Tap, Jazz & Musical Theater
Lisa has been teaching dance for over 40 years! She started her young career as a competitive gymnast, and after numerous injuries, decided to get involved in dance. She trained in all styles throughout the valley and had the opportunity as a young adult to dance her way through New York and Russia with a performing company. At the young age of 15, Lisa realized teaching dance was her life passion! Immediately after graduating high school, she opened the studio with her sister, Lori, and the rest is history. Her specialty is jazz and tap for all ages, although, Lisa has a special knack for the toddlers beginning at age two. She loves her “tiny dancers” and has a unique curriculum which creates a love of dance structure and listening skills in a fun, yet caring way. Moreover, Lisa has helped at a variety of studios throughout Arizona including Dance Connection 2, the sister studio in Chandler AZ, where she taught for numerous years. Above all, Lisa’s heart is in Dance Connection, Scottsdale and she believes it is a place for everyone to dance at.
Contemporary & Jazz
Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop & Dance Team
Brianna Dexl grew up as a competitive dancer in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She has trained in all styles of dance from a young age. Majority of her training was under Missy Ridgway, Lizzie Mackenzie, Mandy Moore, Sonya Tayeh, Dee Caspary, and Brian Rabenda as well as her experience on University of Illinois Dance Team. She then moved westward to Los Angeles for several years working as a professional dancer. While connecting with some of LA’s top choreographers, she regularly performed in a show within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. She has had the opportunity to perform on TV shows, award shows, music videos and industry events, some of which include America's Got Talent, Capezio Ace Awards, and Radio Disney Music Awards. She’s spent many weekends judging for Hall of Fame Dance Challenge and In10sity, offering her professional insight to current competitors. Brianna is now a full time dance teacher and choreographer for studios throughout the United States. She emphasizes the importance of a strong dance foundation built upon hard work, dedication, and passion.
Guest Choreographer; Jazz, Musical Theater & Contemporary
Arizona-native Aspen Waddell currently resides in New York City where she teaches at Broadway Dance Center and Broadway Dance Center Children & Teens. Growing up in a dancing family she followed in her mother's footsteps and began teaching at the age of 15. She soon discovered her absolute love and passion for teaching. Aspen has choreographed numerous nationally recognized, award-winning pieces for dance studios across the nation, including her home studio, Dance Connection Scottsdale.
Her most recent television credits include, Gwen Stefani, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Good Morning America, Cadillac, Neiman Marcus, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Season 2 of Bridge and Tunnel. Recent advertising campaigns featuring Aspen include L'Oréal Paris, LG Electronics, Davines Haircare, Vuse Vape, and Visible Mobile. Live performances include, New York Fashion Week, Mike Esperanza's work at the Peridance Capezio Center Gala, and pre-production work with Brooke Wendle and Karla Puno Garcia.
Aspen's class will always begin with a solid warm up. She encourages you to show up ready to work hard and have a great time while doing it! Aspen's high energy, motivating approach will leave every student feeling inspired and even more confident than when they walked in. Aspen strives to bring out the best in every student and wants you to feel your absolute best. Her teaching approach is created to remind every dancer why they initially fell in love with dance.
Lori started her dance career in ballet and gymnastics. Then, began competing with a college dance team. When Lori took her first jazz class at 14, she discovered her calling: teaching dance. Lori competed and performed with a local studio and kept up on her jazz and ballet technique, and as an adult, aspired to be a “professional” dancer and moved to Las Vegas where she performed for over two years professionally. Upon her return to Phoenix, she began a serious teaching career and opened Dance Connection with her sister, Lisa. Lori’s forte is in details/cleaning solos, group choreography, and most importantly, mastering strong technical skills in any level of dancer. Through the ongoing years, Lori put her distinct talents to work and has become a well-known, award-winning choreographer for not only Dance Connection, but a handful of studios across the nation.
Contemporary & Jazz
Tap & Jazz
Contemporary, Lyrical & Jazz
Dana was born and raised in Arizona. She began training at the age of 8 and had the opportunity to work with many choreographers such as Ray Leeper, Tina Caspary-Cyphert, Mandy Moore, Mark Meismer, and Dee Caspary. Dana attended Arizona School for the Arts for six years, and studied ballet and modern at the School of Ballet Arizona. Throughout the years of choreographing, she has built a national reputation and just recently received 1st runner-up in the prestigious A.C.E. Choreography Competition in NYC.
