As the owner and operator of her own successful dance studio for the past 14 years, Ms. Blake has secured a solid reputation for her professional teaching style and true commitment to her students. Concurrently she has maintained a Master Teacher staff position, touring around the United States and Canada, with Dance Olympus’ Fall and Summer Tour for over 14 years. As a Master Teacher, Amy has worked with dancers all across the country at various colleges, dance studios and conventions. Mrs. Blake is an adjudicator for competitions and has judged for Dance Masters of America, Hawaii International Dance Festival, Dance America and numerous others.
Amy’s formal training was under the close direction of Shelly Power’s Academy of Dance and the Houston Ballet Academy where she has also worked as a guest instructor for their Summer Intensive Program. Amy has received many scholarships and trained with numerous teachers and choreographers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Professionally, Amy danced with Houston Grand Opera in such productions as Annie Get Your Gun and Attila the Hun. just to name a few, as well as Texas Dance Theater, Joan Karff’s New Dance Group, World Jazz Dance Congress and Kountry Fever in Las Vegas.
Mrs. Blake continues to give back to the community by presenting her biannual performance of The Nutcracker which is performed in local hospitals, nursing homes and shelters.
Amy’s mission is to not only educate, but to inspire the love of dance and passion for the arts in each student that she has the privilege of teaching. As such she mentors her Senior Company members, who desire to further their dance education in college, through the audition process. Former Amy Blake students have been accepted to dance programs at Southern Methodist University, Loyola Marymount-Los Angeles, Marymount Manhattan College and others.
Nicole Bishop was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona where she received her formal training at the Tempe Dance Academy in Tempe, Arizona. Nicole had the honor of dancing with the International Dance Alliance in several European countries including France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. During this time, Nicole also performed three consecutive seasons with Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker as Arabian in Phoenix, Arizona.
She received additional training from the renowned Rockette Summer Intensive in New York City for two years, Steps on Broadway, and Idyllwild Arts Academy where she received a full summer scholarship. At the age of 18, Nicole moved to New York City to train and work at Broadway Dance Center as an intern; her focus was Jazz and Contemporary under the mentorship of Derek Mitchell. During her tenure, she was awarded best choreographer and her piece was selected to perform at the Choreographer Canvas in New York City. Nicole’s success in New York allowed her to perform on Good Morning America and work for an entertaining company performing at multiple events. She then moved to Las Vegas to perform in Don Arden’s World Famous “Jubilee!” as a Bluebell Showgirl. While in Las Vegas, Nicole also danced in a variety of commercials and shows including Guys and Dolls at the Las Vegas Hotel, Paul Mitchell, Canada’s Dodge Dart National Commercial, Heartlyn Rae’s music videos, and many more.
Nicole then moved to the island of Guam where she performed in the show ‘Dream’ as a Showgirl and a Magician Assistant. Currently, Nicole lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and is pursuing a college degree. She is very excited to teach and share all her experiences with Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance.
Brittany Barrera began dancing at the age of 10 and received her training from Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance and Premier Dance Academy. She has also had the privilege of training at the Joffrey Ballet School, Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in New York City. She has studied many styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, pointé, lyrical, musical theater and hip-hop. Brittany attended Stephen F. Austin State University where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Dance. While attending SFA she was a member of the Repertory Dance Company and traveled to various locations throughout Texas and also received a scholarship to travel to New Mexico for the American College Dance Festival. She has also performed multiple works by Elizabeth Rhodes, Julie Bour, Dr. Cindy Gratz, Heather Samuelson and many others as well as appearing in several concerts and festivals during her time at SFA. Brittany is thrilled to be a part of Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance faculty!
Charisse Craft-Barry, was the studio co-owner and an instructor at Dance Moves in Seabrook, TX for twelve years. She was raised in Alexandria, Louisiana and received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1997. While earning her degree, she performed as a soloist with the La Danse Company and studied the Vaganova method of ballet. Charisse was an original member of Ballet Alexandria in Alexandria, Louisiana and danced with the company for five years. During this time, she also studied at the Cenla Academy of Performing Arts and completed a training tour throughout the Ukraine and Moscow. Performing with the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company for over two years, Charisse taught ballet at Sullivan’s School of Dance, Houston Metropolitan Dance Center, and West University Dance Centre. She also performed with Dorrell Martin Dance Company and completed a tour through Mexico. Charisse continues to guest teach at studios and conventions like tHe beaT, Georgia Dance Conservatory, Red River Dance, Starsteppers, and others. She is excited to be on board with Amy Blake.
