joshua Piper, Pianist Coordinator (Bios)

Faculty

Shepherd Allen
Jenny Aperin
Tara Alperin
Phil Amador
Toni Bravo
Hannah Brightwell
Pei-San Brown
Amanda Bucher

Dane Burch
Orlando Julius Canova
Alexa Capareda
Melissa Corpus
Lisa del Rosario
Divya Dinakar
Rebekah Fowler
Tyler Guthrie

Brittany Harpole
Aminya Houston
Melanie Hovis
Arletta Howard-Logan
Vivian Kaw

Jean Claude Lessou
Alex Miller
Prakash Mohandas
Selena Offenberg
Lauren Parra
Sara Paul

Elise Pekarek
Madison Piner
Laquet Pringle
Magdalena Riley

Brittany Strickland
Christopher Swaim

Ande Taylor
Carla Wright
Terri Lynn Wright

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Vicki Parsons, Director of Ballet Austin's Butler Community School

Vicki Parsons develops, implements and directs recreational dance and fitness programming in the Butler Community School and Pilates Center, and through classes and community-based programs, promotes the value of life-long health and well-being through a wide variety of movement styles to a multi-generational enrollment.

Vicki joined the staff of Ballet Austin in 1997. She has over 25 years of experience working in the field of Long Term Care, specifically in direct care as a Recreation Therapist, using therapeutic recreation as a treatment intervention to improve overall wellness. She also worked extensively with young children, developing physical activity programs that are developmentally appropriate and promote an active and healthy life. Vicki taught at Austin Community College for 13 years and worked with several non-profit organizations to develop and present workshops on lifelong health and fitness.  Promoting physical activity to people of all ages continues to be an interest to her. She holds current certifications as a Senior Fitness Instructor, a Youth Fitness Specialist, a Group Exercise Instructor, and in Advanced Sports Nutrition.  She is also a certified Fitness Business Manager.

In addition to overseeing the recreational dance and fitness programming and Pilates Center, Vicki teaches the Better Balance & Movement Workshop for adults. She also enjoys teaching a variety of health and fitness topics at conferences and places of business, and has implemented the free Be Welltalks at Ballet Austin. Her love for developing programs and people is an enjoyable part of her role at Ballet Austin. As the Director of Ballet Austin's Butler Community School she looks forward to developing programming that will fulfill one of Ballet Austin's Core Values: "We dance...to encourage lifelong health and well-being."

Follow Vicki on Twitter @VickiBeActive.

Follow the Butler Community School on Twitter @BalletAustinBCS

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Toni Bravo, Modern Dance & Body Sculpting Instructor
Leaps & No Bounds Program Director

Maria Antonieta (Toni) Bravo is the Leaps and No Bounds Program Director. Ms. Bravo is originally from Mexico City and holds a Master's Degree in Theatre History and Criticism, with a minor in Dance Pedagogy (University of Texas, 1987). Since 1975, she has taught and performed as a professional dance artist in Mexico, England, Israel, Costa Rica, Germany, Spain and throughout the United States. Ms. Bravo began teaching for the Ballet Austin Academy in 1990 and, since 1991, the City of Austin has funded her performance and educational projects. In 1991, 1992 and 1998, she received awards from the Texas Commission on the Arts for her workshop projects with the Travis County Juvenile Court and Austin Housing Authority Education Department. Ms. Bravo spearheaded Ballet Austin's in-school movement programs, which are currently conducted in a number of school districts throughout the Greater Austin area. She continues to develop curriculum as well as train and monitor Academy faculty.

Ms. Bravo also teaches modern dance to kids and adults in the Butler Community School, and her Body Sculpting class has become a favorite drop-in conditioning class for many.

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Vlada Sheber, Pilates Program Director & Certified Core Connections® Pilates Instructor

Originally from the Ukraine, Ms. Sheber received her training in classical ballet from the State Classical Ballet College of Russia (Voronezh). Vlada performed as a soloist in the Donetsk Ballet Theatre before immigrating to the United States. She was a member of Ballet Austin from 1992-2003 and danced a variety of classical and contemporary roles, including the original Lady Capulet in Stephen Mills' Romeo and Juliet.

In 2002, Vlada received her diploma as a Certified Core Connections® Pilates Instructor from the Core Connections® Comprehensive Teacher Training Program at the Pilates Center of Austin.  There she studied under Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle.  In the summer of 2009 Vlada attended a workshop conducted by Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle and Michele Larsson that gave her additional insight into working with older clients. Ms. Sheber is also a Post-Rehabilitative Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist.

