// Teaching Artists //

Velocity Teaching Artists are among the best in their chosen field of practice. All our Teaching Artists are practicing artists with extensive experience in working in the professional arts sector. We invite you to meet our very talented teaching team:

Amy O’Neal is a performer, choreographer, and dance educator, sometimes making work under the name AmyO/tinyrage. From 2000-2010, she was the co-director of locust (music/dance/video). Over the past decade, she has taught and toured nationally and internationally and choreographed for theater, commercials, and music videos. Amy has been an artist in residence at Bates Dance Festival, Headlands Center for the Arts, the US/Japan Choreographer’s Exchange/DTW, and Velocity Dance Center.  She is an Artist Trust Fellow, Creative Capital/NPN/NDP/Mid Atlantic Arts Grantee, DanceWEB Scholar, and Stranger Genius Shortlister with a BFA from Cornish.

Bryon Carr recently moved back to Seattle after living in New York City for 17 years. He has trained, taught and performed throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has spent the bulk of his time in NYC where he has worked with White Wave Rising, Popo and GoGo Boys, Young Soon Kim, The Graham Ensemble, Chen and Dancers, and The Erick Hawkins Dance Company. Although his training is in ballet and Graham technique he likes to integrate improvisation, text and media into his dance making process. In 2002 he began showing his own dance/media work throughout New York and has been presented by; Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, Joyce SoHo, The Wave Rising Series in DUMBO, Triskelion Arts Center and Chashama Arts. Outside of New York, he has shown in Seattle, Boston, and Berlin. He also just completed his MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts or PIMA from Brooklyn College in MA.

Cait Wyler is a movement artist who worked in Miami and New York before moving to Seattle. She began dancing so that her mother could have peace and quiet at home, and eventually got a degree from Texas Christian University in Modern Dance. She has studied in workshops and masterclasses with Tere O’Connor, Mark Haim, Jesse Zaritt, KT Neihoff, Jody Kuehner, Shannon Stewart, Jenna Riegel, and Nina Martin. Currently she works as Programming Coordinator at Velocity and teaches at Bainbridge Dance Center.


Ellie Sandstrom is a choreographer, performer and dance educator, who is fueled by movement in many forms. She is a 2013 Velocity Dance Center Creative Residency recipient, a Seattle Magazine “Spotlight Award” winner  and can be seen in a book entitled “Seattle 100″ by photographer Chase Jarvis. Since receiving her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, she has worked with many dance makers and artists, including Scott/Powell Performance and locust (from 2000-2010), as well as Seattle Dance Project, The Three Yells, Amy O’Neal, Mark Haim, Dayna Hansen, Reggie Watts, Lynn Shelton with Karn Junkinsmith, Corrie Befort and countless others, both in live stage and film work. Her choreographic work, under the name SANDSTROMMOVEMENT, has been funded by the Office of Arts & Culture , as well as Artist Trust and has been presented by organizations such as On the Boards, Velocity Dance Center, Perpich Center for the Arts and Creative Dance Center. She has created new work through commissions from Seattle Dance Project, Stone Productions, Washington Ensemble Theater and Evoke Productions, among others. She has taught a variety of dance forms at many schools and studios in the city and beyond, including the University of Washington. She currently teaches Ballet @ Velocity and Contemporary Dance, Hip Hop and Dance Performance to middle and high school students at the Northwest School, where she is the Dance Department Chair. She is also on faculty for Seattle Theater Group’s Dance This! Program for youth (since ’09). sandstrommovement.com


Jaret Hughes has 14 years of dance experience, with Hip Hop being his specialty along with training in Modern, Jazz, Ballet and African. Jaret has 11 years of choreographing and teaching experience with all ages, including 8 years at Elizabeth’s Dance Dimensions in Bellevue, Washington. Jaret’s choreography credits include the L.A. Clippers Spirit Dance Team (guest choreographer), Seattle Supersonics Dance Team for 5 years, founder of 2wisted Elegance from Seattle and LA’s debut of 2wisted Elegance with the help of his good friend Joey Cooper, Modazz Competition Teams at Elizabeth’s Dance Dimensions, co-choreographer and dancer for EVE in LA, and assistant choreographer / assistant Artistic Director for the “Invitation Feedback” video contest submission for Janet Jackson. Jaret Competed on Destination Stardom in Hawaii. Jaret’s performances include: Seattle’s Kube 93’s Summer Jam for 3 years with Twisted Elegance, which included sharing the main stage with artists such as Destiny’s Child, Ginuwine, Busta Rhymes, Blackstreet, Naughty By Nature and many more; various Hip Hop shows throughout Seattle including Daniel Cruz’s Battle of Seattle Remix 3 and 4 and, most recently while living in LA for 2 1/2 years, performances with Breed OCLA for numerous dance competitions and guest performances for the DVD Release Party for “Step Up 2: The Streets”. Jaret has shared his choreography expertise with various high school and college dance teams throughout Washington, California and Idaho.

