NDI New Mexico Artistic Staff

Artistic Directors

Liz Salganek, Artistic Director

Liz grew up in Santa Fe, where she trained extensively in ballet, jazz, and modern dance, and performed in professional dance and musical theater productions including performances at the James A. Little, Greer Garson Theater, Santa Fe Playhouse, Center for Contemporary Arts, and other venues. In 1997 she moved to New York and in 2001 she earned her B.A. in Dance from Barnard College of Columbia University in New York City, graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She joined the faculty of the Barnard Dance Department after graduation and danced with several modern dance companies including Buglisi/Foreman Dance, Dana Ruttenberg Dance Group, and others, at venues including the Joyce Theater, Joyce Soho, St. Mark’s Church and Judson Memorial Church. After returning to New Mexico in 2006, she became certified in Pilates and began pursuing dance education. She joined the NDI New Mexico staff in 2006, and has since taught in all NDI New Mexico programs including In-School, Advanced Teams, Afterschool, and Residency programs. Liz brings her love of teaching and of NDI New Mexico’s mission to her approach to managing the artistic department of the organization, with a focus on building a staff of individuals dedicated to the well-being of the children of New Mexico, using the arts to engage, inspire, challenge and support our youth to grow into their full potential.

Jackie Burns, Director of Outreach Programs

Jackie has been dancing, performing, and choreographing throughout the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas for over 30 years. She began her training under Patricia Dickinson and Suzanne M. Johnston in Albuquerque and received her BA in psychology from the University of New Mexico. Jackie has served on the faculty for the annual Bill Evans Rhythm Tap Dance Jams and the Centrum’s Bill Evans Dance Intensive in Port Townsend, WA. She has performed and choreographed for NMBC, the Bill Evan’s Tap Ensemble, Musical Theatre Southwest, and the UNM Dance Department. As the Director of Outreach Programs, Jackie leads the team of Outreach Program Directors in developing curriculum and performances statewide as well as directing teacher training.

Jessie DuBois, Albuquerque Outreach Artistic Director

Jessie has been teaching for NDI New Mexico since 2010 and absolutely loves working for this organization!  She has been dancing since age 3 and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in theater and dance. At 18, she started directing and performing in Albuquerque-based hip hop, jazz and contemporary company Dance eXcesS (DXS), that ran for 12 years. Jessie has been lucky to train at The Pulse Dance Convention for four years and at Radix Dance Convention with Brian Friedman, Tyce Diorio, Mia Michaels, Wade Robson, Laurieann Gibson, Talia Favia, Chris Judd, Robert Hoffman, Dave Scott and others.  She adores working with kids and is so grateful to have the opportunity to bring people together through dance at The Hiland.

Emily Garcia, Associate Director of Outreach Programs

Emily is the daughter of a drama professor/playwright and grew up acting in children’s theatre and college productions. Her dance training began in college at the University of New Mexico, where she studied flamenco, ballet, and modern dance. During her college studies, she traveled to Urbino, Italy for a semester abroad with SUNY New Paltz focusing on the techniques of Graham and Horton. She graduated from UNM in 2001 with honors, receiving a BA in theatre and dance. After graduation, Emily relocated to Santa Fe and began dancing with Murray Spalding Movement Arts. She became an instructor for NDI New Mexico in 2002. Over the years, Emily has worked in many different areas of the organization as NDI New Mexico continued to grow. In addition to her current role as Santa Fe Outreach Artistic Director, Emily has served as Residency Program Director and the director of the Wallis Annenberg SF Summer Institute

Steven Melendez, Hiland Program Artistic Director

Steven was born in New York City and started his ballet training as part of the LIFT Program at Ballet School New York, at the age of seven. In 2001 he joined New York Theatre Ballet as an apprentice and in 2006 was promoted to Principal. Later, he joined Ballet Concierto in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 2007 joined the Vanemuine Theater Ballet Company in Tartu, Estonia. Steven received a Diploma from the 5th Rudolf Nureyev International Ballet Competition in Budapest, Hungary is a Van-Lier Fellowship recipient and was 2012 Clive Barnes Foundation Award Nominee. In addition to his work as a dancer, Steven sits on the School of American Ballet alumni advisory committee on diversity and inclusion. He also served as the Director of New York Theatre Ballet’s LIFT Program, providing scholarships and mentorship for talented at-risk and underserved children at the School of NYTB. Steven teaches nationally and internationally and has held an annual summer intensive near Nagoya, Japan for the past nine years. He joined NDI New Mexico in 2019.

