About Us > Instructors
Ayodele "Dele" Alakija began dancing at as a child and later developed a great love and appreciation for hip-hop. She performed with and choreographed for dance groups at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and taught dance to both children and adults in the Chicago area. She continues to teach and dance while finishing her PhD in Epidemiology at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Renay Aumiller holds a BFA in Dance Studies from UNC-G and an MFA in Choreography from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne. She has been a member of the dance faculty at several universities, including Beloit, UNC-G, NCSU and Elon. Renay has presented her choreography around the US and has performed and toured with contemporary companies both nationally and internationally. She is the founder and artistic director of Renay Aumiller Dances (RAD).
ShaLeigh Comerford holds a Masters degree in Visual and Performing Arts and toured with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre of Virginia. She lived for several years in New York City, where she danced with Tina Croll and Company and apprenticed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane. In 2005, she formed ShaLeigh Dance Works, a dance-theatre company dedicated to creating socially conscious works. ShaLeigh has just returned from Israel, where she studied Gaga technique with Ohad Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company
Darlene Downing is a certified Blue and Green Belt Nia® instructor who discovered Nia in late 2008. She has had a personal commitment to fitness and health most of her adult life, and thought she’d tried just about everything! Hearing about Nia in a conversation with a stranger at a bookstore one day, she decided to try a class. After experiencing it for herself, it became clear she wanted to share Nia with others. She is extremely grateful for the balance, peace, and healing that the practice has given her, and has a heart-felt desire to guide others on their path of health and well-being.
Michelle "LaRubia" Draughon has trained with Latino professionals from all over the country and has been teaching since 1993; she has appeared in hundreds of events and on local television.
Dr. Jay Dunbar (Ph.D.) has studied Taijiquan and Qigong since 1975, and has taught in the Triangle since 1979. He is director of the Magic Tortoise Taijiquan School, and also offers private sessions in Qigong Therapy.
Bernadine Fields began her formal training in lyrical, ballet, pointe and jazz and continued her studies in modern dance at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. She graduated with a degree in Dance Education from UNC Greensboro in 2004 and currently teaches dance and is the coordinator for the auxiliary dance team at Southern High School in Durham. She has choreographed for and performed with numerous local companies and directs “Dreams In Motion”, a dance company focusing on commercial hip-hop and contemporary dance.
Kat Folckomer discovered modern dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and continued on to earn her BFA with Honors in Dance at Hollins University. Currently a Durham-based dance artist and teacher, she is excited by the connections between dance and movement and the healing therapies. She is interested in helping all people, regardless of age or experience, develop kinesthetic awareness and discover their movement potential. Kat has taught creative movement, modern, and jazz in a variety of settings and is excited to be sharing her love of dance with the Durham community.
Alexia Forte began her study of dance at age nine. While a student at Hillside High, she performed with the school"s dance company and, as a college student, with the dance team at Tennessee State University. She has taught children aged two through teens for several years.
Jessica Fulton has been dancing since age two and began choreographing as captain of her dance team in high school. At Penn State University, she danced with Orchesis Dance Company, for which she regularly choreographed and taught company classes, as well as serving as board president. Jess is currently studying for a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Duke and is also a gymnast.
Whitney Goodman grew up dancing, and spent ten years performing nationally and abroad with the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble under the direction of Gene Medler. She currently teaches high school in Durham and dances with Footnotes Tap Ensemble. She loves to teach and spread her passion for tap - a beautiful and expressive American art form!
Beth Hoke has studied and taught a variety of partner dances for many years and is never happier than when she is dancing.
LeBrandi Johnson began dancing at age 5 and continued through high school and college. She performed African and multi-cultural dance with DanceVisions and La Raza de mil Colores at NCSU, and guest performed with the Duke University Dance Ensemble and with Ron K. Brown at the Kennedy Center. LeBrandi teaches hip-hop, AfroFusion and preschool dance.
Camila Karam has extensive experience performing and teaching both North African belly dance and Brazilian dance. She was the founder and Artistic Director of Nyansa North African Dancers and Sarava Dance Companies, and toured Europe, Africa and Japan dancing the samba. Camila was also a member of Batucaje Afro-Brazilian Dance Company, Roots of Brazil, and Pe De Boi Samba Group in New York City.
Margaret Kay ("Aziza Fadwa") has studied for over twenty-five years with many renowned belly dancers and has performed and taught throughout the Southeast.
Amy Levine has enjoyed dancing since childhood and studied at Washington University in St. Louis and University College in London. She has taught children and adults for 11 years.
Laylianah Mahasin Laylianah is a passionate dancer who has been devoted to the art of Belly Dance for over 11 years. She has studied many styles of belly dance with world-renowned instructors, and is excited to share her knowledge and passion with her students. Laylianah emphasizes the importance and safety of correct technique, while providing a fun and supportive atmosphere for students who are just discovering what amazing belly dancers they can be!
Chris Maxwell studied dance and musical theater in college and later at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC. He has considerable performing experience, including a national tour with Radio Disney.
Kurren Mehta has been studying Indian dance for over five years and is a member of Duke Dhamaka, an award-winning Bhangra dance team.
Danielle Oldziey studied ballet with renowned teachers such as Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory and Cynthia Harvey and has danced professionally in Seattle, WA, as well as in North Carolina. She holds a BA in Dance from Winthrop University, a Zumba and Zumbatomic licensure, and is an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. Danielle has extensive experience teaching preschool and has her Early Childhood Education Certification for the state of North Carolina.
