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.

Rachel Perez Wallerstedt American Dance Institute
Rachel Perez Wallerstedt
Office Manager

Rachel Perez Wallerstedt serves as the Greenwood Office Manager for American Dance Institute.

Rachel is a communications professional with experience in arts and education administration. Her vocational focus is facilitating the pursuit of creative passions at every level.

As a proud resident of Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood, Rachel is happy to bring high-quality instruction from engaging teachers to her neighbors with American Dance Institute.

She is excited to work with American Dance Institute as we grow to deliver our dance classes to a worldwide online audience.

Rachel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History/Education from Knox College in Illinois.

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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.

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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.

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. 

Emily Curtiss

Emily Curtiss holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Montana. She had her early training at Studio One and Allegro Dance Studio, both in Sandpoint, Idaho. She studied Ballet, Jazz and Modern and danced for 4 years on the Sandpoint High School Dance Team. Emily has extensive choreographic and performance experience and has been teaching since 2012.

Jazrelle Kellough

Jazrelle Kellough trained at the Pacific Northwest Ballet for 8 years as well as training with Alonzo Lines Ballet in San Francisco, Houston Ballet and Ballet Austin.

Emily Paul

Emily Paul earned a BFA in Dance and Theatre from Loyola University in Chicago. She trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern and Tap at the Dance Academy of Libertyville, Illinois.  She has worked extensively in Musical Theatre and been teaching dance since 2015.

Issana To

Issana holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology - both from the University of Washington.

She has over 25 years of training in ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, modern, and tap, so you can expect a stylistically integrated approach to Issana's classes - frequently returning to dance foundations to improve technique. Always remember the basics! 

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. 

Casandra 'Cassie" Johnson

Cassie Johnson’s love for dance began at age five and continued to grow as she studied Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz and more.

Throughout the years, she has enjoyed performing in a variety of shows, attending master classes, and participating in summer intensives.

Cassie has studied under professionals such as David Wilcox, Patricia Barker, Gregory Dawson, and Alonzo King.

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

Bio Coming Soon

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.

Shira Liore of American Dance Institute
Shira Liore

Shira has performed as a soloist, guest soloist, and corps for Alberta Ballet, Spokane Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, Ballet Bellevue, Diane Fey Dance Theater New York and the Vienna Folksoper Ballet.

She is also a classical singer and actress, appearing internationally in operas, operetta, musicals, recordings, television, commercials, print, voice overs and film. She produced and choreographed the longest running show in Atlantic City and spent 6 months in South Korea touring for the US military MWR.

Dance training includes Spokane Ballet, Cornish College of the Arts, and extensive studies with Magali Messac. She was a scholarship student at the Broadway Dance Center New York. Voice and theater training were received at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland. She has taught ballet and set classical ballets internationally and she was the ballet program director for the YMCA Harlem NY after school dance program.

Shira also teaches voice, belly dance, chi gong and yoga. Shira has recently moved back to the Pacific Northwest and is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach for American Dance Institute.

Christina Wheeler, dance teacher for American Dance Institute
Christina Wheeler

Hello, my name is Christiana! But you can call me Chrissy.

I began my dance training when I was two years old at a small studio, Michelle’s Studio Of Dance, in my hometown, Bonney Lake WA. There I studied ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical until I was fourteen, when I began studying dance at Auburn Dance Academy(ADA) in Auburn WA. There my dance training became more serious as I discovered I wanted to be a professional dancer.

My studies continued in ballet, tap, jazz, and I began taking hip hop and contemporary classes. I competed on ADA’s competition dance team for four years.

After high school I continued my education at Cornish College Of The Arts in Seattle, WA. I am currently a Senior in the dance department and am very excited to earn my Bachelors In Fine Arts!

Outside of my dance training, I have been performing with The Guild Dance Co. for almost two years and have participated in performances at Cafè Nordo as well as Velocity Dance Center.

I started teaching dance my senior year of high school at ADA, I began to love teaching and began working at Evergreen City Ballet (Renton, WA), Children’s Dance Theatre (Auburn, WA), while also covering any classes for people I knew at various studios.

Besides dance, my hobbies include: reading Harry Potter, hiking, painting, and playing the guitar and drums!

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."

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!

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.

Erricka Turner

Erricka Turner

Bio Coming Soon

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.

Steven Chayer

Steve Chayer is a principal owner of American Dance Institute and the Shoreline Music School. He supports founder/director Elizabeth's greater Seattle expansion efforts.

Steve's focus is the school's business development which includes marketing, promotion, web development, and SEO.

They moved to Seattle, Washington in 1989. Steve started Seattle Painting & Decorating Company and built the home improvement company to 60 employees and annual revenues of 1.8 million. 

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. 

NOTE: All In-Studio dance classes have been suspended. These classes will be live streamed starting Tuesday November 17, in compliance with current Washington State COVID-19 guidance.