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MEET OUR CONVENTION INSTRUCTORS

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. *Not all teachers will be at every convention*

 

MARK VILLAVER
ABOUT

Mark Villaver is a dancer, teacher, performer, and choreographer. Mark finished in the Top 10 on Season 14 of SYTYCD. He toured internationally with Taylor Swift on The Red Tour, The 1989 Tour, and The Reputation Tour. Mark has also worked with artists including Ariana Grande, Ricky Martin, Ari B, and Demi Lovato. He has performed in numerous award shows including the VMA’s, Billboard Latin Music Awards, American Billboard Awards, The Grammy Awards, and The Brit Awards. Mark has performed on television with America’s Got Talent, Good Morning America, iHeart Radio, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Season 11 finale of American Idol, and as a backup dancer on X-Factor. Mark was recruited to be a member of the Emmy award-winning group and two-time America’s Best Dance Crew champion, Quest Crew.

@markvillaver

GREG CHAPKIS
ABOUT

Greg Chapkis is a dancer, choreographer, creative director, producer, and studio owner. Greg has competed on SYTYCD, America’s Got Talent, and NBC’s World of Dance. He has choreographed major productions for companies including Disney, Nickelodeon, Six Flags, the Golden State Warriors, Volkswagen, and Dell. His choreography can be seen on world tours, awards shows, television shows, and in music videos with recording artists like Daddy Yankee, Anuel AA, Katy Perry, Ciara, Ozuna, Jessica Mauboy, and more. Greg has also produced over forty shows all over the country and abroad as well as traveled to over thirty countries to teach within the past five years. He is the founder of one of the most respected dance studios and teams in the country, Chapkis Dance Family.        

@gregchapkis

 

JEN GARAFFA
ABOUT JEN

Jen Garaffa is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She has been teaching tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, and acrobatics for sixteen years. Jen has been a professional dancer at the Walt Disney World Resort since 2006, dancing in parades, shows, and special events including Festival of the Lion King, Disney Channel Rocks!, Main Street Trolley Show, Festival of Fantasy Parade, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. She is one of the only dancers to tap dance in a show at Walt Disney World. Jen has been part of the Walt Disney World entertainment training team and is currently a teaching artist with Disney Performing Arts. She has also appeared as a dancer on BBC, ABC and the Disney Channel.

@jengaraffa

ARIELLE ELONYS
ABOUT

Arielle Elonys is a dancer, choreographer, casting director, actress, model, writer, and singer. Arielle earned 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 played the lead role in the dance film Where We Begin, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She has worked with artists such as Tiesto, Kygo, Miguel, Tim McGraw, Dillion Francis, Kane Brown, Halsey, Jon Bellion, 3Oh!3, and Brendon Urie, to name a few. Arielle has choreographed commercials for companies such as McDonald’s and Eureka Vacuums. As a model, she has worked with companies like Tesla, Vanity Fair, Image Comics, Harlequin Floors, and Englebert Strauss.

@arielleelonys

ANGEL ROBERTS
ABOUT

Angel Roberts is a nationally recognized choreographer, dancer, teacher, and costume designer with twenty years of dance and production experience. Angel is the founder and creative director of the national dance movement and hip hop dance studio and Peace Love Hip Hop, located in Charleston, SC. Her award-winning competitive dance groups tour across the United States, performing at events, festivals, and conventions. Angel travels the country, teaching a positive message with her creative choreography and speaking at conferences, seminars, and live shows about her experiences. She is an Emmy award-winning costume designer for her work on That ‘70s Show, and she is the Fashion Director and Stylist for Showstopper Magazine.

@peacelovehiphop

KYLE VAN NEWKIRK
ABOUT

Kyle Van Newkirk is a dancer, choreographer, and concert pianist. Perfect scores earned him the gold medal at the World Championships of Tap. Kyle competed on Season 1 of NBC’s World of Dance and toured with WOD for three seasons. He was a featured performer with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and has performed at the World Dance Gala in Graz, Austria and at the Capezio Ace Awards. Kyle has performed at tap festivals around the world including Big Apple Tap Festival, Motor City Tap Festival, Tap 24.7, Slide (American Tap Festival), Tap United in Boston, and more. Kyle’s award-winning choreography can be seen in countless productions throughout the world.

