Dallas native Elif Tuzer has been teaching classical ballet for the past seventeen years. Her education started with her parents, professional ballet dancers Pat and Tanju Tuzer at the age three. Tuzer Dancenter, their studio, has been educating students in Richardson, Texas for forty years.
She went on to study with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kirov Academy and Ballet West. She has performed many ballets including Swan Lake, Coppelia, La Bayadere, Les Sylphides, Serenade, Giselle and La Vivandiere. She earned a B.A. in English from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina and enjoys writing in her spare time. Elif looks forward to meeting new students and families this year!
Lauren Hawkins was born in Austin, TX and primarily trained at The Austin City Ballet, formerly known as The Austin Conservatory of the Arts. She has been dancing for over 20 years, and has attended summer intensives at The Virginia School of the Arts, Houston Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and Ballet Austin. She has trained with the Richmond Ballet in their Trainee program, and performed with their company in their annual Nutcracker, Stoner Winslett’s Windows, Malcolm Burn’s Romeo and Juliet and George Balanchine’s Who Cares?. While dancing with Ballet Lubbock, she was offered a teaching position, which is how she discovered her love for teaching dance. Lauren graduated from Texas State University with a degree in English and Mass Communications, and currently is the head of Marketing at Movin’ Easy Dancewear, and performs with Austin Metamorphosis Dance Ensemble as a resident artist.
Zeke Zimmerman has studied the art of tap dance for 19 years in Austin, TX. He’s had the pleasure of studying at Tapestry Dance Company under a number of talented tap dancers such Acia Gray, Nicholas Young, Jason Janas, Matthew Shield, and many others. He is a graduate of the McCallum Fine Arts Academy where he majored in dance. He also apprenticed with Tapestry’s Professional Company from 2014-16 seasons where he appeared in the shows “Of Mice and Music: A Jazz Tap Nutcracker” and “In Your Shoes” under the direction of Acia Gray, and has performed in the 2015 Soul to Sole festival. He has performed and collaborated with a number of Austin musicians and groups including Tina Marsh & The Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Dr. James Polk and Centerpiece, Alex Coke, Randy Zimmerman, and many others.
Sarah Sofia Cantoran
Sam is an Austin native who found his passion for dance when he was 10 years old. He spent 6 years training at a local studio and competed on a pre-professional dance company. During these years Sam attended many dance conventions and competitions and received numerous awards including 2 National titles and 4 Regional titles. He has also received scholarships from Jump, 24 Seven, Radix, Hollywood Connection, the Streetz, NYCDA, Tremaine, Velocity, WCDE, Adrenaline, NRG, Revive, and AMDA. In addition, Sam received scholarships to train at Steps on Broadway, the EDGE PAC, Complexions, Summer Dance Sessions, and Trans4m.
Sam is a versatile dancer who is trained in Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, Ballet, Ballroom, and Tap. He has learned from many top professional choreographers and helped teach young dancers of all ages and levels. Sam has had the opportunity to travel across the country as a Company Assistant to the faculty touring with 7 national dance conventions including Adrenaline, Revive, the Streetz, NRG, Tremaine, the Pulse, and Dance League. He is currently on faculty at NEXT GEN Dance Intensive.
Sam is passionate about creating. His choreography has won several Judge’s Choice, Technique, and Choreography awards at Jump, NUVO, Showstopper, Platinum, Celebrity, and Top 10 Dance Challenge. One of his biggest honors was winning the National Title of Teen Mr. Adrenaline in 2016 with his Self-Choreographed solo. In 2017, another of Sam’s solos won 1st Overall at Nationals at Dancearchy Ultimate Dance Challenge. He creates pieces for other dancers as well and has choreographed college dance solos that have been accepted into Marymount Manhattan, Julliard, University of Arizona, and USC Kaufman. Another very proud moment came in 2018 when one of his students won 1st Overall at Rainbow National Dance Competition with the solo he choreographed for her.
