Phoenix Dance Cooperative » Choreographers
Antoine took his first dance class when he was 18 years old. He has studied under such great teachers/choreographers as Joe Lanteri, A.C Cuila, Joey Dowling, Mark Meismer and Jason Parsons. At the age of 20, Antoine started the dance company Independent Dance Xtreme where he was Artistic Director. His choreography has won numerous High Point awards at both the regional and national levels. At the age of 22 he won a total of 8 choreography awards including one presented by world renowned choreographer Brian Friedman. Antoine’s students have gone on to be professional dancers and have also been featured on Fox’s TV show So You Think You Can Dance. Antoine is one of Arizona’s most requested teacher/choreographers. His passion for teaching is like no other. Antoine continues to teach all over the valley, and is happy to be a part of Phoenix Dance Cooperative.
Ambur Towns is 26 years old and has been working with our dancers for over five years. She has been dancing for 14 years and has been awarded regional as well as national awards to various prestigious studios around the United States. She is trained in areas such as Ballet, Tap, Modern, Character and also Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Lyrical in which she is currently teaching. Ambur graduated in 2008 with a B.A degree in Dance Studies at Arizona State University where she was also apart of the Sun Devil Dance Team.
Astrit received his training from the National School of Albania and the University of Oklahoma, and has been a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Albania, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. He has received several awards, including the Gold Medal in the 1994 Eastern European Ballet Competition in Kazanluk, Bulgaria, and first prize in Albania’s 1995 National Ballet Competition. In 1998, Astrit was a finalist in the Paris International Ballet Competition. His repertoire includes many of his favorite ballets: Lynne Taylor Corbett’s Ballad of You & Me, and Mercury, Donald Byrd’s Subtext Rage, Capricious Night, and Seven Deadly Sins. Hans Van Manen’s Five Tangos, Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Esmeralda, Cinderella, Lambarena, Nacho Duato’s Rassemblement, and George Balanchine’s Agon, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Apollo and Theme and Variations. Since joining Ballet Arizona in 2003 Astrit has originated principal roles in Ib Andersen’s Go With It!, Coppélia, Mosaik, and Play; and danced principal roles in La Sylphide; Ib Andersen’s Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker, Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, and Dwight Rhoden’s Ave Maria. Astrit has made international appearances with National Ballet of Croatia and Jorgen Ballet of Canada.
Tzu-Chia trained at the School of Imperial Eleven Ballet in Taiwan under the direction of Yung-Cheng Huang. With Imperial Eleven Ballet Tzu-Chia danced featured roles in La Bayadére, Esmeralda, and The Dying Swan. She continued her professional training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet; while in Pennsylvania Tzu-Chia performed featured roles in The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire. Tzu-Chia joined Ballet Arizona in 2005, and has since originated featured roles in Ib Andersen’s Preludes and Fugues, Play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1052 and also Diversions which was performed at the Kennedy Center in 2010. Tzu-Chia has also been featured in Les Sylphides, Christoper Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, and Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section. Tzu-Chia’s George Balanchine repertoire includes leading roles in Divertimento No. 15, Stravinsky Violin Concerto,La Sonnambula, Apollo, and La Valse. Tzu-Chia has danced principal roles in Raymonda, Andersen’s Swan Lake, and as Juliet inRomeo and Juliet. Tzu-Chia’s received critical acclaim for her interpretation of the siren in Balanchine’s Prodigal Son by The New York Times in June 2010.
Michelle Wentworth Columbia
Performance Company, Stretch/Conditioning, Hip Hop, Funky Jazz & Jazz
Michelle Wentworth Columbia was born and raised in Flagstaff, AZ where she began dancing at the age of 5. While training in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop she participated in countless conventions and competitions across the country. Michelle truly fell in love with hip-hop when she became a founding member of the Light Vibe Dance Troop that traveled throughout Arizona performing, teaching workshops, and volunteering. Throughout high school she was also the hip-hop team director at her childhood studio. Since moving to Phoenix in 2006, Michelle has taught at numerous studios in the valley, choreographed for several dance/cheer teams at local high schools, and been fortunate enough to train under some of Phoenix’s most talented dancers. Michelle has performed with Flo Rida at the Superbowl’s Apple Bottom Fashion Show, been a member of the ASU Hip Hop Coalition, The Janet Project, and the Phoenix Suns APS Solar Squad. This is Michelle’s fourth year teaching at PDC, and her third year directing the studio’s Performance Company.
Combo and Ballet
Caressa started dancing when she was 4 years old. She enjoyed dance so much she enrolled in many classes learning various dance styles. Soon after that, Caressa became a member of the Performance Team representing the dance studio at local community events. Caressa’s goal of dancing competitively was achieved at the age of 10 and she has competed for 8 years under the direction of Antoine Olds and Ambur Towns. She was awarded Dancer of the Year for the Soul Shock Dance Company for the dance year 2011-2012 and danced in the award winning National Intermediate Grand Champion dance “The End” at the KAR National Dance Competition in July of 2013. Caressa has also been actively involved with Desert
Vista Dance Company for 4 years and served as the Captain of the Desert Vista Elite Dance Company. As captain she experienced teaching and directing other students in dance. Caressa recently graduated from Desert Vista High School and is now attending Grand Canyon University where she is studying Biology with an emphasis in Pre Med. Caressa is proud to be part of the alumni of the Soul Shock Dance Company family and is happy to use her skills of teaching and directing students with dance, while watching them progress in their classes.
Ballet, Acro, Jazz & Tap
Mary has been teaching in Ahwatukee for 28 years, starting with swimming. Then, she progressed to preschool and dance. She danced on Mesa Community College dance team and the Phase 4 dance team. In addition, she taught the Horizon Middle School Cheer team. She loves teaching kids (especially little ones) and watching them progress in their tumbling.
Kelle White Fritz has been involved in acrobatics, tumbling and gymnastics since she was 4 years old. She was the Enrichment Coordinator at the Ahwatukee Foothills YMCA from 2002-2008 teaching tumbling and gymnastics. In 2009 Kelle opened her own tumbling studio, Tumbl-weeds, LLC, in the Ahwatukee Foothills. After a few years she closed Tumbl-weeds due to the business demands which took time away from her very busy family/kids. She has continued to coach tumbling through substitute teaching at PDC and private lessons of previous students. Kelle is happy to join the PDC family to continue coaching what she loves, tumbling/acrobatics.
Combo and Creative Movement
Born and raised in Southern California, Leslie Swanson began dancing at the age of three. Taking classes at various studios in Orange County, she began dancing competitively at the age of 10. Her dedication and strong work ethic helped her to achieve numerous high point awards, scholarships, and title placements.
Leslie has been teaching dance in Ahwatukee since 1995, training dancers of all ages, 2 year olds through adults, and all levels, novice to competitive. In the past four years, she began specializing in combo classes and focusing on younger, more beginning level dancers. Leslie has been proud of her accomplishments at the Ahwatukee YMCA as well as her efforts to enrich children through movement based classes at Family of Christ Learning Center, God’s Garden Child Development Center and Magical Journey Learning Center.
In her free time, you can find Leslie running, biking, swimming, and doing hot yoga. She also enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family.