Studio Faculty

Melissa Anderson (ma)

Melissa Anderson, a native of Milwaukee, has performed in Soloist and Principal Roles with companies as diverse as the Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Teatro Municipal de San Juan, Southern Ballet Theatre (now the Orlando ballet), Michigan Opera Theater and the Icelandic National Ballet.

Currently she enjoys dancing with Danceworks Performance Company, a Contemporary dance ensemble located in Milwaukee, WI and directed by Dani Kuepper. Melissa Anderson is also devoted to sharing her love of dance with others through Master Classes and Residencies in dance schools throughout the country. Melissa Anderson created and developed an ongoing Creative Movement and Dance for Physically Handicapped funded by Very Special Arts in Minnesota. She has also been involved in ACE (Art in Community Education) sponsored by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, a program that takes ballet and music into the public schools. Melissa teaches ballet at the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Melissa enjoys teaching and choreographing at large dance conventions such as Chicago National Association of Dance Masters CNADM, Dance Masters of Wisconsin DMW, Southern Dance Masters, Atlanta’s Ballet Fest and SPARK, Texas Association Teachers of Dance TATD and the National Association for Dance and Affiliated Arts NADAA .

Melissa is an American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Certified Teacher ™. She has successfully completed the ABT ™ Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT ™ National Training Curriculum.

Ms. Anderson has been featured in Dance Magazine’s Dancer Online Chat, and in Dance Teacher Magazine. You can connect with her on Facebook at Melissa Anderson Ballet, Pointe, Choreography, Performance.

View Ms. Anderson’s current teaching schedule here.

Amy Brinkman-Sustache (abs)


As one of the founding members of Danceworks, Amy has a long history with the organization as a teacher, choreographer, and administrator and in 1998 she became the studio director for Danceworks. As a performer, Ms. Brinkman has an extensive background in both dance and musical theater and has the opportunity to perform throughout Europe, California, Florida and the Mid-West. Ms. Brinkman developed a dance curriculum for Pius XI High School Theatre Arts program where she taught and choreographed concert dance and musical theatre from 1992-2000. She currently serves on the Department of Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University as well as on the Danceworks faculty. Ms Brinkman is the Artistic Director of Danceworks on Tap (DOT), Danceworks’ resident tap performance ensemble, and is the state representative for the International Tap Association (ITA).

View Ms. Brinkman’s current teaching schedule here.

Kelly Drake (kd)


KellyDrakeKelly Drake began dancing at the young age of five. Tap was always her favorite, but she also studied ballet, jazz and modern throughout her childhood. She earned her BFA in Dance from UWM in 2000, with a K-12 certification to teach. After graduating, she taught dance to 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts for seven years. During that time, she also worked part-time for Danceworks, teaching dance to children of all ages. She was named MHBT faculty coordinator in 2008 and MHBT project manager in 2009. Kelly continues to teach for Danceworks outreach teaching, summer camps, studio classes and for the MHBT program. Recently, Kelly took on her new position as DYPC Manager and is excited for a successful season ahead. Drake continues tapping with Danceworks On Tap.

View Ms. Drake’s current teaching schedule here.

Julia Y. Edwards (je)

Julia Y. Edwards is a dancer, choreographer and movement educator. She attended UNCSA for Contemporary Dance in NC, holds a B.S. in Sociology from the College of Charleston, a comprehensive Pilates certification from PraXis Balanced Body Studio and an M.F.A. in Choreography from UNC-Greensboro.  Before relocating to WI from Brooklyn, Julia studied, taught, performed and choreographed throughout NC, SC, OH and NYC.  Julia has served as contemporary dance faculty for the North Carolina Governor’s School West Campus, and adjunct faculty at UNC- Greensboro. While living in New York City, Julia created contemporary works as a freelance choreographer, owned and operated a Pilates studio and taught Pilates at ABT’s Jackie Kennedy Onassis School for Pre-Professional Dancers.

Julia immensely enjoys teaching both adult and youth classes at Danceworks and working in schools through Mad Hot Tap and Ballroom. In addition to Danceworks, Julia is an adjunct faculty member at Mount Mary University in the Department of Music, Movement and Dance where she teaches various levels of technique, wellness and Pilates. She also teaches Pilates in the Lake Country. Julia loves to continue to learn and collaborate with fellow teachers, movers and artists. All avenues of her work are deeply fueled by her love of working with people.

View Ms. Edwards’ current teaching schedule here.