Jody Kuehner is part dance artist and part bio drag queen named Cherdonna Shinatra.  Jody is in her seventh year dancing for the Pat Graney Company.  She has also been Pat’s dance intern for the company’s prison project “Keeping the Faith.  She’s in her fifth year dancing with Mark Haim and has acted as his Administrative Assistant and Rehearsal Director for various projects.  She worked as Dayna Hanson’s Production Coordinator for two evening length works and has been Assistant to the Director for Hanson’s feature length film “Improvement Club”. She is also Hanson’s Assistant Director for the most recent work “The Clay Duke”.  From 2003-2009, Jody was a member of d9 Dance Collective and has also danced with Wade Madsen, KT Niehoff, Laura Curry, and Amy O’Neal (Tiny Rage) among others. Jody’s persona Cherdonna Shinatra performs regularly with DeLouRue Productions and also performs periodically with paulanow productions and NARK Magazine.  She and Lou Henry Hoover made work as “The Cherdonna and Lou Show” for five years, teaching, producing, performing.  They were recognized as Seattle Magazine’s 2010 Spotlight Award Winners. The Cherdonna and Lou Show also presented work and taught at the CORD conference on dance and gender in 2012. Jody currently teaches technique at Velocity Dance Center and has taught at their summer intensive Strictly Seattle as well as the Seattle Festival of Dance Improvisation.  She has presented choreography at On The Boards, Velocity Dance Center, Northwest Film Forum, Bumbershoot and the Joyce SoHo NYC. She is Velocity’s Artist in Residence for 2014 and is being produced by Velocity’s Made in Seattle program. Jody is also in residence at KT Neihoff’s space 10 Degrees.  She holds a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of South Florida and has been supported by the Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and 4Culture.


Kaitlin McCarthy likes dance. She likes to make it, see it, direct it, teach it, think about it, talk about it, and write about it. She began dancing in her hometown of Ann Arbor, MI before attending Mt Holyoke College where she graduated summa cum laude in 2009. In Seattle she has danced with over a dozen local artists. She has choreographed work for Velocity’s Fall Kick-Off, 12 Minutes Max/On the Boards, Evoke Productions’ Full Tilt, BOOST Dance Festival, and her self-produced show, HOT MESS. Kaitlin is a member of the Seattle Contact Improvisation Lab and a staff writer for Seattle Dances. For more information visit kaitlinmccarthy.com.

Kate Wallich duos as both choreographer and dance artist creating works that are generated in collaboration with concept designer/dancer Lavinia Vago (SEA/NY) and multi-instrumentalist/pop singer Lena Simon (SEA/LA). She has presented her work as part of the Seattle International Dance Festival/ Beyond the Threshold, The BOOST Dance Festival, On the Boards/12 Minutes Max, and Velocity Dance Center/Founder’s Theater. A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and Cornish, Kate has worked with and been mentored by artists Tonya Lockyer, Zoe Scofield, KT Neihoff, and Olivier Wevers. Her teaching style has been influenced by the teachings and practices of Ohad Naharin (Gaga), Zoe Scofield (zoe|juniper), Rudolf Van Laban, Wade Madsen, Louse Bedard, Margie Gillis, William Forsythe, and many others.
PRESS 25 to Watch – listed as one of Dance Magazine’s “Top 25 to Watch in 2015″ – Dance Magazine, January 2015

Kathleen Hunt has had a lifelong passion for movement. After graduating with a BA in Dance from the University of Washington, she went on to produce/ choreograph/perform and collaborate on numerous dance productions. Kathleen owes her understanding of yoga to amazing teachers: Swami Shankarananda, Dharma Mitra, Marie Svoboda, Sri K Patabhi Jois and Aadil Palkhivala. Hunt taught yoga at Physical Culture Dance Center from 1987-1998. In 1995 she formed the ‘Samadhi Yoginis’ dance troupe which performed at yoga conferences, schools, senior centers and nightclubs. She founded/co-directed the Samadhi Yoga Center with Steven Davis from 1999-2014 and created the Yoga Alliance certified Samadhi Yoga Teacher Training program in 1998, training over 200 teachers.

