Master Faculty


Sarah Barry

Sarah M. Barry, MFA, CLMA, is a Professor of Dance at the University of Alabama, and serves as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. In the dance program, she teaches modern/contemporary technique, choreography and improvisation, and dance pedagogy. She is the Artistic Director of Yonder Contemporary Dance Company, a collective of students and faculty from the Dance Program, The School of Music, and the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. Sarah was honored to be a Leadership Board Faculty Fellow, as well as a recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Grant. Sarah received UA’s prestigious Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award and was the recipient of the Druid City Arts Award for Dance Educator of the Year. Sarah’s choreography has been shown across the U.S. and internationally, including performances in Sorrento, Italy, Biel, Switzerland and at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival. She has earned numerous grants including an NEA American Masterpieces grant, which resulted in a re-staging of Jose Limon’s There is a Time for the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre. Sarah’s screendance “there, again” was selected for the Kalamata International Dance Festival, the Festival Miden in Greece and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. Her film “so you want me always to paint flowers” was selected for the Utah Dance Film Festival and Motion Captured as part of Dance Month in Houston, TX. She directs the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive at UA where she teaches modern, dance history, and experiential anatomy and has choreographed for their Showcase. She has been a guest artist with Alabama State University, Emory University, the Alabama Dance Festival, the American College Dance Association, the Children’s Dance Foundation, and the Alberta School of the Performing Arts. Sarah also has publications in the Journal of Dance Education, the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters journal, and the Journal of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.

JP Christensen

JP Christensen is originally from Nashville, TN where he received his early training in Nashville Ballet’s pre-professional program and then continued his education as a dance major at Point Park University. He went on to dance for Opryland USA, Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland, and Radio City Music Hall. JP appeared on Broadway in CATS (Skimbleshanks), Fosse (Swing), and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Swing, Original Co.)
From 2003 to 2010 JP was Co-Owner and Director of The City Performing Arts Academy in Visalia, CA where he managed 250 students, 10 teachers, and 60 + classes a week. JP is a sought-after Master Teacher and choreographer who has taught and choreographed nationwide. His students have been featured on Dancing with the Stars, performed with Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Jordan Sparks, and Macy Gray. Many have gone on to do Major Motion Pictures, National Tours, Broadway as well as work for RCCL, Disney World, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Universal Japan.
JP Completed five contracts as a performer for Royal Caribbean, his last in Chicago on the Allure of the Seas. He then went on to serve as Rehearsal Choreographer for Chicago and Cats for RCCL.
In 2015 JP joined the casting department at Royal Caribbean casting all dancers, divers, acrobats and specialty acts. He quickly moved to a Lead position helping oversee casting of all Broadway Musicals, as well as the numerous Signature Aqua and Production shows in RCCL’s portfolio
As Manager of Entertainment Artistic Integrity, JP is now a driving force in maintaining the overall artistic integrity for the entire roster of Theater, Aqua and Ice shows for RCCL’s fleet.


Amansu Eason

Amansu Eason began performing at age 4 with the Morning Bishop Theatre Playhouse. At age 10, he began studying ballet, jazz, tap, and modern at the Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. During the same time he also began extensive training in West African folklore and dance with the Alyo Children’s Dance Company in Chicago, Illinois.

Over the next six years, he began to develop his own style, fusing the disciplines he learned throughout his training giving power to his artistic and creative voice. In 2003, as a dance minor at Bowling Green State University and a major of Africana Studies, he was introduced to the Katherine Dunham Technique. Though his father was a professor at BGSU, he accredits the Dunham Technique for giving him an academic voice and confidence to be a scholar.

Throughout his career, he has performed with Ben Harper, opened for artists such as Omarion, Marcus Houston, Mary, Mary, Arrested Development, and presented a solo for the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He has performed on stages and in spaces all over the U.S. and the Caribbean, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Isreal, and Brazil and has taught dance throughout Northwest Indiana, Ohio and the Chicago area for the past 13 years.

Amansu is currently the Assistant to the Director of Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago, and Associate Director of Dancexcel Champion Center for the arts in Gary, IN.. He also serves as Co- Chair of the Planning Committee, a member of the Technique Committee, and Certified Instructor for the Institute for Dunham Technique Certification. . Amansu is a two time recipient of the Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievements in Dance granted by the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago.