Upon graduation Sam plans to study Dance and Statistics in college. When he’s not dancing, Sam enjoys listening to music, playing with his 2 dogs, traveling, spending time with his friends and family, and serving in his community.
Jesee Smart is originally from Chicago, IL. She has studied dance for more than 20 years under various professionals including Lisa Boehm (Ballet), Frank Boehm (Jazz), Randall Newsom (Ballet, Graham Technique), Judith Chitwood (Ballet, Horton Technique), Paula Frasz (Modern, Tap, Musical Theatre), Karen Williamson (Ballet, Modern), Lila Dole (Spanish), Danny Herman (Broadway Jazz, Tap), Rocker Verastique (Broadway Jazz), Kenney DeCamp (Jazz, Performance), and Joel Hall (Jazz).
Jesee moved to Austin in 2006 after graduating from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management (Human Resources) and a Bachelor of the Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Education. She currently choreographs and performs in and around Austin, including multiple performances per year at the Georgetown Palace Theatre. She is the Company Manager for the Youth Performance Company at the Palace as well.
Jesee taught ballet, pointe, modern, tap, and jazz for ten years prior to moving to Austin. She was a founding member of the award winning competition group “Petite Feet” with DancEncounter in Geneva, IL. While attending Northern Illinois University, Jesee was the director and producer of Art for Life, an AIDS benefit concert including all of the visual and performing arts. It was associated with Dance for Life in Chicago to benefit those artists living with and dying from AIDS.
People have asked me why I chose to be a dancer. I did not choose. I was chosen to be a dancer, and with that, you live all your life.
Originally from Orlando, Fl, Laura graduated from University of South Florida with her B.F.A. in modern dance performance in 2015. During her college career she had the opportunity to travel to France to study, dance, and choreograph in the USF Dance in Paris Program and the International Dance Festival in Trinidad and Tobago. After graduation Laura continued her training in summer programs with Robert Moses Kin, Repertory Dance Theatre, and Bodytraffic. During her remaining time in Florida she was a member of Red Right Return Dance Company where she performed at the annual Orlando International Fringe Festival. She then traveled to Maine to collaborate with Susan Douglas Roberts, Artistic Director of wildgoosechasedance, and dancer Alex Masi to launch its choreography project of the summer. Laura recently moved to Austin from Bloomington, IN where she collaborated with Stephanie Nugent Dance. Since moving to Austin she has performed in projects with Blipswitch, NunaMaana, Jennifer Sherburn’s 11:11:08, and Empty Maps Collective in this years Revolve: Movement Display.
Michelle Barfield has been dancing since the age of two, consistently training in various styles. Growing up, she trained under Quinton Weathers with Rise Dance Company in Round Rock, Texas. She had the opportunity to learn from choreographers all around the world, bringing fresh perspectives and styles into her learning process. After graduating high school, Michelle moved out to Los Angeles to pursue her career as a dancer and choreographer. While in LA, she danced under and worked with leading and emerging choreographers such as Jason Gorman, Mitchel Federan, Baden Silva, and got the opportunity to perform in Andrew Winghart’s concept video “Cry Me a River”. In addition to that, she was accepted into the Gypsy Project lead by Erica Sobol, where she got to delve into the world of concert dance, choreography, and even a bit of philosophy. Now, she’s back in Austin not only to share her love and knowledge that she’s gained from exploring the dance industry, but is hoping to continually learn from her students. Michelle believes highly in the concept that dance offers endless growth and exploration, which draws inspiration into her work and life.
Maddie began dancing at the age of 4 at Round Rock Repertory Dance Centre. She joined their Junior Performing Troupe at the age of 8 and was a member of their Senior Performing Company for 7 years. She has also trained in summer programs at Ballet Austin with Jamie Lynn Witts, Ian Bethany, and Bill Piner. For the past 3 years, she has studied under Randall Flynn, Shizu Yasuda, Vincent Hardy, Durrell Comedy, the amazing Steve Rooks, and the Ad Deum Dance Company at multiple dance intensives and master classes in Houston, and this year will begin taking regular classes with the Ad Deum dancers to enhance her technique training. Maddie received the “Innovative Concept” award for her duet choreography in 2017 at the Act 1 Dance Competition. She is currently a company dancer and choreographer with The Dance Project.