In 2002 Vlada worked in a physical therapy clinic with Allison Bennett (Women’s Health specialist) and joined the Ballet Austin Pilates Studio as an instructor.  In 2005 she was acknowledged as a "Pre-eminent Purveyor of Pilates" by Austin Monthly MagazineIn 2007 Vlada was appointed Director of the Butler Community School’s Pilates Program.  She also designed the layout of the Pilates studio. In recognition of Ballet Austin's commitment to excellence, Ballet Austin’s Pilates studio has been chosen as “Best Pilates Studio in Austin” by Rare Magazine and Austin Fit Magazine.

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Shepherd Allen, Hip Hop Instructor

Shepherd Chase Allen is a dancer/choreographer born and raised in Austin TX. Shepherd has been in numerous commercials (Mtv, Nike, Dominoes Pizza just to name a few...) and has performed all over Austin and the United States. He has been teaching and choreographing since he was 14 which has given him plenty of time to stylize his teaching methods. He is a co-founder of the dance crew Urban Transit and was a finalist for Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance (top 80) as well as in the reality show Chance to Dance. He also is a member of the Dancers Rock Touring Convention and currently teaches at a number of studios in the Austin area. Hip Hop is his dance passion but he has studied contemporary, modern, and lyrical which has helped him find his own "infused" style. His current mission is to bring the fun back to dance and remind all of us why we found ourselves loving this art in the first place.

Check out this great article in the American Statesman about Shepherd and hip hop at Ballet Austin.

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Jenny Alperin, Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet Fit, Videodance™ & Zumba® Instructor

Jenny is a recent graduate from SUNY Buffalo where she received her BA in Dance. While in school, Jenny had the opportunity to perform and choreograph in numerous concert dance shows in styles ranging from jazz to contemporary to modern. She was given the opportunity to collaborate her choreography with Digital Poetry media as well as choreograph for the Department's second company. Jenny has studied with artists from Jazz Dance World Congress, River North Jazz Dance Chicago, Paul Taylor Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, LehrerDance, Urban Bush Women, San Francisco Ballet and Giordano Dance Chicago. She is also a certified Zumba Instructor and working towards her Personal Trainer Certification. Jenny has also taught children's dance classes and especially loves working with young children.

Jenny is extremely passionate about dance and fitness and is very excited to share her knowledge at the Butler Community School.

 

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Tara Alperin, Jazz, Contemporary, Videodance™, Yoga, and Yoga Fit Instructor

Tara began her advanced dance training at Sarah Lawrence College under the direction of Sarah Rudner. While in New York she also trained at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway under a wide variety of inspirational teachers including, Sheila Barker, Michelle Barber and Tracie Stanfield. She moved on to Prescott College to explore her own artistic voice and earned her BA in Integrative Arts with an Emphasis in Dance Choreography. After graduating she moved to Chicago to be part of AMEBA Aerial Dance Company where she performed works by Nefertiti Thomas and Autumn Eckman (Choreographer for Hubbard Street Dance). During her years in Chicago Tara also trained with Nick Pupillo, and Ricky Ruiz (of River North), Nan Giordano, Diona PidGeon, Becca Lemme, Eddie Ocampo and Toyko to name a few. Tara has directed several of her own evening length dance works as well multiple dance films. She is excited to share her love of dance with Austin and The Butler Community School. .

 

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Phil Amador, Zumba® Instructor

Phil Amador is an aerobics instructor specializing in Zumba® Fitness. He is an enthusiastic teacher and has brought his style of aerobic dance fitness to several local fitness venues over the years including: Galaxy Dance, Corazon Latino Dance Studio, YMCA of Austin, Tapestry Dance, 24 Hour Fitness, The Hills Health Club and Wellness Center, Uptown Dance, and BodyBusiness Fitness Club.

Phil holds Group Exercise Instructor certifications with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and YMCA USA. He is a licensed Zumba® Fitness Instructor and also holds certifications in CPR and AED. Phil is very excited about sharing his passion for fitness at Ballet Austin's Butler Community School.

 

Follow Phil on Twitter @MWPhil

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Pei-San Brown, Hula Instructor

Kumu Hula Pei-San Ka'ua Brown hails from the island of Oahu, where she first studied hula and ballet at the age of 5. She has been a member of several dance companies, including Disney Entertainment Arts (Los Angeles, CA), the Raul Cruz Dance Company (Orange County, CA), Third Coast Jazz (Austin, TX), and Austin Musical Theatre. She debuted on the silver screen as Miss Alaska, a principal dancer and top ten finalist in the movie Miss Congeniality.