Tom Porras, Advanced Teams Director

Tom started his dance training and performing early, competing on “Star Search,” and being featured in commercial industrials for corporations such as Mazda, General Motors, Aveda, The Boy Scouts of America, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Diesel, and Avon. He trained at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, Marsh School of Classical Ballet and worked with Cirque du Soleil Choreographer Debra Brown’s dance company Apogee, where he danced with trampolinists, acrobats, and contortionists. Tom’s performance credits include Radio City Music Hall, the Country Music Awards with Shania Twain, and The Dance Hall of Fame, Los Angeles, honoring Rob Marshall and Chita Rivera. He was a featured performer and dance captain for the New York City, Los Angeles, and European productions of Michael Jackson’s Sisterella. He also co-conceived and was assistant director for Universal Studio’s Grand Opening of Islands of Adventure featured on CNN, an event hosted by Steven Spielberg which included Grammy Award Winning Gospel artist Kirk Franklin, the coordination of 300 dancers, 40-foot inflatables and Spider-Man repelling from a helicopter over thousands of spectators. Other choreography credits include Michael Bolton’s world tour. Tom was awarded a Theatre Critics Award for best choreography of a new musical by the L.A. Times for his work at PCPA Theatrefest in the new musical The Wildest!!! Hip, Cool, and Swinging (a show which he also co-wrote--published by New York publishing house Samuel French, Inc.).  Tom loves teaching and has has worked with The National Dance Institute in New York City, The Chicago Dance Institute, and the Joffrey Ballet. He joined NDI New Mexico in 2012.

Rodney Rivera, Dance Barns Program Artistic Director

Rodney began his ballet training in San Juan, Puerto Rico and continued at Pro Danza Ballet of Cuba, under the direction of Laura Alonso. He represented Puerto Rico in the Fifth International Ballet Competition at Jackson, Mississippi, as the first Puerto Rican male dancer to participate in this event. Leading roles in world premieres of ballets were created for Rodney by Fernando Bujones, Vladimir Issaev, Zachary Solov, Michael Uthoff, and others. Rodney has also taught for many years, with some of his students going on to dance with American Ballet Theater, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Dance Theater of Harlem, Martha Graham Dance Company, and other companies. As a choreographer, his work has been presented at festivals such as the Miami International Ballet Festival, Festival de Ballet de la Habana Cuba, Aquin Festival, Latitudes Dance Fest NYC, and the World Ballet Competition, among others. Beginning in 2013, Rodney has served annually as Resident Choreographer, Guest Teacher, and part of the jury of the renowned World Ball. He has also been a resident choreographer at Island Moving Company and has choregraphed for film and opera productions. The Institute of Culture of Puerto Rico recognized Rodney as choreographer of the year in 2010 for his enormous contribution to dance in Puerto Rico, and The Puerto Rico Department of State granted him the Proclamation of the Governor for his contribution to art, culture and dance. Rodney has been with NDI New Mexico since 2019.

Instructors

Tina Anderson, Dance Barns Instructor

Tina Anderson is a Native New Mexican, born and raised in Santa Fe. She is trained in ballet, jazz, hip hop and Latin dance. She studied on scholarship with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and upon graduating High School early, moved to Chicago to further her training on full scholarship with Ballet Chicago. Tina continued to diversify her training with world-renowned hip hop choreographers both in New York City and Los Angeles. She has performed throughout Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles. Most recently Tina has a new-found love of Latin dance. She has studied both nationally and internationally with the top Latin dance artists. Since her return to New Mexico, Tina has been on the faculty of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Dance Arts Los Alamos, Santa Fe Community College, and NDI New Mexico, where she started in 2013.

Christiana Barnett-Murphy, Santa Fe Artistic Associate

Christiana, a recent transplant to Santa Fe, began her training at an early age in ballet and modern. She began her professional dance career at age sixteen and has performed in works by Andrea E. Woods Valdes, Ava Lavonne Vinesett, and Dendy Dance Theater, among others. Christiana attended the American Dance Festival for six summers as a student, and also worked as a teaching assistant to ADF faculty member, Jesse Zaritt. She has taught for the past five years with NC Arts in Action, the North Carolina affiliate of the National Dance Institute, under the direction of Marlon Torres. She was initially trained at AIA by Willie Hinton, and has done trainings with NDI Founder, Jacques d’Amboise, NDI NY Artistic Director Ellen Weinstein and Artistic Director of Celebrate the Beat, Tracy Strauss. She also completed the NDI Teaching Excellence trainings in both New York City and Santa Fe, NM. In 2018-2019 Christiana trained under NDI New York’s Kay Gaynor in her Dream Project methods, which integrates dancers of varied cognitive and physical abilities into NDI classes. During her time in North Carolina Christiana was also the coordinator for the Triangle Youth Ballet/Durham Arts Council course exchange.

Christiana’s choreography has been showcased in Tobacco Road Dance Productions, Durham ArtWalk, and the Durham Arts Council’s Centerfest, among others. In 2013 she received the Durham Arts Council’s Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist grant which supported her solo work, BURNING. Christiana holds a BA in theology with a concentration in Counseling from The King’s University. She is passionate about bringing dance to populations who would not ordinarily have access to it, and seeks to foster human connection in all her work. She is grateful to be a part of the NDI New Mexico Artistic Team, which she joined in 2019.