Lauren Elster (le)

Lauren, originally from Littleton, Colorado, began her dance training at the age of three at Belliston Academy of Ballet.  There she studied the R.A.D. technique as well as the Cecchetti method.  She then continued her training at Shelly True Dance Academy where she competed at many different regional and national competitions, including winning a national elite title at Kids Artistic Revue competition in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2005.

Accepted into the dance program at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, New York, Lauren began training under professors Nancy Lushington, Peter Kyle, and Elena Commendador for her first year of school.  She then transferred to Chapman University where she continued training under Dale Merrill, Nancy Dickson-Lewis, Alicia Guy, Liz Maxwell, and Jennifer Backhaus for her sophomore year.  After taking a semester off, Lauren auditioned and was accepted into Colorado State University’s Dance Department continuing her training under Carol Roderick, Chung-Fu Chang, and Jane Slusarski-Harris. CSU also presented the opportunity for her to work with guest artists Tommy Parlon and Richard Wacko. She was on CSU’s Tour Dance Company for two years, partaking as assistant director her second year, and enjoyed performing for audiences and being involved in outreach programs all over the state of Colorado.

Lauren graduated in May of 2013 with a B.A. in Performing Arts with a concentration in Dance, as well as a minor in Media Studies. After graduation she danced with José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Summer Extension program, performed in Saint Paul City Ballet’s production of Clara’s Dream, and most recently danced in an array of performances such as The Nutcracker, Carnival of the Animals, and Great Ballet Classics that included excerpts from Swan Lake, Cinderella, Snow White and Coppelia over the last two years with the Montana Ballet Company while additionally teaching for their associated academy. She is thrilled to be in Milwaukee and part of the Danceworks faculty!

View Ms. Elster’s current teaching schedule here.

Jessica Fastabend (jf)

Jessica received her degree in education from Alverno College and decided to pair her two passions, teaching and dance. She began dancing at the age of three and studying a range of dance styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, modern and ballroom. Jessica is currently teaching youth classes for Danceworks at the JCC and also teaches both tap and ballroom for Danceworks Mad Hot program. Jessica is dedicated to helping her students grow in their ability and foster their love of dance.

View Ms. Fastabend’s current teaching schedule here.

Fiona Fuerstner (ff)

FionaFuersterFiona Fuerstner is renowned for her teaching, coaching and mastery of the Balanchine repertoire. She has been a guest teacher and/or guest ballet mistress with Ballet Met, Ballet Omaha, Alberta Ballet, Memphis Classical Ballet, Indiana University and Western Michigan University.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ms. Fuerstner grew up in San Francisco receiving her initial training at the San Francisco Ballet. She also studied at the Royal Ballet School and Ballet Rambert in London and the American Ballet Theatre School and the School of American Ballet in New York. Ms. Fuerstner was Ballet Mistress and Assistant to the Artistic Director for the Milwaukee Ballet from 1990 to 2003. Prior to joining the Milwaukee Ballet, Ms. Fuerstner was Ballet Mistress of the Pennsylvania Ballet, and then Ballet Mistress and Assistant to the Artistic Director of the Nashville Ballet. She was a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and, finally, the Pennsylvania Ballet.

Ms. Fuerstner is currently guest teaching and staging throughout the United States.

View Ms. Fuerstner’s current teaching schedule here.

Yumelia Garcia (yg)

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After retiring from Joffrey Ballet in 2014, Yumelia Garcia has not let the grass grow under her feet. While currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she also continues to make guest performances from Florida to Alaska. Ms. Garcia continues her close collaboration with the Jacksonville Symphony this Holiday Season as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker after stunning performances in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella in Jacksonville’s 2014-15 seasons. Garcia was included in Chicago’s Sun-Times best performances for Day of the Gypsy at the Harris Theater in 2015, a ballet created by Gordon Pierce Schmidt. She recently worked in New York with Kathryn Posin Dance Company and Meredith Monk in a commissioned ballet for the Harkness Dance Festival in Manhattan. She has taught for Joffrey Ballet’s teaching workshop in San Antonio, TX and the Joffrey Academy in Chicago as well as teaching and coaching for ballet schools across the country from Buffalo, NY to Los Angeles, CA.