Pei-San earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of California at Irvine in 1994, as well as a Master’s degree in Education at UT Austin in 1999. She is a published author in the fields of education and cognitive development, and has been Community Education Director at Ballet Austin since 2004.


Pei-San studies hula with Kumu Hula Keli'i Chang of Halau Ho'ola Ka Mana O Hawai'i in Houston, TX. She has also studied with Kumu Hula Paul Ho'omanawanuiikana'auao Apo (Honolulu, HI), Joyce Flaugher (San Antonio, TX), Kumu Hula Ellen Gay Delarosa (Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, HI), Kumu Hula Keith Awai (Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, HI), and Kumu Hula Lorraine Daniels (Magic Hula Studio, Honolulu, HI). In April 2006, she was honored to compete with Kumu Chang and Halau Ho'ola Ka Mana O Hawai'i in the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, the world's most prestigious hula competition. In May 2011, she attained the rank of Kumu Hula (Hula Master).

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Hannah Brightwell, Jazz Contemporary Instructor

Hannah Bacon-Brightwell is originally from Southwest Louisiana where she fell in love with the art of dance at age 13. Hannah trained and cempeted in dance until she went to Northwestern State University of Louisiana wher she earned her BA in Business & graduated Magna Cum Laude. While there she also studied modern dance and composition extensively, both within the university and outside of the program. Hannah has continued to train & expand her passion and knowledge through various intensives and classes spanning the country from New York to Los Angeles. She has found a new home in Austin where she is able to share her passion and style with the community as an instructor and choreographer as well as the Artistic Director of Verge Dance Company.

She is excited to work more closely with Austin's beautiful & artistic community through Ballet Austin's Butler Community School. .

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Amanda Bucher, Certified Pilates Instructor

Amanda's love for Pilates originated from her profession as a commercial and theatrical dancer. She began her professional career in Los Angeles in 2004, where she began working for Disney. She has danced behind artists such as Leann Rimes and Hilary Duff, and continued to sharpen her dance and jump rope skills with Disney. Dancing with Holland America Line allowed her to travel to almost 50 countries, and in 2008 had the wonderful privilege to work as a stunt actress for Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. She was also part of L.A.'s Urban Poets when they performed in the 2009 Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition to a BBA in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin, Amanda has a fully comprehensive Pilates certification from L.A.'s Pilates Sports Center, where she learned both classical and progressive repertoire. Her teaching style focuses on neutral spine while providing the client with modifications and/or challenging variations. You'll leave each session with a better understanding of your body and feeling worked out, taller and refreshed. She truly believes Pilates is for every body and hopes to still be practicing it when she's 90!

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Dane Burch, Contemporary and Barre Cardio Instructor
Dane was raised in northwest Oregon where he started dancing at the age of 10. After high school he was awarded a scholarship to Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles. He trained there for several years, preparing him for the performance industry. Dane has worked with choreographers such as Mandy Moore, Malaya, JT Horenstein, Terri Best and many more. He has worked with MTV, danced on the NBC show "American Dreams" and has performed and choreographed numerous live shows around the L.A. area. In 2008 he ended a 5 year run working with Tremaine Dance Conventions and he has been traveling the U.S. judging for Creations Dance Championships. 

Dane currently lives in Austin, TX where he teaches dance and choreographs for private studios and local high schools. This year he was a part of professional development of Austin Independent School District dance teachers. He has also helped in the production of live show benefiting charities around the U.S.  He is enjoying sharing his talents with the dance community of Austin.

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Alexa Capareda, Ballet and Contemporary Instructor
Alexa was born in the Philippines, where she began her dance training at Ballet Regina, following the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum.

Her professional training began at age 16 when she was offered a traineeship with Ballet Austin. For the 2010-2011 school year, Alexa attended the dance study program of the Ecole Superieure de Ballet Contemporain de Montreal in Canada, where she trained under renowned classical and contemporary artists and performed with Le Jeune Ballet du Quebec in works by Gioconda Barbuto, Shaun Hansell, and Jean-Louis Morin. In that same year, she performed as a guest soloist with Montreal's Ballet Ouest in their production of "The Nutcracker". In 2011, Alexa joined Mario Radacovsky's newly formed contemporary company, Ballet Bratislava, in Slovakia, as one of 16 original company members. Aside from working with Radacovsky on the company's repertoire of neoclassical and contemporary works, Alexa had the privilege of performing Jiri Kylian's "Falling Angels" and "Six Dances" and performing creations by Libor Vaculik, Sarka Ondrisova, and Jan Durovcik. Alexa furthered her training in dance and choreography through participating in summer programs including Springboard Danse Montreal, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's Summer Intensive, and Northwest Dance Project's Launch. Shortly before leaving Ballet Bratislava, Alexa received 3rd place in the 2013 Festival of Choreographic Miniatures choreography competition held in Belgrade, Serbia.