Denise Eason

Denise Eason returned to Nashville after a 20-year residency in Hartford, Conn. where she was with the Hartford Ballet and, after retirement, an adjunct professor of dance at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Mrs. Eason was a Nashville Ballet company dancer from 1989-1994, and she returned to Nashville Ballet in 2016 as a company teacher, coach and faculty member. Mrs. Eason moved to Connecticut to join the Hartford Ballet in 1994 under the direction of Kirk Peterson where she danced many principal and soloist roles by George Balanchine, Choo-San Goh and Peterson, to name a few. Among her favorites were Tall Girl Principal in Balanchine’s Rubies, Sanguinic and Choleric in Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, Third Movement Principal Girl in Choo-San Goh’s In the Glow of the Night, Myrtha in Peterson’s Giselle, and Sugar Plum and Snow Queen in Peterson’s American Nutcracker. Prior to joining the Hartford Ballet, she danced with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Chautauqua Festival Company, Michigan Opera and Septime Webre Dance. Mrs. Eason has been a faculty member of academies affiliated with professional ballet companies, and she brings with her a career of more than 30 years of professional ballet and teaching experience.


Kate Crews Linsley

Kate Crews Linsley served as the Dance Department Chair at The Waterford School, as well as the Director of the Waterford Dance Academy in Sandy, Utah from 2012-2017. As a dancer, Ms. Linsley was a soloist with Ballet West for 10 seasons, retiring in June of 2010, and a corps de ballet dancer with Kansas City Ballet from 1995-2000. She has also performed with AVA Ballet Theater and SB Dance Company. Ms. Linsley trained at State Ballet of Missouri School under Todd Bolender and The Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Ms. Linsley performed as a guest artist in Salt Lake City with NOW-ID Dance company.

Professionally, Ms. Linsley has been highlighted in works in the following world-renowned dance festivals and tours: Edinburg International Dance Festival in Scotland, Dance Across America in Washington, D.C. and Fall For Dance in New York City. She has been on staff at Creative Arts Academy, Ballet West Academy, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Salt Lake Ballet, AVA Ballet Theater, Utah Regional Ballet and The University of Utah, to name a few.

Beyond her career in dance and dance education, Ms. Linsley was Chairman of the Board for Inbody Outreach after five years as Executive Director for the Utah nonprofit, which supplies qualified yoga instructors to populations in need. She has served on staff in the Utah yoga community at Centered City Yoga, The Yoga Center, University of Utah and Primary Children’s Medical Center. She is certified to teach yoga to veterans through the Yoga Warriors Program and at-risk youth under the Street Yoga training. She is also certified in the Mindful Schools curriculum to implement mindfulness teaching in schools. Ms. Linsley has led mindfulness sessions on trips traveling with Rivers of Recovery.

In her role as Academy Principal at Nashville Ballet, Ms. Linsley oversees the artistic aspects of the School of Nashville Ballet and teaches dancers in the School, Professional Training Division and NB2.

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Lisa Lock

Lisa K. Lock, holds a BFA and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and a Ballet Diploma from the Grande Ecole de Danse in Bern, Switzerland.

She serves as an Assistant Professor and Interim Artistic Director of Dance at Kennesaw State University, as well as Interim Artistic Director.

As a solo artist Lisa has performed her critically acclaimed choreography internationally, as well as all over the US. In 2018 she was a finalist for an Award for mature solo performers, and was invited to perform in Mexico City at the International Contemporary Dance Festival.

As a choreographer she set works on several pre- and professional dance companies among them, La Danserie in Los Angeles, Georgia Ballet, and Full Radius Dance in Atlanta, Cleveland Opera, Verb Ballets, Ohio Dance Theater, Dancing Wheels, and the former Cleveland Dance Theater in Ohio. Her work for the KSU Dance company recently got selected to represent the SouthEast region at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Lisa comes with many years of teaching experience both in the University system and the private studio setting, recent festivals and intensive workshop teaching include, Complexion Contemporary Ballet, the International Ballet Intensive, KSU Dance Fest and Summer Intensive.

