Our faculty can be seen on the sets of SYTYCD, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Glee. 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 was a Radio City Rockette for 17 years. She has performed in their Christmas and Spring Spectaculars, among several 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 Goes at such theaters as Paper Mill Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus, Casa Manana, St. Louis MUNY, Kansas City Starlight, and Houston’s TUTS. Trina is also a former company member of Clear Lake Metropolitan Ballet. Trina now hosts at Showstopper competitions.
Taylor Quinn is a dancer, model, and actress located in Los Angles, CA. She danced for the contemporary dance company FireWALL Dance Theatre run by Elisa Alaio. Taylor has worked with several artists and bands including Kill the Noise, Phillip Chbeeb, Alyson Stoner, Dillon Francis, and others. She also appeared in a McDonald’s commercial and modeled for the cover of Alex Linares’s book The Art of Dancing. Taylor specializes in teaching tween and preschool dancers. She has taught across the country and teaches a special class for studio owners at Showstopper’s dance conventions.
Sam Picart is a dancer and choreographer. He began his formal dance training when he was 18. Sam received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts. He has also studied at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. Sam has danced featured roles in the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Jose Limon’s ‘Psalm’, and Camille A Brown’s ‘New Second Line’. Sam’s dance videos have received hundreds and thousands of views on YouTube, including his dance-off with the Harlem Globetrotters. Sam was the chosen winner of Ellen’s Dance Off competition and was a featured guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Currently, Sam teaches, choreographs, and performs all over the nation.
Nathan Trasoras is a contemporary, hip hop dancer from California. He danced his way to the Top 5 on Season 6 of SYTYCD. He performed on TV on The Voice, Glee, 90210, Disney XD, The Ellen Show, America’s Got Talent, and Tonight with Jay Leno. Nathan has also performed with The Muppets, Black Eyed Peas, Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls, Wyclef Jean, Will.I.Am, Rihanna, and Christina Aguilera. He also made appearances in commercials for Nike, Cadbury Chocolate, Red Barron Pizza, and more. Nathan performed a solo at the Spotlight Awards and in New York for Mikhail Baryshnikov as a presidential scholar.
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 dancer, choreographer, teacher, actress, model, and nutritionist. Janelle is a world-renowned belly dancer. She studied belly dancing as a protégé to Aziza of Birmingham and received her bachelor’s degree in dance at the University of Alabama. Janelle made it to the Top 6 on SYTYCD Season 9 and is the first belly dancer ever to hit the show’s stage. She has performed on Good Morning America with Derek and Julianne Hough, and currently teaches at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Janelle has her own unique line of Janelley Belly Dance Wear.
Lacey Schwimmer is a ballroom dancer and singer. She made it to the Top 4 in Season 3 of SYTYCD. Lacey also competed on Dancing With The Stars for the show’s 7th through 13th seasons. She danced with Adam Sandler at the MTV Movie Awards in 2008. She has also danced on The Ellen Show, Good Morning America, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. In 2011, Lacey began her music career with her debut single “Love Soundz.” When she is in New York, she teaches at Broadway Dance Center. She has also choreographed for Legends in Concert in Atlanta. In 2018, she performed at Pennsylvania’s Bucks County Playhouse as part of their visiting artist series.
Kyle Van Newkirk is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, and concert pianist from Nebraska. He competed in the premiere season of NBC’s World of Dance. He also performed with the Dizzy Feet Foundation for National Tap Dance Day as a soloist, in his one-man show “Tappin n Time,” as a soloist at the 2016 International Dance Gala in Graz, Austria, at the Capezio Ace Awards, and at the Indianapolis Symphony for the Yuletide Celebration in 2017. Kyle was the captain of the American Tap Company Team for the United States 2014-2015 and has won numerous awards including 2015 World Champion of Tap, among others.
Julian Thorn has been with Showstopper for 35 years as a host, judge, and teacher. He has performed at Opryland USA, in the European tour of Bubbling Brown Sugar, and in Broadway Magic. He has also toured internationally with Hello Dolly, La Cage aux Folles, My One and Only, Evita, Showboat, and Phantom of the Opera. In the national tour of Legends in Concert he portrayed the artist Little Richard. Julian produced and starred in his own educational children’s dance video. He also hosts several charity events each year. Julian teaches an energetic voice class during Showstopper’s dance conventions.
Jessica Walker is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Fordham University at The Ailey School. Her stage credits include the Broadway company of Movin’ Out, Paramour on Broadway, an original company member of Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular, the first national tour of Wicked, Carnegie Hall’s West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and The Radio City Christmas and Spring Spectaculars. Her film and TV credits include the 2017 Dirty Dancing movie, a recurring role on SMASH Season 2, Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris, America’s Got Talent, The Blacklist, and Lovestruck the Musical. Jessica’s classes stress the importance of strong technique, versatility, musicality and making strong acting choices.