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Melissa Corpus, Latin Salsa Instructor
Melissa Corpus was born in Austin, TX and began dancing at the age of 5. She has been an enthusiastic teacher/choreographer/performer of Latin dances since 2008 and continues to study and grow with sharing her knowledge with her students of all ages. She credits growing up in a musical household with parents who loved to dance; for giving her a passion for Latin music and dance.

Melissa strives to fuse technique and freestyle to create a unique method of dance movement. She conducts her classes in a manner that teachers her students to be confident with their dance moves and create their own individual style. Melissa has performed and choreographed shows for Aquadrums and Sonido Sol, and is a featured soloist for MJS movement under the direction of Mark Sharon. She has held dance workshops, choreographed school performances, and led summer dance camps throughout Austin for elementary and high schools and local non-profits.

Melissa is also a choreographer/ dance director/performer for Austin Samba, the largest Samba school in the United States. Teaching and performing are loves of her life, and she is excited to share her love of dance with Ballet Austin.

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Lisa del Rosario, Certified Feldenkrais® Instructor
Lisa del Rosario began her dance studies at the Margo Marshall School of Ballet and the Cleveland San Jose School of Ballet. She continued her training as a Heywood “Woody” McGriff Presidential Scholarship student at the University of Texas at Austin where she received her BFA in Dance. She also studied classical piano and violin for many years and in her later years Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi, qigong, Droznin System, Vipassana Meditation, and the Feldenkrais Method® of movement education.

Lisa has danced professionally in the Philippines with The Philippine National Folk Dance Company, Bayanihan. She currently is a member of DA! Theatre Collective and Sheep Army/Elsewhere Dance Theatre, and also performs her own solo work, along with independent choreographers, locally, nationally, and internationally.  Lisa has taught and choreographed at the Dougherty Arts School, the McCallum High School Fine Arts Academy, Tapestry, and the Texas Arts Project at St. Stephen's Episcopal School. Lisa is thrilled to be in her tenth season teaching at Ballet Austin Academy and Ballet Austin's Butler Community School.

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Divya Dinakar, Bollywood Cardio & Tone Instructor

Originally from Bangalore, India, Divya Dinakar is an engineer at Intel Corporation by day and a dance aficionado otherwise. She is formally trained in Kathak, an Indian classical form of dance and has been dancing to Bollywood songs all her life. Divya is also a certified Zumba instructor. In addition to dance, she is a running enthusiast. Dance and fitness combination classes always excite her and she is thrilled to be an instructor at Ballet Austin. 

 


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Rebekah Fowler, Zumba®, Brazilian Dance, & Zumba® Kids Instructor

An avid student of Brazilian dance since 1995, Rebekah Fowler continues to study and share the dance traditions of Rio, Bahia, and beyond. Since 2000, she has been teaching students how to samba "like they do it in Brazil," focusing on footwork, technique, and the Brazilian spirit of "alegria e charme" (joy and charm). Rebekah has worked in the United States and the United Kingdom as a performer, choreographer, and teacher of Brazilian dance for all ages and skill levels. In addition to teaching ongoing classes in the community, she has worked as choreographer and dance director for the Austin Samba School, one of the largest samba schools in the U.S. Rebekah is also a licensed Zumba® Fitness instructor and AFAA-certified group fitness instructor who enjoys transforming her exercise classes into a dance-party workout while having fun with students on the dance floor. She has trained in Brazil and the U.S. with Rosangela Silvestre, Nildinha Fonseca of the Balé Folclórico da Bahia and members of DanceBrazil. In addition to showing her students just how fun Brazilian dance and dance fitness can be, she also works as a translator (Spanish/Portuguese > English).
 

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Tyler Guthrie, Certified Pilates Instructor and ACE Certified Fitness Instructor

Tyler has had a passion for fitness and nutrition all her life. Her involvement in athletics and interest in "clean" eating diet habits led her to pursue a Personal Training certification through ACE.

After graduating from SMU with a degree in Journalism, Tyler moved to Austin and began her career in fitness, teaching boot camps, spinning classes, and creating customized programs to help clients reach their goals. Tyler began her advancement in Pilates training through PEAK Pilates in 2009 while continuing her personal training pursuits. Tyler is an education enthusiast who loves learning about the body and what techniques help each client find their ideal level of fitness and performance. Tyler has an understanding and compassionate approach to fitness. She enjoys challenging her clients and tailors each workout regimen carefully to ensure that she is meeting the particular needs of each client.

