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!
M. Clayton Barrier
M. Clayton Barrier is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and a Durham native. During his matriculation at NCCU, he was a valued performer in both Theater and Dance. Clayton has trained in a wide variety of dance techniques and has created over 50 choreographic works. He is currently a musical theater, fitness and dance teacher at Longleaf School of the Arts in Raleigh, NC.
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.
Rebecca Conley began tap dancing with Gene Medler at age 7 and is an alumna of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble. She has been teaching different styles of dance, including Irish step and tap, to children and adults for more than 20 years.
Lauren Deisenroth has pursued a love of dance for over twenty years and has been studying the Pilates method for more than a decade. A certified Pilates Mat instructor, she feels that the method benefits the well being of both dancers and non-dancers alike. Lauren now has an additional love in her life: baby Olivia!
Michelle Draughon has trained with Latino professionals from all over the country and has been teaching since 1993; she has appeared in hundreds of events and on local television.
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.
Caroline Dyar is a Green and Black Belt Nia teacher who was introduced to Nia in 1999 and began her teaching journey in 2008. Her Nia practice guides her to be aware of sensation, to open her mind to endless possibilities, to allow emotions to flow and release, and to listen to and embrace her unique spirit. Caroline delights in applying what she has learned from Nia to every aspect of her life, and she loves to share the Joy with everybody! Contact Caroline and read the story of her Nia journey by visiting her NiaNow profile: http://www.nianow.com/carolinia
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.
Bernadine Fields has trained in dance styles ranging from hip hop, ballet, pointe, jazz, West African, lyrical, and modern. She has been teaching and performing for over 12 years. She studied modern dance at NC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and went on to receive her degree in Dance Education at UNC-G. Bernadine is currently the dance director and department chair for the performing arts at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability. As a performer, she has done work for Disney, TLC network, Fox, and 2 movies. Bernadine is the founder of NC Underground, which provides quality training and performance opportunities for dancers of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Melissa Godwin has been working with children age six weeks to six years for more than a decade. A preschool teacher for twelve years, she grew up dancing and always loved incorporating music and movement into her classrooms; she is excited to bring that play into the dance studio. Melissa is also a certified ChildLight Yoga and Mindfulness for Children instructor.
Laura Grant is a movement-based educator and performer who has been teaching students ages birth-adult since 2006. After 15 years away (in MN and NYC), she recently moved back home to the Triangle. Laura holds certifications in adult yoga, youth yoga, and infant developmental movement, and is currently pursuing an MS in Education at Bank Street College (NYC). She has been mindfully moving since age 3, studying various modern dance, somatic, and improvisational forms, and she has performed as a professional contemporary dancer in NYC and Minneapolis. Laura’s youngest students keep her curious, playful, compassionate, patient, and present, for which she is immensely grateful.
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.
Steven James 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.
LeBrandi Johnson is a North Carolina native and a graduate of NC State University with a Degree in Education. As well as being a current member of the African American Dance Ensemble, she is also a corporate Zumba instructor and a teaching artist for the Durham Public School System through the CAPS program. A few career highlights include: performing a piece titled, “Common Ground”, choreographed by renowned choreographer, Ronald K. Brown at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C, performing at Madonna’s “Material Girl” clothing line launch at Macy’s in New York city, traveling with Baba Chuck Davis, Founder of Dance Africa, the Chuck Davis Dance Company and the African American Dance Ensemble to Cuba for a cultural exchange program, and most recently appearing on VH1’s Holiday Special featuring Hip Hop Celebrity Rappers Remy Ma and Papoose.
Diandra Jones recently returned to the states from a ten year residence in the Virgin Islands and Ghana. She was an internationally ranked competitive Irish Step dancer before touring North America and Europe for five years. With a BA in English Education and an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Diandra has studied a wide variety of dance styles, including Soca, West African, Latin, Hawaiian Hula, Belly Dance, Bhangra, Flamenco, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, and more. Recently a guest panelist at the International Dance Conference in Barbados, she is currently publishing an essay, The Cultural Dancer, with Cambridge Press. She has guest taught at the University of Dayton, Penn State, University of the West Indies, Mercyhurst University and Gannon University. Diandra has performed, studied and taught around the world. Most recently she founded and produced Long Legs Arts Fest in Tortola, and choreographed and performed for US and British Virgin Islands Carnival troupes. Diandra is also a certified Pilates and 500-hour registered Yoga teacher.
Jessi Knight majored in dance at Duke University; she taught and performed in the Triangle before moving to Denver, Colorado to dance professionally with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. After four years, Jessi moved back to NC, where she has continued to perform and teach at local studios and Duke University.
Laurie LaBean is a certified Blue and Green Belt instructor and a licensed massage therapist who has been studying health and healing for the last 9 years. When she began dancing Nia®, she realized the incredible power Nia has to heal the body, mind and spirit. In her Nia classes she fosters an environment free of judgment where participants can just have fun!
John Laible has been teaching dance for over 15 years. He loves teaching a wide variety of ballroom dances, including waltz, salsa, swing, tango, shag, and his favorite, bolero. He enjoys encouraging his students as they develop their skills and tailors each class to the needs of those attending.
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.
Raina Lucas is a dance teacher, choreographer, and dance research artist. She received her MFA in dance, with a concentration in choreography, from UNC-G, and a BA in dance and psychology from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. She teaches a variety of dance styles to both adults and children and has taught dance technique and lecture courses at UNC-G and Guilford College. Her latest endeavor has been the founding of her contemporary dance company, the Raina Lucas//Dance Co. & Lab. Raina Lucas//Dance Co. & Lab
Antonio Luna began his dance training in high school and has studied jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and African dance. He has been teaching both kids and adults for the past two years.
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!
Kiera Manna began studying ballet intensively as a child and performed and toured with a number of ballet companies on the West Coast. She has been teaching adults and children for 16 years and is an ABT® (American Ballet Theater) Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 3 since 2011. Kiera is also a certified yoga teacher.
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.
Jasson Phillips has been dancing and teaching West Coast Swing for many years and competes on the national circuit.
Lavesh Pritmani began teaching Bhangra in North Carolina in 2006 and was soon performing, winning competitions, and helping to establish Bhangra teams across North America. In 2015, he launched the Learn Bhangra app, which currently reaches over 100,000 weekly users. He travels frequently to conduct international Bhangra workshops and judges international dance competitions. Lavesh was invited to perform and teach at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in 2017 was asked to join the faculty at New York City’s renowned Broadway Dance Center.
Carol Ryner taught movement and martial arts for seventeen years, and has also studied a variety of partner dances. A long-time and beloved social dance instructor at NInth Street Dance, she says that dance is her passion and that she teaches with the belief that “if you can walk, you can dance.
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!
Travis "Skitz" Simmons
Travis “Skitz” Simmons has had a longtime passion for dance. A student at NCCU, he has studied and performed with Kristi Vincent Johnson (Director of Triangle Dance Project), Avis Hatcher-Puzzo (Director of Koffee Dance Company), and Ryan “Native” Taylor (Young Bulleyex). Travis’ goal is to continue learning and growing so that he can “aspire to inspire.”
Cristina Velasquez studied with Hannan Sultan and has performed with Hannan’s student/professional dance troupe “Zohour al Sultan”. She has assisted with belly dance workshops taught by internationally known dancers, including Mohamed Shahin, Tamalyn Dallal, Bozenka, Tito, Camelia, and Yousry Sharif. Cristina currently performs as a soloist at local events, private parties, and venues around the Triangle and continues to study belly dance at workshops abroad.
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.