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.
Hip Hop & Funky Jazz
Michelle Wentworth aka ‘Mimi’ 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. She was also the hip-hop director at her childhood studio and has loved watching her students grow into amazing performers that still inspire her today. Since moving to Phoenix, 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, and just finished her first season dancing for the Phoenix Suns APS Solar Squad. As a member of The Janet Project you can currently see Michelle performing in American Icons Live in Chandler, soon to be featured at Wild Horse Pass Resort & Casino.
Suzy Guarino has been busy in the dance and entertainment business for more than 20 years. Originally from Chicago, she now resides in Phoenix AZ. Suzy started her dance training in Chicago and studied at Gus Giordano and Lou Conte. She has trained with some of the best master tap teachers in the country including Jason Samuels Smith, Mark Goodman, Gregg Russell, Dianne Walker, Mark Mendonca and many others. Suzy has taught tap on the convention circuit for Dance Educator’s of America, Focus Dance Conventions, Star Systems, Mark Goodman’s Totally Tap, Dance RAW and N-House Productions. She is also a regional and national dance competition adjudicator for Spotlight Dance Cup, In10sity Dance and Star Systems. She has done choreography for several benefit shows for the Juvenile Diabetes, Caitlin Robb Foundation and Mercedes Benz. She’s the owner of a tap production company called Rhythm Essence Productions. Her tap group, Tap 24.7, has done numerous guest performances for different events and concerts, as well as several tap festivals. She enjoys teaching around the country as a master tap teacher to many studios, and inspiring tap students of all ages. Her choreography is rhythmic, energetic and cutting edge while mixing in modern music. She excels as a teacher, understanding many levels and breaking down steps and technique that is easy to understand.
Ballet, Acro & Combo
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.
Ballet, Tech & Stretch
Elizabeth Smedley trained at Tempe Dance Academy, School of Ballet Arizona, and Miami City Ballet School. Also, on scholarship she attended summer intensive programs at The San Francisco Ballet School, The School of American Ballet, and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell. Elizabeth has danced with Ballet Arizona, and danced with Miami City Ballet for five seasons. While dancing with MCB she toured to Los Angeles, Vail, CO, New York City, Chicago, and Paris.
Combo, Lyrical & Tech
Kayla started dance when she was 7 years old. One class quickly multiplied into eight classes within a few years. She danced competitively for 5 years under Antoine Olds and Ambur Towns and last year she became the first graduating senior of the Soul Shock dance company. She’ll be attending ASU in the fall to pursue her Elementary Education degree. Kayla is so happy to have the opportunity to take a step up from dancer to teacher as dance has always been her number one passion.