In 2013, Tyler took a leap to follow her passion of health and attended The Natural Gourmet Culinary Institute in New York. There she gained an understanding of the fundamentals of human nutrition and the connection between food and wellness. This 619 hour program excelled her to start helping clients not only with fitness, but with food and lifestyle choices. Tyler makes herself available to her clients at all times to answer questions, motivate, and help each client reach their true potential.
 

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Brittany Harpole, Certified Pilates & Fitness Instructor
Brittany Harpole was introduced to Pilates though her 15 years of classical ballet training. She studied under Vlada Sheber, director of Ballet Austin's Pilates Program. She is also certified with Peak Pilates and Power Pilates; both internationally recognized companies. Brittany danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's scholarship program and The Richmond Ballet. Her passion for fitness and movement guides her clients though personalized sessions to help achieve goals and specific fitness needs.

Brittany implemented the Mommy & Baby Fit classes at Ballet Austin, including the ever-popular Babywearing Barre Workout.

Brittany is also a Certified Turbo Kick® Instructor.

Follow Brittany on Twitter @HarpoleBrittany

 

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Aminya Houston, Hip Hop and Jazz Instructor
Aminya Houston was born and raised in Austin, Tx where she began dancing at the age of 3. She is trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop and musical theater. She competed and performed with the award winning dance company Body Talk directed by Kim Willett for 11 years. While in Body Talk she performed at the 1999 Texas Inauguration and also appeared on the FOX Network. Aminya received scholarships from several training conventions such as L.A. Danceforce, Tremaine, L.A. Dance Magic, and Monsters of Hip Hop. She enjoys training in Los Angeles at the Edge Performing Arts Center with Bill Prudich, Adam Parsons, Mandy Moore, Malaya, Doug Caldwell, Tovaris, Erica Sobol and Tabitha & Napoleon, and many more talented choreographers. This year, she had the opportunity to teach at the 2012 Texas Dance Educators Association Convention. Aminya currently teaches dance and choreographs for several high schools in the Austin area, and private studios around the U.S. Aminya loves sharing her passion for dance and very excited to do so with the BCS.

Follow Aminya on Twitter @Aminyakitchen

 

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Melanie Hovis, Ballet Instructor

Melanie Hovis starting studying ballet in her home town of Columbus, Texas at Live Oak Dance Center. She began pursuing a professional career in ballet by attending summer intensives with Ballet Austin, Texas Ballet Theater, the Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre. She continued her ballet training with Ballet Austin Academy's Upper School and Trainee Program. While studying in Austin, Melanie also had the opportunity to begin a teaching career, training under several Ballet Austin Academy instructors, and teaching several ballet classes.

An injury inspired Melanie to transition from pursuing a performing career to a career in teaching. Just recently she had the opportunity to train at a teaching conference in Paris, France and is excited to return to Ballet Austin where she can continue to expand her teaching experiences and opportunities with both children and adults.

 

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Arletta Howard-Logan, Ballet Instructor
On faculty since 1996, Arletta Howard-Logan enjoys making ballet available to both professional and nonprofessional dancers through her instruction in the Butler Community School. Ms. Howard-Logan co-owned Austin Dance Academy (ADA) from 1986 to 1996. In 1996, ADA merged with Ballet Austin Academy and joined the Ballet Austin Academy faculty. She began her relationship with Ballet Austin as a guest dancer in 1992.

During her career, Ms. Howard-Logan has focused on artistic direction, teaching, performing and choreographing for such establishments as Austin Ballet Theatre, Austin Conservatory of the Arts, San Angelo Civic Ballet and Northcross Mall's ice skaters. As a performer, she danced for institutions including Ballet Austin, Austin Ballet Theatre, Incarnate Word College Ballet in San Antonio, Corpus Christi Concert Ballet, Victoria Ballet Theatre and Beaumont Civic Ballet. Her professional experience as well as the education she received as an aspiring dance pupil helped to shape her distinctive approach to teaching dance. Ms. Howard-Logan trained with the Royal Academy of Dancing Majors, earning various awards and accolades for her ballet technique. She has also studied with Oklahoma City Ballet, Tulsa Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and several other schools and companies.

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Vivian Kaw, Hula Instructor
Ms. Kaw was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. She began taking hula lessons from her mother, a hula teacher. These lessons eventually grew into a deep love of Hawaiian dance and culture.