Ms. Garcia was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where she received her professional training at the Escuela de Ballet Gustavo Franklin (Vaganova school). Graduating with honors, Vicente Nebrada invited her to join the National Ballet of Caracas at the tender age of 15, and promoted her to soloist one year later. Ms. Garcia began her U.S. career with Heinz Pohl at Ohio Ballet, soon thereafter she joined Milwaukee Ballet and became principal dancer. In Milwaukee, Kathryn Posin created Scheherazade on Garcia and performed classical roles; Kitri in Don Quijote, Giselle, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and Carmen. She later moved on to Ballet Florida, where she was featured in contemporary and classical works including Cleopatra, by Ben Stevenson. In 2009, Ms. Garcia was invited by Ashley Wheater to join Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, where she hit the stage to critical acclaim in roles such as Valencienne in The Merry Widow and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.  Her performance in Ashton’s Cinderella was featured in Point Magazine as one of the “Best Performances of the Year 2010.”

Ms. Garcia’s remarkable versatility, technical prowess, and intensity have given her extensive experience with choreographers that include: Alonzo King, Choo San Goh, David Parsons, Jean Paul Comelin, Mark Godden, George Balanchine, Trey McIntyre, Jimmy Gamonet, Christopher Wheeldon, Lar Lubovitch, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Robert Joffrey and Val Caniparoli.

View Ms. Garcia’s current teaching schedule here.

Ava Golner (acg)

Ava began her classical dance training at the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy at age 10 under Kim Johnson-Rockafellow, Karl von Rabenau and Rolando Yanes. While studying there, she was fortunate to perform in the Milwaukee Ballet Company’s productions of The Nutcracker, Le Conservatoire and Cinderella. She furthered her ballet training during summer intensive programs at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Point Park University and Milwaukee Ballet School. Ava went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in ballet at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While in the program, she had the opportunity to dance in works by Peter Merz and Lesley Davenport, perform in Lake Erie Ballet’s Nutcracker and compete in the New York Finals of the Youth American Grand Prix. After graduation, Ava returned to Milwaukee and began assisting in ballet classes at Danceworks. She also had the privilege of dancing with Danceworks Performance Company in its production of Fairy Queen Fantasy. She is thrilled to be a part of the Danceworks faculty!

View Ms. Golner’s current teaching schedule here.

Annette Grefig (ag)

AnnetteGrefigAnnette graduated in 2012 from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in dance performance and choreography and a minor in French. Annette has a diverse training background studying ballet, modern, pointe, jazz and tap. While at UWM she had the opportunity to performed in works by world-renowned artists Garth Fagan, Mark Morris and Arnie Zane. She is currently a member of Danceworks on Tap (DOT) and is also a choreographer for the company. She and she is currently working toward her master’s degree in physical therapy. Annette joined the Danceworks faculty in 2010.

View Ms. Grefig’s current teaching schedule here.

Kim Johnson-Rockafellow (kjr)

Upon graduation in 2000 with high honors from the UWM with a BFA in dance, Kim, a native Yooper, joined DPC and served as Associate Artistic Director from 2009-2012 before taking on the roll of Artistic Manager of performance and studio. She has created works for DPC as well as Milwaukee Ballet II. Kim has helped write curriculum for both Danceworks Studio and Milwaukee Ballet School where she served as faculty, branch manager, and Children’s Division Coordinator. She has thoroughly enjoyed growing Danceworks’ dance fitness program as well as many other facets including DanceLAB. Kim is also a dance lecturer at UWM, where she teaches modern technique and Body Sense.

View Ms. Johnson-Rockafellow’s current teaching schedule here.

Posy Knight (pk)

Posy Knight began her professional career as a modern dancer in New York City.  She has since developed into an award winning choreographer, delving into production design and implementation, non-profit operations and dance education at all levels. She is the resident scenic designer and paint charge at the Quasimondo Physical Theatre of Milwaukee, where she is studying puppetry, clowning and European-style street theatre with director Brian Rott. Posy received her BFA in Dance in 2002 from The Juilliard School, and her MFA in Scenic Design in 2014 from the University of Connecticut. www.posyknight.com.

View Ms. Knight’s current teaching schedule here.

Steven LaFond (sl)

IMG_2904 (1)Steven Michael LaFond is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography. His choreography, teaching and performance experience includes Masquers Inc. and Peter Quince Performing Company (Manitowoc); Danceworks Art to Art, UWM’s New Dancemakers, Next Act Theatre Next Actors, Gerald Casel Dance, Your Mother Dances (Milwaukee); and All The Above Dance Company (West Bend). His work, “The Thousand Yard Stare,” was one of two works selected to represent UWM at The American College Dance Festival 2012 in Madison. Steven has trained with Elizabeth Johnson, Luc Vanier, Gerald Casel, Heidi Latsky, Janet Lilly, Simone Ferro, Dani Kuepper and the late Ed Burgess.

View Mr. LaFond’s current teaching schedule here.

