Jennifer Knostman- Owner & Artistic Director

Amy Earnest- Ballet Masters Program

Amy began dancing at the age of three in Atlanta, GA. Mrs. Earnest received her training with the School of Atlanta Ballet under the direction of Tom Pazik, School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School. As a professional dancer she performed with Hartford Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre (currently Charlotte Ballet), Tulsa Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. She also was a finalist in the prestigious New York Ballet Competition of 1996 and was a member of the Chautauqua Ballet from 1998 to 2000.

Mrs. Earnest has been teaching and coaching students for the last 12 years and is certified with the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum in Primary through Level 3. Mrs. Earnest owned and directed Avant-Garde School of Dance, along with her husband Lance Hardin, where they choreographed and produced numerous performances including an annualNutcracker. Mrs. Earnest has trained and coached students that have continued their training with prestigious schools including American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet School.

13423987_10206896471196467_3852579455373980766_nMrs. Earnest is also a certified Pilates instructor receiving her certification through D.K. Body Balancing accredited by the University of Nevada Las Vegas and approved by the Nevada and Arizona State Boards of Physical Therapists. Mrs. Earnest also enjoyed her role as company teacher with Dawson Wallace Dance (formerly David Taylor Dance Theatre), from 2008-2012, along with a variety of requests as guest instructor. Most recently Mrs. Earnest and her husband Lance Hardin have served as Co Dance Directors at The Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, MN.

Alyssa Willit- Ballet/Contemporary, Ballet/Tap/Jazz, Hip Hop

Alayna first started dancing at a small local studio in Windsor at a young age and danced throughout her high school career. She was hired by A Dance Place and worked there as a dance instructor for five years, teaching mainly ballet and jazz to levels pre-K through 3. Her love for teaching inspired her to successfully run a dance studio out of her home for six years, where she taught ballet, lyrical, hip hop, and jazz to kids aged from 4 to 16. Through these two outlets, she had the privilege of choreographing multiple dance numbers, and shows.

 

Within the last year, she has decided to pursue her career in dance further and enrolled in Colorado State University’s dance major program, where she currently attends. While her major is a ballet and modern focus, she has learned jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, Lindy, Salsa, Charleston, and Blues throughout her dance life. Through this program, she has had the opportunity to work with some wonderful instructors and attend multiple master classes. She one day hopes to reopen her dance studio to continue inspiring creativity in young minds.

Kylie Creighton- Hip Hop
Tristan Grant- HIp Hop & Contemporary
Lance Hardin- Ballet Masters Program

Lance Hardin is a native of Chicago, IL where he received his training from Larry Long at the Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ballet from Indiana University, where he studied under the direction of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, Jacques Cesbron, and Violette Verdy. As a professional dancer, Mr. Hardin has danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre (currently Charlotte Ballet) , Chautauqua Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Boulder Ballet, Springfield Ballet Company, and the Yoko Kasai Ballet Studio located in Japan.

13442185_10206890677731634_6727104702891126904_nMr. Hardin has taught dance for the past 23 years and holds numerous choreographic credits including works for Boulder Ballet, James Sewell’s BalletWorks Project, The Denver Independent Choreographer’s Project, and Springfield Ballet Company. Mr. Hardin and his wife Amy Earnest have served as Co Dance Directors at The Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids, MN since 2012.

Melissa Farrar: Artistic Composition & Jazz

Melissa is a Seattle, Washington native where she received extensive training in all dance forms at Premiere Dance Center and Cornish College of the Arts. She performed locally for companies such as the Seattle Symphony, Club Cruz Control, Seattle’s television series, “The Big Night Out” and modeled for Paul Mitchell, to name a few. She then ventured out and was a ballet soloist in the production of Eve in LA as well as guest performed for Ricky Palomino’s contemporary company, Poetry in Motion, in Poland. She began to explore her love for choreographing and has been recognized for her unique take on contemporary movement. Her choreography has been performed around the country and can be seen on such stations as the Bio Channel. Melissa had the opportunity to move to New York where she assisted Derek Mitchell on So You Think You Can Dance as a contemporary artist, was an assistant choreographer for Suzy Minser for a number of in- production Broadway shows, and has had the privilege of working with the world renowned contemporary company Cedar Lake. She also assisted in the creation of Jacques d’Amboise’s tap program for his children’s dance center, The National Dance Institute or New York. Venturing across the country, Melissa ha had the opportunity to dance in Los Angeles, CA , where she worked for Natalie Gilmore and most recently Andrew Winghart. Knowing one of her true callings is to help inspire the next generation of dancer, she is a judge for both Celebrity Dance Competitions and Spotlight Dance Cup. She is also certified as a Vinyasa yoga instructor and Yoga Barre instructor, helping to advocate for a healthy lifestyle at any age and ability level. 