Ms. Kaw currently studies hula with Kumu Hula Keli'i Chang's Halau Ho'ola Ka Mana O Hawai'i in Houston, TX. She has also studied with Kumu Hula Ellen Gay Delarosa (Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, HI), Kumu Hula Keith Awai (Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, HI), Kumu Hula Lorraine Daniels (Honolulu, HI), Kumu Hula Paul Ho'omanawanuiikana'auao Apo (Honolulu, HI), and Joyce Flaugher (San Antonio, TX). She competed in the prestigious Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in April 2006 with Kumu Chang. She is a founding member of the Island Rhythms Hula Company in Austin, TX, and is its current Artistic Director.

Ms. Kaw is active in film, television, print, and runway in Austin, TX. She is also an avid salsa dancer.

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Jean Claude Lessou, West African Instructor

Jean-Claude was born and raised in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in West Africa.  He began dancing professionally at age 15, and performed with the Dante Theater Company for five years before touring the U.S. as principal dancer with Ballet Jolem.

He regularly performs and teaches at dance camps and festivals throughout the U.S.  He produced a special event for children at the Kennedy Center, performing masked dances from his own village.  During the past 10 years, he taught at Lisangua Ya Bato Dance and Drum Camp in Woodstock, New York and worked with students and faculty at Goddard College, Saint Michael’s College, Middlebury College and Norwich University in Vermont.

For the past three years, he has choreographed and taught classes at “Africa in the Ozarks”, a West African dance camp in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  He was also the lead choreographer for the Lannaya West African Drum and Dance Ensemble in Austin. Today he works regularly with high schools and dance studios around Austin to choreograph professional and student performances.

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Alex Miller, Certified Pilates & Fitness Instructor and Contemporary Modern Dance Instructor

Alex Miller is a modern dancer and certified Pilates instructor originally from Louisiana. She earned her BFA in Performing Arts with a concentration in dance in 2010 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She received her Pilates certification through Balanced Body University in mat work, reformer, chair, and tower.

Alex has done many dance intensives, and continues to do so to keep up with her technical training. These include Tisch NYU Summer Intensive, Bates Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival, Doug Varone Summer Intensive, Doug Varone Winter Intensive, and travels annually to New York City to take various classes at Dance New Amsterdam, STEPS on Broadway, and other master classes to keep up with the ever changing dance world.

Alex's modern and contemporary classes are upbeat, technical, and always locomotive; using large movement both standing and floor work. You can find her in the Pilates Studio at Ballet Austin and also in the Butler Community School teaching Pilates, fitness, and dance classes all week and weekend long!



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Prakash Mohandas, Bollywood Dance Instructor

Prakash Mohandas is the founder of Agni Performing Arts based in Austin, TX. He is trained in Bollywood, Hip Hop and Jazz. He is also a filmmaker, entrepreneur, actor, and musician and is the founder of Agni Entertainment, film and theatre production company. His recent theatre project Lanka was a touring stage production that combined theatre, dance and martial arts.

Prakash produced and directed a larger than life touring Bollywood musical this past year, "Om Shanti Once upon a Time in Bollywood." Read what the Austin American Statesman had to say about this production.



Follow Prakash on Twitter @PrakashMohandas

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Selena Offenberg, Ballet Instructor

Selena Offenberg is originally from Munich, Gemany, and enjoyed a 14 year professional career; Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden and Nuremberg City Ballet, Germany; Paul Henry Dance Company, London; Concert Dance Theater, Munich; Michael Mao Dance and Dance Imprints, NYC.

Selena worked with choreographers Royston Maldoom of the Scottish Ballet and Mauricio Wainroth of Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal. She also trained with Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv; Ballet Rambert and Michael Clark in London; David Parsons and Alvin Ailey School in NYC. In the fashion industry,

Selena was a dance model in fashion shows with Nike, Reebok, Goldwell, Wella, and Mercedes Benz. Selena also worked as a personal trainer with members of the HBO Fitness Center, NYC, and in Miami.

From 2007 to 2013, Selena was ballet mistress, instructor (all ages) and administrative director with the New Mexico Dance Theater School and Performance Company.

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Lauren Parra, Hip Hop and Jazz Funk Instructor
, Kids Hip Hop Instructor
Lauren Parra has danced ever since she could walk. She studied Dance at Skidmore College in Upstate New York, and while at school, Lauren had the opportunity to perform in many shows and to teach dance in the local community.

She has studied an array of styles including Jazz, Hip Hop, Modern, Ballet, Salsa and Tap. Lauren has taught hip hop and jazz in both New York and Austin and has experience teaching all ages. She is originally from Austin, has recently moved back and is excited to be a member of the Ballet Austin family.