Jazz, Hip-Hop, Musical Theater & Contemporary
Britni Lamken has been dancing since the age of two. Born in Canada, Britni moved to Arizona at the age of fourteen, and began teaching at Dance Connection, Scottsdale in 2010. Specifically, she specializes in students raging from five to twelve-years-old. Britni is well-versed and trained in all styles, but her favorites include hip hop, tap, jazz, and contemporary, which has earned her national awards for her choreography. She always strives to work hard at nurturing her students’ love for this craft! Currently, Britni resides in Phoenix with her husband, Ryan, and her two kids (her pride and joy!) Matilda and Mayzie.
Tap/Jazz, Musical Theater & Ballet
Born in Idaho, Jessica began dancing at a young age and found an immediate passion for the art. After moving to Arizona, she danced competitively and her dedication and strong work ethic helped her to achieve numerous high point awards, scholarships, and title placements. Jessica has been teaching dance in the Phoenix Area since 2000, training dancers of all ages, 2 year olds through adults, and all levels, novice to competitive and has received numerous choreography awards. She has worked with dancers in the styles of Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Technique while assisting them to obtain High Point Recognitions and National Championships. She has had the blessing of teaching thousands of dancers with a strong focus on proper technique and a passion for performance. Jessica received dual degrees from Arizona State University in 2004 in both Elementary Education and Dance and is excited to continue to share her knowledge and passion of the dance industry. Jessica lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Chris, and her two kids Corbin and Brynn.
Ballet & Contemporary
Born and raised in California, Season started dancing at the age of two. She trained under the Royal Academy of Dance and received the highest honours up to Advanced II. From there, she danced at the Colburn Academy under Glenn Edgerton and Leslie Carothers which prepared her to be asked to dance at The Boston Ballet at age 17. She danced with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago where she had the opportunity to perform ballets such as Raymonda, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker. In 2011, she was asked to be the Principal ballerina at State Street Ballet where she had “The Secret Garden” title role, Mary Lennox, choreographed on her by Josie Walsh. She has danced in the Gala of the Stars, Gala de Danza, and has been a founding member with BalletRED, Barak Ballet, and Luminario Ballet. She has also performed on Glee, with Leeann Womack, and commercials such as Conair.
After retiring from performing, Season has gone on to train dancers that have received top prizes as YAGP, NUVO, Jump, 24 seven and many others. She won the IDA award for choreography and continues to choreograph and train dancers across the US with her three sweet daughters in tow! Her favorite part about teaching is sharing the love of dance and inspiring students to feel confident and beautiful.
Ballet & Tumbling
Teisha Metz has been teaching at the Dance Connection for 21 years. Born and raised in Arizona she began dancing at the age of three. Teisha was part of Dance Connection's competitive company. Along with training at Dance Connection she attended Arizona School for the Arts where she studied Ballet and Modern at the School of Ballet Arizona. Upon graduation she received the Katherine K. Herberger Scholarship to Arizona State University where she continued her ballet and modern training. Most recently Teisha has completed her 500hr Yoga Teacher Training and has been teaching at Modern Yoga for two years.
Tap & Jazz
Shae Taylor received a BA in Ballroom Dance from BYU where she trained, competed and taught. Over the course of 25 years it has been her honor to train hundreds of students in both social and competitive ballroom. Students that have trained with Shae have earned full ride university scholarships for ballroom, held national titles, and some are currently the top professionals in the ballroom dancer industry including current National and World Title holders. Some of her students teach and direct the original programs she founded.
Shae recognizes the unique opportunity ballroom dancing presents for youth to learn positive values and skills. These social skills will benefit students in all facets of their life. Shae considers these skills to be the core of the training she provides. She works hard to provide a safe and fun environment where her students can strive for excellence.
Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop & Tap/Jazz
Jaymie is a DC alumni! Starting at the age of two, Jaymie has danced competitively with Dance Connection for 11 years. She is trained in all styles, but is most passionate about contemporary, jazz, and lyrical. Jaymie was also a member of the Desert Mountain pom team and was Pom team captain. Moreover, she furthered her dance career and is a former GCU dancer. Currently, Jaymie works as a JV pom coach, as well as an assistant varsity coach at Arcadia high school and attends GCU working on her degree in marketing and advertising. Overall, Jaymie loves working with children of all ages. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family and her best friend Duchess, a German shepherd. We are so excited to welcome Jaymie as part of our faculty family!