Jenny Schiff: Contemporary & Jazz

Greta Sugai- Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary & Progressions

Greta was born and raised in Berthoud, CO where she grew up dancing in Loveland since the age of 8.  She now loves to teach advanced classes and her favorite style has morphed into contemporary and improv. In 2015 Greta developed her own traveling dance company called Messengerz Dance Co. and traveled to New Zealand in 2016 to teach dance camps to student of all ages. She has also been a part of Backbone + Co in Boulder, Chadash Contemporary Dance in Denver, Industrial Dance Alliance in Broomfield and has participated with Justin Gile’s SoulEscape the Company in Texas.  She is currently guest teaching and creating workshops across the Front Range, Boulder and Denver, along with this new opportunity to pour into students at SWDC!  She is very excited and grateful to start this new chapter being on faculty at Studio West! 

 

Malia Schonfeld- Tap
Ashton Schmeekle- Hip Hop & Contemporary

Ashton Schmeekle is an amazing triple threat talent who has been working professionally in the entertainment world since the age of 12. Growing up in her mom’s dance studio, Ashton quickly mastered the art of performance, and with focused determination by the age of 17 had co-written and recorded two demo albums as a pop artist. She has danced on the Disney channel in a music video with Tiffany Evans for the Lion King 11 soundtrack, appeared on the CBS hit show “Dance Revolution,” plays Mariah on the current WB hit webisode “Downer’s Grove,” and has numerous performance credits as a pop artist.

Ashton has danced on the stages of Wade Robson, Tabitha & Napolean D’umo, Dave Scott, Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman, Chantal Robson, and so many more. She has received top awards in performance and scholarships from every major dance convention on the circuit. She has assisted at major dance conventions all over the country and has years of teaching experience from her mom’s studio in Colorado Springs. She also has runway and print modeling credits.

Ashton is proficient in Jazz, Funky Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical, Ballet and Technique. She is well known for her upbeat and energetic teaching style for all ages.

Lexi Greenberger- Ballet Masters Program
Kate Adams- Ballet Masters

Kate Adams is a Boulder native who began dancing at Boulder Ballet at the age of 3. In
Colorado, she has had the chance to compete in the Denver Ballet Guild’s Young Dancers
Competition where she received 2 nd  place in 2010 and 6 th  place in 2014. As she rose through the
school, Kate also had opportunities to attend summer programs such as The Harid Conservatory,
Pacific Northwest Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and Texas Ballet Theater. After graduating high school,
she moved to Georgia to study with the Atlanta Ballet. In her two years with Atlanta, she was
given the opportunity both years to perform in the snow and flower corps alongside the Atlanta
Ballet company in John McFall’s The Nutcracker. Kate has since moved back to Boulder where
she is working with Boulder Ballet while pursuing a Health Sciences degree online through the
University of South Dakota. She is excited to join the SWDC faculty and further her love for
teaching dance.

Kim Lang: Jazz & Ballet

Grace Gallagher: Hip Hop, Jazz & Contemporary

Raised in Hickory Corners, Michigan, Grace Gallagher started her training with jazz, ballet, tap, and
contemporary movement forms. Upon graduation of high school, Grace went on to attend Arizona State
University, where she trained in modern and urban dance technique. After earning her BFA, Grace went on to
live in New York City where she spent her time interning and training at Broadway Dance Center. Shortly
after, Grace decided to try out the commercial scene in Los Angeles. She was accepted into the Edge
Performing Arts Center’s rigorous scholarship program. Upon completion of the program, Grace was hired by
Edge to teach their kids program. Recognizing her passion for teaching and choreography, Grace made the
decision to leave the commercial dance industry to pursue a career in dance education. Grace went on to earn
her MFA in Dance along with her K-12 teaching certification from Arizona State University.
Grace has extensive experience as a guest teaching artist and choreographer in numerous contexts including:
guest teaching at private universities, community colleges, and high schools, teaching at a variety of studios
nationwide, hosting professional master classes and workshops, and serving as a faculty member on a
national convention. Grace has also taught jazz, modern, ballet, hip hop, dance history, and dance education
courses at Arizona State University and worked for two separate non-profit programs that utilize dance as an
emotional outlet for underserved youth while continuing to grow her Phoenix based dance company,
gracegallagherdance.
Grace premiered her first evening length work, CONSequence, in May 2014 and her second evening length
work, 40 Love Letters, in April 2015, both at the MonOrchid Gallery in Phoenix, AZ. In November 2015, Grace
debuted her third work, JUXTAposition at the Margaret Gisolo Theatre in Tempe, AZ. Her latest work, RElate,
premiered on November 18, 2016 at the MonOrchid, North Gallery. In addition to producing her own evening
length shows, her work has also been recently shown at Nasty Woman|Phoenix Unite, Artel PHX, Phoenix
Center for the Art’s Beta Dance Festival, and Breaking Ground Dance Festival. Grace has earned over a dozen
choreography awards, and has been recognized as one of Phoenix’s “emerging artists” by JAVA Magazine. She
recently returned from touring Germany with America’s Got Talent runner up, The Silhouettes
(10/17-03/18).
Grace now lives in Fort Collins, CO with her husband and two dogs, where she continues to teach locally and
travel all over the country setting work and sharing her love for dance.