Stephanie Wood, Co-Director
Stephanie Wood began her early years of ballet training with Ballet Arts of Olympia. At the age of 15 Ms. Wood was invited to further her training at The Washington Academy of Performing Arts under the direction of Deborah Hadley; former principal ballerina for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. During Ms. Wood’s years of study at WAPA, she performed numerous title roles including Giselle at the age of 16 with William DeGregory, former principal with The Pennsylvania Ballet, George Balanchine’s Tarantella and Act II of Swan Lake as Odette.
Ms. Wood attended prestigious summer programs on merit scholarship with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Oregon Ballet Theatre School and the San Francisco Ballet School. In addition to these summer programs Ms. Wood attended Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and was personally invited to return by Ms. Farrell for the following summer. She continued her training at the San Francisco Ballet School while performing in the company’s production of The Nutcracker as Chinese, Snow and Waltz of The Flowers. Ms. Wood also performed in Lew Christensen’s Vivaldi Concerto Grosso, Balanchine’s Divertimento #15, and Stars and Stripes Forever.
In 1998 Ms. Wood joined Ballet Memphis where she danced professionally for six years. While performing with Ballet Memphis, Ms. Wood toured to New York City and Saint-Sauveur, Quebec for an elite choreographers competition. She has also performed many varying soloist roles in the following ballets; Swan Lake, Giselle, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Napoli, Dracula, Where the Wild Things Are, Concerto Barocco and cutting edge works by innovative choreographers, including; Trey McIntyre, Joseph Jeffries, Garret Ammon, Septime Webre, Lila York and Mark Godden. Ms. Wood was given the opportunity to choreograph works on a professional level for the main stage company of Ballet Memphis.
During Ms. Wood’s career she has instructed at the following schools; Ballet Memphis, Performing Arts of Germantown, The Evergreen City Ballet, Ballet Arts of Olympia and the Washington Contemporary Ballet. In 2008 Ms. Wood and Ms. Zechmann opened Studio West Dance Academy to share their love, expertise and passion for dance with the community.
Mary Cecelia Zechmann, Co-Director
Born and raised in Olympia, Washington, Mary Cecelia Zechmann began dancing at the age of six. She studied under and received fundamental ballet training from Bridgette de’Calle at the Ballet School of Olympia. Ms. Zechmann was awarded multiple dance scholarships and attended numerous summer dance workshops including The Marin Ballet School in San Francisco, CA & Summer Dance Lab in Walla Walla, WA. While attending college at Creighton University, she danced with both the Creighton Dance Division and at Ballet Omaha’s School of Dance. After earning her college degree in Social Work, she moved back to Olympia and pursued a career in the mental health field before accepting the opportunity to rediscover her love of dance and teach ballet at Ballet Arts Olympia. With her ballet training, understanding of child psychology and development, as well as becoming a parent of two beautiful daughters, Ms. Zechmann is able to bring her experience into the classroom teaching children the discipline and most of all the joy of dance. In 2008, Mary Cecelia Zechmann and Stephanie Wood joined forces and opened Studio West Dance Academy.
Angela Brandenburg, Ballet & Flamenco
Angela began her dance training with the Washington Contemporary Ballet in Tacoma, Wa. She furthered her dance studies by attending prestigious summer programs with the American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and the Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet. Angela then danced with the Tacoma Opera for six seasons and performed extensively with the Washington Contemporary Ballet. Angela has performed many lead roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and has also danced in many Contemporary Ballets. In addition to her performing career, Angela served as Ballet Mistress and ballet instructor at WCB. Another passion of Angela's is Flamenco dance, which she has performed and taught throughout the South Sound Region.
Kristina Boyer - Assistant Studio Manager
Kristina Boyer was born and raised in Olympia. She grew up with Ms. Wood and was given the opportunity to begin her career at Studio West in 2012 as the Assistant Studio Manager. She loves being part of Studio West and interacting with all of the amazing families and looks forward to many more years with them. Kristina is a graduate of Saint Martin’s University and resides in Olympia with her loving husband and two beautiful children.