Tzu-Chia trained at the School of Imperial Eleven Ballet in Taiwan under the direction of Yung-Cheng Huang. With Imperial Eleven Ballet Tzu-Chia danced featured roles in La Bayadére, Esmeralda, and The Dying Swan. She continued her professional training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet; while in Pennsylvania Tzu-Chia performed featured roles in The Nutcracker and Le Corsaire. Tzu-Chia joined Ballet Arizona in 2005, and has since originated featured roles in Ib Andersen’s Preludes and Fugues, Play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1052 , Diversions and the title role in Cinderella. Tzu-Chia has also been featured in Les Sylphides, Christoper Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, and Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section. Tzu-Chia’s George Balanchine repertoire includes leading roles in Divertimento No. 15, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, La Sonnambula, Apollo, and La Valse. Tzu-Chia has danced principal roles in Raymonda, Andersen’s Swan Lake, and as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. Tzu-Chia’s received critical acclaim for her interpretation of the siren in Balanchine’s Prodigal Son by The New York Times in June 2010.
Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical, Hip Hop & Dance Team
Amanda Dexl grew up as a competitive dancer in Illinois and trained in all styles of dance from a young age. She competed primarily with Perseverance Dance Company and has performed on several industry events and TV shows. After high school, Amanda lived in Los Angeles for two years working as a professional dancer. She has worked with some of LA’s top choreographers and regularly danced in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. In her junior year of college, Amanda danced for the University of Minnesota dance team and contributed to defending their national title. Amanda currently teaches and choreographs competitive routines for both studios and dance teams throughout the country. She emphasizes the importance of teaching a strong work ethic and hopes to train, challenge, and inspire dancers of all ages to build a strong technical foundation while pursuing their passion.
Kanako began her training in Fukuoka, Japan, and later joined the Reiko Matsuoka Ballet Institute, with which she toured Russia, China and Japan. She was awarded a scholarship to train in Paris, and further studies took her to the Beijing Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet School, City Ballet School in California, and to Petaluma, California with Maria Vegh. Kanako has performed professionally with Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Idaho Ballet, Alaska’s North Star Ballet, Ballet Hawaii, Tau Dance Theatre, and Reiko Matsuoka Ballet.
Since joining Ballet Arizona in 2001 Kanako has originated featured roles in Ib Andersen’s Indigo Rhapsody, Elevations, Mosaik, Preludes and Fugues, Play, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Hippolyta). Principal roles have included Myrtha in Giselle; Ib Andersen’s The Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Don Quixote (Mercedes, Street Dancer, Queen of the Dryads); and Apollo (Polyhymnia), La Sonnambula (Coquette), Divertimento No. 15, Serenade (Dark Angel), Allegro Brillante, and “Rubies” from Jewels, all by George Balanchine, and Bournonville’s Konservatoriet. Kanako has performed soloist roles inSwan Lake, Coppélia, Les Sylphides, and Ib Andersen’s Romeo and Juliet (Lady Montague), and in Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, and La Valse. She frequently travels to Japan as a guest artist and dance coach. Bio From Ballet Arizona
Turns/Leaps, Contemporary & Jazz
Kelsey Metz, a versatile Performer from Phoenix, Arizona, began her dance education studying a variety of styles including Jazz, Contemporary, and Ballet at institutions such as Dance Connection, Master Ballet Academy, and Arizona School for the Arts. Over the past decade, Kelsey has dedicated herself to developing her professional career by immersing herself in diverse movement techniques such as Gaga Movement Language, Counter Technique, Modern, Giordano Jazz, and Progressive Ballet Technique. Her passion for dance education continues to drive her as she constantly seeks out new forms of learning to further her knowledge and expertise. Kelsey has had the privilege of dancing for prominent artists including Mandy Moore, Jess Hendrix, Ray Leeper, and many others, showcasing her versatility in Contemporary, Jazz, and Theatrical works and currently dances with CONDER/Dance.
Hip Hop & Jazz
Liz Blalock graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and was a member of the ASU Dance Team for 4 years. She has professionally cheered and danced for the Arizona Rattlers Sidewinders, the Arizona Cardinals and the Phoenix Mercury Hip Hop Squad.
Liz’s passion for dance opened up opportunities to travel and instruct for Universal Dance Association and served as a judge for local and National competitions. She has assisted the Head Coach to the dance teams at ASU and GCU and this past year was the Head Cheer and Dance Coach at Ottawa University in Surprise, Arizona.