Jen Garaffa is a dancer and choreographer. She has taught tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and acrobatics for 14 years and has been a professional dancer at the Walt Disney World Resort for nine years. She has danced in over 16 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 also a teaching artist with Disney Performing Arts. She has appeared as a dancer on BBC, ABC and Disney Channel.
Gev Manoukian is a hip hop and break dancer. He danced his way to the Top 10 on Season 4 of SYTYCD. He performed with Pink at the 2010 AMAs to her song “Raise Your Glass.” Get has also performed as a principal dancer in the MTV musical American Mall, as a dancer in Disney’s High School Musical 2, and as a Beat Boy in Little Dude Anthem. Gev performed with Ludacris, Whitney Houston, and LeeAnn Rhymes. On television, he has appeared in several commercials, music videos, Fresh Beat Band, Big Time Rush, Figure it Out, DWTS, America’s Got Talent and Glee. Outside of dance, Gev is a world-renowned ice skater.
Geo Hubela is a choreographer, dancer, teacher, and producer. He is the owner of Icon Dance Complex in New Jersey. Geo is an internationally known choreographer who choreographed national commercials for Jet Blue, Best Buy, Campbell’s Soup campaign, and much more. 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, to name a few. 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 and choreographer from Florida. At age 17, Eliana joined the Joffrey Ballet before getting a full scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also performed with Cirque de Soleil for their Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas. Eliana won the title of America’s Favorite Dancer on Season 9 of SYTYCD. Eliana appeared on Glee, Bones, the VMA’s, the Brit Awards, the CMAs, Billboard, and the Grammy’s. She also toured with Taylor Swift on the singer’s Red Tour, appeared in music videos for “Red” and “22”, and toured with German singer Helene Fischer.
Dena Rizzo is a teacher and choreographer with over 30 years of teaching experience. She choreographed award-winning performances for MTV and VH-1. She ran her own multi-genre dance studio for 20 years. She also taught for 15 years in New York City for the Destination Broadway summer intensive. Now, she travels to teach hip hop classes at competitions, conventions, and studios across the country. Dena produced four of her own instructional hip hop videos. She also appeared as a featured dancer in the movie Black Knight with Martin Lawrence. Dena’s choreography credits include numerous music videos, commercials, and theater productions.
Courtney Russ is a cheerleader, model, and dancer from Tampa, FL. 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 also appeared on Season 9 of Say Yes to the Dress. She cheered for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for five years and the Dallas Cowboys for three years. 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 has won seven-time Clogging Champions of America (CCA), six CCA Duet National Titles, and nine CAA Solo National Titles. He appeared on SYTYCD Season 3 as a special guest performer, the only clogger to ever performer 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 the country teaching his hip hop style of clogging and hosting numerous clogging competitions. Brandon is known for his unique view on clogging and modernizing this traditional style of dance
Arielle Elonys is a dancer, choreographer, actress, model, and singer based out of Los Angeles, CA. Arielle received a bachelor’s degree in dance from Loyola Marymount University. She has appeared on numerous television shows and movies including Nashville, Making Moves, SYTYCD, and Nerve. Arielle has choreographed or performed in commercials for McDonald’s and music videos by Jon Bellion, 3oh!3, Kill the Noise and Brendon Urie. She has also worked with several other artists such as Tim McGraw, Panic! at the Disco, and others. She is a writer for Showstopper Magazine. Arielle teaches across the country, including at Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles.
Angel Roberts is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and an award-winning costume designer with 20 years of dance and production experience. Angel was a costume designer on That 70’s Show and won an Emmy for her work. She is also the founder of the national dance movement and studio Peace Love Hip Hop located in Charleston, SC. Her competitive hip hop groups compete at national dance competitions across the U.S. She has toured the country teaching a positive message with her creative choreography and costume designs. Angel is also the costume designer for Showstopper Magazine.
Alexie Agdeppa is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. She appeared in commercials for Disney, Nissan, Nordstrom, Reebok, and others. Alexie danced in music videos with Prince, Nelly Furtado, Macy Gray, Daft Punk, Pharrell, the Pussycat Dolls, and others. Her film and television credits include the 64th and 84th Academy Awards, America’s Got Talent, X-Factor, Disney’s Camp Rock 2, and Glee. Alexie graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in World Arts and Cultures: Dance & Choreography. She also appeared on Jay Leno, Carson Daly, and Entourage when she was an LA Laker Girl. She placed in the Top 5 dancers on Season 7 of SYTYCD.