Brittni Bryan, Contemporay Jazz
Brittni is originally from Olympia, WA where she began her training at Debbi's Dance Etc. She also has studied at Westlake Dance Center, Ballet Arts, and Honolulu Dance Center. She performed and competed the contemporary/lyrical genre for eleven years at the national and regional levels. She has won various awards and scholarships; including the prestigious "Triple Threat" scholarship from the NYCDA convention. Brittni has been choreographing off and on since 2003, and has been awarded two first place choreography awards for best student choreography. Brittni is extremely excited to share her love of dance with Studio West Dance Academy's students.
Ellen Cooper, Ballet Instructor
Ellen Cooper was born in Olympia, WA where she began her dance training in ballet, jazz and theatre dance. Ellen danced at Studio West Dance Academy for their opening year! She then received a BFA in Dance, Magna Cum Laude, from Cornish College of the Arts in 2012. She has also studied with the Mark Morris Dance Group and Joffrey Ballet School on scholarship. Ellen is currently a member of Khambatta Dance Company, where she performs modern and contemporary dance both locally and nationally. In addition to performing, Ellen loves working with youth of all ages. She teaches with Pacific Northwest Ballet in their DISCOVER DANCE program as well as teaching ballet and creative dance in several studios.
Corynn Fine began dancing under the Studio West Dance Academy roof, when years ago the space was occupied by Dancelectric. During these years of training she competed in dance competitions. Following this time, Ms. Fine dance and competed with the Tumwater High School Varsity Dance Team for four consecutive years. While dancing on the team Ms. Fine won many State Championship titles and was nationally ranked. On a more individual level she was awarded Universal Dance Association All Star her Junior and Senior Year and traveled to London to dance in the London New Years Day Parade. At the end of Ms. Fine's Senior Year she was awarded MVP of the Year.
In addition to dancing with Tumwater High School and Dancelectric, Ms. Fine attended classes at a variety of venues including Studio One Dance and Acro Center and Monsters of Hip Hop. After High school she was chosen to dance for the Washington State University Crimson Girls Dance Team for four consecutive years. During those years the Crimson girls were nationally ranked in the Hip Hop Division. Also The Crimson Girls highly contributed to Washington State Spirit during halftimes and on the sideline for all sporting events. During Ms. Fine's Junior year she was chosen as Sport's Illustrated Cheerleader/Dancer of the Week in March 2010 because of her strong dedication to the sport and she was featured in a commercial on Fox Sports Network and ESPN.
Rachel Forstrom, Ballet
Rachael Forstrom originally from Southwest Ohio, began her dance training at the DeWeese Academy of Dance Arts in Middletown, Ohio. She received her BFA in Dance from Ohio University in 2003, with an emphasis on Performance and Choreography. Rachael has been teaching, choreographing, and performing professionally in and around the Central Ohio area for the last 10 years, including Anatomical Scenario, Tupaco, The Columbus Crewzers, Columbus Movement Movement(CM2), Vaudvillities, and Snap! Performance Productions. In 2009, she had the opportunity to be a dance ambassador in the INLA dance festival in Beijing, China. After relocating to the Seattle area in Fall of 2012, Rachael had the opportunity to work with several seattle choreographers and perform in the Seattle International Dance Festival. Rachael is currently a company member with Seattle based, Serendip Dance Brigade.
Jerri Globe, Jazz & Tap
Jerri started dancing at age 11 with Suzi Gilbertson, and trained in jazz, ballet, lyrical, tap, and gymnastics. She attended competitions throughout the U.S. and Canada. After assisting with classes, Jerri began teaching her own classes and choreographing for competitions. She was the Director of Dance Direction and Dance Fashions Unlimited for 10 years. Jerri has been part of the Studio West staff for 2 years and brings an uplifting and possitive energy to all.
Trish Hall, Office Manager
Trish Hall is a native of Olympia and has been The Studio West Office Manager for the past two years. She is a graduate of Central Washington University. Trish began with Studio West as a volunteer and transitioned to a full time Studio West team member. She is married and has two beautiful children. Trish always has a smile on her face and keeps us on our toes!