@kyle_vanny

ELIANA GIRARD
ABOUT

Eliana Girard is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. At age sixteen, Eliana moved to New York City to join the American Ballet Theater and the Joffrey Ballet before getting a full scholarship to the official school of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She began her career with Cirque de Soleil for their Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas. After winning Season 9 of SYTYCD, Eliana performed in 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 performed at the VMAs, the Brit Awards, the CMAs, Billboard, and The Grammy Awards. You may have also seen Eliana as an actress on the television series Glee and Bones.

@dance9eliana

MARY ANN LAMB
ABOUT

Mary Ann Lamb is a dancer, performer, and choreographer. Currently, she choreographs for the hit FX television series Fosse/Verdon. Mary Ann choreographed for the Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Symphony Space in NYC, and Coupe Youth Ballet. Mary Ann has performed in eleven Broadway shows including The Visit, Curtains, Seussical, Fosse, Chicago, Song and Dance, Goodbye, and Starlight Express. She danced in the Oscar award-winning picture Chicago as well as Portrait of a Show Girl, The Muppets, and Rock of Ages. Mary Ann toured with The Las Vegas Follies and performed in The Follies television special in Paris. She has also taught at Juilliard, New York University, and Pennsylvania State University.   

GEO HUBELA
ABOUT

Geo Hubela is a choreographer, dancer, and teacher. Geo is co-owner and director of ICON Dance Complex, home of the ICONic Dance Company. Geo’s ICONic dancers perform at events such as World of Dance Live and Beatstock as well as at the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden, and on television specials on Nickelodeon and MTV. Geo has choreographed for productions, movies, and commercials. His most recent work is choreographing the first live show for Lionsgate Film’s Step Up. Geo has danced with stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith, P!nk, Britney Spears, NSYNC, Selena Gomez, Michael Jackson, and many others. Geo has worked on Glee, The Wedding Singer, Step Up, That ‘70s Show, the Miss America pageant, and the 69th Annual Academy Awards.

@geohubela

JANELLE ISSIS
ABOUT

Janelle Issis is a world-renowned belly dancer, choreographer, teacher, model, certified yogini, and nutritionist. She studied belly dancing as protégé to Aziza of Birmingham and earned a bachelor’s degree in dance at the University of Alabama. As the first bellydancer ever on the show, Janelle danced her way to the Top 6 on Season 9 of SYTYCD. Her most recent credits include working with Marguerite Derricks on Season 3 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, dancing with Derek and Julianne Hough on Good Morning America, and performing with J Balvin in an international T-Mobile commercial. Janelle currently teaches in New York City at the Broadway Dance Center, Ailey Extension, and several other companies. Janelle also started her own line of JanelleyBelly dancewear and online dance classes.

ALEXIE AGDEPPA
ABOUT

Alexie Agdeppa is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in World Arts and Cultures: Dance and Choreography. Alexie danced her way to the Top 5 on Season 7 of SYTYCD. She has danced in music videos with Prince, Nelly Furtado, Macy Gray, Daft Punk, Pharrell, The Pussycat Dolls, and many more. Alexie’s film and television credits include the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, America’s Got Talent, The X-Factor, Camp Rock 2, and Glee. She has appeared in numerous commercials for companies like Disney, Nissan, Nordstrom, and Reebok. When she was a LA Laker Girl, she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Last Call with Carson Daly, and HBO’s Entourage.

@alexieagdeppa

HAYLEY MAC COOPER
ABOUT

Hayley Mac is a nationally recognized choreographer, director, teacher, dancer, designer, and motivational speaker. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University in liberal arts, focusing on theater, and a master’s degree in instructional leadership. Hayley was mentored by legends Henry LeTang and Gregory Hines. She has starred in musicals such as 42nd Street and danced for national commercials and networks, including MTV, CBS, and Fox. Hayley has also performed at numerous events for professional sports teams and with celebrities. She has choreographed for the Emmy-nominated Showstopper American Dance Championships, several Top 10 dancers on SYTYCD, and prestigious companies and universities across the country.

