Our faculty can be seen on the sets of SYTYCD, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and World of Dance. You can see their amazing performances on awards shows, in today’s top music videos, movies, commercials, Broadway shows, and ballet companies. Each of our instructors offers something unique and provides a different perspective. You will finish the weekend feeling inspired, motivated, and educated! When a collection of brilliant minds, hearts, and talents come together, expect a masterpiece.
Trina Simon is a dancer, teacher and choreographer who danced as a Radio City Rockette for 17 years. She performed in Radio City’s Christmas and Spring Spectaculars as well as other events throughout the years. After being promoted to the Rockette’s assistant choreographer, she trained the Rockettes for 10 years. Trina has also performed in Animal Crackers, A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, West Side Story, The Will Rogers Follies, 42nd Street, and Anything. Trina is also a former company member of Clear Lake Metropolitan Ballet. Along with teaching her iconic kick line at Showstopper Conventions, Trina also hosts Showstopper competitions throughout the season.
Taylor Quinn is a dancer, choreographer, teacher, model, and actress. She danced for FireWALL Dance Theatre run by Elisa Alaio, and is one of Showstopper’s all-time top scoring soloists. Taylor worked with several artists including Kill the Noise, Phillip Chbeeb, Alyson Stoner, and Dillon Francis. She made her television debut with a national commercial for McDonalds. Taylor modeled for the cover of Alex Linares’s book, The Art of Dancing. She specializes in teaching tween and preschool dancers, and teaches a special class for studio owners at Showstopper’s dance conventions. Taylor also travels around the country teaching and choreographing for different dancers and studios.
Sam Picart is a dancer and choreographer. He began his formal dance training when he was 18 years old. Sam earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornish College of the Arts and also studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Sam was the chosen winner of Ellen’s Dance Off competition and was a featured guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Sam’s dance videos have gone viral on YouTube, including his dance-off with the Harlem Globetrotters. He has danced featured roles in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Jose Limon’s Psalm, and Camille A. Brown’s New Second Line. Sam teaches, choreographs, and performs all over the country.
Nathan Trasoras is a dancer and choreographer with his own unique style. He danced his way to the Top 5 on Season 6 of SYTYCD. Nathan performed on The Voice, Glee, 90210, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, America’s Got Talent, and The Jay Leno Show. He performed with Janet Jackson, Black Eyed Peas, The Pussycat Dolls, Wyclef Jean, Will.I.Am, Rihanna, and Christina Aguilera, among others. He also made appearances in commercials for Nike, Cadbury Chocolate, and Red Barron Pizza, to name a few. As a presidential scholar, Nathan performed a solo at the Spotlight Awards and in New York for Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Mary Ann Lamb is a dancer, choreographer, performer, and Broadway legend. She toured the world with The Las Vegas Follies and performed in The Follies television special in Paris. Mary Ann’s Broadway credits include The Visit, Curtains, Contact, Seussical, Fosse, Chicago, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Song and Dance, Goodbye, Starlight Express, and more. In film, Mary Ann appeared in the Oscar Award-winning picture Chicago as well as Portrait of a Show Girl, The Muppets, and Rock of Ages, among others. Mary Ann choreographed for SYTYCD and other companies and productions throughout the country. She is frequently a guest teacher at Broadway Dance Center. Mary Ann Lamb is a jazz and ballet dancer and performer. She toured the world with The Las Vegas Follies and performed in The Follies television special in Paris. Mary Ann’s Broadway credits include The Visit, Curtains, Contact, Seussical, Fosse, Chicago, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Song and Dance, Goodbye, Starlight Express, and more. She also performed in numerous off-Broadway productions. In film, Mary Ann appeared in the Oscar Award-winning film Chicago as well as Portrait of a Show Girl, The Muppets, Rock of Ages, and more. Mary Ann also choreographed for SYTYCD.
Janelle Issis is a world- renowned belly dancer, choreographer, teacher, actress, and model. She studied belly dancing as a protégé to Aziza of Birmingham and earned a bachelor’s degree in dance at the University of Alabama. As the first belly dancer ever on the show, Janelle danced her way to the Top 6 on Season 9 of SYTYCD. She has performed with numerous artists including Derek and Julianne Hough on Good Morning America and with J Balvin in an international T-Mobile commercial. Janelle currently teaches at Broadway Dance Center, Ailey Extension, and several others. Janelle also has her own unique line of Janelley Belly Dance Wear.
