Laura Williams: Artistic Director / Owner
Laura Williams created Ambition Dance Productions to provide technical dance and musical theater training as well as college and professional career mentorships in Southlake, TX, the heart of DFW. She is part of the choreography team for the Miss Universe Organization, with the 2015 Miss Universe and 2016 Miss USA pageants in Las Vegas. Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Dance Performance from Oklahoma City University and performed across America, Malaysia, and Singapore. Laura performed nine years as a Radio City Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with additional NY work for Lincoln Center, NY City Center, and the National Tap Extravaganza at Town Hall with Buster Brown, Savion Glover, and Jimmy Slyde. As an Actors Equity and AGVA union member she performed in musicals including Beauty & the Beast, My One and Only, 42nd Street, Pajama Game, and Evita. Teaching for twenty years, she has worked in the dance studio and competition industry as an artistic director, competition judge and regional director, former studio director of Studio A Dance Southlake, and continues to provide new opportunities for aspiring students in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Rion Towery: Company Choreographer & Guest Instructor
Rion Towery has been working professionally in the entertainment industry for the past 16 years in the U.S. and internationally. Currently, he is a performer with the group Vocal Trash performing in Romania and Morocco summer 2016 and an MC for Encore Performing Arts competition. He has worked at Troy University as a guest choreographer and in Costa Rica for their yearly Jazz Dance Festival. He has performed as a dancer in the Hip Hop/Pop music and industrial scene for such companies as Cabi Fashion, La Quinta Inns, and Mary Kay Cosmetics. Rion has had the opportunity to perform alongside such artists as Destiny Child’s “Beyonce”. He has also been the leading man in musical theatre stage productions of Gershwin’s Crazy for You as Bobby Childs, and Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady as Freddie Eynsford-Hill. Rion has received many awards and top honors for his choreography at competitions in the U.S. He has performed not only as a dancer, singer, and actor for Disney Theme Parks and Six Flags, but as a stunt man as well. With a college degree in Music, Vocal Performance and Dance from Centenary College of Louisiana, Rion likes to combine all facets of dance and theatre into his style and choreography. Growing up as a Bboy and Hip Hop dancer, Rion has stayed true to his roots while incorporating other styles for more of a contemporary hip hop feel. He believes that “dance should be more than just the movement of the body. It should be a journey and self-expression of one’s self. Dance should be fun and exciting while learning the discipline and hard work it takes to be a great performer!”
Christie Erickson: Instructor - Tumbling
Christie’s passion for gymnastics began at 3 years of age, she could always be found tumbling around her house; she was known to carry a mattress into the yard to tumble on or a table to vault on. At the age of 7, she joined the Sunkist Gymnastics gym and was immediately assessed at the highest level. Shortly after joining the gym, she was scouted by US Olympic Staff official and encouraged to prepare for Olympic tryouts; at this time she was given a key to the gym and assigned a companion to work out and train with daily. After a year, her family moved to Texas and was unable to find a suitable gym for her to continue her training as an Olympic hopeful. She then decided to volunteer at the YMCA near her home as a gymnastics instructor where she taught for a few years. After graduating from High School, she volunteered her time to work with gymnasts and cheerleaders to better prepare them for tryouts. In 2009-2010, she began teaching tumbling at Studio A in Southlake, Texas, where she worked with students ages 6-18 to achieve goals in stretching, body control, tumbling and gymnastics. She believes in taking each student at their current skill level, helping them realize their talents, master their skills and reach their goals with a safe, loving, caring and encouraging approach.
Jayci Meister: Performance Company Director, Contemporary, Technique & Drill Team Prep
Jayci Meister has been dancing since she was 3 and trained her at United Performing Arts Company in Arlington, Texas. Jayci grew up as a competition kid but then found love in Concert companies when her studio created AMP a pre professional company. She started choreographing at the age 16 and has gotten several choreography awards since. Jayci received multiple scholarships to many summer intensives in NYC and LA where she trained under sought out professionals from all over the country. Jayci is part of multiple professional shows including Arlingtons Spectacular Christmas, State fair Illumination Sensation, and more. Jayci continues her training by taking ballet classes at contemporary ballet Dallas, United Performing Arts and trains in all different styles wherever she can. Jayci specializes in contemporary fusion while helping all dancers find their artistry and movement. Jayci continues to teach her students everything she’s learned in the years of dancing and helping them grow as professional dancers. Jayci is a current member of the Texas Lonestar Live Dance Team.
Mariah Jackson: Jazz, Lyrical, Technique Instructor
Mandi Kolling: Company Choreographer & Guest Instructor
Janya Cook: Hip Hop, Jazz & Drill Team Instructor
Janya is originally from Paris, TX where she trained and competed with the Elite Dance Academy of Paris. She studied dance at Tyler Junior College and was a member of the Apache Bells. She currently attends University Texas at Arlington and is studying Kinesiology with a minor in dance. She is trained in all styles of dance including jazz, jazz funk, hip hop, and lyrical/modern. She is a choreographer and instructor for the Young Audiences Program of Northeast Texas. She is also a member of the Texas Live Lonestar Dance Team.
