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.
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, 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 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.
Jazz, Lyrical, turns & leaps
Growing up in the Seattle area, Marisa enjoys living a healthy and active lifestyle. Competing in jazz, lyrical and contemporary, Marisa has been an avid dancer since the age of 3. Marisa started off as a mini on the Definitive Dance Team in 2004 and graduated from Mercer Island High School and Definitive Dance in 2013. As part of the DDS team, she traveled to Las Vegas for Nationals as well as attended summer intensives in Los Angeles. She was awarded many scholarships and awards as part of the Definitive Dance Team.
Currently, Marisa is a senior at the University of Washington, majoring in Public Health and minoring in Nutrition. After graduation in June, Marisa will go to nursing school to become a registered nurse and eventually a nurse practitioner. Loving all things related to health, fitness, and dance, Marisa spends much of her time working at Pure Barre, Swedish Medical Center and DDS. This is her third year as part of the Definitive Dance teaching team and she is excited to share her love of dance by motivating her students in a positive, energetic and passionate way.
Creative Movement, predance, ballet, teen jazz/lyr/ConT
Kelsey Hamon is a Seattle-based choreographer, performer, and dance educator. She has performed as a principle dancer with Mendana Productions, Karin Stevens Dance, and Serendipity Dance Brigade. Kelsey is now Co-Director of Sapience Dance Collective and continues to create and produce her own work. Since receiving her BS in Dance from the University of Idaho Kelsey has been teaching dance to all ages for over 12 years. Her teaching style focuses on biomechanics and kinesiology to instill a strong technical base her students can use to explore the emotionality and dynamics necessary to perform.
lyrical, Contemporary, tap
Native to the Seattle area, Chloe is a professional dancer and teaching artist. She studied dance at Chapman University in Southern California and happily moved to the Pacific Northwest to explore the dance community and expand her relationship to movement; since diving into the work of local artists in early 2016, Chloe has performed for Nathan Blackwell, Daniel Costa, Cameo Lethem, Dylan Ward/Sleep Nod, Wade Madsen, Markeith Wiley, and Veronica Lee-Baik/The Three Yells. She finds deep joy in movement and connection with others. Chloe strives to create positive environments in which her students feel motivated to take risks and widen their understanding of dance.
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.
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.
Ian Howe was inspired to start dancing at age 5 when he watched Savion Glover perform on Sesame Street. He started training at a small studio in Woodinville, later moving to what would become his home for almost 18 years, Backstage Dance Studio owned by Marty Roerts. While at Backstage Ian competed regionally and nationally on their competitive dance team. While competing he was able to take classes from greats like Frank Hatchet, Joe Tremaine and Joe Lantieri. In 2004, Ian took the incredible opportunity to travel and perform all over the world as a dancer and singer on Holland America Line, where he remained for almost eight years. Returning to both land (and his roots) in 2011, Ian started teaching at Backstage, throwing himself into the Hip Hop world and choreographing award-winning numbers for four years. Over the summer Ian was able to expand into choreographing his first musical (The Music Man) with Rosebud Children's Theater Conservatory. Ian was also able to teach outside of his normal studios, going to Oregon, Utah and various studios all around the PNW! Setting competitive choreography, running intensives and getting to meet some new and wonderfully inspiring dance teachers and students.
Over the summer, Ian had the chance to work with Constanze Villines of Re:flexion Productions on a Solo debuting at Seattle International Dance Festival, "Divisible by 2", to a sold out house. He also performs regularly with 3rd Shift Dance under the direction of Xaviera Vandermay, where he not only performs but is also a Rehearsal Director for the main company and Associate Director for the 3rd Shift Dance Youth Ensemble. With 3SD, Ian has had the opportunity to perform in Polaris Dance Company's Galaxy Fest in Portland, OR, Los Angeles, California for Hart Pulse's 10th Annual Mix Match Festival and most recently he has performed with the fantastic Seattle Artist, Naomi Wachira, for Shift Sessions: Volume 2. Ian has also had the honor of working with artists Lauren Edson, Eva Stone and he has many projects coming down the line! Ian enjoys teaching all over and he hopes to continue to "Motivate & Inspire through Dance" wherever he goes.
2017 Dance Company Choreographers
Past Instructors, Choreographers, and Guest Teachers
Julia Sloane - 2017
Kate Wallich - 2016
Naomi Glass - 2012 - 2016
Amy O'Neal - 2015
Zoe Scofield - 2015
Michael O'Neal Jr. - 2015
Skye Story - 2012 - 2014
Tara Townsend - 2013 - 2015