Lacey Schwimmer is a ballroom dancer, choreographer, designer, and singer. She was ranked 42nd in the world for international Latin dancing. She danced her way to the Top 4 on Season 3 of SYTYCD and competed on Season 7 through 13 of DWTS as a professional dancer. Lacey has danced on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and with Adam Sandler at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards. She has choreographed for numerous Grammy award-winning artists such as Christina Aguilera, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and the Jonas Brothers. Lacey also has her own signature line with Discount Dance Supply.
Kyle Van Newkirk is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, and concert pianist. He won the Operation Tap Choreography Challenge and the World Championship of Tap title, the first to win with perfect scores. Kyle competed on Season 1 of NBC’s World of Dance and toured with WOD for their 2017-18 season. He performed with the Dizzy Feet Foundation for National Tap Dance Day, at the 2016 International Dance Gala in Austria, at the Capezio Ace Awards, and with the Indianapolis Symphony. Kyle also performed at numerous festivals including the Big Apple Tap Festival, American Tap Festival, and Boston’s Tap United, among others.
Julian Thorn is a host, actor, singer, and teacher who has been with Showstopper for over 35 years. He has toured internationally with numerous productions including the European tour of Bubbling Brown Sugar, Broadway Magic, Hello Dolly, La Cage aux Folles, My One and Only, Evita, Showboat, Phantom of the Opera, at the Opryland USA, and in the national tour of Legends in Concert where he portrayed the artist Little Richard. Julian produced, directed, and starred in his own educational children’s dance video. During the Showstopper season, you can find Julian hosting competitions or teaching his voice and acting class at conventions.
Jessica Walker is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University at The Ailey School. Jessica has performed in numerous Broadway productions including Movin’ Out, Paramour, and Hair. She has also performed in the original Phantom of the Opera: The Las Vegas Spectacular, the first national tour of Wicked, Carnegie Hall’s West Side Story, and The Radio City Christmas and Spring Spectaculars. In film and TV, Jessica appeared in Dirty Dancing (2017), recurring role in Season 2 of SMASH, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, America’s Got Talent, The Blacklist, and Lovestruck: The Musical.
Jen Garaffa is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She has taught tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and acrobatics for 14 years. Jen has been a professional dancer at the Walt Disney World Resort for nine years dancing in parades, shows, and special events including Disney Channel Rocks, Main Street Trolley Show, Festival of Fantasy Parade, Mickey’s American Streetbeat, Countdown to Fun Parade, Monster’s University Hometown Homecoming, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Jen is part of the Walt Disney World entertainment training team and is a teaching artist with Disney Performing Arts. She appeared as a dancer on BBC, ABC and Disney Channel, to name a few.
Gev Manoukian is a hip hop and break dancer, as well as a world-renowned ice skater. He danced his way to the Top 10 on Season 4 of SYTYCD. Gev performed as a principal dancer in several movies and TV shows such as Disney’s High School Musical 2, Glee, and the MTV musical American Mall. He also danced on DWTS and America’s Got Talent. Gev has performed with numerous artists including Ludacris, Whitney Houston, LeeAnn Rimes, and P!nk at the 2010 AMAs. He has also appeared in several music videos for artists like Fresh Beat Band, Big Time Rush, and Figure It Out, among others.
Geo Hubela is a choreographer, dancer, teacher, and producer. He is co-owner and director of ICON Dance Complex. Geo has choreographed internationally for numerous productions, movies, and commercials. Some of his most recognized national commercials include Old Navy, Best Buy, Campbell’s Soup, to name a few. As a performer, Geo has danced with stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, P!nk, Britney Spears, ‘NSYNC, Jessica Simpson, Selena Gomez, and Michael Jackson, among others. He has danced on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew and America’s Got Talent. Geo’s ICONic Dancers perform professionally at the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden and on Nickelodeon and MTV.