Cyndy Butcher is a former long-time student and instructor of Bonnie Siscoe School of Dance before teaching at Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance. She received several awards before continuing her dance education at San Jacinto College. She was previously the Creative Arts Associate in the Children’s Ministry at Sagemont Church in Houston. While in this position she oversaw Children’s Large Group Worship and Family Worship Services. She also developed a fine arts program where children can study dance, music, art and drama. Cyndy believes that all children are designed with gifts and talents and she desires to help children develop and grow in their talents. Cyndy is married to Bob Butcher and mother to Alex, Ben and Christina.
Keith Cross believes great dancing is a blur of good training in all the elements of dance. Together Ballet, Modern and Jazz dance training has helped him create a new and fresh way of utilizing choreography. By using these dance forms, it has given him the understanding of the versatility a dancer can have. He believes that it is imperative that a dancer have the broad training with which the quality and level of dancing is endless.
Keith Anthony R. Cross: Artist in Residence Kinkaid School; Founder of Teundu Inc.; Artistic Director of Texas Dance Theatre (1990-1998); Master Teacher for Cross Jazz Tours; Consultant for American Dance Convention.
Mr. Cross has worked for such organizations as: Frank Fuher International, Texas Association for Physical Education Recreation on Dance, Texas Association of Teachers of Dancing Inc., The Peoples Workshop, MECA, Texas Commission on the Arts, Ft. Bend Arts Council, Shreveport Regional Arts Council, The Jewish Community Center, Houston Parks and Recreation Dept., Young Audiences of Houston, Dorace Allais for Houston Center League, Dance St. Louis, Mississippi Dance Association, Dixie Associations of Dance Masters, Dance Masters of America Inc., Dance Olympics of New York, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Okaloosa- Ft. Walton Community College, Pensacola Jr. College, University of Houston, Sam Houston State University, Houston Community College, San Jacinto Jr. College, Louisiana State University, and Rice University. Mr. Cross’ teaching experiences include: The Jazz Dance World Congress, The International Ballet Festival, Tulsa Ballet, Ballet Met, Jazz Met, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, City Ballet, Western Arkansas Ballet, Metropolitan Ballet, Allegro Ballet, Academy Lupec’s Mexico, Berry Stephen’s Academy of Dance Amsterdam, Uptown Dance Center, Amy Blake’s Dance Academy, Dancescapes By Joyce, City Dance, Pointstation Inc., Images Dance Ensemble, Delia Stewart Dance Co., Joseph Holmes’ Chicago Dance Theatre, Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Third Coast Jazz, Claude Marchant Dance Theatre Sweden, Dance Explosion Rick Odems Paris, Opus One The Netherlands.
Keith’s television credits include: The Sammy Awards, Houston Grand Opera’s “Tremonisa”, NBC Chicago Emmies and Star Search 1990. He has worked with such talents as: Debbie Allen, Hinton Battle, Maurice Hines, James Brown, Luigi, Matt Mattox, Frank Hachett, Joe Tremaine and Gus Giordano.
Keith has been called the ballet dancer’s Master Jazz Teacher.
Tyler has recently choreographed for Hairspray the musical (Inspiration Stage), The Little Mermaid musical (Dulles High School) and a Grease Tribute for Top Shelf Tributes in Las Vegas. The last four years his choreography has received numerous awards with many competitions and conventions. Tyler had the pleasure of dancing professionally with Royal Caribbean International for over four years on seven different ships. Before joining the cruise industry, he danced and trained with the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company (2005-2006). He also graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in 2003. Mr. Davis teaches and choreographs around the Greater Houston area for many studios.
T’Noya Thompson Gonzales began dancing, choreographing, and performing shortly after joining San Jacinto College, Central Campus. After graduating with her Associate’s Degree in Chemistry, T’Noya was awarded an academic and dance scholarship while also being appointed a teacher’s assistant for the dance classes at SJC. She then transferred to Texas A&M University at Galveston and received a B.S. in Marine Biology. T’Noya works at Moody Gardens where she is a Senior Biologist and the Assistant Behavior Management Coordinator in the Rainforest Pyramid. In addition, T’Noya is a graduate student at Miami University in the Global Field Project Master’s Program. She is also a coach at Crossfit Reign.
