The Staff and Instructors of American Dance Institute

elizabeth chayer, director american dance institute
Elizabeth Chayer
Founder, Director, Instructor, Mentor

Elizabeth Chayer opened American Dance Institute in Seattle in 1989 and has served as Artistic Director for 26 years. She received her teaching certificate from the School of the Hartford Ballet in Connecticut. Elizabeth has taught for the University of Alaska, Alaska Pacific University and Anchorage Community College. She also taught and served as assistant director to Alice Sullivan at Alaska Dance Theatre, in Anchorage, Alaska for five years.

Dakota Crist
Teacher/Office Manager

Dakota Crist teaches dance and serves as the Shoreline Office Manager for American Dance Institute.

Dakota had her early training in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Modern Dance at Diane’s Dance Works in Helena, Montana, then went on to study at Creative Arts Center in Helena, Ballet Montana Academy and Sacramento Ballet.

She holds a BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts. Dakota is currently a company member of The Three Yells dance company and she has been teaching since 2009.

Alyssa Brillinger, American Dance Institute

Alyssa has a BA in English from Hope College in Holland, Michigan where she minored Dance. While at Hope, she studied under instructors associated with the Ailey School, Alonzo King LINES training program, the Joffrey Ballet, Lehrer Dance, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Nikolais/Louis, and Pilobolus.

Rebecca Barney, ballet classes, ballet class, ballet School, ballet classes for adults, ballet class for beginners

Rebecca graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She began her formal Ballet training at Southwest Washington Dance Center. She has completed summer intensives with Summer Dance Lab, Northwest Dance Intensive, Spectrum Dance Theater, and Strictly Seattle.

In 1991, at the age of 4 began dancing with American Dance Institute. She participated in and taught dance classes while she attended the University of Portland. She is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching.

Margaret Behm, Modern dance instructor American Dance Institute

Originally from Fort Collins, CO, Margaret holds a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. She has been a member of Louder than Words Dance Theatre in Denver, CO and most recently with Keshet Dance Company in Albuquerque, NM.

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Michaelene De La Serna

Michaelene De La Serna studied flamenco dance intensively for many years with Flamenco Chicago Artistic Director Ms. Rosetta Magdalen. She has also studied with flamenco greats Carmela Greco and Marija Temo. In addition to teaching adults, Michaelene was the Director of the Flamenco Kids Program at Flamenco Chicago. 

Morgan Thompson American Dance Institute Hip Hop Instructor

Morgan Thompson

Dancing has been an integral part of Morgan Thompson's life since he was 8 years old. He's studied ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, and Hip-Hop.

It became clear that hip hop was his strength and he audition for and performed with Breaking Point Dance Company (BPDC) for five years. started teaching dance at the age of 16.

He attended and was graduated from Eckerd College with a degree in Arts for Theater. 

Robert Crocker American Dance Institute
Robert Crocker

Robert Crocker is an Administrative Assistant for American Dance Institute.

He has an extensive background in computer science, having worked for T-Mobile as a business analyst, and Samsung as a software test engineer.

Susan Sinclair

Susan Sinclair is an Administrative Assistant for American Dance Institute. 

Susan brings 10 plus years of office support experience in business, academic and dance organizations to American Dance Institute.

And she wears a completely different hat when not at American Dance Institute--or maybe it's a magic cloak...Susan is a professional intuitive reader, a Reiki Master, sound healer and "urban shaman."

To learn more about her work, please visit her website at

Cassianna Diaz of American Dance Institute
Cassianna Diaz

Cassianna Nicole Diaz is a contemporary dance artist, choreographer, dance writer, Pilate’s teacher, and Ballet/Modern/Ballroom dance teacher currently residing in Seattle, Washington. She began her dance training, pursuing ballet at a young age and continued on to Cornish College of the Arts to pursue contemporary dance to later graduate from Cornish with a bachelor of fine arts. Through Cornish (working with Michele Miller) she was able to receive a Pilates teaching certification as well. Among her other passions is writing about dance.  Through an internship with SeattleDance’s she was able to explore writing about dance as a career, by writing critique of dance productions. Performing in various works in the Seattle area such as works by Pat Graney, Zoe/juniper, and Gerard Theoret, she has been able to explore her passion for performing contemporary dance works. Most of her time is currently spent teaching various forms of dance. In the future, she hopes to share more of her choreographic works with the public. 

rachel Winchester is a dance instructor for American Dance Institute
Rachel Winchester

Rachel Winchester is a choreographer and educator with a passion for teaching the art of dance.

Currently, Rachel is a substitute teacher for Tacoma Public Schools, an adjudicator for International Baccalaureate’s Dance Programme, and an enthusiastic instructor at American Dance Institute!

She has had the privilege to teach hundreds of dancers of all ages, including students at the Festival Dance Academy, the University of Oregon, the University of Idaho, and Pacific Lutheran University.

Rachel's choreography has been recognized and presented through the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the San Diego & Tijuana Mexico International Fringe Festival, Movement Research and Williamsburg Arts Nexus in New York City, and Seattle’s 12 Min Max at Base Experimental Arts Space.

She has been a guest artist for the arts Bellingham Repertory Dance Company, Tacoma’s Barefoot Collective, and Act I Musical Theatre Company.

Jay Tan, dance teacher, American Dance Institute
Jay Tan

Hip Hop & Urban Dance

Jay Tan’s love for dance and movement began at 15 years old, in Singapore, when he participated in a cultural festival that incorporated various art forms to promote peace. From there, he dabbled in both modern contemporary and hip hop for two years, before fully immersing himself in hip hop and its culture. 