Feli Blea, Hiland Instructor

Feli Blea started their dance career at the age of 8 as part of New Child Players Production Company. Soon afterwards, they went on to join NDI New Mexico through the Outreach program at Navajo Elementary. They continued at NDI New Mexico as part of the Super Wonderful Advanced Team (SWAT), Celebration Team and Company XCel for 9 years. While at NDI New Mexico they studied many forms of dance including ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, and of course tap. Feli also attended a performing arts school, Tierra Adentro, and performed and trained in traditional flamenco, salsa, folklorico, Spanish regional folk dance, and bulera. In addition, Feli is also part of the professional tap company, AlleyKats. Feli furthers their dance skills by continuing to take advanced tap, jazz, and hip hop courses. NDI New Mexico has been a major joy in Feli’s life, and they look forward to helping others find their passion for dance.

Melissa Briggs-Bransford, Dance Barns Instructor

Melissa is a graduate of New York University/Tisch School of the Arts (MFA in dance) and Smith College (BA in sociology; Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude). For over 20 years she has taught young people ages three to university age in schools and arts programs in New York City, Brooklyn, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Albuquerque (University of New Mexico adjunct faculty and guest choreographer). Melissa has been with NDI New Mexico since 2007. She is currently on faculty at NDI New Mexico, UNM, ArtWorks, and YogaSource.

A former New York City resident, past venues for Melissa’s choreography include Symphony Space, PS 122, Joyce SoHo and Dixon Place. She was listed as one of “Gotham’s finest dancemakers” by The Village Voice, and has enjoyed artist residencies from organizations including the Joyce Theater Foundation (NYC) and The Yard (Martha’s Vineyard, MA). In New Mexico, Melissa’s work has been  presented by venues/organizations including CCA/Center for Contemporary Art, The N4th Theater (The Wild Dancing West Festival), University of New Mexico (Faculty Concert), The Railyard Performance Space (Choreographers’ Showcases), and most recently in site specific productions presented at churches and in parking lots.

Lori Brody, Dance Barns Instructor

Lori Brody danced professionally with the San Francisco Ballet and as a guest artist with Pacific Ballet Theater. After retiring from the stage Lori taught in Los Angeles, CA at the School of the Westside Ballet and the Stanley Holden Dance Center. She also taught for many years in the Dance Department of Loyola Marymount University. During her years teaching in Los Angeles, Lori had the honor of having Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Alessandra Ferri and members of American Ballet Theatre join her classes. Since moving to Santa Fe, Lori has taught at many of the area’s ballet schools and dance studios. She has been teaching the upper level students and all levels of adults at NDI New Mexico since 2011.

Gabriel Carrion-Gonzales, Outreach and Hiland Instructor

Gabriel graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in psychology and an interdisciplinary minor in chemistry and dance. Before that he attended the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet (CPYB) for two-years on scholarship, as well as dance intensives at Walnut School for the Arts, Miami City Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy, and Houston Ballet. In addition to working for NDI New Mexico, he has also taught ballet and jazz at Keshet Center for the Arts, Albuquerque.

Gabe began his dance training through NDI New Mexico at Navajo Elementary in the third grade, and then went on to dance with the Super Wonderful Advanced Team (SWAT), Celebration Team, and Company XCel. “Dancing with NDI New Mexico inspired me in so many ways and taught me the value of hard work, dedication, and determination. I am very excited to have the opportunity to pass these lessons down to students of my own.”

Morgan Faulkner, Hiland Instructor

Morgan is a Social Worker and Clinical Therapist with ten+ years in the professional performing arts.  She has performed on stages as far as China and as close as the Hiland Theater!  Morgan is currently serving as the Clinical Social Worker at South Valley Prep Charter School. Go Aztecs! BFA, Musical Theatre Performance, Penn State University.  MSW, Highlands University.

Pamela Ladas, Santa Fe Artistic Associate

Pamela has been a dancer, choreographer, educator, and health care provider for most of her life. In 1985 she graduated from Tufts University with a BA in anthropology and dance, with Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude honors. After teaching dance to children at the Steffi Nossen School of Dance in New York, Pamela moved to Santa Fe in 1989 to teach anatomy and physiology, and to begin a medical massage program at the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts. She taught and practiced massage therapy for six years, got her master’s degree in Oriental Medicine, and then began her own practice as a DOM. Pamela also taught at Southwest Acupuncture College.

Pamela discovered NDI New Mexico through one of her patients and knew immediately that she wanted to participate. She was lucky to join the NDI New Mexico artistic staff in 2003 and to have the opportunity to dance, choreograph, and teach children once again. She now dedicates herself to raising her daughters, Coriandra and Kailina, and to her work with NDI New Mexico.