@hayleymaccooper

JESSICA WALKER
ABOUT

Jessica Walker is a dancer, choreographer, and actress. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program. Jessica performed in Movin’ Out and Paramour on Broadway, Carnegie Hall’s West Side Story, the first national tour of Wicked, the original company of Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular, Pittsburgh Public’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Christmas and Spring Spectaculars at Radio City, and The Metropolitan Opera. Jessica danced in ABC’s Dirty Dancing, Isn’t It Romantic, ABC Family’s Lovestruck: The Musical, The Blacklist, America’s Got Talent, Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris, and in Season 2 of Smash. Jessica co-choreographed Mamma Mia! at Connecticut Repertory Theatre and staged Migguel Anggelo’s show at Joe’s Pub.

BRANDON NORRIS
ABOUT

Brandon Norris is a clogging world champion. Brandon began clogging at age three. He is known for his unique view on clogging and modernizing this traditional style of dance. Brandon has won numerous national titles such as seven CCA (Clogging Champions of America) Team National Titles, six CCA Duet National Titles, and seven CCA Solo National Titles. He competed on Season 3 of SYTYCD, and as the only clogger to ever perform on the show, he was asked back as a special guest performer for the season finale. Brandon led his team, Dynamic Edition, to a Top 5 finish on Season 3 of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. He now travels throughout the country to teach his clogging/hip hop style and host numerous clogging competitions.

@clogginman

NATHAN TRASORAS
ABOUT

Nathan Trasoras is a dancer and choreographer with a unique style of contemporary hip hop. He danced his way to the Top 5 on Season 6 of SYTYCD. Nathan has performed on The Voice, Glee, Jane the Virgin, American Housewives, 90210, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, America’s Got Talent, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He has performed with celebrities such as the Black Eyed Peas, The Pussycat Dolls, Wyclef Jean, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, with P!nk in her “Beautiful Trauma” music video, and with Kelsea Ballerini at the 2019 CMAs. Nathan has appeared in commercials for Skechers Industrial, Nike, Cadbury Chocolate, and Red Barron Pizza. Recently, Nathan worked on the movie The Suicide Squad (2021).

JULIAN THORN
ABOUT

Julian Thorn is a host, judge, and teacher who has been with Showstopper for over thirty-five years. Julian earned his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University. He has performed in several productions including Hello Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles, My One and Only, Evita, Showboat, Broadway Magic, Phantom of the Opera, at Opryland USA, in the European tour of Bubbling Brown Sugar, and in the national tour of Legends in Concert where he portrayed the artist Little Richard. Julian produced and starred in his own educational children’s dance video. During the Showstopper season, you can find Julian on stage hosting Showstopper dance competitions.

@showstopperjullian

SAM PICART
ABOUT

Sam Picart is a dancer, performer, teacher, and choreographer. Sam started off by studying urban street styles and west coast funk styles, creating his own unique style of dance. He began his formal ballet training at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City at age eighteen and earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornish College of the Arts. Sam was the chosen winner of Ellen DeGeneres’ Dance Off competition. He then had the opportunity to be a featured guest and performer 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.”

@sampicartis2much

SALLY BURR
ABOUT

Sally Burr is a dancer, singer, actor, teacher, choreographer, and college-prep coach. She earned a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree from Oklahoma City University in Dance Performance. She has toured nationally with Dirty Dancing as an understudy for Penny and Vivian and in the Broadway-bound show Paint Your Wagon as Emily. Sally has performed with numerous other productions including Oklahoma, Monty Python’s Spamalot, An American in Paris, The Will Rogers Follies, and Singin’ in the Rain. She has also performed outside of musical theatre with Omaha Symphony’s Christmas Celebration and The Muny’s Centennial Gala Performance. Sally has performed as a featured dancer/singer/spokesmodel with Mary Kay Cosmetic’s Summer Seminar. She appeared in HBO’s Vinyl, and as a principal dancer in Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

@sallyglaze

TAYLOR QUINN
ABOUT

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 from the east coast. Taylor has toured with the contemporary dance company Los Angeles Choreographers and Dancers, traveling to schools in California that do not have dance programs to educate kids about dance. Taylor has worked with several artists and bands, including Kill the Noise, Phillip Chbeeb, Alyson Stoner, and Dillon Francis, among others. She has appeared in national commercials for companies like McDonald’s and modeled for the cover of Alex Linares’s book The Art of Dancing. Recently, she was a featured dancer in Olivia Rodrigo’s new concert video for her album Sour.