Ryia Martin first started dancing at the YMCA at the age of 5 where she took ballet for a year then was recommended to attend Round Rock Repertory, where she is currently enrolled. She has been dancing at RRRDC for about 11 years and was on the Rock Stars, now Emerge, team in 2015. She started with a ballet class taught by Julie Roper, RRRDC’s previous owner, then took tap from Chris Barfield. She has taken and passed Cecchetti levels 1-3 in the last 4 years under the instruction of Ms. Diedre Russell Robinson. She has taken rhythmic tap, Broadway tap, ballet, pointe, lyrical, modern, and jazz at RRRDC. Her ultimate dance goal is to tap with Tapestry Dance Company and Academy.
In 2015 she taught tap and ballet at Grace Covenant Church for the Round Rock Homeschool Group. She is currently an assistant at Carnival of the Arts with Ms. Ann Powell. Now in the 12th grade, Ryia has been homeschooled all her life and is in her fifth semester of classes at Austin Community College (ACC) in a program called Early College High School for Homeschoolers. Upon graduating high school with her Associates degree, she plans on transferring to the University of Texas at Austin to major in English and Dance. She plans on continuing to teach and would like to become a private tap teacher for students of all ages.
Joshua began his dance training at Cal State University, Fullerton. He was a member of CSUF’s Dance Repertory Theatre and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance in 2008. His experience in dance, music, and arts evolved through his dance memberships and trainings with Palindrome Dance Company, RhetOracle Dance Company, BARE Dance Company, Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company. He also worked with artists of Limon Dance Company, Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and choreographer Victor Kabaniev. Joshua is the founder and artistic director of FUSE Dance Company based in Orange, CA. They have been sharing their movement throughout California as well as, Austin TX, Boston MA, NYC, and Seattle WA. He currently shares his passion as an instructor/choreographer to all dance students of California State University Fullerton, Mount San Antonio College, Orange County School of the Arts and Santa Ana College. Joshua received his Masters in Dance in June of 2017, from the University of California, Irvine.
Dorrell Martin is founder of the jazz and contemporary dance program, LÉON Dance Arts that is associated with LÉON Contemporary Dance Company NY, of which Martin is the Artistic Director. Mr. Martin, a native of Houston, TX, the creator/director of the Jazz and Contemporary Program at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. He is also former Artistic Director of Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and Center.
Martin has a solid training and performance background. He was a soloist for the national and international touring company “A Few Good Men Dancin” and has danced in shows such as Aida, West Side Story, Lion King, Swing and appeared in the movie ENCHANTED. Martin has also performed with many professional companies, including Arch Dance, Locke Contemporary Dance, Houston Grand Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and Richard Rivera’s PHYSUAL as well as Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular, just to name a few. He has performed in venues such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance, Joyce SoHo, Blaktino at BAAD in the Bronx, Riverside Theatre and American Dance Festival with some of New York’s emerging choreographers. Martin appeared on the talk show THE VIEW with singer Emma Bunton of the Spice Girls. He has performed with recording artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna and Debra Cox.
Martin has taken his experiences of working with such notable artists/choreographers as Sean Curran, Daniel Ezralow, Kevin Wynn, Liz Imperio, Pattie Obey, Margo Sappington and Mat Eks among others, to explore and find his own voice in movement. As a teacher, choreographer and director, Martin teaches jazz dance and contemporary dance throughout the country and has set works on colleges, universities, dance companies and schools, such as Belhaven College, Hope College, Lamar University, Muhlenberg College, Harrison High School in Michigan, Urban Soul Dance Company, SET Contemporary dance, High School Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, TX, Ballet Forte TX and St. John School just to name a few.