Anna Barker was introduced to Pilates during college, as a strengthening and supportive tool for her dance career. She went on to receive her Pilates Mat Certification in 2009 and taught in Philadelphia and New York City for 5 years. Anna moved back home to Durham, where she received the Pilates apparatus/equipment certification at InsideOutBodyTherapies, and currently teaches at several local studios. She is fascinated by the healing and reconstructive elements of Pilates and has used the system to combat her own dance-related injuries. Anna is thrilled to share her movement experiences in her classes, while not taking herself too seriously!
Cristal Chinchayan was born and raised in Trujillo, Peru and has lived in the Raleigh area for the last ten years. She is trained in modern dance and Afro Peruvian folklore and has been training and teaching samba for the last several years. She serves as assistant director for the NC Brazilian Arts Project and currently travels throughout the east coast performing and showcasing Samba No pe´ at various festivals and events.
ShaLeigh Comerford Fairbanks
ShaLeigh Comerford Fairbanks is a dancer, choreographer and artistic director of ShaLeigh Dance Works in Durham, NC. She is a graduate of Hollins University with a Master’s degree in Visual and Performing Arts. Comerford was a principle dancer with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre; she also apprenticed with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and has performed with Keigwin & Company, Tina Croll & Company, the Dendy Dance Theater, Carolina Ballet, Martha Clarke, Rosie Herrera, as well as a restaging of Batsheva Dance Company’s Minus Sixteen. Comerford’s choreography and commissions have been presented throughout the United States and abroad. Her contemporary choreography The Within was selected by the World Ballet Competition International to be featured alongside of Momix and several other award-winning dancers and choreographers in the 2014 Gala.
Christina Conley began dancing at age three, focusing her training on jazz, tap, and modern. She holds a BA in modern dance from the George Washington University and is certified in yoga, Pilates mat, and Pilates apparatus. Christina has taught in the Triangle since 2006 and has performed with Killian Manning, Ava Vinesett, for the UNC-G graduate dance department, and recently at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. She also practices massage therapy in Chapel Hill.
Tracey Durbin recently moved to Durham from Portland, OR, where she has been an integral part of the Portland dance scene for 25 years. She has choreographed and taught for Northwest Dance Project, BodyVox Dance, Oregon Ballet Theater and Reed College. Most recently, Tracey was one of four choreographers chosen for the Northwest Dance Project ‘Chopin Project’ with acclaimed pianist Yekwon Sunwoo and she is also a featured artist in the book ‘Beauty Is Experience: Dancing 50 and Beyond’ published by Stance on Dance in 2017.
Rachelle Feldman grew up studying and performing ballet at Maryland Youth Ballet with national acclaimed teacher Hortensia Fonseca, and modern dance with Anne Waugh Allan among others . She also served as Ballet Mistress for Columbia Dance Theater and taught creative movement, modern dance, and ballet to children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Dramatic Arts – Dance at the University of California, Berkeley where she received the Julia Payne Award for Dance Scholarship and Choreography. Rachelle danced for various modern choreographers in the San Francisco Bay Area and taught ballet and contemporary classes for adults at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center before moving to Durham in late 2016.
Isabelle Frame originally began her dance studies at Beckley Dance Theatre in West Virginia. She continued her training in Durham, North Carolina with the Durham School for Ballet and the Performing Arts under the direction of Boleyn Willis-Zeger where she starred in countless storybook ballets. Isabelle was also accepted to attended summer training programs at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Arizona. She has performed as the corps de ballet with Charlotte Ballet Company and received leading roles with the Charlotte Ballet Academy. Her favorite dancing roles include Polly in Pineapple Poll, Wendy in Peter Pan, the title role in Cinderella and Little Mermaid, and lead soloist in Yamato. She has been invited to work alongside choreographer Tracey Durbin at the ADF Samuel Scripps Studios on various choreographic projects and as a guest artist in the Wake Forest Dance Festival in the cast of Danzon, choreographed by renowned choreographer Pedro Ruiz. She also has studied and performed a variety of contemporary repertory rooted in the research of Shaga and the Gaga Movement Language as well as William Forsythe’s Improvisation Technologies under the direction of ShaLeigh Comerford.
Laura Grant is a movement-based performer and educator based in Durham, NC. After 15 years away (in MN and NYC), moved back home to the Triangle in 2017. Laura has been mindfully moving since age 3, studying various modern dance, somatic, and improvisational forms, and performing as a professional contemporary dancer in NYC and Minneapolis. Laura holds an MS in Education from Bank Street College (NYC) with a focus on early development, as well as certifications in adult yoga, youth yoga, and infant developmental movement. She has been teaching students ages birth-adult since 2006. Laura’s movement and teaching practices are deeply intertwined and help her cultivate deep listening, empathy, embodied intelligence, compassion towards herself and others, curiosity, and a strong sense of play..