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Heidi Malnar

Heidi began her tap training in Nashville Tennessee with Debbie Belue. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with†a Bachelor of Arts†in Dance and while in Chicago she began working with Chicago Tap Theatre under the direction of Mark Yonally. She later went on to perform with Jump Rhythm Jazz Project under the direction of Billy Siegenfeld where she won an Emmy Award for her performance in the multi-Emmy Award winning documentary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. Getting There Heidi relocated to New Orleans Louisiana in 2010 where she sought to create a tap dance scene and opportunities for tap dancers. In 2013 she founded Theatre on Tap, a performance and†educational company featuring and in 2014 joined the dance faculty at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Heidi is also the founder and primary instructor of HeidiTAPS, a community educational program that offers weekly classes to adults and teens. Most recently she completed her Level†1 Certificate for Teacher Training with The American Tap Dance Foundation. In addition, she is the resident choreographer at The National World War II Museum and has won five New Orleans Arts Entertainment Big Easy Awards for her work for her artistic work in New Orleans.


Jennifer Olivas

Jennifer Olivas is from the small town of Festus, Missouri. She attended Webster University in St. Louis where she received a BFA in dance. As a professional, Jennifer has performed all across Europe and The United States, in China, Korea and Australia. She has performed with distinguished groups such as David Dorfman’s Dance out of Seasons, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal’s The Nutcracker, Paul Taylor 2 in Esplanade, Inaside Chicago Dance Company, MusicalFare's American Rhapsody and Neglia Ballet's The Nutcracker. Jennifer was a founding company member of Buffalo’s Lehrer Dance and toured for three years, before she moved to Los Angeles to dance with Diavolo Dance Theater for four seasons. Jennifer finds herself still jumping back in with Diavolo and recently appeared with the company for the final top ten performance on season 12 of America's Got Talent. Jennifer's teaching credits began when she was seventeen years old and now she continues to teach and co-teach with her husband, Omar all across the country. They have set works and taught all over the world including at Brigham Young University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Webster University, LA Contemporary Dance Company, Backhausdance, Lehrer Dance and in Fürth, Germany. Jennifer is currently and has been an adjunct professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville for five years. She also keeps busy as an L1 Crossfit trainer managing a local Crossfit Affiliate, coaching her Acrobatic Gymnastics team and spending time with her husband and two boys.


Omar Olivas

Omar was born and raised in Santa Ana, California. He began his training at Saint Joseph Ballet ,now the Wooden Floor, under the artistic supervision of director, Beth Burns. Omar has a Masters in Kinesiology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and graduated with a BFA in Dance as a Haggerty and William Gillespie Scholar from the University of California, Irvine, where he was a member of Donald Mckayle’s student repertory dance company, Etudes. As professional, Omar has performed nationally and Internationally with such distinguished groups as Diavolo Dance Theater, BackhausDance, Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Santa Clarita Ballet, and Neglia Ballet. Omar premiered Donald Mckayle’s Minstrel Man at the Conservatoire in Paris, France and Tammy L. Wong’s ”About Last Night" for the Esplanade’s Da:ns Festival Singapore in 2006. Aside from dancing, Omar has been teaching and choreographing dance for over 10 years. He was invited by La Salle College of the Arts, in Singapore, to set a piece for The Esplanade's Da:ns Festival in 2008. In 2011, he paired with his wife, Jennifer Huffman Olivas, to co- teach master classes and set brand new works all over the world including at Brigham Young University, University of California Irvine, Webster University, Lehrer Dance, BackhausDance, LACDC, and Ballet Centrum in Fürth Germany. Omar is currently on faculty for the department of theater and dance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and helps manage CrossFit 1020 with his wife.

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Kimberly Ratcliffe

Kimberly Ratcliffe trained with School of Nashville Ballet, Marin Dance Theatre, and the University of Louisville Dance Academy. She danced professionally with Louisville Ballet and Nashville Ballet, which culminated in soloist and principal roles. In addition, Ms. Ratcliffe has choreographed on the students and professionals of Nashville Ballet and was awarded a fellowship from the New York Choreographic Institute. She has been a member of the faculty of School of Nashville Ballet, Franklin School of Performing Arts, and Berkeley Ballet Theater, where she also served as Associate Artistic Director.