Allegra Lillard, Dance Barns Instructor

Allegra began dancing in her home state of Texas and received further training in Boston, New York City and Canada. Dance has taken her throughout the U.S., Canada, and Asia. In her professional career, she was featured in solo and principal roles in the Atlanta Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Ballet Hawaii, Hawaii Ballet Theatre, and the Oregon Ballet Theatre.

Allegra moved to Santa Fe in 1996 where she continued to perform, teach and choreograph for dance schools in and out of state. Allegra was the Founding Director of Dance for Joy, a local dance school that offered creative movement and ballet for all levels from 2004-2011. She worked with NDI New Mexico as Master Teacher and Associate Artistic Director for a number of years and returned in 2011 as The Dance Barns Artistic Director, a position she held until August 2018.

Kai Morgan, Hiland Instructor

Kai began dancing at an early age in Santa Fe, New Mexico at Dance for Joy, Charisma and NDI New Mexico at The Dance Barns. She attended high school at New Mexico School for the Arts with a focus in dance while simultaneously training at The Dance Barns. She was a member of NDI New Mexico’s Company Xcel, a pre-professional dance company. Company XCel provided many performance experiences, opportunities to work with world renown choreographers and master teachers, opportunities to assist NDI New Mexico teachers, volunteer during performances and intern during summer outreach programs. She attended summer intensives at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in MA and Saratoga Dance Intensive in New York. Kai currently goes to the University of New Mexico where she studies Early Childhood Education. She is passionate about working with young children and her goal is to become a preschool teacher where she can nurture social, emotional, and physical development in children.

Shane Montoya, Albuquerque Outreach Artistic Associate

Shane, a native New Mexican, has been dancing for 22 years and teaching for 15 years. Originally a hip-hop dancer, he has expanded his dance disciplines to include ballet, jazz, house, contemporary and Latin. Shane organizes one of the South West’s premier all ages Hip-Hop event, “Breakin Hearts,” celebrating 18 years strong. Shane has had the honor of performing with Festival Ballet Albuquerque, Musical Theatre Southwest, East Village Dance Project (NYC), and Dancing Earth (Indigenous Contemporary Dance Company). Traveling, connecting with others, and performing around the globe has played a vital role in his growth as an instructor, artist, and mentor.  Shane joined NDI New Mexico in 2011.

Corey Nagel, Hiland Instructor

Corey holds a BS in dance from Illinois State University and has served on the dance faculties for ISU, Loyola University Chicago, Harper College, Columbia College Chicago, and the University of Chicago.  She studied with Gus Giordano, Lea Darwin, Patty Obey, Pirkoff Lawlor, Birute Barodicaite, Nana Shineflug, Rosemary Doolas, and Joel Hall while growing up around the Chicago area. Corey is a co-founder of both the Chicago Dance for Life/Next Generation and McLean County Dance Association, and developed the children’s program for two prominent Chicago studios. She has worked with dancers from all over the US, been guest choreographer for multiple high schools, and has served as an adjudicator for dance festivals, dance companies, and dance scholarships. Corey is passionate about her art, thrives on building strong dancers, and loves sharing her knowledge of dance. She joined NDI New Mexico in 2015.

Lauren O'Brien, Residency Artistic Associate

Lauren O'Brien grew up in New Jersey and started her dance training at a local dance studio at a young age. In high school she was accepted to the Dance Department at Gloucester County Institute of Technology directed by David Kloss and Norman Taylor. During this time she was also accepted into the Koresh Youth Ensemble in Philadelphia, PA under the direction of Assistant Artistic Director and Company Dancer Melissa Rector. She performed alongside the Koresh Dance Company, opening their annual Winter and Spring shows at the Suzanne Roberts Theater. Lauren graduated from Montclair State University in 2018 with her BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Communication Studies. While in college she performed works by Alwin Nikolai, Stacey Tookey, Mark Morris, Christian Von Howard, Frederick Earl Mosley, and many more. After graduating, Lauren had performing and administrative opportunities throughout the dance community in New York. She performed in works by choreographer Julie Carter, Borne Dance Company, and The Harlem Project as an apprentice with the Matthew Westerby Dance Company. Administratively she was an intern with Gibney Dance and the Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. Lauren recently moved to New Mexico after being introduced to NDI New Mexico's Teaching Excellence program over this past summer and is beyond excited to be a Residency Artistic Associate!

Lily Rose Peck, Santa Fe Outreach Artistic Associate

Lily grew up in Santa Fe. She fell in love with dance at a very young age and at eleven years old left Santa Fe to attend The Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. After graduating from The Kirov, she moved to New York City to pursue other forms of dance on fellowship with The Alvin Ailey School. At age seventeen she started her professional dance career by coming home to perform as a guest artist in The Nutcracker with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and later with The Santa Fe Opera. At age twenty she joined the cast of The National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera and began her first two-and-a-half-year journey touring the country. She then became an original cast member in the reimagined National Touring Production of The Phantom of the Opera which ran for almost seven years. Lily was promoted to dance captain of the show for the final two and a half years where she had the pleasure of teaching new cast members the dance and movement portions of the production as well as teaching master classes to students of all ages all over the country.  After touring North America for nearly ten years in total, she is so happy to be back home in Santa Fe teaching with NDI New Mexico!