 

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Sara Paul, Ballet Instructor
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Sara began her dance training at the Peabody Preparatory under the direction of Carol Bartlett and Barbara Weisberger, founder of the Pennsylvania Ballet. At Peabody, she was a dedicated student of both classical ballet and contemporary dance. She studied in the select Arts for Talented Youth program and received multiple scholarships and awards, including the Sara Glassman Scholarship, support from the Wendy Robinson Memorial Fund, the Peabody Dance Scholarship, and the Performance Award in Dance. Sara spent her summers studying at renowned summer intensive programs at The Washington Ballet, American Ballet Theater, The School of American Ballet, and Ballet Austin. Upon her graduation in 2005, Sara was accepted into Ballet Austin's Professional Trainee Program. In 2006, after just one season in the trainee program, Sara was promoted to Ballet Austin's Second Company. During Sara's two seasons with Ballet Austin, she performed works by Stephen Mills, Thang Dao, Thaddeus Davis, Gina Patterson, and Michelle Thompson. In 2007, Sara became a founding member of New York-based contemporary company Wideman/Davis Dance under the direction of Thaddeus Davis and Tanya Wideman-Davis. Both in New York and on tour, Sara performed principle roles in Davis' Based on Images, Woman, Rock and my Soul, Elida and Twenty Rising, and the Boskett Affair. This 2013-2014 Season, Sara is working with Wideman/Davis Dance on two new works, in addition to other freelance opportunities.

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Elise Pekerak, Pilates & Fitness Instructor
Originally from the Chicago area, Elise began her ballet training with Judith Svalander in Crystal Lake, Illinois. In 2007 she was accepted into Ballet Austin's Trainee Program and moved to Austin to further her dance education. In 2009 Elise joined Ballet Austin II and has just finished her second season as a BAII apprentice and is thrilled to be returning this fall as a company member for the 2011/12 season.

Elise had utilized Pilates as a part of her ballet training and as a means of injury prevention and rehabilitation, but after moving to Austin Elise found a passion for Pilates, fitness and wellness. In 2009, Elise studied with Ann Arnoult and became certified in the D.K. Body Balancing Method of Pilates mat instruction. She is also certified with Balanced Body Pilates. When not dancing, she enjoys running, kickboxing, Pilates reformer classes, and teaching swim lessons. Elise looks forward to working with clients in the Pilates Center, and motivating people through her fitness and conditioning classes to achieve results and improve wellness through movement...all while having fun!

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Madison Piner, Director of the Broadway Kids Camp, Adult Jazz and Musical Theatre Instructor
Madison Piner has studied dance at the Ballet Austin Academy and Butler Community School for 16 years including classes in ballet, jazz, tap and musical theatre. She also studied voice with Dr. Michael McKelvey and was a member of Performers Workshop.

Some of her past musical theatre production credits include Music Man and Carousel with TexARTS, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Assassins, Sweet Charity, The Producers, Legally Blonde, Little Shop of Horrors, SWING and CHICAGO with Summerstock Austin, and The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Celebrate! with Austin Musical Theatre.

Madison performed the roles of Judy in White Christmas, Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, for which she was awarded Best Actress in the UIL Zone competition.

Madison has served as dance captain for numerous musical theatre productions, taught jazz and musical theatre at Ballet Austin's Summer Intensive program, taught Creative Ballet and Pre-Ballet at Ballet Austin Academy, and created and directed The Broadway Kids camps for several years.

Maddie currently attends Oklahoma City University where she is entering her senior year as a dance performance major.

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Joshua Piper, Pianist Cooordinator
In his role as Pianist Coordinator for Ballet Austin, Joshua Piper accompanies dance classes and manages accompanist schedules for the Ballet Austin Company, Ballet Austin Academy, and the Butler Community School. In addition to working for Ballet Austin, Joshua is also the pianist for the Tosca Tango Orchestra, works with the Vintage 15 jazz big band, is staff organist and pianist for Asbury United Methodist Church, plays for Royal Academy of Dance exams, and teaches a small group of piano students ranging from children to adults. A dog-lover and avid runner, in 2011 Joshua completed the Austin Marathon, and one can often find him running along the Town Lake Trail, or at the Auditorium Shores Dog Park with Samantha, his corgi-mix. He holds a BA in Piano Performance from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas.

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LaQuet Pringle, Broadway Jazz Instructor
LaQuet Pringle is a Dallas native who began dancing at the Performing and Visual Arts HS, Dallas Powerhouse of Dance, and The Centre for Dance. She is multi-award winner in dance and a decorated competitive cheerleader and gymnast.

LaQuet attended North Carolina School of the Arts and majored in Modern Dance. From there she began her 10-year career of performing on Broadway.