Adah (Cookie) Harn, Wardrobe Mistress for Studio West Dance Theatre
Born and raised in Washington State, Cookie is a talented self-taught seamstress, and has been creating and altering clothing all of her life She is married and the mother of 5 and a proud grandmother of 11 grandchildren. Ms. Cookie operated an in-home daycare for over 40 years and is now retired. She currently enjoys being the costume director and designer for Studio West Dance Theatre. Since the opening of Studio West, Cookie has discovered a love for designing and working on ballet costumes such as: The Nutcracker, Peter Pan & numerous dance festivals.
Elizabeth Harrington, Ballet
Elizabeth Harrington began her dance training at the age of 11 in Southern California. After moving to Washington in 2009, she enrolled at Studio West Dance Academy. Since joining Studio West, she has performed in all of its major productions and has danced roles such as “Wendy” in Peter Pan, “The Fairy Godmother” in Cinderella, “Dew Drop” and “The Sugarplum Fairy” in the Nutcracker. In 2011, Ms. Harrington was invited to attend Ballet West’s summer intensive program in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ms. Harrington strives to make her classes both challenging and enjoyable for her students.
Joseph Jefferies, Guest Perfomer, Choreographer & Ballet Instructor
Joseph Jefferies has danced professionally for 14 years. He has danced several lead roles in classical full length ballets as well as contemporary pieces by noted choreographers. Most recently he has had the opportunity to tour the world dancing with Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo . While performing with this prestigious company he toured Japan, Russia, Brazil, Italy, France, Australia, Germany and the UK. Additionally, Mr. Jefferies has choreographed over 30 works, primarily for Ballet Memphis, where he also danced professional for 10 years. He has won the RDA Emerging Choreographer Scholarship twice and had his work selected for and performed in New York City's Ballet Builders Showcase. Mr. Jefferies was named "Artist of the Year" in 2002 by the Memphis Commercial Appeal for his dancing and choreography. In January of 2011, Mr. Jefferies choreographed "Bright Waters" for Studio West Dance Theatre.
Scott Leathers - Studio West's Resident Professional lighting Designer & Stage Manager
Scott Leathers is the Resident Lighting Designer for Nashville Ballet (since 1987), Nashville Children's Theatre(since Sep.2003), and Kentucky Repertory Theatre (since 2005) and has previously served as R.L.D. for the Ryman Auditorium's Musical Theatre Series ('99-'01), Opera at Chattanooga Symphony and Opera ('02-'07),and for Ballet TN ('97-'01). He also served as Nashville Ballets' Production Stage Manager for over 11 years and then as Production Manger for an additional 6 years. Mr. Leathers has designed lighting for theatre, opera, ballet, and modern dance since 1981 to critical acclaim. Many of his designs have been for original works. He has designed lights for most of Nashville's performing arts organizations as well as Theatre Craft, Milwaukee Ballet, American Negro Playwrights Theatre, Amun Ra Theatre, Karen Steele Dance Quintet, Ballet Omaha, Ballet Austin, Cumberland County Playhouse, Dollywood, and internationally with Tanz Ensemble Cathy Sharp (TECS-Switzerland) and Ballet Manila (Philippines). He has taught Lighting Design at the college level as well as leading over 30 workshops. He has also designed scenery for many productions including Nashville Ballet's productions of Robin Hood, Postcards from the Boys, The Bell Witch, Harvest Home, Western Stars, and Fete Champtetre. Mr. Leathers graduated from the College of Santa Fe with a BFA in technical theatre and is a member of United Scenic Artists.
Kristen Martensen, Hip-Hop
Kristen is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, where she recieved her B.A. in Communication Studies, and was a captain/choreographer for the PLU dance team. She has been teaching dance for the past seven years at several studios in the South Sound, such as Harbor Conservatory, Image Studio of Dance, D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts, Lakewood YMCA and for the past four years with Studio West Dance Academy. Kristen is the founder of "EDGE", Studio West's performing hip hop group, teaches many of the regular hip hop classes, and offers private lessons. She is an incredibly talented hip hop teacher and we are honored to have her be part of our school!
