Success Stories of Former & Current Southern Dance Theatre Students
If you trained at Southern Dance Theatre and would like to share your Success Story, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us.
Carlos de Barros
Carlos de Barros grew up in South Florida and started his dance training at Atlantic High School with Penni Greenly and Elizabeth Gonzalez while at the same time getting supplemental training at Southern Dance Theatre. He is now a well-rounded teacher, choreographer, dancer, and adjudicator, with an energetic, technical style, and challenging class curriculum. He received his (B.F.A.), with honors, from the University of Florida’s New World School of the Arts (NWSA) dance program. He also supplemented his dance and teaching training by attending workshops and classes at The FL Dance Festival, The Pulse, Dance Power Express, Jazz Dance World Congress, and by taking several trips to Broadway Dance Center in NYC. His latest professional development was becoming a certified Zumba instructor in June 2012.
While at NWSA, Carlos performed in works by choreographers and legends such as Jose Limon, Martha Graham, Gerri Houlihan, Gerard Ebitz, Freddick Bratcher, Lila York, Michael Utoff, and Peter London. Professionally, he danced with Miami’s American Dance Theatre, Freddick Bratcher and Company, The Palm Beach Festival Ballet, and The Demetrius Klein Dance Company. He has performed at The Colony Theater, The Miami Dance Sampler, New Arts Festival, Florida Dance Festival, Atlanta Fringe Festival, Harriet Himmel in City Place, The Armory Arts Center in West Palm, in Taiwan with The New World Dancers, and was a dancer in Jim Beckwith’s “Arizona Skies” music video choreographed by Gina Buntz.
For 15 years, Carlos was a mainstay at the Bak Middle School of the Arts teaching Dance, Dance Repertory, and Choreography classes. He was the Founder and Artistic Director of their state award-winning Dance Team for five years, his choreography has been selected several times to perform at the Florida Dance Festival’s Young Dancer’s Showcases, he was nominated “The 2004 Hispanic Teacher of the Year” for Bak, he conceived and organized a community charity performance called “The Heart of Art” raising $4,000 for the Parkinson’s Outreach Center at FAU, and in 2011 he was selected as “Teacher in the Spotlight” for The Dance Magazine of Florida. In addition to his tenure at Bak, he has continued to teach for private studios and public and private schools around South Florida for the last 19 years.
Carlos has taught for summer intensive programs at The Harid Conservatory, The Grier School, The Alabama Governor’s School for the Arts, and numerous private studios. He has taught guest classes and/or adjudicated for The Brevard County Dance Competition, Florida Dance Inc, The Young Dancer’s Workshops in Orlando and Gainesville, Dance Master’s of America Chapter #2, Star Power, The All-American Dance Festival, Florida and Rochester Invitational, Florida Dance Team Director’s Association, Starquest International, and the newly founded Shake The Ground Competition.
Students that de Barros has shared the joy in training have gone on to receive numerous solo and group competition titles with his choreography and have moved on to prestigious colleges and dance companies all around the world such as Broadway, Juilliard, FL State, University of FL, Trey McIntyre Project, Ailey/Fordham, and SYTYCD just to name a few. He is now in his first year as the Director of the new dance program at Oxbridge Academy, an Independent College Preparatory High School. He is very excited to be pioneering this program and bringing the art of dance to the students attending Oxbridge Academy who want to pursue dance as a career and to all the students who would like to experience dance for the first time. He is passionate about teaching and when he is not searching for new music to play in class or going over ideas for choreography he is spending time with his wife, Kate, and children, Sofia and Leo, at home.
Kyra Jean Green
Ms. Green taught class in our 2013 Summer Intensive Program.
