Danceworks Studio Faculty

Alex Vanissaveth

Alex Vanissaveth is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee where he received his degree in education. He began his journey into dance early on while learning from his mom traditional Lao and Thai dances. This journey continued while attending the university when he took his first dance class after attending the UWM Hip Hop Showcase. From there he gained new connections and experiences from becoming a part of a dance community in Milwaukee. He took that likeness for dance and continued to grow as a dancer by taking classes at the university and at studios like Danceworks. He was able to dance with different groups and learn the necessities of preparing for a performance. His true passion for dance comes from the performance style that Kpop has to offer. In 2017, Alex was able to become a part of KASPER Dance Crew that dedicates their time to learning both Kpop and Hip Hop choreography. In 2019, Alex began teaching at Danceworks as a Kpop Instructor and is currently teaching the Adult Kpop classes for Danceworks.

“My hope for those who take my class is to become exposed to the different styles that Kpop has to offer. I want the class to be a space where new and old fans of Kpop can come together and learn the moves that the artists do. I hope that those who take my class leave with learning something new and maybe want to add the Kpop song to their playlist.”

Melissa Anderson

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

As one of the founding members of Danceworks, Amy Brinkman-Sustache 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, Danceworks’ resident tap performance ensemble, and is the state representative for the International Tap Association (ITA).


View Ms. Brinkman’s current teaching schedule here.

Jessica Fastabend

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 the 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.

Yumelia Garcia

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.

Kim Johnson-Rockafellow

Upon graduation in 2000 with high honors from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in dance, Kim Johnson, a native Yooper, joined Danceworks Performance Company and served as Associate Artistic Director from 2009-2012 before taking on the role of Director of Engagement at Danceworks. She has created works for Danceworks Performance Company 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.

Gina Laurenzi

Gina Laurenzi graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in dance. Before beginning her chapter in Milwaukee, Gina performed with Giordano II and Inaside Chicago Dance among other Chicago artists. For seven years, Ms. Laurenzi owned and operated Laurenzi Dance (Kenosha, WI) where she presented work regularly and mentored many youth artists. Gina has set work on UW-Milwaukee dance majors, Makaroff Youth Ballet, Danceworks Youth Performance Company, Danceworks Performance MKE, Water Street Dance Company and Milwaukee Ballet summer intensive students. Gina shares her love of dance with youth and adult students through her classes at Danceworks and directs Danceworks Intergenerational Performance Company. Gina coaches and mentors competitive dancers at Brookfield Center for the Arts, is an Associate Lecturer at UW-Milwaukee and the Artistic Director of the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Ms. Laurenzi has performed with Danceworks Performance MKE for eight seasons and while living in the city, has had the privilege of performing the work of many wonderful Milwaukee artists including; Daniel Burkholder, Simone Ferro, Maria Gillespie, Dani Kuepper, Kym McDaniel, Madeleine Schoch, Dawn Springer, Christal Wagner and Morgan Williams. Gina loves sharing the joy of dance and creating movement with dancers of all ages.


“I hope that dancers leave my class feeling inspired, energized, appropriately challenged, and proud of what they accomplished.”


View Ms. Laurenzi’s current teaching schedule here.

Jacqui Lefebvre

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 Danceworks 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.

Gabi Sustache

Gabi Sustache, a Milwaukee native, is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator. A recent graduate from UW-Milwaukee, where she received her Bachelors of Arts in dance from the program in Spring of 2020. She was a member of Danceworks Youth Performance Company from 2011-2013. In addition to being a member of Danceworks Performance MKE she is also a company member with Danceworks On Tap, Danceworks’ resident tap dance company. Gabi enjoys performinging with various Milwaukee-based hip hop crews, including S.A.I.N.T.S, and was recently a guest performer with the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. Her choreography has been featured as part of Danceworks’ DanceLAB concert series Ignite: A Hip Hop Dance Experience from 2013-19, Get It Out There 2016-19, Milwaukee Bucks halftime performances, for several high school musical theatre productions in and around the Milwaukee area and was selected in 2019 to be adjudicated at the American College Dance Association’s North Central Conference. Gabi joined the Danceworks faculty in 2014 where she teaches studio classes. You can also find Gabi teaching in the community for the Danceworks Mad Hot Rhythm program in addition to other workshops and residency work.


“A take away for when a student leaves my class is most importantly that they had fun! I hope that they leave feeling like they learned something new and that they feel inspired to take another dance class!”


View Ms. Sustache’s current teaching schedule here.

Christal Wagner

Christal a skilled visual artist versed in Movement, Choreography, Video and Photography. Upon receiving her BFA in dance from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2007, she joined Danceworks Performance MKE and has performed in over 40 regular season shows with the company. She is an 8 time Jerry award recipient for her work in Musical Theatre and has choreographed for Skylight Music Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet II, Present music, and Danceworks Performance MKE. Christal is a cofounder of the music and dance trio Cadance Collective, co-creating pieces through processes where music and dance are worked on simultaneously through improvisational practices and original soundscapes. Her Video work has been presented in collaboration with Danceworks Inc, Milwaukee Dance Theatre Network, Milwaukee Opera Theatre, UWM Dance, The Saint Kate Arts Hotel, The Cactus Club, and Li Chiao-Ping Dance where she was a 2020 SEED Creation Fund grant recipient. In 2020 Christal Wagner became the Saint Kate Art Hotel’s FIRST artist in co-residence and their weekly resi-dancer. Christal’s mission is to support and elevate the voices of her community, collaborators, and fellow artists.


“I hope to create movement practices with students and community members that bring them to be at balance in the present moment while teaching integrity through intention.”


View Ms. Wagner’s current teaching schedule here.