Liz is currently a fitness instructor and teaches Pure Barre, Cycle and Dance Fitness. She also guest choreographs for the Arizona Rattlers Sidewinders and Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders. Liz resides in Central Phoenix with her family. (Husband- Austin, Daughter- Logan Age 5 and Son- Dak Age 2.
Originally from Wisconsin, Natalie Crandall began dancing at the age of 3 and by 6 years old was an active competitor in ballroom dance. She pursued a career in competitive ballroom dancing for over 20 years, obtaining multiple National & International Amateur Championship Titles and 3 National Professional Titles.
In 2020 Natalie refocused her journey on becoming an educator and ballroom dance coach along with becoming an all around movement expert. That year she became a certified spin instructor, 200hr yoga & meditation instructor and most recently a Guide for Kinrgy - a dance fitness modality created by Julianne Hough.
Natalie has continued on to lead many dance masterclasses and fitness workshops at events with household names and corporations such as Tony Robbins, Meta (Facebook), Alo Yoga and Dance Vision. Natalie also organizes Desert Sol Dancesport, an NDCA Sanctioned Pro/Am Ballroom Dance Competition in February in Phoenix.
After years of relentless training as a competitive dancer, continuing her education and branching out into different movement modalities, Natalie thrives on guiding dancers to their most technical, authentic and creative selves.
Ceci was born & raised in Arizona and has been dancing since the age of 6. When she first started she was in crews around the valley and later moved to the studio scene. Ceci specializes in Hip-Hop and happily teaches all levels & any ages. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2019. She has been teaching since 2016 and has loved being able to make an impact on student’s confidence in Hip-Hop.
Tap & Jazz
Born in California, Callista began dancing at the age of two. In 2011, she moved to Arizona and was a competitive dancer with Dance Connection for 8 years. Callista participated in all different styles of dance but her favorites include jazz, contemporary, tap, and ballroom. She discovered a passion for teaching when she began assisting Lisa Waddell in teaching her youngest dancers.
Callista attended Xavier College Preparatory where she was president of their performance dance program. She graduated with both her high school degree and an Associate of Arts Degree in 2019. In college, Callista became a barre instructor and taught group fitness classes for 3 years. She recently graduated Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska with an Exercise Science and Pre-Health Professions Degree.
Callista is excited to be back in Arizona where her family and friends reside with the hopes of eventually attending dental school.
Contemporary, Jazz & Lyrical
Kayla Igo is an esteemed dance instructor, choreographer, and mentor, dedicated to nurturing the talents of young dancers and empowering them to achieve their utmost potential. Trained at the renowned Larkin Dance Studio, Kayla has cultivated a deep understanding and appreciation for various dance styles and techniques. Complementing her training, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Dance Pedagogy from Oklahoma City University, further honing her expertise in the art of teaching and mentoring aspiring dancers.
Kayla spent four years as the director of a pre-professional dance company in Scottsdale, helping dancers flourish both artistically and personally. Prior to this, Kayla worked as a guest teacher and choreographer at studios nationwide, sharing her knowledge with dancers of all ages and skill levels.
Kayla has also had the honor of serving as an adjudicator with competitions such as Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Groove Dance Competition, and the World of Dance Championships in Los Angeles, where her eye for detail and constructive feedback have helped shape the next generation of dancers.
Beyond her studio and competition involvement, Kayla has been honored to be part of the faculty at conventions such as Nexus Dance Convention, World of Dance DX, and Liberate Artists. Her choreography has been showcased on platforms like NBC's World of Dance, Dance Plus, and VidCon, captivating audiences with her innovative creations.
Kayla is a true advocate for her students' holistic development. Understanding the significance of personal growth alongside technical proficiency, Kayla invests in each dancer's journey, guiding them to refine their technique, explore their artistic voice, and instilling in them the confidence to pursue their dreams. Her genuine care and mentorship ensure that dancers not only excel on stage but also develop into well-rounded individuals.
Turns/Leaps & Jazz
Mindy Murphy is an accomplished dance teacher with a lifelong love for choreography, perfecting dances, and teaching. After 16 years as a competitive studio dancer, her passion led her to pursue a minor in dance at the University of Nebraska. From 2011 through 2022, Ms. Mindy owned and directed an award-winning studio in Omaha, where her expertise and personal approach fostered exceptional growth and improvement. Mindy's choreography has been honored with multiple awards, a testament to her creativity and ingenuity. With contagious enthusiasm and an insistence on technical excellence, Ms. Mindy instills a love for dance in her students, inspiring them to achieve their full potential and cultivate a lifelong appreciation for dance.