Simone di Pietro Reche, Hiland Instructor

Born in Campinas, Brazil, Simone di Pietro began dancing at age of 10. She studied in Brazil, the Centre International de Danse Rosella Hightower (France, Cannes), Academie D’Art e Choreographie Raymond Franchetti (Paris, France), Karlsruhe Dance Company (Karlsruhe, Germany), and the Pineapple Dance Center (London, England). Mrs. Pietro graduated from the Escola Estadual de Danças Maria Olenewa (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in 1987, and soon after was dancing for the Lina Penteado Dance Company (Campinas, Brazil). Simone has also performed as a guest for the Cisne Negro Dance Company and for the Ismael Guiser Companhia de Dança (both in São Paulo Brazil). Simone has studied with ballet and modern dance masters from Argentina, Belgiun, Brazil, England, Germany, Russia and United States, amongst others. Throughout her career, Simone has worked with renowned choreographers such as: Holly Cavell, Armando Duarte, Victor Navarro, Luis Arrieta, Tindaro Silvano, Ivonice Satie, Dalal Ashcar and Vladimir Conde Reche. As a teacher she started teaching ballet in Brazil in 1990, mostly intermediate and advanced levels, including point and variations class. Simone has been teaching ballet as an adjunct faculty for the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of New Mexico since spring of 2009, and for NDI New Mexico since 2012. Simone is known for her passionate approach on her teaching and is proud to share her knowledge with the community of dancers of all ages with whom she has been work for decades.

Coryn Richey, Outreach Instructor

Coryn Richey has loved the arts since childhood, when she participated in various dance and theatre programs as her family moved around the country for her father’s military job. They moved to New Mexico when she was 9. Coryn has been studying ballet and tap since age three, and then added jazz, swing dance, and acting to her repertoire. She has performed in roles such as Wendy and Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, Bagheera in The Jungle Book, and Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. She started teaching dance to children at age 18. Coryn has choreographed for small local theatre groups such as Encore! Theatre, Heartstrings Theatre Company, and her home studio of elite Dance and Theatre.

Coryn graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BFA in studio art with a focus in photography. In addition to teaching for NDI New Mexico, Coryn currently teaches piano students privately, dance students at elite, and Media Arts at several small private schools. She is also working on growing her photography business. Coryn joined NDI New Mexico in 2019 and is thrilled to be doing this work, helping New Mexico’s children thrive!

Tracy Ritter-Golson, Outreach Instructor

Tracy trained at La Mesa Dance Academy with Cecelia Jaramillo before studying under New Mexico Ballet Company’s (NMBC) founder, Suzanne Johnston.  She has been a member of NMBC since 2002, performing Lead Mirliton and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, Glinda in Wizard of Oz, The Diva in The Phantom of the Opera Ballet and in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. Tracy was also a corps dancer in West Side Story and Thoroughly Modern Millie and recently appeared as a dancer in the film A Million Ways to Die in the West. Tracy has a passion for teaching and has taught dancers aged three through pre-professional age at Dance Theatre Southwest, Kids Love to Dance, La Mesa Dance Academy, and NMBC. She joined NDI New Mexico in 2011.

Rosalinda Rojas, Hiland Instructor

Rosalinda Rojas is originally from Harlem and the South Bronx, New York City. She is a dance educator, choreographer, aerial dance, and circus arts specialist. As a performing art - dance faculty member at Albuquerque Academy since 2001, her innovative curricular design is recognized for engaging deep learning and encouraging artist curiosity. Rosalinda holds a BFA in dance performance from the University of New Mexico, an MA in dance education from the University of Northern Colorado and will complete an MFA in digital media application in dance film technology from Montclair State University in May 2022. As a post graduate researcher her interests include co-existing aesthetic expression, identity, and diasporic dance performance practices.  A recipient of American Ballet Theater National Training Curriculum (ABT NTC) Project Plié scholarship, she is certified to teach Pre-III & Level 4 & 5 programs. At a glance her artistic credits include, Barnum on Broadway, London, and MTS productions, Metropolitan Opera & The Comedy of Errors @ Lincoln Center, Bennington College Summer Arts, The Big Apple Circus, II Rampe International Circus Competition in Monte Carlo, Louis Falco Company, Puerto Rican Dance Theater, ArtsConnection “First Steps” documentary, and Festival Ballet Albuquerque. Rosalinda’s daughter Gabi Rojas, a Cirque Du Soleil roster artist and featured dancer on SYTYCD Season Five, continues to be a mentoring highlight of a most rewarding career.