Gina Laurenzi (gl)

Gina Laurenzi, a UWM Dance Department graduate and Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) member, previously trained as a Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago scholarship student, under Elements Contemporary Ballet’s Artistic Director Michael Gosney, and performed with both Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance. A desire to give back to her community and spread a knowledge of the arts compelled Gina to create Laurenzi Dance where she ran the studio class program until 2013. Currently, Gina serves as the Owner/Artistic Director of her youth performing dance companies and she continues to produce thoughtful themed events with her young artists of Laurenzi Dance in Kenosha. Gina is thrilled to further share her love of the arts here in Milwaukee by teaching for Danceworks, being a part of the the MHBT program and in working with the young movers of Danceworks Youth Performance Company (DYPC) as Artistic Director of DYPC.

View Ms. Laurenzi’s current teaching schedule here.

Jacqui Lefebvre (jl)

JackieLefebvreJacqui joined the Danceworks faculty in 2006 when she began teaching Ballroom and Latin dance classes for the both children and adults. She is also the lead ballroom teacher for the Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap program. Originally from England, Jacqui has been in the United States for 20 years. Jacqui’s parents were competitive Ballroom dancers and she followed in their footsteps, competing in Latin American and Ballroom Dancing all over Europe for many years.

Once in the States, Jacqui decided to make teaching her career and in 1999 qualified through the N.A.T.D. (National Association of Teachers of Dancing). She has been teaching both International and American styles of ballroom ever since. In 2002 Jacqui obtained her judging qualification and adjudicates competitions and travels throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana judging competitions. Jacqui became interested in fitness while in the UK back in the early 90’s. Still teaching fitness today, she is currently the Group Fitness Director for Gold’s Gym, Downtown Milwaukee.

View Ms. Lefebvre’s current teaching schedule here.

Hannah Marquardt (hm)

IMG_0626Hannah Marquardt is an alum of the UW-Milwaukee Dance Department where she graduated with a BFA in Dance. She’s taught extensively through Danceworks’ studio and outreach programs and held positions in the Danceworks administrative offices. Hannah has performed and choreographed for DPC2 and the BJ Daniels Drag Revue, was a company member in the Catey Ott Dance Collective and guest dancer with Wild Space. She is currently teaching Dance With Me with her daughter and loves being back in the studio to share her love of movement with the tiniest dancers.

View Ms. Marquardt’s current teaching schedule here.

Lisa Moberly (lm)

LisaMoberly

Lisa has been dancing since the age of six. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. While in college, Lisa spent two summers in New York taking classes with the Nicolas Lois Summer Intensive and Alvin Ailey School. During the academic year, Lisa taught children dance classes and became the Assistant Director of Turning Point Dance Academy in Stevens Point.

After graduation, Lisa danced professionally for Kanopy Dance in Madison, Wisconsin under Artistic Director Chris Stevens. After moving to Milwaukee, she began performing with DanceCircus under Artistic Director Betty Salamun. Lisa has helped create children’s shows for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Arts in Community Education (ACE) program; she also teaches master classes and continues to perform. Lisa moved to Chicago to continue learning and dancing. While living there, she did pick-up performances for individual artists and taught advanced modern to pre-professional students for Sherry Morray at Academy of Dance Arts.

Because of her exposure to Pilates in college, Lisa chose to complete an 800-hour teacher training program while living in Chicago. She trained with Gary Calderone, Kathy Grant, Michelle Larsson and Fran Ahrens. She has been fully certified since 1999.

In 2007, Lisa’s love of movement led her to GYROTONIC® and in 2013, she completed her level one training to become a certified trainer.

In May of 2017, Lisa completed a 10-month training for Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) and is now a certified MAT Specialist. Adding this skill allows Lisa to test range of motion in her clients and students, find limitations, and strengthen the muscles not functioning to their best ability.

Lisa is thrilled to be sharing these skills with students at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Dance Department, where she teaches Pilates; the Milwaukee Ballet School; Danceworks, Inc., where she teaches a variety of styles and ages; and at her own studio, Flying Frog LLC, in Mequon.

View Ms. Moberly’s current teaching schedule here.

Patrice Nassalang (pn)

patricePatrice Pathe Nassalang is a master dancer from Senegal, West Africa. Patrice has taught dance, performed, and choreographed for 11 years, since his first choreography for the regional troup of N’dar in his home town for the Senegalese National Dance Competition. Since Patrice moved to the USA, he has worked with some of the biggest African dance companies in the country such as Mambo International, Ko-Thi Dance Company, African American Dance Ensemble of North Carolina. Patrice has also choreographed for the University of North Carolina-Greensboro dance program. He is currently working for the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, the second largest African dance company outside of Africa. Patrice is also a certified dance fitness instructor working with Bally Total Fitness health clubs.

