Alisa Laraway

Owner

With DC: From the beginning! We thank her for giving us this wonderful workplace!

Dance History: Alisa was born and raised in Dallas where she began her dance studies at the age of 2 in 1972 at her mother’s dance school. While at her mother’s studio, Alisa was a member of Dallas Dance Elite, later becoming Artistic Director and Choreographer. In 1988 Alisa was honored with a scholarship to Patsy Swayze’s Dance Studio in Los Angeles. Along with training at her mother’s dance studio, Alisa has also studied at Chamberlain School of Ballet, Buster Cooper’s School of Dance, and Dance Etc. She has studied many genres of dance, ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, musical theater, not to mention twirling and gymnastics! Alisa has received many additional achievements and scholarships for her performances and choreography for several major productions around the world. In 1996 Alisa founded Alisa’s Dance Academy in Westlake and Austin’s Dance Elite, the youth performing company. Verge Dance Co. and BA Productions were founded through the academy in 2001. Today, she continues to direct the Westlake and Lakeway Academy locations. Alisa is a Member of The National Dance Association (NDA), American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), ASCAP and SESAC and is American Dance Certified (ADC).

Styles of Dance (studied or taught): Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Pointe, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Musical Theater

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gregory Hines, Twyla Tharp

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Travis Wall, Chelsie Hightower

Shelley Hale

General Manager & Teams Specialist / Westlake & Round Rock

With DC: Since August 2002

Dance History: Shelley first started dancing at the age of 15 in high school as a member of the dance team. She attended Texas State University and received her degree in Dance and Education in 1997. Her training while at Texas State was modern intensive, training primarily in the (Erich) Hawkins technique. She holds a Lifetime Texas Teaching Certificate in Dance. After teaching and directing dance teams in the central Texas area for several years, and producing several award winning teams, Shelley moved to Austin and has been with DC ever since!

Styles of Dance (studied or taught): Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical & Modern. As a HS dance director she taught all styles and choreographed most team pieces.

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Mia Michaels, Travis Wall, Tabitha & Napolean

Jessica Gray

Sales Associate / Round Rock

With DC: Since March 2018

Dance History: Jessica Gray started dancing at the age of two in Rowlett, TX. She pursued dance in many ways as a young child and in her high school years. She competed with both her drill team and competitive studio teams, and was also in theatre and musicals. She attended The University of Texas at Austin and received her BFA in August of 2015. While attending UT, Jessica had the pleasure of working with many current choreographers and with the classical works of choreographers, the late Robert Battle (Brooklyn) of BattleWorks, Paul Taylor (New York), Charles O. Anderson (Austin), Kate Watson-Wallace (Brooklyn), and her favorite Mark Morris (Brooklyn) of Mark Morris Dance Group. She also got to choreograph in many student run shows as well as her final main stage show as a senior member of Dance Repertoire Theater. Upon graduating in 2015, Jessica has been a seasonal dancer with the site-specific contemporary company Dance Waterloo. She has performed in many of their evening works such as “Underpass over Skylines” (2015), “Panorama Playground: Hurly Burly” (2017), and “Off the Wall” (2017). She has taught all over Austin and is currently a teacher at West Austin Dance Academy teaching all ages of dancers in many different genres/techniques.

Styles of Dance (studied or taught): Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer:  William Forsythe

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Kate Watson-Wallace

Derrick M. Lee II

Sales Associate / Round Rock & Westlake

With DC: Since March 2018

Dance History: A late bloomer, Derrick’s passion for dance didn’t start until his freshman year of college when he auditioned for an organization on the Texas A&M University campus called Fade to Black. Predominantly focusing on hip hop, he studied a variety of dance styles from tap and contemporary to bollywood and salsa. In addition to dancing on campus, he danced with MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew’s SoRealCru Performance Team and was awarded many scholarships at different conventions such as PULSE and Monsters of Hip Hop. His success and experience in the arts helped leverage his move to New York City in March of 2015 where he took class, auditioned, and performed on several stages. He is excited to be back in Texas inspiring, leading, and directing individuals front and center on this beautiful stage we call life. He currently teaches Hip Hop at Alisa's Dance Academy.