Besides her dance background, Ms. Ratcliffe holds an MA in Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and has a psychotherapy private practice. In every ballet class, Ms. Ratcliffe aims to inspire passion, focus, and heart and loves to witness her students’ vibrant dancing in the studio and on the stage.


Alvin Rangel

For over 20 years, Alvin has enjoyed an international career as a performer, choreographer, educator and artist/scholar. He began his dance career in his native Puerto Rico. Alvin has performed in some of the most prestigious performing arts centers: Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center, NJ Performing Arts Center, Joyce Theatre, New York Live Arts, American Dance Festival, among others. Rangel is an Associate Professor at California State University-Fullerton, teaching in the areas of dance composition, improvisation, modern dance, ballet, African American concert dance and dance history. Rangel performs with his own company, In-Version Dance Project, and as a guest with Dance Theatre X, and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. His award-winning project, Tango Vesre [Inverted Tango] has received international recognition. For nearly a decade, he performed with the acclaimed Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. He participated in the PBS documentary titled Free to Dance and the American Dance Festival’s film Dancing in the Light. In Ohio, he received the Josie Award for Best Male Concert Dancer. He has taught university and high school dance programs, and professional and pre-professional dance companies in the United States, Russia, Taiwan, Spain, Poland, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico. His choreography has been performed worldwide.


Shabaz Ujima

Shabaz Ujima first studied dance at Nashville School of the Arts (1995-1996) and Nashville Ballet (1996-1999). He continued his training at New World School of the Arts (1999-2001) in Miami, Fla. and went on to dance in Nashville Ballet’s Second Company (2002-2003) before enjoying a successful career in contemporary dance with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (2003-2007) and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (2008-2014) under his stage name, Hershel Deondre Horner III. Mr. Ujima has performed works by choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Donald McKayle, Milton Myers, Matt Maddox, Susanna Linke, Jose Limon and Christopher Huggins. Upon his professional dance retirement in 2014, Mr. Ujima returned to Nashville Ballet. He is currently a full-time faculty member in modern and contemporary dance at School of Nashville Ballet. Mr. Ujima is also a teaching artist for Nashville Ballet’s Community Engagement Program, which introduces the art of dance to 40,000 community members each year through visits to schools, libraries and more. Outside of his work at Nashville Ballet, he teaches mindfulness and yoga to local youth and in the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center.


Thom Yzaguirre

Originally from Montana, Thom Yzaguirre began his formal dance training at Minnesota Dance Theatre and School. Thom trained in both ballet and modern dance, and worked his way up from scholarship student to Company 2 dancer.

Thom went on to receive scholarships with the Tidewater Ballet Academy, Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Among his many teachers were Bonnie Mathis, Gene K. Hammett, Susan Borree, Robert Joffrey, Michael Bjerknes, Stephen Jenkins and Elaine Thomas.
He has danced professionally with Duluth Ballet, Ballet Arizona, as a soloist with Louisville Ballet and as a principal with Nevada Dance Theatre and Nashville Ballet. He has worked with a variety of directors including Loyce Houlton, Vassili Sulich, Alun Jones and Janek Schergen. He has also danced a wide range of choreography by a host of dance masters including Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Graham Lustig, Paul Vasterling and Choo San-Goh.

Mr. Yzaguirre has been a guest teacher for the Academy of Nevada Dance Theatre (Las Vegas), Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts (Louisville), Nashville Ballet, The Foundation of Arts (Jonesboro, AR), American Academy of Dance (Hendersonville, TN) and Tennessee Association of Dance (TAD) Tennessee Dance Festival. Thom was the recipient of the 2014 Judith Woodruff Professional Development Award from TAD.

Thom currently splits his time between Nashville, TN and Tupelo, MS. Thom just finished his inaugural season as Artistic Director of Civic Ballet (Tupelo) and as Master Teacher at North Mississippi Dance Centre. Thom is also the Ballet Director at Franklin School of Performing Arts (Franklin, TN). Thom also works with competitive figure skaters at Nashville Skating Academy (Centennial Sportsplex, Nashville, TN).

Thom Yzaguirre is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 7 + Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum (NTC). ABT® NTC is a breakthrough 9 level program for the development and training of young students that embraces sound ballet principles and incorporates elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of training.