View Mr. Nassalang’s current teaching schedule here.

Rachel Payden (rp)

RachelPaydenRachel Payden is a member of the studio, summer camp, IMAP and MHBT teaching faculty and has also been a company member of Danceworks on Tap since the spring of 2007. She graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2006 where she received a BA degree in Theater Arts and a minor in Dance. She has twice performed with choreographer David Dorfman of the New York City-based David Dorfman Dance and was honored to be a part of his work, underground, at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Series.

View Ms. Payden’s current teaching schedule here.

Natasha Posey (np)


NatashaPoseyNatasha Posey, a Georgia native, began her dance career performing with Autusta Ballet Company. She earned a BFA in dance from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has since performed with Lynda Martha Dance Company (Chicago), Wisconsin Ballet Theatre (Green Bay), Ballet Madison and Danceworks Performance Company.

Natasha’s “day job” is working with MPS new teachers as a district mentor. She earned her teaching certification at UW-Madison where she graduated with honors. Natasha then began integrating the arts into education with her project “Language Arts Learned Through the Creative Arts”. As an artist-in-residence at Schenk Elementary School in Madison, Natasha taught classes that combined dance with reading, writing and arithmetic to the whole school. She has led teacher-training workshops through Very Special Arts-Wisconsin where educators are taught how to integrate movement with students of all abilities. Natasha also teaches the Milwaukee Ballet School’s summer dance camps.

View Ms. Posey’s current teaching schedule here.

Gabi Sustache (gs)

Gabi Sustache currently attends UW-Milwaukee, where she is studying dance and kinesiology. She began her dance training at Danceworks at the age of three and hasn’t stopped dancing since. She was a member of Danceworks Youth Performance Company from 2011-2013 and is currently a member of Danceworks on Tap (DOT), Danceworks’ resident tap dance company. Gabi first danced with DOT as a guest performer at the age of five and became a full-fledged company member in 2010. In addition to dancing with DOT, Gabi often performs with various Milwaukee-based hip hop crews. She has performed as part of Danceworks’ DanceLAB concert series in Ignite: A Hip Hop Dance Experience from 2013-2017, as well as Get It Out There in 2016. Gabi joined the Danceworks studio faculty in 2014 and is also part of the teaching faculty for the Mad Hot Ballroom and Tap program.

View Ms. Sustache’s current teaching schedule here.

Catey Ott Thompson (co)


CatieOttThompsonCatey Ott Thompson, director of Catey Ott Dance Collective since 2005, has a BFA and MFA from UWM. She resides in Milwaukee after dancing in NYC for 14 years for Soundance, Heidi Latsky, Allyson Green, Sean Curran, Bill Young, Li Chiao-Ping, Eun Jung Choi, Aviva Geismar, Chris Ferris, Carrie Ahern, and others. Catey studied ballet with Christine Wright for 14 years and has been a personal trainer, yogi, and Pilates instructor since 2000. Catey Ott Dance Collective continues to perform in both NYC and Milwaukee. She currently teaches contemporary modern, ballet, dance history, composition and choreography, and repertory as Marquette University, Milwaukee Ballet, and Danceworks, and is a guest artist at Pius XI High School.

View Ms. Ott Thompson’s current teaching schedule here.

Liz Tesch (lt)

LizTeschLiz Tesch, former Danceworks Performance Company member, has been working with Danceworks Inc. as an instructor and administer for over ten years.  In that time she has had the pleasure of working with some of Milwaukee’s greatest artists. Liz is happy to be coming back to Danceworks after the birth of her daughter Louise and looks forward to continuing her work with the company as well as the community.

View Ms. Tesch’s current teaching schedule here.

Christal Wagner (cw)


Christal Wagner got her start with Your Mother Dances in 2006, spending four seasons with the company dancing locally and abroad at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. She joined DPC upon receiving her BFA from UW-Milwaukee in 2007. She has also worked with UWM MFA Graduate Amii LeGendre and in early 2012 was a featured performer in Present Music’s Around 3o Concert. Currently she choreographs for Community Theatre Works, working with anywhere from 85-100 kids and professionals. She is also finishing her Pilates certification at the Milwaukee JCC.

View Ms. Wagner’s current teaching schedule here.

Paul Webb III (pw)

PaulWebbView Mr. Webb’s current teaching schedule here.

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