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. 


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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. 


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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.


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Kelsey Hamon
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.


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Chloe Albin
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.


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Jessica cantu
Jazz

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. 


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Emi Gatineau
Contemporary

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. 


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MICHAEL O'NEAL JR
Hip hop

 

Michael O'Neal Jr. (Majinn) is an African American dancer who utilizes his training in both street/urban and classical dance styles to find and express his whole self. Michael believes that to be the best dancer he can be he should be versatile and push his own comfort zone. Through dance Michael has grown to become a dancer and teacher who loves to see his students growth as well as grow with his students. Through his art Michael hopes to inspire those he can, to follow their dreams and continue to grow in everyday life. One of Michael’s biggest goals in dance is to try and bridge the gap between the classical and street dance worlds and build a stronger dance community in his own city and a far. He is a part of both Chapter1NE and Beat Hippies dance crews as well as Seattle’s Au Collecive. You can find Michael under the moniker Choreomike on Youtube and other social media. 


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xaviera vandermay
Jazz

Xaviera Vandermay (Seattle, WA) received the majority of her training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Washington Academy of Performing Arts, Joel Hall Dancers and Center and has studied on scholarship at Giordano Dance Center (Chicago), Gyrotonic Seattle (Seattle), Joel Hall Dancers and Center (Chicago) and Spectrum Dance Theater (Seattle).  She toured and performed professionally in the U.S. and Mexico with Spectrum Dance Theater (2000-03) under the direction of Donald Byrd and former directors Dale A Merrill and Wade Madsen. While dancing for Spectrum, Xaviera had the phenomenal experience of serving as a choreographer assistant to Lynn Taylor-Corbett in her creation of "From the Prayers Edge" that she created for and later set on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As a performer, Xaviera has also danced for Street Level Dance (Seattle), GI Alliance (Chicago) and Duwane Pendarvis (Chicago) and has served as a back up dancer for Neil Young, VASSY, Fly Moon Royalty, The Bad Tenants, and Mike Illvester. Her love of music has led to live music and dance collaborations with Dark Hip Falls, Naomi Wachira, Josh Orion, Whitney Mongé, and The Bad Tenants and appearing in the newest Shabazz Palaces music video, and music video choreography work with OTAMP the CHAMP, Vespera, and Naomi Wachira. 

In 2010, Ms Vandermay founded professional contemporary jazz dance company, 3rd Shift Dance.  Through 3rd Shift, her choreography has been presented at MixMatch Dance Festival (Los Angeles), Galaxy Dance Festival (Portland), On the Boards, Seattle International Dance Festival, Converge Dance Festival, Seattle RAW Artists, Seattle Art Museum, CW television show "Band in Seattle", Cornish College of the Arts Senior showcase, on the runway in a collaboration with Alfaparf Hair, short film "Lulu and Bopsie Destroy the Universe" directed by Nils Osmar, and much more.  In 2016, Xaviera along with Associate Director Ian Howe formed the 3rd Shift Dance Youth Ensemble as a training ground for young dancers whom aspire to join the ranks of 3rd Shift Dance as professionals. They enrich their training through community events such as their partnership with Lupus Foundation of America and donated performances to area high school teams fundraiser events. When Ms Vandermay is not working in her capacity as 3SD and 3SDYE Artistic Director, she serves as the Office + Operations Manager of Velocity Dance Center, freelance choreographer for New York firm GoSeeDo, and is on the faculty of Westlake Dance Center, eXit SPACE - School of Dance, Definitive Dance Studio, and Gotta Dance.


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Britt karhoff
Contemporary

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. 


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Olivia Harrington
PreDance, Jazz, Lyrical


2017-18 Dance Company Choreographers

Ursula Panagiotou
Ale Madera
Jess Reely-Cantu
Chloe Albin
Michael O'Neal Jr
Emi Gatineau


Past Instructors, Choreographers, and Guest Teachers

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