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. Nanette is currently in the MFA Dance program at University of Wisconsin.

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. 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. 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.
  Fenix got his start in the circus world at the Zuzi Summer Arts Camp at age 12 and returning every year until he was asked o join the apprentice company. Fenix spent his final year before leaving for college falling in love with all the circus arts he could find, including trapeze, silks, juggling and stilt-walking.

During his time at the University of Oregon, he studied modern dance under Brad Garner and Shannon Mockli and tap dance under Jean Nelson. While at school, he taught aerial arts at two circus centers in Eugene, and traveled to Philadelphia Circus School and NECCA for his own aerial training.

After graduation, Fenix moved to Portland, Oregon where he found work with two circus groups, Sky Club, a variety troupe, and AWOL Dance Collective, an established company, creating and rehearsing full performances from scratch, often collaborating with local musicians.

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)



 Karyn Reim by Rick Foster

Karyn Reim has had an eclectic ballet education that culminated with a BFA and BA in dance performance and choreography from Shenandoah University.  Though not a ballerina herself, she believes good dance technique, presentation, and discipline begin with a strong ballet foundation.  Her modern dance, Pilates, and yoga studies will also likely influence her teaching style.   Come explore a powerful and elegant dance technique!.

Stephanie Cortes is a co-founder, co-owner, and artistic director of Cirque Roots Studio and Productions. Stephanie has choreographed many shows for the past three years, and performed for a variety of audiences and venues. Modern hoop dance has been her primary performance art, however her excitement and interests has led to an expansion of skills including aerial hoop, fire dance, stilt dance, and acrobatics. She has a passion for teaching and thrives to inspire creativity, confidence, and happiness in every student.!
 Shelby Taylor

Shelby Taylor began her dance training at the age of five at Tiffany's Dance Academy in Livermore, California. While studying at TDA, she performed along side the Bay Area Dance Company, under the director Tiffany Henderson. She has been trained in many dance genres including jazz, ballet, tap, and modern. Shelby now attends the University of Arizona in the pursuit of an education major and dance minor. While attending school, Shelby have been training with the company, ConDanza, directed by Cesar Degollado. Shelby plans to graduate from the University of Arizona in the Spring of 2016.


 Shelley Smith

Shannon Taylor is from California where she danced at Tiffany's Dance Academy. Since TDA, she is attending the University of Arizona and majoring in Literacy, Learning, and Leadership. With this major she hopes to start a non-profit involving dance. In addition to attending college she is dancing with a local company called ConDanza, where she works with Cesar Degollado the founder and director of the company. She has performed at many local benefits, and most recently she has had the opportunity to travel with ConDanza to San Francisco to dance for the Lone Survivor Foundation.


Christine Peterson Christine has been dancing and performing since the age of 3. Her childhood was spent onstage, in various musical theater and dance productions. At the age of 15, she realized that dance was a serious passion for her, and she started training more seriously. At age 16, Christine started teaching, and has since choreographed several musical theater productions and taught several classes in four different states around the country. At the age of 18, she had the opportunity to study in New York City with the Broadway Dance Center Training Program. Currently, Christine teaches at Paulo Freire Freedom School, Christian Youth Theater, and BreakOut Studios..