Erin Pattillo, Ballet
Born in Seattle, Erin began her early ballet training with Irene Larsen, former ballerina with the New York City Ballet. Erin also studied with the Joffery Ballet in NYC and performed with the Redwood Concert Ballet Company in California. Erin's teaching career began eighteen years ago. She worked for many years with the Washington contemporary Ballet in Tacoma, WA. She served as their Ballet Mistress and ballet instructor.
Most recently Erin was an instructor with Ballet Arts Olympia, she joined the staff of Studio West in 2008. Erin teaches ballet levels III-VI and is a talented and innovative choreographer. Her most recent works have been seen at the Dance Festival Northwest and the 2009-11 Spring Showcase with Studio West. Erin is married and has two beautiful children. We are so proud to have her be part of our school.
Elizabeth Piper, Guest Performer & Ballet/Jazz Instructor
Elizabeth Piper grew up in Olympia, WA where she first started her training at Ballet Arts of Olympia. She was first inspired by Musical Theatre classes at age 9 and as a result started training in Ballet at age 10.
Stephanie Wood was a primary inspiration and teacher for Ms. Piper, not only in her ballet training, but in her pursuit in becoming a proffesional dancer.
Ms. Piper has attended Summer Prorgams at The Pacific Northwest Ballet School, The Boston Ballet School, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School and The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre. Her most recent training was at The School of Oregon Ballet Theatre where she trained on full Scholarship under the direction of Damara Bennet and Cristopher Stowell.
Ms. Piper has performed in ballet's including Balanchine's Nutcracker, Rubies, Serenade, Walpurigisnacht & Valse Fantasie. She has also performed in many other ballet's including Lew Christensen's Il Distratto, Bruce Steivel's Peter Pan, Christopher Stowell's Peter and The Wolf, Bruce Wells Snow White and Betsey Wistrich's The Nutcracker, Carmen, Giselle and Swan Lake. Ms. Piper has also danced for Peter Kalvis's modern dance company The PGK Project in California.
Ms. Piper will be starting her third season with City Ballet of San Diego as a Company member after being an apprentice for two years. She also choreographs for the company periodically and has created two new works for them. Ms. Piper enjoys guest teaching at Studio West and is inspired by the hard working students and the positive energy the studio has to offer.
Hanna Punimata (Hamilton)
Hannah Punimata (Hamilton) was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She began her first ballet class at 4 years old and eventually began her dancing career when she moved to New York when she wa 20 years old. Her industry work includes recording artists such as Avant, Sean Kingston, Pit Bull, Ke$ha, Savage and Rihanna. After she moved back to CA, Hannah continued dancing for various teams and began teaching and coaching ages elementary through high school. She was recently married and moved to Washington with her husband and is happy to have found a new home with Studio West!
Marianna Ramsour ~ Ballet
Marianna Ramsour is a full time instructor for our academy and Ballet Mistress (rehearsal coach) for Studio West Dance Academy/Theatre. She formerly danced with the Metropolitan Ballet of Caracas, The National Ballet of Caracas and with Ballet Memphis. Ms. Ramsour brings many years of professional ballet and dancing expertise to our already highly qualified staff.
Sarah Abderrazzaq, Jazz
Hailing from the East Coast and New York City, Sarah has been seen performing across the country, abroad, and on the high seas in Chicago with the Broadway National Tour, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and more. She has held master classes on Fosse style choreography across the country, as well. Sarah studied at the top studios in New York after graduating with a BA in Musical Theatre Performance and Dance Minor from Wagner College. Some of her favorite shows include: A Chorus Line (North Shore Theatre), How to Succeed…(Depot Theatre), Evita (Walnut Hill), The Shape of Things (Wagner College), and The Glass Slipper (Wagner College). Sarah’s background in ballet started at a young age with Royal Academy of Dance and she is delighted to teach the students at Studio West Dance Academy.
