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. 


Ale Madera
PreDance, Turns & Leaps, Lyrical, Jazz

Ale is a dance instructor, performer, choreographer and fitness professional based in Seattle. She has been teaching at Definitive Dance for 4 years and can be found helping with Dance Company or in the office. When she is not in the dance studio she is teaching the Lagree Method at Studio 45.

Ale graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas State University with a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography and received several academic dance division scholarships. 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. Most recently her film 120mm premiered at Seattle Transmedia Independent Film Festival (2016). Her dance film Innerspring has been screened at Seattle True Independent Film Festival (2015) and Texas State University's Opening Door Dance Theater (2014), and her dance film Indifferently Empty was a featured student film for San Souci Film Festival in Austin (2011). 

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 has been trained in classical ballet (the Vaganova style) at the Ballet School of Yerevan. After her graduation 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 baleet 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.


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 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. 


Emi mccracken

Emiko (Emi) Gatineau, originally from the Bay Area California, has been dancing and performing since she was three years old. She trained and competed 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 served as a dancer and aerialist as well as the dance captain for Holland America Cruise Line for 3 years. She was also a member of renowned hip hop group Funkanometry SF and performed with the group around California. As a newcomer to the Pacific Northwest, Emi is excited to immerse herself in the dance community in Seattle. 


Britt karhoff

Choreographer and performer, Britt Karhoff's work has been presented in Seattle at Velocity Dance Center, On the Boards, Behind the Pink Door, NEPO 5K and at the Joe Goode Annex in San Francisco. She has performed locally, nationally and internationally on stages, in historic buildings and on the sides of skycrapers with artists and companies including Project Bandaloop, Joe Goode Performance Group, Flyaway Productions, zoe | juniper, KT Niehoff and Alice Gosti among many others. 

2018-19 Dance Company Choreographers

Ursula Panagiotou
Ale Madera
Jess Reely-Cantu
Dana Douthwaite
Makenna Liller
Jacob Gimelli
Angie Beals

Past Instructors, Choreographers, and Guest Teachers

Kelsey Hamon 2014 - 2018
Xaviera Vandermay 2015 - 2018
Chloe Albin - 2015 - 2018
Shane Donohue - 2017
Kim Lusk - 2017
Cait Wyler - 2017
Kristen Martensen - 2017
Natalie Dukane - 2017
Thomas House - 2017
Julia Sloane - 2017
Kristina Koumaeva - 2015 - 2017
Marisa Katsman - 2015 - 2017
Kate Wallich - 2016
Naomi Glass - 2012 - 2016
Amy O'Neal - 2015
Zoe Scofield - 2015
Michael O'Neal Jr. - 2017, 2015
Skye Story - 2012 - 2014
Tara Townsend - 2013 - 2015