Jay found his first dance family with Singapore’s Soka Youth Dance Crew and has competed and performed internationally.

He became Artistic Director of NTU MJ Hip Hop and eventually produced and directed a 2-hour dance musical production involving 120 dancers in the company.

Jay’s other accomplishments include providing artistic direction for the opening ceremony of the first inaugural Youth Olympic Games, Artistic Director of Hip Hop Connxion Indiana, and founder/director of the ‘Jaywalkerz’ an Indiana based kids hip hop dance company.

He also had the opportunity under Boogiezone, to learn and perform alongside Napoleon and Tabitha (Nappytabs), Emmy Award-winning choreographers who are best known for their choreography on the television show So You Think You Can Dance.

Jay has mentored close to 150 dancers, using movement to instill positive values and life lessons. His classes focus on foundational techniques as well as choreography that fuses elements from different dance forms.

Jay believes that dance is more than just movement. It is an expression of the soul that needs to be seen and heard and a powerful tool that can instill positive change in our society.

When Jay is not dancing, he is either reading to expand his perspectives or exploring the beautiful outdoors in Washington and getting inspiration from his surroundings for his next creative endeavors."

Lynnsey Larre teaches for American Dance Institute
Lynndsey Larre

Lindsey Larre holds a PhD in English Literature from Duke University, and has 15 years’ experience teaching ballet and modern dance to students of all ages.

In addition to her teaching and academic careers, Lindsey has an extensive professional performance and choreography background.

A graduate of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program and a founding member of the Crazyfish Collective, Lindsey has been featured in original works by choreographers such as Sylvain Émard, Sasha Ivanochko, David Kraft, and Michael Caldwell, and has performed the repertory of Christopher House and Danny Grossman, among others.

Her own choreography (created under the moniker Mercenary Dance Theatre) has been presented in Toronto, Victoria, and Durham, NC.

Victoria Gutierrez teaches for American Dance Institute

Victoria Gutierrez

Victoria received her professional training at Academia de la Danza Mexicana INBA, where she graduated with a BFA in Classical and Contemporary Dance.

In 2007 she moved to Seattle where she continued her training with the International Ballet Academy.

Victoria has performed for various dance companies such as International Ballet Theater, Evergreen City Ballet, ARC Dance, City Opera Ballet, Olympic Ballet Theater and Katy Hagelin Dance Project.

As a choreographer she has collaborated with the Seattle International Dance Festival, Katy Hagelin Dance Project, Bohemia, Drybones Artist Collective and Le Faux.

Victoria truly enjoys teaching and has been doing it since 2009 for numerous schools in Seattle.

Catherine Vallejo

Catherine Vallejo teaches Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, Jazz, Creative, and Pre-Ballet.

Catherine is a recent graduate from the University of Washington Bothell with a Psychology major, and Education minor.

Catherine grew up with A Dancers Pointe Performing Arts Center in Apple Valley, California, where she learned ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and pointe.
She has performed roles including the Magic Carpet in Aladdin, the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, and a Snowflake, Rose, and Spanish Dancer in The Nutcracker.
Emily Helman

Emily Helman

Emily grew up in Southern California and started dancing at age 3. As a young dancer, she trained at a pre-professional ballet school, the Maple Conservatory of Dance, and received the majority of her training studying in the ABT curriculum.

At the age of 13, Emily attended the School of American Ballet summer course in New York City and later was invited to join the school's formal training program.

After New York, Emily moved to Boston, MA for two years as a trainee with the Boston Ballet, where she danced with Boston's Corps de Ballet.

On days off Emily enjoys hanging out with friends and family, going on adventures, hiking, photography, and exploring Seattle with her sister, who also lives in Seattle.
Lydia Relle

Lydia Relle

Lydia started her training by the age of 5 at various small studios around the Seattle area. At the age of 14,  Lydia moved to Philadelphia for formal training at The Rock School for Dance Education. She returned to Seattle two years later to complete her training with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School.

Lydia has danced professionally with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, and the Alabama Ballet. She performed as a soloist with Ballet San Antonio, American Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Arizona.

Now retired from performing, Lydia enjoys passing on her knowledge of ballet to the next generation of beginner and advanced students.

American Dance Institute
Teachers Emeritus

Rubina Carmona

Rubina Carmona taught Flamenco Dance at American Dance Institute for 22 years. 

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Ines taught a multitude of children's classes Dance at American Dance Institute for 23 years. 

Moira Bugler teaches hip-hop dance classes for American Dance Institute in Seattle WA

Moira Bugler taught Hip Hop Dance at American Dance Institute for 17 years. 

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Janelle Jones began Irish dancing at the wee age of 5 and competed on the West Coast and in Canada until the age of 13 at both the local and national level. In 1998 she rekindled her passion for competition and rejoined the Comerford School of Irish Dance.

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Kara Rochelle (Dominick) Burrows graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cornish College of the Arts in 2006. Kara is in her ninth year of teaching ballet, pointe, and contemporary at American Dance Institute in Seattle, WA.

Madeline Rouse teaches for American Dance Institute
Madeline Rouse

Madeline Rouse is a student at the University of Southern California, where she studies linguistics and choreography.

She grew up dancing in Seattle at All That Dance, and has studied ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, lyrical, tap, Irish step, ballroom, and more.

She loves teaching, dancing, and performing, and is so excited to continue to share her love of dance with others!