DDS instructors are highly experienced in their respective dance genres coming from a range of backgrounds and provide vast knowledge in the areas they teach. We are thrilled to have such a talented staff mentoring our students.

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Ursula Panagiotou
Studio Director
Tap, Jazz, LYrical 

Dancing since the age of three and teaching for over 25 years, Ursula’s love for the art of dance and teaching is contagious.  As Director of Definitive Dance Studio for 15 years as well as the award winning Definitive Dance Company; she prides herself on bringing innovative choreography, instruction and passion to her studio.  She enjoys teaching dancers of all ages and developing their passion for dance both technically and emotionally.

While obtaining her degree in Communications from Gonzaga University, Ursula headed the University’s dance department, as well as, founded and choreographed for the Gonzaga Dance Team.

She has studied with many well-known studios and dance artists from around the U.S. including; Edge Dance Center, Ballet Arts Academy, The Dance Studio, The Kirov & Bolshoi Ballet, plus Broadway dance Center and STEPS Dance Studio in New York City. Ursula has a background in tap, ballet, jazz, lyrical and musical theatre.

Ursula’s experience includes the television show Northern Exposure, industrial dance shows for Danskin and Nike, and Ballet Arts Academy Performing Group. She has choreographed for the Seattle Super Sonics Dance Team, Mo-Dazz Performing Group, as well as many other local performing companies.  Choreography awards include LA Dance Force, Rainbow Dance Competition, 24/7, MOVE and Star Power and she is also a recipient of Edge Dance Center scholarships.

In addition to dance, Ursula cheered in high school and college. She was selected for UCA’s international cheer squad where she cheered in London’s New Year’s Day parade. She has coached cheerleading and dance teams at Issaquah, Eastlake, Skyline, Bellevue and Black Diamond High Schools.

Ursula is married to husband Jim, and they have three boys (Jacob 9, and twins Joe & Zach 8) and daughter (Betsy 6). She is looking forward to continued success as Definitive Dance Studio. 


PreDance, Turns & Leaps, Lyrical, Ballet, Acro

Ale is a dance instructor, performer, and choreographer based in Seattle. She is a certified Acrobatic Arts instructor and teaches the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum.

Ale graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas State University with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography. Ale has performed inter/nationally with Khambatta Dance Company Amy Johnson, Dylan Ward, Ilona Roth, zoe | juniper, and Merge Dance Company in Seattle, Portland, Montana, Texas, and India.

In addition to being in the studio and on stage, Ale has worked behind the scenes as a co-founder of artist management company SQUID MGMT. As the Operations Manager at SQUID Ale worked with leading contemporary dance artists zoe | juniper, Kate Wallich, Amy O'Neal, KT Niehoff, Blind Tiger Society, Peggy Piacenza, and Jody Kuehner producing performances, fundraisers, and events in the Pacific Northwest. She was an instrumental part in producing the A Pacific Northwest Platform (NYC 2016), inter/national tours and sold-out performances for zoe | juniper, Amy O'Neal, Kate Wallich, and KT Niehoff. 


Karina Melikyan
Ballet, Pointe

Karina Melikyan is originally from Armenia. She trained in classical ballet (the Vaganova style) at the Ballet School of Yerevan. After graduating in 2002, she joined the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Armenia as a ballet artist. She has performed in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle, Cinderella, and Nutcracker. She taught classical ballet and caractere dances in Armenia and Syria and continued her career as a ballet teacher after moving to the US in 2010. Besides her Ballet career, Mrs. Melikyan holds a B.S. and M.S. degrees in Oriental Studies from Yerevan State University.


Emi mccracken

Emiko (Emi) McCracken, originally from the Bay Area California, has been dancing and performing since she was three years old. While growing up she trained and competitively danced all across California in ballet, jazz, tap & contemporary styles. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine and received a BA in Dance Performance. While in college, she had the opportunity to train and perform works by many choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Jodie Gates, Mike Esperanza, David Allen, Rennie Harris, and UCI's Etude Ensemble. Professionally, Emi performed as a dancer, aerialist, and served as dance captain onboard several ships for Holland America Cruise Line for 3 years. While living in San Francisco she was a member of renowned hip-hop group Funkanometry SF and performed throughout the Bay Area. Now living in Seattle, Emi loves to immerse herself in the dance community in Seattle. 