Jeanie “Marisol” Ibañez
Jeanie “Marisol” Ibañez has a life-long love of dance, studying ballet and dancing in musicals and summer stock while at university. She has choreographed and danced for the Kansas City and Orlando Lyric Operas, as well as for Epcot Center and other venues. Her flamenco and Spanish dance studies began in NYC at Ballet Hispanico. She has studied in Spain with Milagros Mengibar, Raphael Campallo, Isabel Quintero, and in the U.S. with Carlota Santana, Belen Maya, Anna Menendez, Carmela Greco, and others. Jeanie endeavors to share her enjoyment of the dance with her students.
Emylice Landestoy hails from the Dominican Republic, where she trained from an early age in a variety of dance styles, including ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern and contemporary. She moved to NYC in 2011 and earned her BA in Dance with a minor in Exercise Science from CUNY Lehman College. While in college Emylice trained intensively in Katherine Dunham technique of Afro-Caribbean dance and was awarded numerous awards and scholarships. She performed and presented work in NYC and also worked as a Dance Specialist at the Y.
Laylianah Mahasin has been devoted to the art of Belly Dance for over 11 years. She has studied many styles of belly dance with world-renowned instructors, and is excited to share her knowledge and passion with her students. Laylianah emphasizes the importance of correct technique, while providing a fun and supportive atmosphere for students who are just discovering what amazing belly dancers they can be!
Nicolette (Nicki) Miller
Nicolette (Nicki) Miller studied ballet, tap, and jazz as a young girl and later focused primarily on ballet and modern. She studied at the Virginia School of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. Nicki has performed with several Triangle-area dance companies, including ShaLeigh Dance Works.
Anthony (AJ) Nelson, Jr.
Anthony Nelson, Jr. (“Ay-Jaye”) is a Durham performer, choreographer, and instructor. He began his dance training at Hillside Performing Arts High School and has since branched out, broadening his movement vocabulary and technique with a focus on modern movement, release technique, hip-hop, and jazz influenced styles. Ay-Jaye has performed works for Chris Grant, renowned choreographer for Beyoncé, Christian Von Howard of The Von Howard Project New York, ShaLeigh Dance Works (Jazz at Lincoln Theatre NY), and has performed around the Triangle with various independent dance organizations. He continues to instruct, perform, and create art to build deeper bonds and uplift his community.
Kathleen O’Melia started tap dancing at the age of 12 with her teacher and mentor Gene Medler. She is an alumna of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble and an active member of the Southern Open Rhythm Collective Leadership group. She loves sharing her passion for tap with her students.
Steven James Rodriguez Velez
Steven James Rodriguez Velez hails from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, where he began his movement studies with the martial arts. While a student at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, he studied ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance intensively and performed and choreographed with HINCAPIE and ANDANZA dance companies. Steven came to the Triangle area in 2015 and has been teaching both children and adults at local studios. He performs with several area dance companies, including Black Irish, Blackbox Dance Theater, and OM Grown Dancers.
Nischitha Shetty is a well-known Bollywood choreographer in the Triangle. Her experience spans over 20 years, and she has been teaching dance for the last 10 years. She was introduced to Indian classical, folk and Bollywood dance styles at a young age. Her passion for Bollywood kept on growing because of the versatility it offers. She choreographs and performs regularly at various events – from small private parties to big international festivals. She likes to incorporate different dance styles like Indian folk, Indian classical, contemporary and hip-hop into her dance routine. She works well with adults, children and dancers of all levels. Her classes are clearly structured, well researched and fun!
Saydenu Tukan received her Bachelors of Arts in Dance, with a concentration in performance and choreography, from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. While at UNCC she intensively studied ballet (Vaganova technique) and modern dance techniques such as Graham, Horton, Limon and Dunham. She also studied Latin dance, traditional West African dance and Improvisational movement among many other techniques. Since graduation Saydenu has taught in gymnastics schools, public schools, universities and private dance studios in Charlotte and the Triangle area; she specializes in dances of the African Diaspora.
Jose Velasquez grew up dancing, but it wasn’t until high school that he attended his first hip-hop class. Largely self-taught since then, he has had the honor of opening for several big events, including The Gospel Choice Awards in Atlanta, 102 Jams Super Summer Jam, KC and Jojo and New Edition, and more.
Erika Bianca Vinson
Erika Bianca Vinson began performing hip-hop with Pamoja Dance Company at The University of Georgia. She continued her training with Culture Shock Chicago NFP, through which she met and began touring with recording artist Kid Sister. She has performed in several music videos, international festivals, and on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC). Erika has been an EC Behavioral TA in Chapel Hill for the past two years. She has been a dance teacher for five years and a kids’ dance instructor for one year.