Diane Line: Ballet, Pointe, and Variations - guest teacher
Diane Grace Line is a native of Dallas, Texas. She began her ballet training with the renowned late prima ballerina, Madame Nathalie Krassovska. She has attended summer sessions at The Rock School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where her favorite teachers were Olga Kostritzky and Benjamin Millipied. She has also spent summers at The Russian Ballet Society in Edinburgh, Scotland and Ballet Magnificat in Jackson, Mississippi. Ms. Line furthered her full-time ballet education under scholarship at the Princesse Grace Academié de Danse Classique in Monte Carlo, Monaco, under the direction of the late Madame Marika Besobrasova. She is currently a company member performing with the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet. She is also a resident choreographer and a ballet/pointe instructor with the Plano Metropolitan Ballet. Her repertoire includes Giselle, Paquita, Chopiniana, The Nutcracker, Symphony in C, Concerto Borocco, Moonlight Sonata, Masque of the Red Death, and Le Train Bleu.
Wendy Jenkins: Executive Director / Owner
Wendy is a highly accomplished executive and business leader with demonstrated technical, operations and business management experience. She has notable success articulating organizational vision and executing strategies to maximize operations performance and profitability.
Wendy left her executive role after 21 years in financial services and technology. She spent a year consulting in the dance industry in studio operations and management. She decided her next venture would leverage her business experience and her love of dance which started at age 5. Wendy danced for 13 years (ballet, pointe, jazz and tap) with her focus on competitive baton twirling. She won many state and national championships and was captain of her dance / baton twirling team in high school.
Wendy was born and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bryant University in Rhode Island with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. She spent her professional career working in Boston and relocated with her job to Texas in 2011.
Wendy lives in Southlake, TX with her husband Michael, her beautiful daughter Emma (who is also a dancer), and 2 shitzu-poodle fur babies Brenson and Brody.
Wendy loves her new role as a business owner. She loves seeing the dancers explore their passion for dance and the joy that she sees in and outside of the classroom and stage. She also loves the costumes – from vision to creation.
Yulia Ilina: Ballet Program Lead & Choreographer - Ballet, Pointe, Variations
I was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1981 to professional championship athlete parents. Since childhood my parents enforced a commitment of hard work which helped me to later overcome difficult situations. At the age of 7, my mother took me to the “arts school” in Kiev. The professor of the dance class, L. Shatilov, an honored artist of Ukraine, exclaimed after checking my physical abilities: “A child like this is born once in a hundred years. She must be professionally engaged in the ballet.”
I first attended the Kiev Ballet School 1991–the only specialized school in Ukraine that trains professional ballet dancers. By the end of the fourth year of training, I had already been included in the corps de balletscenes of the National Opera of Ukraine, among the older dancers. During the last year I danced solo pas de deux and a number of modern dance compositions. Upon graduation, I was the only one in the class who received the esteemed invitation to go to St. Petersburg and audition for the Eifman Ballet Theater.
The audition was a success and I was offered a contract with one of the best theaters in the world. Working in this theater was not easy, but within a year I firmly established myself in the main part of the troupe and was engaged in all the productions of the theater.
From 1999 to 2004, as a member of the theater, I toured all over the world. I danced in the U.S., France, England, Germany, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Croatia, South Korea, and other locations. In addition, Eifman’s Theater performed on numerous Russia stages including the Bolshoy Theater in Moscow.
In 2004, I decided to expand my experience in teaching and choreography. At the invitation of A. Andreev, honored artist of Russia and a master of the St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, I was selected as assistant teacher-choreographer of his Drama class. Working with students of the Drama Department opened new pathways of artistic thinking and ways to apply it in through many mediums in the profession. I realized that in order to dance well, one does not necessarily have to encompass perfect physique and ballet training. When creating choreography for my students, I tried to focus not only on common rules, but also on the individuality of the artist.
Ultimately, applying the same principle, I choreographed several productions for Operetta Theater, such as “Sylva”, “Cinderella”, and “Mr. X”. The 2005 premieres of these productions were successfully held in Riga, Latvia; Vilnius, Lithuania, and are standard repertoire of the Operetta Theater program.
In 2007, I returned to performing on stage and became a member of the St. Petersburg State Academic Theater named after L. Jacobson. A month after signing a contract, I successfully performed the role of Myrtha in the ballet “Giselle” and immediately was promoted to the position “Soloist of the Highest Category”. As a soloist, I toured extensively with the Theater in Russia, U.S., Mexico, Germany, Japan, and Israel. My performances received high critical acclaim. In 2010, the St. Petersburg Committee of Culture awarded me the Diploma of Recognition: “for the best preservation of traditions and invaluable contribution to the development of Russian ballet”.