Krista Suko, Ballet
Krista Suko began dancing at a young age with the Severance Ballet School in Fresno, California. As a young adult she spent many years volunteering in special education classrooms and with the Special Olympics. Ms. Suko attended a teacher academy program allowing her to spend a year with a kindergarten class at Lakes Elementary in Lacey, WA. She studied at South Puget Sound Community College early childhood development. Since 2002 has devoted herself to homeschooling her own children.
Ms. Suko rekindled her appreciation for dance with the opening of Studio West Dance Academy. She continues to enjoy taking classes in ballet, jazz, modern and tap, while also performing in Studio West Dance Theatre's production.
Rachel Tudor, Ballet
Rachel Tudor has been teaching for nearly 20 years. Passionate, demanding and very caring, Ms. Tudor is highly regarded as a gifted teacher and is known for bringing out the personal best in each of her students. She believes strongly every student of dance deserves an excellent education, whether or not the student continues on into the professional dance world. Many previous students have gone on to dance in ballet, modern and contemporary companies throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Students have also been accepted into prestigious college programs such as Julliard, Tisch/NYU, Fordham/Ailey, Utah, Oklahoma, and London Studio Centre, as well as for apprenticeships and into summer programs at such schools as ABT, SAB, San Francisco Ballet, Suzanne Farrell, PNB, Boston Ballet, The Rock School, Alonzo King’s Lines and Alvin Ailey. Ms. Tudor is an alumnus of Berklee College of Music in Boston, and brings a strong focus on musicality to her classes. She spent several years under the tutelage of Pilates master teacher Rael Isacowitz in Southern California. She believes that anyone working with growing bodies should have a good understanding of anatomy, physiology and development. She works very hard to make sure all her classes are safe, productive and supportive for every student. Studio West is honored to have Ms. Tudor.
Valerie Van Horn-Cotey, Ballet
Valerie Van Horn-Cotey has been dancing and performing in Olympia for over 20 years. She has performed several times in Studio West Dance Academy's Nutcracker and Peter Pan productions. As a teacher at Studio West, Ms. Val enjoys sharing her love, knowledge and enthusiasm of ballet and Pilates with her students. She also is the director of the Puget Sound Pilates facility in Olympia as well as owner of a software development company. In her leisure time, she enjoys boating, snowboarding and mountain biking in the Pacific Northwest.
Ari Wildau, Guest Choreographer & Jazz/Contemporary Instructor
Studio West welcomed Ari Wildau as a faculty member during the Fall of 2009. She studied at the Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School, and University of Colorado jazz dance workshops. Currently Ari instructs Jazz classes at Studio West. She also has extensive training in hip-hop, ballet, tango, salsa, break dancing, and modern. Ms. Ari travelled to Italy to continue her dance education and to choreograph the musical performance "Esmeralda". Ms. Ari was a member of the senior jazz troupe at Motion Underground in Boulder, CO for 6 years, where she was a dance instructor and director. Ms. Ari has performed in numerous dance productions, as well as prestigious dance competitions, both regionally and nationally. She currenlty lives in Argentina.
Sharonda Young, Modern
Sharonda began her dance training in sunny California at the age of 3. She spent her formative years studying in various forms of dance; ballet, pointe, tap and jazz but realized her true passion, Modern Dance, while obtaining her BFA in Dance and Choreography from Marymount Manhattan College. During her 8 years living in NYC Sharonda worked with various companies including the Martha Graham Dance Ensemble, the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Errol Grimes Dance Troupe, and TysanDance. Her very eclectic tastes; interest in math, shelving books, making coffee, dancing, and road trips, influence the style of teaching she has created here in the Pacific Northwest. Her goal is to create a passion for movement (bigger bigger!!) and comfort in personal expression in her students. Locally she had taught ballet, modern, tap, and jazz at schools in Tacoma, Auburn, Seattle, and Woodinville.