Timothy Johnson
Jazz, Teen Jazz/Lyrical

A native of Houston Texas, Tim started dancing  formal training at age 10  at Met Dance under the direction of Marlana Walsh Doyle , and Michelle Smith with ballet and Jazz and modern and musical theater. From 2004-2009 Tim served as a principal dancer for Psophonia dance company (Houston, TX) and Lula Elzy New Orleans Dance theater. Timothy's commercial work credits in Texas  include Six Flags Astroworld, Super Bowl 38, Aida, (Houston Grand Opera)and Texas Musical Drama (Canyon, Texas) from 2009-2013. Tim moved to Portland, Oregon and served as a faculty member and choreographer at Pacific University as well a company Dancer for Polaris Dance Theatre under the direction of Robert Guitron, and dancer and choreographer for Trip The Dark Dance company. He was also a local ensemble dancer and performer in the  theater community, and choreographed  for local high school dance teams and studios in the Portland dance community placing in the top 3 category for 5 years of his career as an assistant coach and choreographer. 

After moving to LA in October of 2014, Timothy was a faculty member of Revolution Dance Center in Montrose, CA. Timothy was a dancer for ODdancity’s 2016 summer performance “SCALDEAD” under the direction of Alex Floyd.  And choreographer for   LA Based Independent Artist Ralphy. He is also  the creative Director and founder of  his YouTube and Vimeo channel TJAZZJOHNSON productions. He has collaborated with Cinematography director Brett Spivey on two Short Dance film projects “nice to meet you nice knowing ya” and most recently, “Arrival” (a Dance Horror). Tim splits his time in Seattle, Washington with his partner of 7 years and served as a guest dancer with Seattle based contemporary dance company Karin Stevens Dance in March of 2017.  This summer he presented a new work at Velocity Dance Center’s Bridge Project series. 


Jessica cantu
Jazz Co Choreography

Jessica Reely, (newly Jessica Cantu), trained as a competitive dancer in Seattle until the age of 18, when she moved to L.A to pursue her career in the commercial dance industry. Ever since, Jessica's versatility allowed her to experience many facets of the industry, from dancing in contemporary companies such as Mark Meismer's "Evolution" alongside Travis Wall, to performing annually in the Bellagio New Years Eve spectacular in Las Vegas, and dancing in music videos for artists ranging from pop group, Black Eyed Peas to alternative artist, Fiona Apple. Some highlights of Jessica's career include being cast in the original workshop of the Broadway musical and motion picture, Rock of Ages, being long-time assistant to Emmy-award winning choreographers Mandy Moore and Tyce Diorio on So You Think You Can Dance, performing on television shows such as Dancing With the Stars, Cold Case and America's Got Talent and dancing for vocal artists including, Rod Stewart, Bill Medley, B.C Jean, and from Dancing With the Stars, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough's band, "Ballas Hough". Jessica also spent one year as Dance Captain of the Disney Dream cruise ship in the Bahamas before moving home to Seattle in 2012, where she now teaches at various local dance studios, guest judges for Velocity Dance Convention, and spends time with her husband, Joe, and puppy, Boss. 


Jacob Gamlieli

Jacob is a third generation dance instructor in a family of great dancers. Jacob's training began with tap, ballet, jazz and later grew to include include lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, acrobatics, step dancing and aerial hoop & silks. Jacob has many performing acclamations to his name including World Championship awards. As an instructor and choreographer Jacob has coached many groups to High Score Awards and his choreography is often recognized for its entertainment value. Jacob attended PLU and opened and sold two successful dance studios. Now he entertains thru comedy, event coordination, performing on stage as well as teaching all around the PNW. Jacob teaches a fun class that is mentally and physically challenging all while infusing it with humor. 