Kokou Gbakenou has honed his professional dance and performance skills for over fifteen years. Originally from Togo, West Africa, Kokou has toured in Germany (Steptext Dance Project, Helge Letonja and Opiyo Okach), France and Belgium (Dunia Dance Theater, Harold George) with various groups, and was twice in residency at l’Ecole des Sables in Senegal (Germaine Acogny). He led an artistic association called Circuit Cinema et Arts Vivants (CCAV), and collaborated extensively with the French Cultural Center of Lome, the Goethe Institut, and with dance companies such as Woenyo and Brin de Chocolat. Prior to moving to Seattle in December 2013, he taught dance in Togo at the Lycee Fracais de Lome and Ecoles Arc-en-Ciel in Lome. Since 2010 Kokou has worked on an original movement technique called “Magan.” Kokou integrates elements of Capoeira, Hip Hop, Yoga, Tai Shi and pan-African contemporary dance styles into his repertoire, inaddition to his mastery of the traditional dances of Togo. In Seattle in December 2013, he integrated Gasango Music and Dance (Etienne Codjo Cakpo) and participated at Dance This Festival in July 2014 with Seattle Theater Group, and in August 2014 he went to OMI International Dance Residency in Ghent (New York). aldance.weebly.com  youtube.com/alnuzan  magan.blogvie.com

Kyle Johnson is a Seattle based dance artist, working with the contemporary company Whim W’Him. He received his training from Tacoma City Ballet, Tacoma School of the Arts, Pacific Northwest Ballet and SD/Prism Dance Theatre. Kyle has been teaching ballet and modern dance in the Seattle Area for the past 8 years. His strongest influences come from his training with teaching artists Kabby Mitchell III, Stephanie Saland and Sonia Dawkins. 

Lila Hurwitz is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner who has been teaching since 1987, including one of Seattle’s longest-running weekly Feldenkrais classes since 1995. She’s performed with Lucia Neare’s Theatrical Wonders, Nina Martin, Karen Nelson, Lisa Nelson, Oslund & Co./Dance, Stephanie Skura, Crispin Spaeth Dance Group, Linda K. Johnson, Bebe Miller, Ann Carlson and many others. More at www.feldenkraisteachersinseattle.com


Mark Haim has been choreographing and teaching for over 25 years. He was Artistic Director of Mark Haim & Dancers from 1984-1987, and the Companhia de Danca de Lisboa from 1987-1990. He has created new works for dance companies such as the Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Frankfurt, the Limon Dance Company, the Joffrey II Dancers, and the  Rotterdamse Dansgroep, and has restaged his works on The Joffrey Ballet, the Bat-Dor Dance Company of Israel, Djazzex, and the Juilliard Dance Ensemble. His full evening solo project, The Goldberg Variations, has been performed at the American Dance Festival, the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, The John F. Kennedy Center, On The Boards and other venues in the U.S, Europe, Asia. His newest work, This Land Is Your Land, opened the ArtDanThe Festival in Paris, and has also been performed at the Joyce Theater in NYC and in the Nasher Museum of Art as part of the 2013 ADF performing series. Most recently, Mark choreographed for the Seattle Opera’s productions of The Consul and Tales of Hoffmann. Mark has been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival since 1993 and was the Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington Dance Program from 2002-2008. He has also taught at the Reed College, NC School of the Arts, University of Illinois, Ohio University, SMU, VCU, Cornell, JMU,  and for schools and companies in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Russia, Argentina, Chile and Japan. He is a recipient of a NYFA Choreographers Fellowship, 2 NEA Choreographers Fellowships, and grants from the NPN Suitcase Fund,  ArtsLink, Inc. and the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Mark is a Fulbright Senior Specialist.
PRESS 15 Artists, 15 Years, 15 Works – Haim’s This Land is Your Land listed as one of the most influential works in the past 15 years. – Dance Magazine, January 2015

Matt Drews is a movement artist who oscillates between the realms of dance, yoga + performance. His creative roles aqueous as choreographer, performer + teacher. He facilitates states of experience for bodies to investigate movement with a heightened lens toward healing, presence + ritual. He studied at Naropa University + holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts. His work has been produced at Decibel Electronic Music Festival, On the Boards + Velocity Dance Center. He has collaborated with Ate9 dANCE cOMPANY, tEEth Performance, Saint Genet, Kate Wallich + the YC, The Pendleton House + Modern Recollections. He is currently developing a new work as a 2015 Artist in Residence at Velocity Dance Center. www.mattdrews.com
PRESS Confronting the Intangible – City Arts, December 24th, 2015