Gulden Ozen has been dancing and teaching Argentinian Tango for nearly fifteen years. She was a 2008 Indy Arts award winner.
Bianca Patel began dancing in early childhood and has been performing Bollywood dance almost as long. She studied classical Indian dance for five years, all the while practicing and performing more informal folk styles, such as Bhangra and Garba. Bianca is captain of Bhangra Elite, a nationally-competitive dance group at UNC.
Lauren Proctor has pursued a love of dance for over twenty years. Recently certified as a Pilates Mat instructor, she has been studying the Pilates method for nearly a decade and feels that its many benefits are ideal for the well-being of both dancers and non-dancers.
Aaron Ratcliffe began his clogging career as a youth in western NC and now dances and teaches with the Cane Creek Cloggers.
McDaniel Roberts is a principle dancer with the African American Dance Ensemble and the Artistic Director of The Harambee Collective. He has performed with a number of companies, including the Cultural Movement African Dance Company and NCCU Dance Group. McDaniel has traveled and performed around the United States and abroad exploring various dance styles and rhythms. He pays homage to his ancestors and current mentors, as well as to his family and Almighty God who gives him strength.
Carol Ryner taught movement arts for seventeen years. She says that dance is her passion and that she teaches with the belief that "if you can walk, you can dance.
Shailly Shah began dancing at a very young age and was the founder and captain of the undergraduate competitive Garba-Raas dance team of the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a pharmacy resident and graduate student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and has taught Garba-Raas to both beginners and experienced dancers for the last six years.
Iya Silva began her study of Brazilian dance in 1990 in San Francisco, where she performed with some of the top Brazilian dance companies and was crowned the 2003 Queen of Carnaval. She has taught Samba since 2000 in both California and North Carolina and is artistic director of the Charlotte-based dance company, Movimentos de Samba.
Paige Smith has 17 years of pre-professional classical ballet training, studying in Cary, NC and spending summers dancing and training with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Washington Ballet, Ballet Chicago, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. While training at Cary Ballet Conservatory, she had the opportunity to perform with Carolina Ballet in the productions of Nutcracker, Carmen, and Romeo and Juliet. Paige has taught ballet to children ages 3 and up since her high school days and has a special love for teaching all ages.
Dane Summers started clogging with the Cane Creek Cloggers in 2002. He continues to perform with the Cane Creek Cloggers, the Apple Chill Cloggers, and the Dueling Shoes.
Jules Szabo is a classical ballet graduate from the UNC School of the Arts and actively continues her dance training in jazz, modern, hip-hop, and ballet. She has taught ballet, hip-hop, jazzy fitness and Pilates-based classes around the Triangle for many years.
Ryan Taylor has been krumping for eight years and has taught both krump and hip-hop workshops across the country. He was a member of the group Street Kingdom that competed on America's Best Dance Crew (season 6) and has danced back-up for numerous celebrities.
Elise Valdez started her dance training at age 4 with tap, jazz, and ballet. She later discovered partner dancing and trained extensively in salsa, spending two years performing dinner shows with The Otero Dance Company in Los Angeles. At a dance convention, she was introduced to West Coast Swing and met her husband-to-be, Eddie, with whom she now competes on the NASDE circuit. Elise loves to share her passion for partner dancing through teaching and performing.
Eddie Valdez has just arrived in Durham from Santa Monica, CA. He began his dance career studying tap, jazz, modern, ballet, and gymnastics but found his true passion in partner dancing. He has studied and taught ballroom, Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, Hustle, and Salsa but now focuses on West Coast Swing. Eddie and his wife, Elise, travel and compete on the National Association of Swing Dance Events circuit and rank among the top 15 dancers in the nation.
Cristina Velasquez studies with the famous Hannan Sultan, an international belly dancer currently based in NC. She performed with Hannan’s student/professional dance troupe “Zohour al Sultan” and has assisted with belly dance workshops taught by internationally known dancers, including Mohamed Shahin, Tamalyn Dallal, Bozenka, Tito, Camelia, and Yousry Sharif. She currently performs as a soloist at local events, private parties, and venues around the Triangle.
Jose Velasquez grew up dancing and has performed hip-hop and break dance on stage, both locally and around the Southeast.
Jessi Knight Walker majored in dance at Duke University; she taught and performed in the Triangle before moving to Denver, CO to dance professionally with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance for four years. Jessi and her husband are now back in NC, their family having just expanded to four with the addition of baby Sylas!
Leah Wilks is a Durham-based dancer, teacher and choreographer. She has taught creative movement, release technique, improvisation and composition to kids and adults in a variety of settings. She likes getting her students moving and is constantly inspired by the ways in which they make her imagination grow.
Becca Wilusz began dancing at age three in Hamilton, NJ and grew up competing in NJ and New York City. As a student at Duke, she choreographed and performed with two dance groups and currently dances with nosi dance theater here in Durham. She holds a B.S.E. in biomedical and mechanical engineering and is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Duke.
Andrea Wolfe holds a BFA degree in Ballet Teaching and Performance from the University of Utah. In addition to ballet, she has studied dance styles including modern, jazz and tap since childhood. Andrea has considerable experience teaching children from age 2 up, as well as adults, and feels passionate about sharing her love for dance with students of all ages.