Styles of Dance (studied or taught): Hip Hop, Tap, Contemporary, Bollywood, Salsa

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Michael Jackson, Debbie Allen, Bob Fosse

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Keone & Mariel Madrid, Jackie Lautchang, Trisha Miranda, Sonya Tayeh

Betsey Lipp

Lead Sales Associate / Westlake

With DC: Since November 2016

Dance History:  Betsey grew up in Saratoga Springs NY where she began her classical ballet studies at the age of 4, attending Phyllis Latin’s American Dance Center. Between taking classes and the ADC company rehearsals, her training quickly developed into dancing at least 30 hours a week. By the time she was 10, Betsey was accepted into many intensive pre-professional summer programs. Dancing at prestigious institutions such as Hubbard Street, Joffrey Ballet, Interlochen Arts Academy and Northwestern University. She studied Visual Communication at FIDM in Los Angeles and graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art. Betsey recently moved to Austin and is continuing to follow her passion for the creative arts.

Styles of Dance (studied or taught): Classical Ballet, Pointe, Pas De Deux, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Modern, Musical Theater

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Gene Kelly, Robert Joffrey, Mikhail Baryshnikov

 Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Misty Copeland, Mia Michaels, Travis Wall, Sergei Polunin

Cinda McCullars

Sales Associate / Westlake

With DC: Since September 2017

Dance History:  Cinda began her passion for dance at a very young age watching her mom teach. She started dancing at the age of 3 under the mentorship of Joel Ruminer. Her senior year of high school she was presented the prestigious Outstanding Senior Dancer Award. After graduating she was honored to travel with the nationally known Joel Ruminer’s Dance Camps as a Dance Camp Kid where she had the opportunity to train under many top masters. Cinda started teaching dance in high school and continued through college teaching at several studios around Arkansas. In 2002 she moved to Austin, and in 2005 had twins Eyan and Chloe.  In 2015, after spending 7 years as a dance mom, she joined the staff at Alisa’s Dance Academy and now has joined the team at DC!

Styles of Dance (studied or taught): Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Pointe, and Lindy Hop

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Ginger Rogers, Gregory Hines

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Mandy Moore, Gaby Diaz

Krista Robinson

Sales Associate / Westlake

With DC: Since August 2015

Dance History:  Krista grew up in the Midwest where she started dancing at age 3, studying jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and tumbling.  Hailing from northern Illinois she danced and competed with Contemporary Dance Expressions and Midwest Performing Arts Center into her early 20s.  In college, she studied modern and ballet at Northern Illinois University, from which she graduated in 2009 with a BA in English. With over 10 years of teaching experience, she recently moved to Austin in order to build a career here.  She is currently an instructor, and the office manager, at Alisa's Dance Academy and dances with local companies throughout Austin.

Styles of Dance (studied or taught):  Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Modern, Contemporary, and Hip Hop

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Lester Horton, the Nicholas Brothers, Gregory Hines, Debbie Allen

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Kevin Wilson, Marcel Wilson, Sonya Tayeh, Mia Michaels

Melissa Torres

Sales Associate / Round Rock & Westlake

With DC: Since October 2016

Dance History:  Melissa started dancing when she was 15 when she joined color guard/ winter guard at Katy High School in Katy, TX. She participated all 4 years. During her time in winter guard her group were TCGC state champions her freshman and sophomore years. She is  currently a senior at Huston-Tillotson University seeking a major in political science and minor in pre-law.

Styles of Dance (studied or taught):  Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, and Hip Hop

Favorite Historical Dancer/Choreographer: Jack Cole, Gene Kelly

Favorite Current Dancer/Choreographer: Joaquin Cortes