Sheila Rozann, Dance Barns Instructor

Sheila founded, directed and taught at the Rozann Zimmerman Ballet Center of Los Angeles for 35 years, and during her tenure many of her students were accepted into major ballet companies across the country. She has been closely connected to the School of American Ballet and part of their Ford Foundation Program. Currently, Sheila has served on the faculty of the New Mexico School for the Arts and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and is a master guest teacher for the School of Ballet Chicago's Summer Course and Advanced Intensive Program. She continues to guest teach in Los Angeles and Los Alamos. Sheila joined NDI New Mexico in 2010.

Alyx Sanchez, Albuquerque Artistic Associate

Alyx “Allie” is a graduate of New Mexico State University’s Dance Program under the direction of Debra Knapp.  While there, she performed with Contemporary Dance Theater, NMSU Dancesport and Sol y Arena, a flamenco and classical Spanish company.  Her most exciting adventure was traveling to Spain in the Summer of 2006 to study Flamenco at Amor De Dios studio in Madrid. Allie had her piece In the Nick of Time chosen for the American College Dance Festival (ACDF) in 2008, and I 2009 performed in a duet at ACDF that was chosen for the culminating gala (the first NMSU piece to be chosen for that event). She also competed at the collegiate level in various ballroom and Latin styles and has placed first and second in jive, salsa and West Coast swing. Since then Allie has performed with “Project In Motion”, an aerial arts company based in Las Cruces, NM and most recently with the Salsa performing group “Enigma Dance Project”. Allie moved to Albuquerque in 2010 to pursue her dream job with NDI New Mexico where she’s held many roles for the organization including instructor, choreographer, producer and director. Although teaching children statewide has been her passion for years, she is most excited about her newest and most special student, her six year old daughter, Emiliana.

Antionette Segura, Outreach and Hiland Instructor

Antionette, a native of Albuquerque, began her dance training at age three in ballet, jazz, tap, acrobatics, hip hop, and contemporary at Fishback Studio of The Dance. She has competed regionally and nationally with Fishback’s dance team, receiving numerous awards and titles including Youth America Grand Prix 3rd place contemporary winner and IDC Junior Miss Global. In 2005 Antionette joined New Mexico Ballet Company, and later joined Festival Ballet Albuquerque. She has performed various roles in The Nutcracker Ballet, Alice in Wonderland, Spartacus, Pucci Sports, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, and Don Quixote. Antionette has also performed George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Serenade, and Valse Fantaisie. She is currently on faculty at Kids Love to Dance, Dance Theatre South West and NDI New Mexico, where she started in 2015.

Kayla Snell, Hiland Instructor

Kayla Snell has been dancing since daycare when she spied a kids’ dance class through a window and insisted on getting involved. Since then, she has studied many forms of dance including jazz, modern, hip hop, belly dance, a touch of ballet, some African dance, and most partner dances (country, ballroom, Latin, and swing). For the past two decades Kayla has been teaching dance for fun and fitness. She enjoys sharing her favorite music, providing a safe space for expression, and watching students discover they can move in ways they never thought possible! Kayla's lighthearted and patient approach to teaching focuses not so much on getting the steps “right” but on having fun and making the moves work for everyone to get what they need out of class, whether it be cardiovascular endurance, building confidence, love for their bodies, or engaging with community in a meaningful way.

Jenny Sosa, Dance Barns Instructor

Born and raised in Havana, Cuba, in 1996 she was accepted into the Cuban National Ballet School, Fernando Alonso, where she graduated with a Gold Medal and obtained the title of dancer and teacher in Cuban Ballet Methodology. In 2005, at the age of 17, she began dancing with the famous Ballet de Camagüey, the second largest ballet company in Cuba. In 2006, Sosa was invited to perform with Laura Alonso Ballet in Havana, Cuba, where she became a principal dancer. Sosa danced lead and solo roles of Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Harlequinade, The Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Le Corsaire, Paquita, Dracula, Gamzatti and Shade in La Bayadère, Cinderella, Coppélia, Medora in Le Corsaire, Kitri, in Don Quixote, the main role in Firebird, main dancer of Can-Can in Gaîté Parisienne, Giselle, Myrta and Moyna in Giselle, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, between many other works from the classical repertoire. In 2010, she joined Ballet Revolución, a Cuban neoclassical and contemporary dance company, performing in the most prestigious theaters and festivals around the world. In 2015, Sosa joined the Aalto Ballett Essen in Germany, where she danced a vast classic and contemporary repertoire. In 2016 she became part of the teaching staff of the National Ballet of the Cuban School one of the best ballet schools in the world. Due to her vast knowledge in the Cuban ballet technique, Sosa has been a guest teacher for the World Ballet Competition, Orlando FL, NDI New Mexico, Centro Danza of Puerto Rico, directed by Osmay Molina and Laura Valentin.