She has been seen in Broadway/National Tour: Lysistrata Jones (Myhrinne), Memphis The Musical (Ethel), The Lion King, Sweet Charity (Helene U/S perf), Off Broadway: Make Mine Manhattan, Ave Q (Gary Coleman Swing), Regional: Candide (New York City Opera), The Wiz (Dorothy), Aint Misbehavin (Charlaine), Princess-A New Musical, Chicago (Cell Block Tango Girl), Footloose (Wendy Jo U/S Rusty), AIDA, Nights on Broadway III (Vocal Swing), Shrek- The Musical (NY Workshop), Jawbreaker The Musical (Featured), Caty Bridgewater A Musical (Caty Bridgewater) Television/Film: As the World Turns( Hair Stylist), Step Up 3 (Tango Dancer). Industrials: Mary Kay, Viacom, and Bloomberg Enterprises.

Her fun and energetic personality will keep you coming back for more!

 

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Magdalena Riley, Ballet Instructor
Magdalena Riley was born in Leszno, Poland fifteen minutes after her fraternal twin sister, Maria. She grew up in Baltimore where she started training at the Peabody Conservatory which offered the RAD curriculum and at the Baltimore School for the Arts. At Peabody and BSA she had the good fortune of studying under many talented and dedicated teachers and also had the opportunity to perform in many original and restaged works by the likes of Gus Solomons Jr., Lisa De Rebiere, David Grenke, Hinton Battle, Anton Wilson, Ron Cunningham, Jon Clifford, and David Parsons to name a few. After a year spent at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts she gave up dancing for a bit and eventually earned a BA in at the New College of Florida where she focused on American literature and philosophy. She also picked up her Ballet studies with Pavel Fomin at the Sarasota Ballet. Magdalena spent eight years in San Francisco taking class with wonderful teachers such as Augusta Moore, Arturo Fernandez, and Summer Lee Rhatigan. While there she performed in the work of Robert Moses, Yannis Andoniou and Arturo Fernandez, and spent two home seasons performing with Alonzo King's Lines Ballet. She started teaching upon relocating to Austin and deeply enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with students of all ages.

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Ande Taylor, CardioPop! Dance Fitness Instructor
Ande has a BAS in Health and Exercise Science from the University of Oklahoma. She is also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor and has over 8 years of fitness training instruction.

Ande's high energy and enthusiasm will keep you moving and having fun during her dance fitness class at Ballet Austin.

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Carla Wright, Adult Beginning Ballet Instructor
Carla Wright received her training at the renowned Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary. In 2000, she joined Pacific Northwest Ballet's Professional Division program on a full scholarship, performing in many PNB productions. Carla began teaching at Ballet Austin Academy in 2005.

She has also taught adults and children of all ages at the Ballet Performing Arts Center in El Paso, Texas, and has enjoyed teaching ballet and Ballet Fit at Ballet Austin's Butler Community School. One of her favorite classes to teach is Absolute Beginning Ballet for adults.

 

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Terri Lynn Wright, Ballet Instructor
Ms. Wright received her early training with Barbara Carson and Stanley Hall in Austin, Texas. She studied with Robert Joffrey, Patricia Wilde, Kristen Ralov, Kirsten Simone, and Peter Appel during summers in the U.S. and Europe. Ms. Wright began her professional dance career in Wiesbaden, Germany, followed by ten years with the North Carolina Dance Theatre where she became principal dancer as well as an assistant to director Salvatore Aiello.

She enjoyed Dance Theatre's diverse repertoire that included works by choreographers such as Salvatore Aiello, Oscar Ariaz, George Balanchine, August Bournonville, Bill Evans, Lambros Lambrou, Luk de Layress, Robert Lindgren, Lar Lubovich, Susan McKee-McCullough, Elisa Monte, Vincente Nebrada, Marius Petipa, Helgi Tomasson, Mel Tomlinson, Norbert Vesak, Mauricio Wainrot and Alvin Ailey. Leading roles performed in Balanchine's Allegro Brillante, Scotch Symphony, Glinka Pas de Trois, Pas de Dix and Valse Fantasie were coached by Melissa Hayden and Marina Eglevsky.

Ms. Wright has taught master classes while touring with NCDT throughout the U.S. and Europe, for summer sessions at North Carolina School of the Arts, and was a guest teacher at the Arts Magnet School in Dallas. She continues to help care for works choreographed by the late Mr. Aiello.

As a teacher, Ms. Wright's methods evolve with Ballet Austin, the students' needs and the ever increasing demands put upon the professional dancer.


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