@taaaylorquinn

RJ HIGTON
ABOUT

RJ Higton is a dancer, teacher, choreographer, singer, and actor. He is currently a student at the University of Michigan’s department of Musical Theatre, which is well-known as one of the top musical theatre programs in the world. RJ is one of Showstopper’s all-time top-scoring soloists from the west coast. RJ is the founder of MPIRE Productions at the University of Michigan, a community centered around providing performers with educational opportunities, an artistic platform, and a voice. In 2018, he was named “Artist of the Year” for musical theatre performance by the Orange County Register. RJ has shared the stage with artists such as Mathew Morrison, Krysta Rodriguez, and Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker.

@rj_higton

SAM SHAPIRO
ABOUT

Sam Shapiro is a classically trained ballet dancer and teacher. As a young dancer, he started ballet under his mother’s teaching at Wake Forest University. At age 11, he trained at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Sam graduated with commendation from The Royal Ballet’s Upper School. He has danced in numerous productions with The Royal Ballet, including “Cinderella” and “Firebird.” He has also danced with prestigious companies worldwide, including Boston Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theater, Tulsa Ballet, Fort Wayne Ballet, Ballet National de Panamá, and The Royal New Zealand Ballet.

OCTAVIA ELLISON
ABOUT

Octavia Ellison is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She has danced as an NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns and with the LA Lakers. Octavia has choreographed for the Phoenix Suns, the NBA Tournament in Rome, the NBA D-League, Duke City Stars, the National Dance Alliance, and the Adidas 5 Tournament in Madrid. She has danced with Rhianna, Brian McKnight, Kevin Rudolph, Adam Sandler in the movie Jack and Jill, Brian Friedman for Capezio, and at the FIBA Olympic Trials. Octavia has appeared on Making of the Sun’s Dancers, Making of the Laker Girls, and Minute To Win It. She is still currently with her LA Laker family as an Area Host.

BRITTANY STAYTON
ABOUT

Brittany Stayton is a professional makeup artist and hairstylist with over 15 years of experience. Brittany graduated top of her class from Excel cosmetology school and has since trained under the creators of hair trends with the biggest color companies in the world. She was in her first publication at age 18 in Modern Salon magazine. Brittany has applied to make up for Soap Opera stars at the CBS Festival of Stars and was one of the first hairstylists to become a REDKEN certified colorist in the world. Brittany has traveled to New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Mackinaw Island, Toronto, London, and Paris for advanced training in makeup, haircutting, styling, and hair color. She has also trained in customer service courses at the Disney Institute.

CHRISTY LYN
ABOUT

Christy Lyn is a ballerina, model, designer, and choreographer. Christy Lyn works with Classical Dance Academy in California. She started dancing at a very young age and currently choreographs and trains in multiple styles of dance with a focus on ballet. Her choreography work has been debuted at the Lincoln Center in the Youth America Grand Prix Gala, “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow.” She’s trained summers at the American Ballet Theatre in New York and California. Christy has walked and danced in fashion shows for multiple national and international designers at LAFW and NYFW. Christy Lyn is also the designer and founder of the chic dance fashion brand Royal Couture.

BRYANT CULLER
ABOUT

Bryant Culler is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Bryant currently teaches and choreographs for the studio Peace Love Hip Hop in Charleston, SC. Bryant grew up competing with Showstopper with his hometown studio in Warren, OH. He was later recruited by PLHH to come to teach in South Carolina. Bryant has appeared on Dance Moms with Candy Apple’s Dance Center and performed in the routine “Own It.” Bryant was recently recruited by one of the top choreographers in the world, Greg Chapkis, to join his dance crew and perform on Daddy Yankee’s world tour. Since joining Daddy Yankee’s tour, Bryant has been a featured dancer in Daddy Yankee’s music video for his song “Muévelo,” and has been a part of two award show performances.

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