Over the years, T’Noya has taught at several dance studios and choreographed in many settings. This is her 12th year teaching Hip Hop at Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance and is excited about the 2016-2017 dance year.
Ms. Grywalski was trained at the renowned Houston Ballet Academy, Houston Texas under the direction of Ben Stevenson and Principal Teachers Anne St. Paul, Nicholas Polajenko and Nina Popovich along with additional training and coaching from legendary teachers from the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Michel Pannieff, and Natalie Krassovska. Ms. Grywalski joined the Dallas Ballet under the direction of George Skibine and Marjorie Tallchief dancing in classical and contemporary ballets as well as guest performances with Columbus Grand Opera and Columbus Dance Theater in Ohio.
Additional performing opportunities include working with jazz pioneer Gus Giordano in Chicago, Illinois and Dino Anderson of JazzDance Columbus.
Judith began teaching at BalletMet Dance Academy, Company School for BalletMet Columbus in 1991 under the direction of John McFall in Columbus Ohio, teaching in the lower school and adult programs working alongside respected teachers George Boft of the Bolshoi, Daryl Kamer and April Berry of the Alvin Ailey Company. In 1995 David Nixon became Artistic Director of the company and the school. Judith was invited to teach in the PreProfessional Program teaching technique and pointe under the direction of Prima Ballerina Yoko Ichino. Ms. Ichino developed a holistic approach to classical ballet training including floor exercises and set combinations to increase muscular understanding of turnout, flexibility, and extension. Additional teaching experience was working at Columbus City Ballet- Shir Li Wu Artistic Director- Formerly Hong Kong Ballet.
Ms. Grywalski is currently teaching at Galveston Ballet, Galveston, Texas, and Amy Blake’s Academy of Dance in Friendswood, Texas.
Brittany Jaramillo has been dancing since the age of 6. She attended Bonnie Siscoe’s School of Dance for several years where she assisted in many classes and where she was the first recipient of the “Jennifer Weber Memorial Scholarship” in 2001. In high school Brittany was a member of the Clear Brook Celebrities Drill Team and became a Senior Lieutenant. She began working for Amy Blake at the age of 15, doing dance camps and other classes. Brittany attended the University of Houston Clear Lake where she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is currently a first grade teacher and loves being able to do both jobs!
Director of Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary Dance. Dorrell Martin was soloist for the national touring company of A Few Good Men…Dancin. Faculty member at the Joffrey Ballet School. Martin has perform in musical such as Aida, Swing, and West Story. He has worked with recording artists such as Emma Bunton and Solange. He is artist in resident at Hope College, where he set the musical” Wonderful Town.” Martin has worked with dance companies and choreographers such as Richard Rivera’s Physual, Arch Dance, Metropolitan Opera and Brian Brooks. He has performed at Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, and Dance Theatre Workshop.
A native Houstonian, Martin is former artistic director of Houston Metropolitan Dance Company and founder of Dorrell Martin Dance Fusion. The summer of 2003, the company MADE it’s International Debut in Veracruz, Mexico. He received Honorable Mention for choreography at the World Jazz Congress. He has taught and set works on University of Louisiana, C.A.D Dance in New York City, Lamar University as well as companies in New Mexico and Louisiana. His studies include Paul Taylor, Ailey School, EDGE Performing Arts in Los Angeles, Steps on Broadway, and 2 years at the New York State Summer Intensive with New York City Ballet. Martin has worked with choreographers such as Kevin Wynn, Fred Benjamin, Liz Imperio of Los Angeles, Randy Duncan of Chicago and Pattie Obey of Holland.