Maya Soto is a choreographer, performer and dance educator based in Seattle, WA. Her work has been performed at venues including On the Boards, Northwest New Works Festival (SEA), BOOST Dance Festival (SEA), Pacific Dance Makers (PDX), Seattle International Dance Festival (SEA), and Conduit’s Dance+ Festival (PDX). She has worked on projects with many notable artists/companies such as LeGendre Performance Group, NorthWest Dance Syndrome, Amy O’Neal, Sandstrommovement, KT Neihoff, and Marlo Martin. Currently, she dances with Michele Miller/Catapult Dance. Whether teaching in a school, workshop or a studio class, Maya works to cultivate meaningful relationships and motivates students from all walks of life to move. She brings an upbeat, energetic teaching style that embraces all people. She teaches dance at Velocity Dance Center and the Northwest School, where she is on faculty. Passionate about outreach, she also works as a teaching artist through Seattle Theater Group, The EMP, Seattle Youth Dance Collective and the public school system. Maya is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and holds a Washington State Professional Teaching Certificate. More information at mayasotodance.com


Melanie Skinner danced professionally with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for 15 years touring all over the world and performing principal roles in works by George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Peter Martins and Paul Taylor. After retiring from her long career as a ballerina, she could not seem to find a workout that was fun and inspiring until she took a ZUMBA class! After getting certified as a ZUMBA instructor, she started teaching at the Mount Baker Community Clubhouse and Velocity Dance Center. She loves to watch people get joy from her ZUMBA workout and loves the outlet that ZUMBA provides. She lives in Madrona with her husband and young daughter.

Natascha Greenwalt is a performer, teacher, choreographer and certified GYROTONIC® trainer who has called Seattle home for the past 12 years. After earning her BFA from Cornish as a Kreielsheimer Scholarship recipient, she had the pleasure of guesting for numerous regional classical ballet companies, and performing for DASSdance and Spectrum Dance Theater before ultimately embarking on the adventure of creating Coriolis Dance with Christin Call. She’s developed roles in work by notable choreographers such as Zoe Scofield, Donald Byrd and Rainbow Fletcher among many others.  Her own choreography has been presented by Coriolis, Ballet Bellevue, Whitman College, Western Washington University (and others) in venues such as Chop Shop: Bodies of Work, Spotlight on Seattle, and numerous Coriolis Productions.   She is thankful for the support of Velocity through the Creative Resident program and continues as a Teaching Artist for Velocity, Westlake Dance Center, guesting for programs such as Dance This, Whitman College Summer Dance Lab, Strictly Seattle and others. For more info please visit www.coriolisdance.com.

Noelle Chun is a choreographer, improviser, and teacher interested in dance as forms of embodied knowledge and ethnography.  Her choreographic and improvisational work has been presented at Capitol Theater and Cleveland Public Theater (Ohio), Southern Theater (Minneapolis MN), Green Street Studios (Boston MA), Mead Theater (Washington DC), Epiphany Episcopal Church (Chicago IL), and most recently at Velocity Dance Center (Seattle WA).  Previously residing in Columbus OH, she was on the faculty at The Ohio State University teaching Improvisation based repertory and other technique classes.  In the community, she was resident artist at the dance/arts space called FEVERHEAD, producing dances, events, and classes.  She has an MFA in Dance from the Ohio State University and a BA in Anthropology from Beloit College.

Ratna Roy, Ph.D., started her training in Odissi dance in 1972 under Guru Govinda Chandra Pal, and from 1977 until his death in 2003, she trained under Adiguru Pankaj Charan Das. One of the guru’s seniormost disciples, she has performed extensively as a soloist in India, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, the Baltics, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, China, and Japan. Her major research work in dance has been reconstructing her guru’s inherited devadasi tradition, envisioning Odissi as a healthful way of life, and situating Odissi in undergraduate interdisciplinary college curriculum. Ratna has published several articles in both Indian and US journals and a well-reviewed book, Neo-Classical Odissi Dance. Her fellowships and awards for dance and scholarship include the Advanced Fulbright Fellowship (1985), American Institute of Indian Studies Fellowship (1988), National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship (1988), Summer Fulbright Fellowship (1988), Arts International Award (2001), Fund for Folk Culture Award (2005), the Gordon Ekvall Tracie Memorial Award from Ethnic Heritage Council, Washington (2008), and Washington State Arts Commission’s Fellowship Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (2008), and Washington State Arts Commission’s Master Apprenticeship Award (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010). Currently, she is Professor Emerita, Dance and Expressive Arts at The Evergreen State College, Washington, USA, Odissi instructor at The Velocity Dance Center (Seattle), and Artistic Director, Urvasi Dance Ensemble.