Makenna Liller

Makenna Liller has been dancing since the age of 4. In 2014, Makenna joined the Company at Millennium Dance Complex Pittsburgh and was a member for 2 years. While being with the Company, she performed in multiple shows in Pittsburgh, Choreographers Carnival in LA, Millennium Experience: LA, and World of Dance Chicago. Growing up in Ohio, she competitively danced for 2 studios, and was trained in multiple styles. She has taught in multiple studios around the Ohio and Pennsylvania area for almost 6 years. Makenna is currently living in Seattle, Washington and is a member of 2 performance/training companies: Cruz Control, under the direction of Daniel Cruz and Varsity Dance Co., under the direction of Isaac Tualualelei. She also teaches and choreographs contemporary at multiple studios in the Seattle area.


Angie Beals

Angie Beals has 17 years of experience in dance instruction at local studios including Westlake Dance Center, Seattle WA; Gotta Dance, Redmond WA and Allegro Performing Arts Academy, Kent, WA. She teaches jazz, lyrical, contemporary and ballet to pre-teen through adult aged dancers, levels beginning through advanced. Angie was the co-director of Seattle-based benefit company En l’air Dance from 2003-2012, which served to connect local adult dancers with performance opportunities while also giving back to non-profit organizations in the community. Angie is also an experienced choreographer. Her work has been seen in En l’air Dance concerts, Westlake Dance Center productions, Physical Poetry as well as in other local dance collective performances. Angie has studied dance consistently for the past 22 years primarily through Westlake Dance Center and Velocity Dance Center in Seattle, WA. Over the years, she has enriched her own experience as a dancer by traveling to studios in New York and Los Angeles as well as many dance conventions and workshops. As a teen, she performed and competed with her local dance studio as well as her high school dance team. Angie is passionate about safe, clean technique and creative expression. When not dancing, Angie works as a Certified Nurse Midwife at Valley Medical Center. After many busy years pursuing her career, Angie is excited to be teaching dance again regularly and grateful for the opportunity to join the Definitive Dance family.


Shushanik babayan
Creative Movement

Shushanik Babayan was born in Yerevan, Armenia. Her first step in to the dance world was at the Yerevan State Dancing Art College where she graduated as an artist of ballet in 2010. The same year Shushanik joined ,Barekamutyun’ State Dance Ensemble of Armenia and shortly was promoted as a soloist. Shushanik has participated in various dance festivals and traveled internationally with the company. Her breakthrough performance was in Siretsi, which became her signature performance.

She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinematography in 2015 as a theater critic. Currently Shushanik works as a choreographer/instructor of classical ballet (Vaganova method) and National dances in Los Angeles and Seattle area. She finds her inspiration in art and loves to share it with her audience and students.

2019-20 Dance Company Choreographers

Ursula Panagiotou
Ale Madera
Jess Reely-Cantu
Makenna Liller
Jacob Gamlieli
Angie Beals
Emi McCracken

Past Instructors, Choreographers, and Guest Teachers

Kim Gockel - 2019
Gilbert Small - 2019
Shadou Mintrone - 2019
Ramona Cachinero - 2019
Ranita Hollinshed - 2019
Natalya Zrazhevskaya - 2019
Jennifer Jones - 2019
Mariah Dhaese - 2019
Brittany Mattox - 2019
Amy Hollens - 2019
Karl Watson - 2018 - 2019
Shane Donohue - 2017 - 2019
Lyla Medeiros - 2018 - 2019
Dana Douthwaite - 2018 - 2019
Kelsey Hamon 2014 - 2018
Xaviera Vandermay 2015 - 2018
Chloe Albin - 2015 - 2018
Britt Karhoff - 2017 - 2018
Cait Wyler - 2017
Kristen Martensen - 2017
Natalie Dukane - 2017
Kristina Koumaeva - 2015 - 2017
Marisa Katsman - 2015 - 2017
Kate Wallich - 2016
Naomi Glass - 2012 - 2016
Amy O'Neal - 2015
Zoe Scofield - 2015
Skye Story - 2012 - 2014
Tara Townsend - 2013 - 2015