Tony Merriwether was initially inspired during an in-school outreach program conducted by Tapestry Dance Company—which then was the only full-time tap repertory company in the world. Instantly sparked, the fire grew as he moved through the ranks of the organization—from the academy, to the pre-professional company (Visions in Rhythm) directed by Tasha Lawson, to becoming one of the principal dancers in the professional company. In addition to six seasons of shows with Tapestry Dance Company, Tony’s performance credits include Lane Alexander’s Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Barbara Phillips’ Third Coast Rhythm Project, Sarah Petronio’s Tribute to Jimmy Slyde, Ayodele Casel’s and Sarah Savelli’s Wonderland (a tap tribute to Stevie Wonder), and ZACH Scott Theatre’s Sophisticated Ladies featuring Jennifer Holliday. His tour credits include the east-coast touring Thank You, Gregory (a tribute to the late Gregory Hines) written and choreographed by Tony Waag of the American Tap Dance Foundation, and Acia Gray’s nationally-touring production of The Souls of Our Feet, where Tony shared the stage with tap masters Dianne Walker, Sarah Petronio, and Arthur Duncan of the Lawrence Welk Show. He joined the faculty of the fifth annual Space City Tap Fest in 2014 and the 15th annual Soul to Sole Festival in 2015, teaching and performing alongside a docket of legendary dancers including Brenda Bufalino, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Nicholas Young, and Emmy-award winning Jason Samuels Smith. Tony’s teaching credits include world-renowned Broadway Dance Center, Dallas Powerhouse, and Tapestry Dance Academy. He is the Artistic Director of True Sound Productions and True Sound Rhythm Festival, and the founder of StepSure, a non-profit organization devoted to empowering urban youth through the art of tap dance.
Katie Trevino has been dancing since she was fourteen. She started dancing at local studios in League City, TX. She received an Associate of Arts Degree in Dance at San Jacinto College South in 2008. She was a part of the San Jacinto College Dance Performing Arts Company for two years and participated in the American College Dance Festival. She receive a scholarship to the Bill Evans Workshop in Brockport, NY, the Joanna Friesen scholarship from the University of Houston Dance Faculty, and a scholarship to the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. She was a part of the UH Dance ENSEMBLE company for two years and the Young Audience Touring Company. She earned a B.A. Degree in Dance in 2012 from the University of Houston. She has guest performed in two of FrentiCore’s shows: there is no answer as to why me: A Dance Tribute to David Rackoff in 2013 and Quench in 2014. In the past year, Katie has created a Pre-Professional Company, Artistic Edge, of which she is the Artistic Director. They have performed in FrentiCore’s Fringe Festival 2015 and Project Dance Houston in 2016. She is now in her fourth season with Uptown Dance Company and continuing with Artistic Edge in their second year.
John Ruth has spent 20 seasons with Bay Area Houston Ballet & Theater (BAHBT). Companies include, Houston Ballet, Houston Jazz-Ballet, City Ballet of Houston, Space/Dance/Theatre, National Ballet of Cuba, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Houston Grand Opera, and BAHBT. John has danced the full spectrum of ballet repertory including The Nutcracker (Snow Cavalier, Nutcracker Prince, Spanish, Arabian, Sugar Plum Cavalier, Drosselmeyer), Coppelia (Mazurka, Franz, Dr. Coppelius), Giselle (Prince Albrect, Peasent Pas De Deux, Hilarion), Dracula (Sandor, Dr. Van Helsing), Cinderella (Prince, Father, Stepmother), Peter and the Wolf (Peter, Grandfather), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon), Tristan and Isolde (King Mark), Gaiety Parisienne (Billiard Player), The Sleeping Beauty (Rose Cavalier, Puss n Boots, Bluebird), The Seasons (Winter), The Merry Widow (Mazurka), Edward Scissorhands (the Creator), Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried, Von Rothbart), The Firebird (The Wizard).
Jade began dancing in Dickinson, Texas with a local drill team. She attended Texas State University where she later acquired a BFA in dance with an emphasis in performance. Jade was a company member with the university’s pre-professional company Merge, where she performed several works created by faculty and guest choreographers from Colorado, Mexico and the UK such as: Rocio Luna, Cecilia & Yseye Appleton, Kim Olson, Nathan Montgomery, and Heike Salzer. She also had the opportunity to present her choreography,” Restore”, at the American College Dance Festival in 2013. Since graduating she has joined the Houston dance community where she has performed at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, MATCH – Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston, Hobby Center and the Pilot on Navigation. She has performed with LEON Contemporary Dance Company directed by Dorrell Martin, Juxtapose Arts Collective directed by Heather Steele, as a guest with NobleMotion Dance and several works by Jennifer Mabus. Jade is also an instructor at Pure Barre League City and continues teaching dance around the area.