ZUZI|School

School : Teacher Bios


 
Nanette Robinson, choreographer, educator and dancer is ZUZI! Co-Founder and Artistic Director, holds a BFA in Dance from Temple University and is an introductory and ongoing certified instructor of Skinner Releasing.   She has travelled internationally teaching and performing and has extensive experience as an aerial dancer and teacher having worked with Robert Davidson and Terry Sendgraff. Nanette’s choreography has been showcased locally with O-T-O, Zenith Dance Collective, Arts for All, University of Arizona Dance Department, Rick Wamer, “Mythos” Project, NEW ARTiculations, Funhouse Movement Theater, The Tucson Poetry Festival, the ADAA Showcase and the Flagstaff Summer Dance Festival. Nanette is currently teaching at Paolo Freire School, with Mirasol Recovery Treatment Program and ZUZI! School.  She is thrilled to be a part of ZUZI!. It has been her home and artistic toolbox for creating dances,  flying, teaching and working with all levels and ages of dance lovers.
   

Melissa Buckheit Melissa Buckheit is a poet, dancer/Dance teacher, choreographer, English professor, photographer, and massage therapist. She began dancing at the age of 5, studying primarily classical French and Russian Ballet/Pointe, until she became an undergraduate at Brandeis University, and discovered Modern Dance and Martha Graham. Melissa has continued her study of multiple dance/movement modalities, studying Modern Dance, Choreography, Aerial Trapeze, Contact Improvisation, Mind-Body Centering, Dance Therapy, Hakomi, Authentic Movement and Skinner Releasing Technique. She holds a B.A. in Dance/Theatre, English & American Literature/Creative Writing and French from Brandeis University and an M.F.A. in Poetry from Naropa University. Melissa has danced and performed her original choreography in Boston, Boulder and Tucson, as a member of Brandeis Dance Collective in Boston, with Zuzi! Dance Company and through New Articulations Dance Theatre. Recent work includes, Maitri with Karen Reim, Dos Bracos with Maria Villa, when it is night, an island, Fall (repertory by Susan Dibble of Susan Dibble Dance Theatre), and This or That Life, an Aerial solo. She is a recipient of a 2007 Tucson-Pima Arts Council grant in Dance, has served on the TPAC Dance Grant panel for the last couple years, and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, a Best of the Net Award, and a Best of the Web Award through Sundress Press, for her poetry. Her poems, photography, and other writing have appeared or are forthcoming in nth position, Blue Fifth Review, The Drunken Boat, Taiga, Cutthroat, Pirene’s Fountain, Bombay Gin, and Sonora Review, among others. Her first manuscript, On the Back of the Animal Is the Mouth of the Vase, has been a finalist for several prizes and her chapbook, Arc, was published online through The Drunken Boat in 2007. Melissa has taught Creative Writing and Modern Dance at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Writing at The Art Center Design College and currently teaches Literature, Writing and Creative Writing at Pima College and Aerial Trapeze, Creative Movement and Creative Writing at Zuzi. She also founded and curates the Edge Reading Series for Younger and Emerging Writers, through Casa Libre, in Tucson.
   
Aja Knaub

Aja Knaub is the assistant school director for O-T-O Dance and has been teaching and performing with them for four years. She started her performance training in the theatre arts and moved to dance when she discovered the aerial apparatus, flying and suspending movement in the air. She began 9 years ago on the low flying trapeze under the tutelage of Patti Lopez and the Arivaca Arts Council. In Tucson she expanded this skill with Annie Bunker, Charles Thompson and Nate Dryden. She has taken workshops with Robert Davidson, Nancy Smith of Frequent Flyers Productions, Terry Sendgraff, the trapeze twins Elsie and Serenity Smith, and French aerialists Jacques Bertrand and Frédérique Debitte. She is excited to be teaching for Zuzi!

Sky Dominguez hails from the California sun of San Diego.  She loves the bohemian slower pace of Tucson that reminds her of San Diego in the 70’s and 80’s.  Sky discovered dance in her mid teens and fell in love.  Her main dance background is in ballet and she started taking modern at ZUZI last year and became a company member in August 2012.  She works at the University of Arizona in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department and received a Masters of Science from the U of A in Environmental Microbiology with an emphasis in Environmental Law and Policy.


Carie Schneider

Carie Schneider is the Artistic Director of ZUZI's Youth Aerial Company, and has been dancing and working with ZUZI! since 2001. In addition to performing with the company, Carie serves on ZUZI's Board of Directors. Carie took her first aerial class here at ZUZI! in 2000, and began teaching in 2002. Carie has performed as an aerialist in Flam Chen's All Souls Procession finale (2009); she has also practiced and performed with local Compositional Improvisation troupe Movement Salon. Carie has trained with Compositional Improvisation maestros The Architects at the Movement Intensive in Compositional Improvisation (MICI) at Franklin & Marshall College, PA (2011, 2012), the winter MICI workshops in Tucson in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as many local workshops with Improvisation guru Katherine Ferrier of the Architects beginning in 2009. When she's not dancing, Carie is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Arizona, where she teaches writing and literature courses. (Photo by Larry Hanelin)

 

 

Sarah Anderson Stewart

Sarah Anderson Stewart first set foot on the ZUZI! stage, performing in No Frills as a high school student (1999). After a small reprieve to earn her B.F.A. in Dance Education at Arizona State University (2004), Sara returned to Tucson and to ZUZI! She is now going on her sixth year as a ZUZI! company member performing, choreographing, and teaching. Additionally she has performed with Zenith Dance Collective, Dance Arizona Repertory Theater, GGG Dance Company, Esperanza Dance Project! and in works choreographed by ASU faculty, students, and guest artists Vicki Schick and Yvonne Rainer. Sara’s passion for performing is equaled to her passion for dance education/arts integration.  Her experiences over the past decade include directing the dance program at Skyline High School, teaching as an Arts Integration Specialist for Opening Minds through the Arts, leading professional development as the Education Services Director of Arts Integration Solutions, and currently teaching jazz at Tucson High School. When Sara isn’t in the studio or classroom, she can be found at the University of Arizona completing her graduate degree in Language, Reading, and Culture.