Kyra Jean Green was born in France and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida. She obtained her BFA in dance from The Juilliard School in May of 2006. Upon leaving Juilliard she has danced with CityDance Ensemble, Culture Shock D.C., Cas Public, Destins Croisés, Ballet Creole, and Kaha:wi Dance Theater, Cadence Progressive Contemporary Ballet, Jasmyn Fyffe Dance, Rudá, and Luna Negra Dance Theater (under the direction of Gustavo Rameirez Sansaro). She has set choreography on Hubbard Street II, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Bosma Dance, Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Cadence Progressive Contemporary Ballet, Rudá and was commissioned by the Kennedy Center to present an evening of her choreography. She was awarded the audience choice award for her piece presented in the 2010 “Fresh Blood” performance with the Chimera Project. She has presented work performed by Cadence Ballet at F.A.T., (Fashion Art Toronto) and Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival. She has also presented work with Jasmyn Fyffe for Dance Matters, and Labspace. Kyra recently started to work with film and choreographed a music video for local Toronto music producers Torro Torro. Kyra currently works with Artistic Director of Rudá, Gustavo Lobo in Santos Brazil.
Ryan was raised in West Palm Beach Florida where he began dancing at the age of 11 at Klein Dance in Lake Worth, Florida. Starting with hip hop and tap, Ryan ventured further into the dance world when he started formal ballet and modern training at the Bak Middle School of the Arts. Once he gained interest in classical dance training, he fell into the wonderful hands of Southern Dance Theatre where he danced from 2002 to 2008. Ryan went on to attend Dreyfoos HighSchool of the Arts in West Palm Beach. During this time, he spent summers at Orlando Ballet School, Miami City Ballet, Point Park University Summer Dance, and Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Upon graduating from Dreyfoos and Southern Dance Theatre, Ryan moved to New York City to continue his dance education at The Juilliard School where he is currently in his fourth year of training. Aside from his dance training, Ryan also enjoys teaching dance and choreographing.
Kassi Abreu was born in Miami Beach and grew up in Delray Beach, Florida. She began her early training with Southern Dance Theatre at 8 years old where she went on to join the Dancer’s Edge Company. Upon joining the Junior Company they went on to win first place overall their very first year of competing. While at SDT she was taught by Lori Hayward, Penni Greenly, Adri Hernandez-Mote, Gary Q. Lewis, Liz Gonzalez, Love Codella, Carlos DeBarros, Ann Polajenko, and Julie Bravata.
Nutcracker was probably Kassi’s favorite time of year. She performed at the Kravis Center with Miami City Ballet every winter for 7 years. By age 13, Kassi was accepted into Chautaugua Ballet Summer intensive. There she had the opportunity to increase her technique and the incredible chance to work with Patricia McBride, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and Violette Verdi. From then on every summer to follow she studied at Miami City Ballet, Palm Beach Ballet Center, Florida Dance Festival, ABT-Detroit, Walnut Hill School, and Juilliard.
With better knowledge of what direction to pursue Kassi trained 7 days a week for 2 years under Magaly Suarez and Magda Aunion of Ft. Lauderdale Ballet Classique. In 2002, she graduated from Dreyfoos School of the Arts, and in the same year was awarded by the National Foundation for Advancement in the arts in ballet. Upon graduating from high school she was accepted into Orlando Ballet under the direction of Fernando Bujones. While at Orlando Ballet she danced as a trainee/apprentice and performed in Don Quiote, Giselle, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Ballet Brilliante, Firebird, Coppelia, and the premiere of Spartacus, choreographed by Fernando Bujones.
By 2004, Kassi expanded her career by guest appearing as Dew Drop Fairy and Spanish pas de deux in The Nutcracker with Royal Celebration Ballet. She performed as a guest with CineDance, a jazz company out of Orlando, and performed in the Orlando Fringe Festival. She also began teaching ballet, pre-pointe, jazz and contemporary.
Kassi came across Florida Dance Theatre, a small contemporary ballet/modern company located in Lakeland, Florida, in 2005. She was accepted and quickly became a principle dancer dancing in lead roles, such as Snow Queen, and Sugar plum fairy, and “Dorothy” in the Wiz. New works were created for her by both artistic and associate directors, Carol Erkes, and Ferdinand DeJesus. Being with FDT Kassi was able to perform at Miami Beach Festival as well as APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) in NYC.