In the conferral of my certification, to ascribe the highest status for the soloist of the ballet, the chairman of the Certification Commission stated: “Images of Ms. Ilina’s characters, written in secretly-fragile choreographic patterns, unveil a saturated palette of her diverse personality. Each new work opens up new facets of her talent. She is able to lead and to assist the partners exceptionally well in the creative process.”
Currently, I have reached a pinnacle of acquired skill and practiced expertise. I now feel compelled to expand my accomplished experience to the teaching profession. I know how to help students to expand their professional and artistic horizons, have complete confidence in themselves, and to transfer their inner thoughts and feelings through the art of dance.
Constance Dolph: Dance Instructor - Ballet, Pointe, Modern
Constance Dolph, a native to Dallas Texas, began her classical training under Nathalie Krassovska of the Ballet Russe. She was a pre-professional dancer with Dance Institute of Dallas where she performed leads roles such as Lilac Fairy, Giselle, and Odette. In May of 2013, Constance graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Dance Performance where she performed works by Martha Graham, Shen Wei, Millicent Johnnie, Max Stone, Bruce Woods, and Mel Tomlinson. Following graduation, she performed with Martha Graham’s second company, Graham II, in the works Lamentations, Temptations of the Moon, Appellation Springs, Cortege of Eagles, and Acts of Light. Recently returning to Dallas from New York City, we are excited to have Constance Dolph sharing her knowledge and talents with our Ambition dancers.
Cara Switzer: Young Children's Program, Jazz, Technique, Drill Team Instructor & Choreographer
Cara Switzer is new to the Ambition staff and brings over 19 years of teaching/directing experience with her. Cara is an accomplished dancer, singer, instructor and choreographer who graduated from the University of North Texas in 2003 with a degree in Business Administration. She has been studio trained since the age of 4 and has loved the arts from the beginning! Her experience, combined with a focus on building her student’s confidence in the classroom and onstage are a proven recipe for success! Cara’s dance resume includes over 35 years of studio experience, and teaching in the DFW area since 1998 at various reputable studios, including 11 years as a Dance Company Director and Instructor at Lifesong Studio and 7 years as an Instructor at Doubletake Dance Studio. As a child, Cara grew up in the entertainment industry, with credits in television, film and print, including JC Penney, Dilliards and the Saturday morning TV show “All Star Kids”. She worked alongside artists such as Jo Anne Worley (from Laugh In) and many others. As an adult, Cara concentrated her efforts in the competitive dance world and has coached and choreographed several National Champion soloists and groups and her students and routines have received numerous overall and top awards at both Regional and National competitions. Cara is consistently recognized for her creative routines and choreography and received “Best Choreography” at competitions including Stage One, Hall of Fame, Talent on Parade, Starquest, International Dance Challenge and many others. Her routines also won the coveted “Critics Choice” award at both the 2010 & 2011 Onstage NY Competition. Cara also served as the choreographer for the Colleyville Heritage High School Ovation Jazz Choir from 2000-2005 and Cara did choreography for LifeStage Theatre’s 2007 production of Scrooge, the Musical, 2009’s Seussical and 2013’s Wizard of Oz. She has also choreographed for jazz choirs and musicals at schools all over the North Texas area. While being at the studio is one of her passions, Cara also has a lot of enthusiasm and experience with Drill Team working as an instructor, choreographer, and adjudicator for American Dance/Drill Team School for several years. She now is a veteran judge for Crowd Pleasers Dance Company, with over 15 years of judging experience. She now serves on Crowd Pleaser’s core judging panel and gives seminars on judging at various dance and drill team events. She also judges drill and dance team tryouts all over the North Texas area. In 2004, Cara was instrumental in the development of a dance ministry at Highland Meadows Christian Church (now Compass) in Colleyville, TX where she served as choreographer. Cara and her students have participated in many televised events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the FedEx Orange Bowl, and many Dallas Cowboys Halftime Performances with stars such as Destiny’s Child, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, Billy Gilman, Toby Keith, Creed, The Jonas Brothers and many others. Cara married her husband Aaron on May 15, 2004. They have three beautiful children, Sawyer, Savannah & Sutton and they reside in Hurst, Texas, where Cara continues to teach dance and manages a custom dancewear company, Just Dance Customs.
Cordell Weathersbee II: Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, Contemporary & Company Choreography
Cordell has been dancing, teaching, and choreographing for 12 years with training in Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, and Contemporary. He has traveled all over the United States training with professionals from Laura Edwards and Brian Friedman, to Mia Michaels and Laurie Ann Gibson to name a few. His experience consists of training at Debbie Reynolds, Millennium dance Complex, Edge PAC, Broadway Dance Center while also being awarded scholarships at Monsters of hip hop and becoming an Advanced Pro protégé at The Pulse on Tour dance convention. Cordell currently performs for numerous corporate and private businesses as well as trains vocal artists in stage performance and movement coaching. He holds a Bachelor’s in Strategic Communications/Public Relations from Oklahoma Baptist University that he utilizes in his daily. Cordell continues pushing his expanded visions in the industry with his ventures as a creative consultant for businesses and individuals in the entertainment industry.