 
Mechelle Flemming grew up in London, England and began dancing in 2004. She received her B.A. in dance/theatre at the University of Houston (Texas).  She has worked with Becky Valls, SUCHU, Psophonia Dance Company, Teresa Chapman (including Cunningham Dance Studio, NYC, 2007), Toni Leago Valle, Douglas Dunn, Laban Center (London), Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, and remains a current member of Travesty Dance Group, and Vault.  Mechelle has presented solo/collaborative work in Texas at ACDF, Big Range Dance Festival, Diverseworks, Offshore Technology Conference and Merging Modes. This is her  first year with ZUZI!
 

Jamey Garner is the Operations Manager, an instructor and company dancer at ZUZI!
Her works have been seen in a variety of venues, including the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend in Brooklyn, NY, the Walker Art Center's Choreographers' Evening in Minneapolis, MN, the Eat It! Comedy Festival in New York, NY, and as part of the FirstWorks festival in Providence, RI.
Combining the Western traditions of postmodern dance, modern dance and ballet with elements of mysticism, she investigates postmodernism, postcolonialism and hybridity.
While in Minneapolis, she had the pleasure of co-founding and co-directing Three Dances with Brinsley Davis and Suzanne Wiltgen, along with dancing in the works of several Twin Cities-based dance artists.
Jamey attended Oklahoma State University, traveled to Kenya with the School for International Training, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, and spent six months of field study in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Photo by Larry Hanelin

 Shelley Smith

Shelley Smith- I have been dancing since the age of 7 years old, where I strongly trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, and hip-hop from Saddleback Dance Center to West Coast Dance Academy and Jimmy DeFore. During those years, I intensively competed in ballet, lyrical, and jazz. Prior to going on Pointe, I took intensives in Cecchetti, American Ballet, Russian Ballet, and was then certified by The Cecchetti Society of Dance. I continued my training while attending Tesoro High School where I was on the Varsity Song Team for 4 years, and was awarded captain my senior year. I then attended Saddleback College where I performed and choreographed in the dance department. I continuI have been dancing since the age of 7 years old, where I strongly trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, and hip-hop from Saddleback Dance Center to West Coast Dance Academy and Jimmy DeFore. During those years, I intensively competed in ballet, lyrical, and jazz. Prior to going on Pointe, I took intensives in Cecchetti, American Ballet, Russian Ballet, and was then certified by The Cecchetti Society of Dance. I continued my training while attending Tesoro High School where I was on the Varsity Song Team for 4 years, and was awarded captain my senior year. I then attended Saddleback College where I performed and choreographed in the dance department. I continue to take from well-known dancers and choreographers such as, Donyelle Jones and Sonya Tayeh. From 2008 - 2010, I was dedicated to Architecture Dance and Emotus Dance Company. With these companies, I was able to expand my repertoire of dance through modern and contemporary. In various genres, I have had the opportunity to choreograph for shows and performances through Saddleback College and "The Next Level" Performing Arts. I found my passion for teaching while working at The Tumble Center, teaching preschool gymnastics and dance for 3 years. I continued my teaching through OC All-Stars Cheer & Dance, Dance Palace, and most recently The Little Gym.e to take from well-known dancers and choreographers such as, Donyelle Jones and Sonya Tayeh. From 2008 - 2010, I was dedicated to Architecture Dance and Emotus Dance Company. With these companies, I was able to expand my repertoire of dance through modern and contemporary. In various genres, I have had the opportunity to choreograph for shows and performances through Saddleback College and "The Next Level" Performing Arts. I found my passion for teaching while working at The Tumble Center, teaching preschool gymnastics and dance for 3 years. I continued my teaching through OC All-Stars Cheer & Dance, Dance Palace, and most recently The Little Gym.

 

Felice Espinoza - Felice is a specialist in Dance as a form of transformative education.  She has a natural gift  for creating curriculum and techniques that lead to lasting change in the body, mind and Spirit.  A Cecchetti trained classical Ballerina for 14 years and a Modern Dancer for 17, Felice moves fluidly from one style to another.   She believes all forms of movement inform one another other, revealing sacred secrets of the body and soul.  Felice has been involved with the Dance and Performing Arts world for over 25 years as both a dancer and teacher.  She taught High School and Jr. High English teacher for 5 years and is an educator by nature.  For the past three years, she has been teaching Dance, Creative Movement, Poetry and Choreography to children and adults at ZUZI Modern Dance Company School and Theater.  Felice has practiced meditation for six years and is deeply devoted to the Divine Feminine.   She has studied with living masters of Interfaith, Buddhist and Hindu traditions in India and the United States.  With a genuine Love, Felice invites students to  explore their creative potential and experience their own Beauty.  She provides a sacred and safe setting for experimentation and play.  Felice is dedicated to helping all Beings learn to recognize and worship their own Divinity.