Evan Ruggiero is a dancer, singer, and actor. At age 19, his leg was amputated above the knee due to bone cancer. He designed his own peg leg and continued to dance. He danced on The Ellen Show, Inside Edition, at the St. Louis Tap Festival, the Los Angeles Tap Fest, and New York Tap Fest. He also performed in the musical Crazy for You. Evan starred in Bastard Jones, which was nominated for Best New Musical in the 2018 Off Broadway Alliance Awards. He was a 2018 Chita Rivera Award Nominee and performed in a production of “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman at the 2018 Oscars.
Eliana Girard is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. At age 17, Eliana joined the Joffrey Ballet before getting a full scholarship to The Ailey School. She began her career with Cirque de Soleil for their Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas. Eliana won Season 9 of SYTYCD and then performed with the SYTYCD LIVE! tour. She also toured internationally with Taylor Swift on the Red Tour and appeared in her music videos for “Red” and “22”. She has performed at the VMA’s, Brit Awards, CMAs, Billboard Music Awards, and the Grammy’s. As an actress, Eliana has appeared on the TV shows Glee and Bones.
Dena Rizzo is a teacher and choreographer with over 30 years of teaching experience. She choreographed award-winning performances for MTV and VH-1. Dena ran her own multi-genre dance studio for 20 years. She also taught for 15 years in New York City for Destination Broadway summer intensives. Now, she travels across the country to teach hip hop classes at dance studios, competitions, and conventions. Dena produced four of her own instructional hip hop videos. She has also appeared as a featured dancer in the movie Black Knight with Martin Lawrence. Dena has choreographed for numerous national music videos, commercials and theater productions.
Courtney Russ is a cheerleader, model, choreographer and dancer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in dance from the University of Florida. Courtney spent seven years as a dancer for Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. She cheered in the NFL for several years first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then the Dallas Cowboys. She appeared on the 2014 Season of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team. Now, she helps coordinate cheer and, football events for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Courtney bridges the gap between dance and cheer to show how dance careers can be taken in multiple directions.
Brandon Norris is a world clogging champion. He won numerous titles at the Clogging Champions of America (CCA), including seven CCA Team National Titles, six CCA Duet National Titles, and nine CCA Solo National Titles. He appeared on SYTYCD Season 3 as a special guest performer, the only clogger to ever perform on the series. Brandon led his team Dynamic Edition to a Top 5 finish on Season 3 of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. He travels throughout country teaching clogging and hosting numerous clogging competitions. Brandon is also known for his unique view on clogging and modernizing this traditional style of dance.
Arielle Elonys is a dancer, choreographer, actress, model, and singer. Arielle earned a bachelor’s degree in dance from Loyola Marymount University. She has appeared in numerous television shows and movies including Nashville, Making Moves, SYTYCD and Nerve. Arielle has choreographed and performed in national commercials and music videos with McDonald’s, Jon Bellion, Kane Brown, Kill the Noise, Brendon Urie, Tim McGraw, and Panic! at the Disco, among others. She is also a writer for the Showstopper Magazine. Arielle is a guest teacher at Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles and other prominent studios across the country.
Angel Roberts is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and costume designer with over 20 years of dance and production experience. Angel was awarded an Emmy for her costume design work on That ‘70s Show. She is also the founder of the national dance movement and studio Peace Love Hip Hop located in Charleston, SC. Angel’s studio is now one of the largest and most respected hip hop studios in the country. Her competitive hip hop groups compete at national dance competitions. She tours the country teaching a positive message with her creative choreography and energy. Angel is also the costume designer and stylist for Showstopper Magazine.
Alexie Agdeppa is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UCLA in world arts and cultures, dance and choreography. Alexie danced her way to the Top 5 on Season 7 of SYTYCD. She appeared in numerous commercials with Disney, Nissan, Nordstrom, and Reebok. Alexie danced in music videos with Prince, Nelly Furtado, Macy Gray, Daft Punk, Pharrell, and The Pussycat Dolls, among others. Alexie’s film and television credits include the 64th and 84th Academy Awards, America’s Got Talent, X-Factor, Disney’s Camp Rock 2, and Glee. When she was a LA Laker Girl, she appeared on The Jay Leno Show, Last Call with Carson Daly, and Entourage.