Sarah Lee Parker Mansaré graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Wellness (Exercise Science, Public Health, Youth Studies and Nutrition) from the University of Minnesota. She has been a member of the University of Minnesota Repertory and Hamanah Don Dance Companies, managed the Fitness Program at the West Seattle YMCA, and been a Personal Trainer and Life Coach. When Sarah Lee first discovered West African Dance in1993, she was hooked immediately, and spent the next decade studying with dozens of well-known instructors from various parts of West Africa. In 2004, she went to Senegal and then Guinea West Africa on a dance intensive with her primary instructor: Master Dancer Youssouf Koumbassa. She has since returned to Guinea eleven more times for multiple months at a time to dance and learn from some of the best West African dancers and instructors in the world. In June 2012 Sarah Lee completed eight months of intensive personalized study in various parts of Guinea with Alseny Bangoura, Mamadama Camara, Aly Mara and Sorel Conte, all of whom are Principal Dancers with West Africa’s finest performance company Les Ballets Africains.  While there, she also danced with Wassa So, an all-African 50 member high level performance company. For more information visit:  www.oneworlddance.com.

Shirley Jenkins had a prolific career as a touring member and master instructor of the Evans company, performing in major cities and rural communities via the National Endowment for the Arts Dance Touring Program. Jenkins formed her own company, Strong Wind Wild Horses—which rapidly became a Seattle favorite at Bumbershoot Festivals and the Allegro series during the 80s and 90s—and collaborated with musicians, including Denny Goodhew, James Knapp, Scott Cossu, Michael Cava, Mark Seals, Steve Kim, Tom Bergersen, Fred West, the Kinetics and many others. Jenkins also founded a non-profit organization, Dance On Capitol Hill, for the Seattle community. As Artistic Director, she developed dance education programs for the novice to the professional, a performance venue featuring local and international choreographers, and a home for her dance company. She also established outreach programs by producing summer dance camps for homeless children. Jenkins has been an Artist-In-Residence at scores of universities and dance festivals throughout the U.S. and internationally. Her choreographic and teaching residencies have included the University of Washington, Cornish College of the Arts, Bill Evans Summer Institutes, Rhode Island University, Middlebury College, Pennsylvania State University, Columbia College, Alaska and Kentucky Out-Reach Programs, and international festivals in Bonn, Germany and Taipei, Taiwan. In 1997 everything changed. Jenkins sustained a severe spinal injury while dancing, followed by uterine cancer. And believe it or not… nine years later, she endured surgery and chemo/radiation therapy for breast cancer. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2007 she underwent surgery for a total hip replacement.  She never knew she could fight so hard to pick herself up from the ashes, and she often wondered if dancing again was a crazy idea. She decided she is crazy and embraces it! Jenkins is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Cornish College of the Arts and on the teaching staff of Velocity Dance Center. She is also a well-respected Pilates instructor at Pilates Seattle International, specializing in athletic injury and rehabilitation for seniors. In 2010, Jenkins formed a new dance company, DanceJENKINSDance. Her relentless perseverance is reflected in her works, which acknowledges all ages and walks of life with choreography that is poetic, humorous and introspective, celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit.  Visit her website at www.dancejenkinsdance.com

Stephanie Saland performed as a principal dancer with the NYC Ballet for 21 years under the direction of George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Based in Seattle and teaching freelance now for 21 years, she continues to explore movement in all ways and has developed a unique and multifaceted approach to dance and life at large. The myriad riches for education in New York: from teachers such as Stanley Williams, Maggie Black, and her colleague Gelsey Kirkland. She was there for the initial pangs of Gyrotonics which fed into the nuance of technique and specificity. She was and is equally inspired and informed through other non-ballet modalities and offers a class that is synthesis and creative response to the valuable aspects of these systems.

Wade Madsen was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he attended the University of New Mexico. Wade has been in Seattle teaching, performing, and choreographing since 1977. He has toured nationally with the Bill Evans Dance Company (1978-1980) and with Tandy Beal & Company (1981 -1982). He has performed with Amy O’Neal and Amii Legendre dance groups along with Dayna Hansen, A.C Petersen, and Long Nguyen. Since 1979 Wade has been producing work with his own company, ’Wade Madsen & Dancers’ along with various tours nationally and internationally.

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