Kimberly White, Outreach and Hiland Instructor

Kimberly White was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She began her early dance training at La Mesa Dance Academy, Dance Theatre of the Southwest, and the University of New Mexico. She furthered her dance education by attending summer programs at the Jillana School, Joffrey New York, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet. Subsequently invited into the Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet Training Program. During her time with the LINES Ballet Training Program, she performed works by Maurya Kerr, Robert Moses, Yannis Adoniou and Karah Abiog. Kimberly is a former member of the San Francisco based dance company, Maurya Kerr's, tinypistol. Commercial, video and film credits include, Cloud City Rejects, Jet Blue, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Disney's Stargirl. 

Scarlett Wynne, Dance Barns Instructor

Born in Cologne, Germany, received her early dance training from her parents. She graduated from Belhaven University in 2011 with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and was the recipient of the Bezalel Award, honoring outstanding artistic achievement. Prior to attaining her degree, Scarlett danced for Talk Dance Co. until graduating and taking a contract with the Georgia Ballet. Scarlett continued her professional career in Houston, TX where she danced for numerous companies including Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Uptown Dance Company, Sandra Organ Dance Company, and Ad Deum Dance Company. Afterward, she moved to Denver, CO to dance for Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet in an original work commissioned by the Denver Public Works to commemorate the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial. During her time in Colorado, Scarlett also served as a guest artist for Wonderbound from 2015-2017. In 2018, Scarlett accepted a company contract offer from The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis, MO. Most recently, Scarlett resides in Santa Fe, NM where she is both the Founder and Artistic Director of the New Mexico Dance Project. Scarlett continues to perform as a guest artist with a variety of companies including Lemon Sponge Cake Ballet and serves as resident choreographer and contemporary dance instructor of the New Mexico School for the Arts Dance Department. Scarlett is thrilled to be starting her first year with NDI New Mexico.

Rachel Zervakos, Dance Barns Instructor

Earned her B.F.A. in Dance at The Boston Conservatory, where she was a Jan Veen Scholarship Award Recipient. She received her initial dance training at Tolbert-Yilmaz School of Dance in Roswell, GA, and attended summer intensives including American Ballet Theatre, Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Walnut Hill, as well as Regional Dance America festivals. She has performed major roles in classical ballets including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Giselle, as well as contemporary works by José Limón, Trey McIntyre, and Twyla Tharp, among others. In 2012, she had the honor of performing Tommy Neblett's La Giornata Omicida at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the American College Dance Festival gala.  In 2014, Rachel completed her internship with the National Training Curriculum department at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City. She then relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, where she performed as a guest artist with Lamorris Namari Ballet, Room To Move Dance, and other projects. Her choreography has been performed at The Boston Conservatory's New Music Festival (2014), Ballet Fest Atlanta (2019, 2021), Fleetwood Dance Theater's The Nutcracker (2016-2020), and Dance 101 Atlanta Performance Series (2016-2019).  Rachel is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Music Directors

Bert Dalton, Music Director

Jazz pianist, arranger, educator, and producer Bert Dalton, originally from Chicago, has been living and performing in Santa Fe for 20 years. He has led a number of groups such as the Chicago Jazz Exchange, Yoboso, the Bert Dalton Trio, the Dalton Brothers Trio, and most recently the Brazil Project. Bert is one of five recipients of the 2013 Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence In The Arts.

Bert received his music education at Northern Illinois University, studying with Dr. J. B. Floyd and performing with Ron Modell’s award-winning NIU Jazz Ensemble. He has performed in concerts, clubs, and jazz festivals throughout the continental US and internationally. He has performed with Herbie Mann, Anita O’Day, Bud Shank, Butch Miles, and the Smothers Brothers, among other notable artists, .and has recorded with John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton. In addition, he has opened for Tito Puente, Pete Escovedo, Grover Washington Jr., Pancho Sanchez, and the Count Basie Orchestra. Bert has been with NDI New Mexico since 1996.

Brian Bennett, Santa Fe Associate Music Director

Brian is a composer, pianist, bassist, and teacher whose 30-year career in music has encompassed the full gamut of musical experience. A native of Washington, D.C., his compositions have been performed and recorded in North America and Europe, and he has received numerous grants, commissions, and fellowships. Upon earning his PhD in composition from the University of California, Los Angeles (following studies with William Kraft, Lukas Foss, and Lawrence Moss), Brian worked in Lyon, France teaching and performing with his group, Touch. He still collaborates with this group of French colleagues. Brian has recorded and performed extensively as both a pianist and bassist, working in nearly every setting from small club to large concert hall, playing blues, pop, and  jazz with many great musicians including John Taylor, Steve Swallow, John Scofield, and Joe Diorio. Brian joined NDI New Mexico in 2003. 