Kassi’s teaching experience expanded teaching at the Academy of Florida Dance Theatre, Barbara’s Centre for Dance and at The Boys and Girls Club/The Royal Theatre in St. Petersburg. Kassi continued working with companies in New York, such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Lines Ballet in California. Kassi was shown on Season 7 of the hit Fox show “So You Think You Can Dance” as a Vegas week finalist. Nowadays she has been on contract abroad as a dancer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines International. She will be a dancer on the Radiance of the Seas July 2011-2012. Most recently Kassi was awarded 1st prize from the National Society of Arts ad Letters, for a competition in choreography. Upon winning Kassi was invited by Jerry Openaker to perform with his company O Dance of West Palm Beach, Florida. She is happy to be back at Southern Dance Theatre choreographing a piece, “Let go”, for the graduating class of 2011. Merde! To all the dancers and teachers at SDT.
Jennifer Drabik Pierce
Former student of Southern Dance Theatre, Jennifer Drabik Pierce, has been touring the Globe as a featured Dancer, Dance Captain, Aerialist, Headlining act, and Aerial Choreographer since completing her education at Dreyfoos School of The Arts and Southern Dance Theatre. Jennifer has performed for Art Gallery Openings, Royal Caribbean International, Fortune 500 companies and has entertained many celebrities such as John Travolta, Carmen Elecktra, and many more.
Three years ago after settling in Orlando, Florida Jennifer decided to open an aerial school with a vision of nurturing future performers in their endeavors and showing the everyday person that aerial arts is not just for athletes. Some of Jennifer’s students have gone on to perform for Cirque Du Soleil, theme parks with featured aerial acts, cruise ships, and corporate industrials. Most recently her students and her dedication to the art of performance have inspired her to form Orlando Aerial Arts performing company, Suspended Artistry. Jennifer sends all of her love to the instructors of Southern Dance Theatre, with their love, mentoring, and excellent instruction in dance they have made her life’s dreams possible!
Kerri Fouchet, Former Captain of the Dancer’s Edge Company, Class of 2010, is now a rising senior at FSU and was selected Captain of the Seminole Dance Force, which is a competitive collegiate dance team there at the university. In addition to that honor, she was elected as the VP of the Garnet and Gold Guides. The Garnet and Gold Guides are the recruiting hosts for the Florida State University Department of Athletics.
Laura Gill earned a BFA in Modern Dance at Texas Christian University in May 2011. She received her early ballet training from Julie Bravata, Anne Polajenko, and Tracy Mozingo at Southern Dance Theatre and was a member of the Dancer’s Edge Company directed by Penni Greenly. Laura had the opportunity to dance in Miami City Ballet’s Nutcracker (Soldier and Candy Cane) and performed on cruise ships and at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Laura attended Alexander W. Dreyfoos High School of the Performing Arts as a dance major where she received extensive training in modern, ballet, and jazz.
Since beginning her career at TCU, she has attended summer dance programs at Ad Deum and was selected for the pre-professional summer program at Ballet Magnificat. Laura has studied with TCU faculty and has taken master classes with Stafford Berry, Ben Stevenson, and Robert Battle. She has recently been featured in contemporary works by Mica Trojacek, Suki John, Susan Douglas Roberts, and Kanji Sewaga. Laura was a soloist in Soaring, a classical modern dance work by Doris Humphrey. She plans to perform with a contemporary dance company now that she has graduated.
Zachary Gottsagen has been a long-time student at Southern Dance Theatre and member of the Dancer’s Alchemy’s Special Arts Ensemble. In addition to dance, Zach has been very busy as he’s now starred in three films, his latest “Burning Like a Fire”, made by the group Zeno Mountain Farm. Zach met the filmmakers when he was kayaking and windsurfing with AccesSportAmerica.
Zach has now been featured in a western and a romantic comedy. In his latest film about kayaking, Zach had a dance-off with another young man in one scene, featuring his dance skills. According to Zach’s mom, Ms. Gottsagen, Zach generally portrays a bad guy in the films. We are very proud of Zach and all of his accomplishments.