JANICE STERN / ACROBATIC DIRECTOR
Mrs. Janice Stern has been teaching acrobatics and dance for over twenty years. A native of New Jersey, she resided in North Carolina for ten years where she owned and operated a dance and gymnastics studio before relocating to Orlando. She received her training at the Dance Educators of America Teachers Training school at the University of Kentucky, Central Piedmont Community College, and North Carolina School of the Arts. Janice has coached numerous students to receive top overall awards and achieve careers in dance performance and education. She has received national recognition as Top Choreographer for Acrobatic Dance and is one of the initial Star System Dance Teachers Hall of Fame Inductees. She has previously performed in a USO troop and many theater productions as well as serving as the talent adviser and a board member for Miss America Preliminary Pageant. She is credited with establishing a talent search program in conjunction with her community arts council.
MELISSA RUIZ / HIP-HOP DIRECTOR
Melissa Ruiz was born and raised in Miami, FL where she began dancing at the age of 4 and continued her training in Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop and Modern throughout her school years. She began choreographing and teaching at the age of 18 and later moved to Orlando, FL. Melissa has danced for many recording artists and has done performances for MTV, Nickelodeon Studios, FME Magazine, McDonalds, Miller Beer and Surf Expo worldwide conventions. In addition, she has choreographed for NBA’s Orlando Magic Dancers, Orlando Predators, FSU's Golden Girls, countless dance studios and high school dance teams throughout the country. Her choreography has won numerous choreography awards and national titles. She currently teaches and choreographs in Jazz, Contemporary and Hip Hop, along with directing 5 Hip Hop competition teams in the Central Florida area. Now at the age of 33, Melissa is a traveling master class instructor and choreographer who is determined to expand her career.
SAVANNAH BLASS / COMPETITION DIRECTOR
Ms. Savannah Blass has been dancing for 22 years and teaching for 8. Growing up as a competitive dancer, she has had the opportunity to study from well known choreographers in both New York and Los Angeles. She is a graduate from University of Central Florida, where she received a degree in Advertising/Public Relations, and was one of the first students accepted into the University's dance program. After graduating in 2009, Savannah decided to follow her dreams and pursue her passion in choreography and teaching. She is now one of the most sought out teachers in the Central Florida area. Her work has been recognized both regionally and nationally for top choreography, top scoring, and most valuable performance. Savannah just started up her own costume design and dance apparel company, Savy Stagewear, which truly brings her visions to life on stage as well as in the classroom. Ms. Savannah's goal is to instill hard work and passion onto her students.
Mrs. Katrina Judy grew up dancing in Orlando where she studied ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, tap, and acrobatics. She received a bachelor of Science degree in Dance from Jacksonville University and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance from Florida State University. During college, Katrina performed with the Jacksonville Ballet Theater, Florida Ballet Theater, and the Tallahassee Ballet Company. For the past seven years, Katrina has been teaching dance in Orlando and plans to do so for many years to come.
Miss Sahmi started at UPAC as a company member for 9 years. She left to attend college at Florida State University and graduated with a bachelors in Art Education. She then went on to get a culinary degree in Baking and moved back to Orlando. Miss Sahmi came back to teach at UPAC and has been teaching Jazz classes as well as Mini Troupe Dance Company for two years now. Since her time teaching Company, Miss Sahmi has won awards for her competition numbers, including the prestigious Teacher Award for her mini duet, Jump.
Miss Patricia Marquez began dancing at a very early age. There she was a member of the Performing Artist Company in which she participated in numerous presentations and dance conventions. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Psychology and Public Relations. She is a choreographer for the Psi Mu chapter of Chi Omega sorority and has choreographed the Christmas show for St. Mary Magdellan Catholic Church.
Ms. Kaleigh Barry has been dancing for 21 years and grew up dancing at UPAC as a competition team dancer for 11 years. After high school she went on to dance professionally at The Walt Disney World Resort in multiple shows at the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom and was featured on ABC’s Christmas Day Parade. After dancing at Disney for three years, Kaleigh was offered a contract with Royal Caribbean Cruise lines as a featured dancer. She went on to dance on two ships with Royal Caribbean performing styles such as, jazz, hip hop, ballroom, partnering, ballet, and lyrical, and has toured over 30 countries around the world. Kaleigh has returned to UPAC to teach and choreograph for the dance company as well as teach jazz, tap, and preschool classes at the studio.
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