Todd Lowry, Albuquerque Music Director

Todd has worked for NDI New Mexico since 1999 and has been the Albuquerque Music Director from 2003-2011 and 2014 to present. Todd has an MM in piano, voice and composition from the University of North Texas and a JD from the University of Minnesota Law School. Todd was the Director of Business Affairs for the world’s largest music print publisher (Hal Leonard LLC) before moving to Albuquerque. He is an award-winning songwriter and composer, with more than 900 songs/works to his credit. Todd’s written dozens of piano instructional books for Hal Leonard on styles such as boogie-woogie, new age, New Orleans, blues, rock, country, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles and Oscar Peterson. He has had more than 4,000 piano arrangements published, and recorded 13 CDs, including seven of all original music.

Michael Maricle, Residency and North Music Director

Whether on the piano, in the studio, on the stage, or on the dance floor, Michael creates beautiful music with purpose.  Classically trained, Michael began playing piano at the age of four, and later went on to study music composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  He then toured professionally on the west coast for about ten years.  From 2010 to 2018 Michael worked as a dance musician in Seattle at the University of Washington Department of Dance, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Cornish College of the Arts.  Michael also composes and releases his own music in a variety of styles, including electronic, pop, ambient, and classical instrumental piano.  He has ten releases to date, including two with the Monroe Institute Hemi-Sync label. In 2018 Michael moved to Santa Fe and began his wonderful journey at NDI New Mexico as a dance musician.

 

Music Staff

Sid Fendley, Outreach Pianist

I have been in Albuquerque for over 30 years working as a keyboardist, vocalist, audio engineer, recording artist, composer, and music director. Bert Dalton asked me to join NDI New Mexico 6 years ago and it has been a wonderful experience working here. Playing for classes at The Hiland and in the Albuquerque school system brings me great joy.

Steve Figueroa, Outreach Pianist

Born into a musical family, Albuquerque native Steve Figueroa began playing the drums at age 9. He then switched to the piano at age 17 and has been playing it ever since.  Steve is largely self-taught.  He has been a fixture on the local New Mexico music scene for many years, band leading and performing in a wide variety of jazz, Latin, and pop music ensembles.  Steve began working with NDI New Mexico in 2002, and has worked steadily in the Albuquerque outreach programs ever since.

Matthew Jaeger, Outreach Pianist

Matthew is an accomplished musician who has been in the New Mexico music scene for the past 6 years. With music being his passion and drive, Matthew has studied and played the bass guitar for thirteen years. At UNM, he was in the top Jazz Big Band Ensemble and performed with multiple groups around Albuquerque. He then started focusing on expanding his musical knowledge by learning other instruments, such as the piano, guitar, and drums. He currently performs with local groups Sol De La Noche, Eddie Brewer and the Manic Episodes, Kevin Herig, and many more. Now he dedicates his time to teaching kids of all ages how to play said instruments and music, as well as being a part of the NDI New Mexico Outreach program.

Jesus Lazcano, Pianist

Jesus is a Miami born pianist who built his reputation as a proficient classical & jazz musician in the South Florida region. His education consists of jazz studies at the University of North Florida, following a BA in commercial music at Florida Atlantic University. In addition to playing for the NDI New Mexico outreach program, Jesus performs weekly at the Loretto Hotel and Osteria d'Assisi, regaling audiences with the renowned compositions of Chopin & Bill Evans. He joined NDI New Mexico in 2019.

Kevin Ward, Pianist

Kevin originally trained to be a pianist but caught the dance bug in high school. He danced with the Cincinnati Ballet Company, Cincinnati Opera, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), where he also taught, choreographed numerous works, and following the death of founder Jeraldyne Blunden, was named Artistic Director in 1999. Kevin retired from dance in 2007 and moved to New Mexico. He is part time staff at New Mexico School for the Arts, and continues to consult and work with DCDC. Kevin has both taught dance and played piano for NDI New Mexico, where he began in 2009.

Maki Kimura, Outreach Pianist

Kimura is a pianist internationally active in both classical and popular styles. She received her M.M. in both Piano Performance and Collaborative Piano from the University of New Mexico, where she graduated with distinction honors. As an award-winning pianist, her concert performances have spanned three continents. She has been working with NDI-NM since 2007 and has served as a Residency Music Director and Albuquerque Associate Music Director. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico – Gallup. Greatly in demand as a freelance collaborative pianist, she actively performs at NDI New Mexico, Opera West and various settings while also taking part in numerous international recording projects for broadcast use and other media.

 

Elliot Smith, Outreach Pianist

Elliot is entering his seventh year as an NDI New Mexico Outreach Musician. His eclectic musical involvements in Albuquerque have included merging Bluegrass with tap dancing as the Music Dir. for the Alley Kats Tap Company, writing and recording the main theme and motifs for the locally produced Breaking Math podcast, and beatboxing as Music Dir. for improv. scenes with Abq's all a cappella comedy group Rumble. He can currently be heard singing jazz, funk, and Motown standards with his combo Jazz You Wish. Elliot adores camping, playing difficult roguelike video games, and raising his smart hyperactive son.